There are contractors in our area that cannot be trusted. I recommend a background check on all prospective builders.
Before hiring someone, a quick online search with the Better Business Bureau, along with physically speaking with past customers can go a long way. And, sometimes, even that isn't always enough.
I have learned that legitimate contractors will offer a notarized paper relieving the homeowner of liability if materials are not paid for or workers are not compensated.
I would also highly recommend making a direct payment to the materials provider -- NOT to the construction company.
Taking pictures along with documenting progression of the job is also advisable and can be very helpful if you have problems later on.
I hope that your construction experience is better than mine.
Please direct comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Oliver Jr.
Editor's note: The author is involved in legal proceedings against a local contractor, whose name has been edited from this letter.