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Choose your home equity lender carefully. Contact at least three different lenders to comparison shop, and never deal with anyone who calls you first or appears at your door unsolicited offering to help you secure a home equity loan.
A good way to find a broker or lender you can trust is to ask for referrals from friends and family members. Or look at newspaper ads or ads online. Although your home contractor seems handy with repairs, don't accept offers to arrange for your financing and equity loans. You need to talk with a licensed professional. Have your loan sent to you, not to your contractor.
It's not a bad idea to talk with a mortgage broker, who offers convenience and may have wider access to lenders. Just remember that the broker does not lend you the money. The broker matches you with a lender and arranges for the equity loan. Look at the broker's offer, but also check with a couple of lenders to see if you can get a better deal.