Smart Move - Hiring a Licensed Contractor
By Cindy Siok
“The cheap comes out expensive” holds true when hiring a contractor for a project in your home. Hiring a contractor who isn’t licensed can easily cause you more strife than you signed up for; whereas hiring a licensed professional is important as it will allow you to protect yourself and your home from liabilities. Here are important points to consider when looking to hire a contractor:
The contracting industry is highly regulated. A contractor in Hawaii can only obtain a license if the State of Hawaii’s Contractor’s License Board has looked into their background and approved of their training and experience.
If a project costs over $1,500, and if it requires a building permit, then hiring a licensed contractor is required. Electrical and plumbing work also require licensed contractors.
Because they have worker’s compensation and liability insurance, working with licensed contractors protects your property from risk of an injury or damage to the property occurs. An unlicensed contractor can sue a homeowner if something happens to them.
Licensed contractors can obtain and sign building permits, and you can rely on the Contractor’s Recover Fund if anything goes south with your project.
Be sure to look into the specialities of each type of contractor: For projects like land-leveling, excavating, ranching, sewers, and paving, hire a general engineering contractor. For building, adding on to, or remodeling a house, hire a general building contractor. Specialty contractors handle electrical work, drywall, landscaping, flooring, or roofing. Depending on whether you’re just focusing on one project or several, you can choose between a specialized contractor or a general contractor.
It’s best to always get three or more estimates (avoid really high or really low prices) when looking for a contractor to work with.
Contacting the Contractor’s License Board is the surest way to find the right contractor for you. To make sure a contractor is licensed and up-to-date, share their name and license number with the Licensing and Business Registration Information Section at 587-4272 or click on the following link: www.businesscheck.hawaii.gov. You want to be able to look up their reputation and background. You also might ask for referrals from friends and family or your real estate agent.
Call RICO if you have questions about codes and want to see whether issues have been resolved to customers satisfaction. If a contractor has a complaint every year, that’s a concern. You can search someone’s name, and if nothing comes up, then there are no complaints.
A licensed contractor, with qualifications and recommendations to back them up, should make your home projects efficient and, hopefully, regret-free.