As a homeowner you've probably worked with a contractor on occasion but it's likely not someone you work with regularly. When a job comes up and you need a contractor for either repairs or upgrades and renovations, there are a few aspects of the business you should be aware of before hiring. You know to get three price quotes, but price isn't the end-all, be-all consideration toward who you hire. Of course you want the best price, but just as important is for the job to be conducted professionally and efficiently, and done right.
Community standing is one of the best ways to know you can trust a contractor to do a great job. When friends and neighbors recommend the same contractor, who in turn shows references to other jobs successfully completed, you can trust he's going to do your job just as well. Further, the amount of time the contractor has been open for business in your area shows a level experience and general customer satisfaction. You may also want to pay attention to the range of projects the contractor is able to undertake, especially if your project has multiple stages requiring different specialties.
Tools and Materials
The tools and materials a contractor uses can potentially show the level of work they are capable of doing. The materials he plans to use is something you should verify as you don't want sub-par materials in your home. Likewise, to some extent you can tell how efficiently he works by the quality of tools he uses. Most tools are available in inexpensive versions which are perfectly suitable for a homeowner who uses them once or twice a year, but the professional builder should for the most part have professional quality tools. The tools are going to look well used, but professional tools were designed to withstand the rugged conditions of a construction site and daily usage.