Hiring a contractor can be a tricky task. The best scenario is that you are highly recommended to someone by a friend who knows his/her's quality of work, honesty and a professional who runs projects in a smooth and timely fashion.
When you are searching on your own, always obtain two or three estimates from a licensed and insured contractor. Ask to look at images of past work through their website and in my case I also offer to bring potential clients to my actual job sites that I have completed. Seeing the work first hand and getting a referral from past clients speaks volumes.
Meet the contractor in person and ask yourself, can I communicate easily, is he knowledgeable and offer unique ideas to my project? Someone who be in you home for a length of time should make you feel at ease. Feeling comfortable with your choice can make all the difference in a great working relationship. Will the contractor stay on your job from start to finish? I consider myself a working/contractor. You will see me not only supervising your project from start to finish, but at times doing some of the work myself because I enjoy it.
Always check credentials. Having a contractor who is licensed and insured will protect you and allow for the proper inspections to get approved. I am lucky to have settled on the the best sub-contractors that I have used for years. They are all licensed and insured and are the best craftsman producing the perfect product that I require.
Compare your estimates closely. Sometimes the prices vary, but so do the details. Make sure all the items you requested are included in all quotes. The quality of materials and the way the contractor will perform the work can be very different. Ask detailed questions and come to your decision knowing that you have all the information to make the right choice.
Lastly, try and enjoy the process! Yes, it can be frustrating at times when your home is upside down, but knowing you will have a beautiful new space to enjoy will make it all worth it.