We want to have a gazebo built for our yard. We are not handy ourselves. Any tips to avoid getting scammed? Tips about materials, etc?
Get a permit, obtain contractor references and view examples of work done for others before signing a contract. Possibly purchase the materials from a reputable lumber yard and hire the construction. A reputable contractor will welcome your investment in materials in advance and will provide you a complete list of needs to build your project.
Cedar is a good choice for exterior projects. A quality stain to further protect the wood is recommended. There are some south american species well regarded too but I have not personally used any of them.
Why a gazebo? Insect protection, rain shelter? If shade is your primary need, a pergola might be more accessible.
Where you are located will possibly govern the materials you will/can use.
Prebuying the materials is tough if you don't have a design.
I personally don't recommend kits, unless budget is a big problem.
I suggest that you find the style that you like, get pics, if possible. There are ton's of options for gazebo's.
Determine whether you want to paint it, or stain it.
Here is a link that might be useful: Gazebo examples