Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements. Be wary if your contractor asks you to get the permit. It could mean the firm is not licensed.
Before selecting a contractor for your next job, contact your local or state consumer agency and Better Business Bureau for information on contractors' licensing or registration requirements and complaint records. Some states require licensees to pass tests for competency and scrutinize licensees for financial solvency. Some states also have a fund to cover some financial losses that result from problems with licensed contractors.