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As 2020 comes to an end, you may be starting to plan home projects for 2021 — especially after spending so much time at home this year. Maybe you want to add a patio or deck, make over your kitchen or renovate a spare bedroom as a home office.

While some people may feel comfortable tackling the jobs themselves, many homeowners hire contractors to do most or all of the work. Finding trustworthy contractors can be hard, but Better Business Bureau is here to help.

Before you hire anyone, you need to figure out how much you're willing to spend and what you want the project to look like. Visiting showrooms or looking at magazines and websites for ideas is a great way to get started. If you have friends or acquaintances who've done similar projects, ask to see the work they had done and discuss what they learned, what they liked and what they would avoid.

Deciding on a budget is crucial: Can you afford to pay for the work out of pocket or do you need to borrow money? If you're financing the project, can you afford the payments in addition to your regular expenses?

Ask friends for recommendations on contractors, but do your homework as well.

BBB Business Profiles are available on more than 5.3 million companies nationwide, including local remodelers, painters, plumbers and general contractors. The profiles include ratings from A+ to F that are based on a number of factors, including how long a company has been in business and how it has responded to customer complaints. Consumers can read about complaints against a business and how the company resolved them. They also include contact information for companies.

BBB Customer Reviews let potential customers see how a company satisfied its customers.

Interview several contractors before you settle on one. Ask them for a list of references on work they've done, and contact those customers. Find out whether the contractor has any required licenses and insurance, and be sure the contractor will get a permit for the work if it's required.

BBB recommends you get at least three bids on a project before choosing a contractor. Make sure you get a written contract that specifies materials that will be used, a timeline for completing the work, warranty information and any conditions that are important to you, such as cleaning up debris. Make sure the contractor will provide a lien waiver, a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor.

Don't pay for the entire job up front. Instead, consider paying a third to secure the contract, a third when the project is mostly completed and the final third only after the work is completed and you are satisfied.

For more information or to check out a business, visit or call 573-886-8965.

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.

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