Question: One of our New Year's Resolutions is to pursue some remodeling projects in our home. How can we be sure we're hiring a qualified contractor? Answer: Get references, check backgrounds and verify credentials. Once you select a contractor, get everything in writing before the work begins. In Illinois, contractors doing home repairs or remodeling work for more than $1,000 must, by law, state the total cost, as well as a description of the work to be performed, a detailed list of materials, an explanation of how changes in orders will be handled, starting and estimated completion dates, a schedule and method of payment, and any written guarantees. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.