Renovating or building a new home may only happen once in a lifetime, so choosing the right contractor is critical.

Marshall Hickox, president of Home-works Construction, a homebuilding and home renovation contractor operating on Oahu for nearly 30 years, provides tips on how to hire the right contractor at the right price.

Before researching contractors, define the scope of your project. Are you looking for a kitchen remodel, a bathroom overhaul or a new home?

“Having a clear vision and goal will guide you toward finding a contractor with the right expertise. With your goal in mind, hire contractors with experience with that type of project,” Hickox says.


Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the construction industry. Ask friends, family or colleagues for recommendations. Personal experiences speak volumes, and a contractor with satisfied clients is likely to provide positive and reliable service.


Ensure that the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.


“You should ask for licensing information and research the number with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ professional and vocational licensing website,” Hickox explains.

Licensing not only indicates legal compliance but also a commitment to professionalism.


Look for a contractor with experience in projects similar to yours. An experienced contractor brings a wealth of knowledge and is better equipped to handle the nuances of a specific project, ensuring a smoother process and a successful outcome.

“There are some incredible contractors who have mastered bathroom renovations, but they may not be a great fit if you want to renovate your entire home or build an addition. Ask your potential contractor for examples that are specific to your project,” Hickox says.


A portfolio is a visual testament to a company’s skill and style. Request to see past projects, check websites for galleries, and search the digital and print marketplace for Hawaii home and remodeling projects.

“By looking at past projects, you get insight into their craftsmanship, design sensibilities and the type of projects they do,” Hickox shares.


Clear and frequent communication is the number one ingredient for success.


During initial meetings, assess the contractor’s ability to articulate ideas, listen to your vision and address concerns.

“If they are difficult to get a hold of or can’t communicate well with you before they get the job, it’s going to be 10 (times) worse after you hire them,” Hickox says.


A reliable contractor should provide a realistic timeline for the project. Be wary of promises that seem too good to be true. A well-thought-out timeline reflects careful planning, experience and professionalism, ensuring a timely completion of your project.

Once you’ve found the right contractor, ensure that all details are documented in a comprehensive contract. This should include project milestones, payment schedules, warranty information and any other crucial information. Negotiate terms until both parties are satisfied.


Be sure to ask potential contractors for detailed written estimates including a breakdown of costs for materials, labor, permits and any other relevant expenses.

Hickox says not to accept single-line or unfinished estimates and don’t pay up-front or accept requests for unscheduled advances.

Additionally, he says to be cautious of unusually low estimates because low bids may indicate subpar materials or workmanship. Balance cost considerations with the contractor’s reputation and the quality of their work.


Finding the right contractor at the right price is a nuanced process that requires diligence and careful consideration. By following these tips, you can embark on your project confidently, knowing that you’ve chosen a qualified professional who aligns with your vision and budget. To learn more, attend a free seminar presented by Homeworks Construction at the Building Industry Association-Hawaii BIG Home Building & Remodeling Show at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 20.

CALL 808-955-2777
ADDRESS 2111 S. Beretania St., Honolulu