Doing your homework with this list will help you have a more successful home-remodeling experience.

• Contact the Building Industry Association of Hawaii for the names of member builders and remodelers (info@bia or go to Check out the company’s ratings and/or complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau ( or the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (


• Make sure the builder or remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers. Also find out how long the contractor has been in the industry. It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business.

• Make sure the builder has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance.

• Ask the builder to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. And ask if you can see the builders work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality workmanship, materials and a clean job site.



• Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder? It is important that you do.

• Make sure the builder provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. If you are having a new home built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual as well. Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem. Keep in mind that less expensive does not necessarily mean better.

• Make sure your payments are spelled out in progress payments that identify when payment is due upon completion of the specific phase of the work. Sign a lien disclosure statement with the contract. Make sure the Notice of Completion is filed in the newspaper. This starts the 45 days of the lien period.


• Get a Certificate of Occupancy and the permit is closed out. When the permit is not closed, the work is not recorded with the building department so your plans are not updated. When you need an appraisal, a loan or go to sell, you may have a problem because what is recorded does not match the existing as-built. When that happens, there are permit fees and penalties to get the records corrected.

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii. Contact her at