Summer is almost here, and long days can make you feel like you have extra time on your hands. Perhaps rainy winter damaged your home, or you are noticing the aged parts of your dwelling that you would like to renovate. Either way, you are considering home improvement!Summer can be a good time to start home improvement projects, but it is important to know what you are doing and do your research before you begin. In 2016, consumers filed more than 4,500 complaints against home improvement businesses with BBB. The main cause of complaints was sales, followed by customer service. Consumers frequently complain about companies and contractors who perform poor quality work and cannot contact customer service or obtain a refund.Follow these tips to make sure your home improvement project is a dream, not a nightmare:Find a contractor you can trust. Consumers submitted about 5,500 complaints with BBB against general contractors in 2016. Like home improvement businesses, the main cause of complaints was sales, followed by customer service. Start with confidence and look for a contractor at bbb.org. There you can see your qualification, history of complaints, comments from past clients, and if they are a trusted BBB Accredited Business. Ask for references from friends and family too.Beware of scams and recognize warning signs. According to the BBB Risk Index, home improvement scams are the riskiest scam for consumers. The BBB Risk Index takes into account the exposure (the likelihood of being exposed to a scam), the susceptibility (if exposed, the probability of losing money to a scam) and the average loss (if you lose money, how much is likely to be). Although exposure (1%) to home improvement scams is low, susceptibility (53%) and average loss ($ 1,400) are high, so it is the riskiest scam. In a home improvement scam, a scammer comes to you at home or through an advertisement, offering a low price or a short term. Then, they “find” problems that increase the price disappear halfway through the project, or take their payment and never do the work again.Beware of contractors who: say they are working in their neighbourhood and have extra supplies, only accept cash, use high-pressure sales tactics, demand a high down payment, or insist on making a transaction without a written contract. Get more information at bbb.org/homescam.Always check the license and insurance. In California, any contractor who works on a project that has a value of $ 500 or more for labour and materials needs to have a license from the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB). CSLB licenses contractors in 43 different classifications, so verify that the contractor has a license for the work you are doing. You can check the status of a license on the CSLB website, clsb.ca.gov. It is also important to verify that you are insured – ask to see a copy of your Certificate of Insurance or ask for the name of the insurance company and agency to verify independently.Get three estimates. Be sure to obtain at least three written estimates for each project before signing any contract. Make sure that the estimates refer to identical work plans and scopes. It is not always best to accept the lowest offer, and you should be cautious if one estimate is significantly less than the others.Read carefully any contract. Make sure that the contract specifies the price, the work and who will do it, the breakdown of the costs of materials and labour and a term. Any promise made orally must be written in the contract, including warranties on materials or labour. Make sure the name, address, license number and telephone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety. You should not sign a blank contract and be sure to receive a copy of the signed contract at the time of signing. Make sure the contract specifies the schedule to pay the contractor. Do not feel pressured to pay with cash or pay in advance.If you are exposed to a home improvement scam, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker to help others. If you work with a great business for your project, leave it a Customer Comment. And if you are not satisfied with a result, you can file a complaint with BBB through bbb.org.