Doing your homework will help you have a more successful experience when looking for a builder or remodeler. Use this checklist to help you select smart:

• Contact BIA Hawaii for the names of member builders and remodelers: or Also ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations.

• Be sure the builder/remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.

• Find out how long the company has been in business. It usually takes three to five years to be a financially sound business.

• Check out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: or the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs:


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

• Ask the builder to provide you with names of previous customers. If the company won’t, beware. If it does, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.

• Ask if you can see the builder’s work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship.

• Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder?


• Make sure the builder provides you with a complete and clearly written contract.

• 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 progress payments that identify when payment is due upon completion of the specific phase of work.

• Make sure you 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.

• Make sure you 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 and your plans are not updated. When you need an appraisal, a loan or go to sell, you may have a problem.

For more information, email or call 847-4666 ext. 7502.

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.