What if someone
is injured while working on my property?
Most legitimate contractors have worker's compensation insurance to protect you and themselves from work related injuries. Most licensing jurisdictions require liability and worker's compensation insurance before issuing a license. You should request a current insurance certificate from the contractor's insurance company.
BEWARE: If you are hiring individuals or subcontractors without using a general contractor and they are not insured, you are probably liable for injuries. Example: you hire your neighbor's son to paint your house and he falls off of a ladder--you may be liable. At least contact your insurance agent or legal counsel before taking a chance.
You can do much of the work yourself if you have the skills required for the task. The safest way to be certain you won't be in violation of codes is to contact the governing agency and get a building permit if they require one. They are there for your protection and it is much easier if you talk to them before you begin. They can tell you what you are legally allowed to do and what you must hire others to do.
Contact your insurance agent to be certain your project is covered while under construction and what liability and worker's compensation concerns need to be addressed.
Contact the licensing agency (city, county etc.) and verify that they have a current license. Ask them if there are any complaints or problems with the contractor you hire.
Ask for a certificate of insurance from the contractor. He should require certificates for every subcontractor he hires. You can also require certificates from subcontractors.
Ask for references and call them. See what type of work they completed and if the homeowner was satisfied. Contact the licensing agency for your area and verify that the contractor is licensed. Even if a license is not required for the job you need completed, they will probably have a license for larger jobs. Ask about problems, complaints, etc that inspectors have had with your contractor. Follow you instincts: If you are uncomfortable with the contractor and don't feel you are getting straight forward answers to all of your questions and concerns, call someone else.