By: Karen Nakamura, CEO
Doing your homework will help you have a more successful experience.
Use this checklist to help you select a home builder or home remodeler to work on or build your home:
- Contact the Building Industry Association of Hawaii for the names of member builders and remodelers: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.biahawaii.org. You can also ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations.
- Make sure the builder or remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.
- Find out how long they have been in the building business. It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. You want to make sure they will be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties.
- Check out the company's rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org. or the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: http://cca.hawaii.gov/resources/
- Make sure the builder has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
- Ask the builder to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won't, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.
- Ask if you can see the builders work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials and cleanliness of job site.
- Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
- Make sure the builder provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you. 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 progress payments that identify when payment is due upon completion of the specific phase of the 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 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.