Paying a deposit up front can be pretty daunting, however, it’s becoming more and more common because of upfront material costs for professionals. Here’s some tips to protect yourself:
Set expectations in writing. Both you and the professional should be on the same page about what is expected (including time frame to start & complete) before paying a deposit. If you’ve discussed this on a site visit, just ask for them to send a follow up email so there’s no downstream confusion.
Pay by credit card if possible but whatever you do, don’t pay in cash. And make sure you get an invoice before doing so, and a receipt afterwards as a record of payment.
Use your common sense. If the deal sounds too good to be true and/or they want a large amount of money upfront, then steer clear.