HOUSTON -

No one sets out to hire a bad contractor. But what can you do if a contractor takes your money and runs or just fails to do the job right?

First, before you hire someone, check their licensing status with the State of Texas and get at least three bids.

"Don't hire the contractor that is not licensed, don't hire the contractor that doesn't carry proper insurance, because while those might seem like little shortcuts now, they could turn into big headaches down the road," said Angie Hicks of Angie's List.

Remember, even if you research your contractor, bad things can happen.

"No one likes to admit this, but sometimes you have to break up with the contractor. If you find yourself in a bad situation, it's better to cut your losses. Start over with a new contractor and get it done right," Hicks advised.

Homeowner James Van Gorder filed a complaint with Angie's List when he says a company took his money upfront to do roof repairs, but never came back.

"Well that was $5,000 that they got from me, but they didn't get that second check, thank God. Even my own sister said, well, 'You better call a lawyer.' This guy, I think he's trying to scam you," Van Gorder said.

So what can you do if you  become a victim of a bad contractor?

You should file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and groups like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

If your contractor was bonded, the bond is a guarantee that the contractor will perform the services outlined in the contract, and it they fail to do so, you can receive compensation.

You can also go to small claims court or hire a private attorney.

Contractor Doug Lynch has finished many projects for homeowners who were left in a lurch. He says communication is key when starting over with a new contractor.

"Be transparent with that person that's coming to look at it with exactly where you stand financially, where exactly you stand from a time constraint, what your desires and needs are for the completion of the project," Lynch explained.

Consumer Expert Amy Davis adds: Don't pay anything until you have a contract that spells out the payment structure.  And never pay the full amount up front. Tie future payments to progress on the job and hold back at least 10 percent until the job is complete to your satisfaction.