County of Hawaii - Flood Awareness

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Selecting A Contractor/Consultant

If you have suffered disaster related damage to your home or business that needs cleaning and repairs, be careful when hiring contractors.  Sadly, in disaster situations, there are unscrupulous individuals ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others.  However, recovery from damage can be a positive experience if you take your time, talk to building and floodplain officials, and carefully select a contractor.  The following are some suggestion to help you select a contractor/consultant:

 

1. USE RELIABLE LICENSED CONTRACTORS AND HIRE LOCAL CONTRACTORS IF POSSIBLE

To see if a contractor is properly licensed or has any outstanding complaints, get the contractor's name and license number and contact State of Hawai‘i, Department of Consumer Affairs by calling (808) 587-3222, or online at:

To Verify Registration/License: http://cca.hawaii.gov/rico/licensedcontractor/
File a Complaint: http://cca.hawaii.gov/rico/forms/

2. KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CAN SPEND

Fix your budget in advance and keep some in reserve to pay for changes or unanticipated costs.

3. SHOP AROUND AND ASK FOR REFERENCES

Get at least 3 bids or estimates. Make sure the bids are all based on the same work and the same materials.  If bid amounts vary significantly, ask why.  Call trade organizations or ask friends or relatives for referrals. Ask to see other projects the contractor has completed and to meet other clients.

4. MAKE SURE YOUR PROJECT IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH CITY AND COUNTY CODES

If a building permit is required, ask the contractor who will be responsible for the permitting process. Know the risks and responsibilities of an “owner-builder” project.

5. ASK FOR A WRITTEN CONTRACT

Read the fine print and compare several competing services and prices before settling on one contractor.  A written contract should include the contractor’s license number, price, start and stop date, the work to be performed and the materials to be used.    Be sure to identify all tasks to be performed in great detail, all associated costs, payment schedule, and who applies for necessary permits and licenses.  You may want to have a lawyer review the contract if substantial cost is involved. Be sure to keep a copy of the signed contract.

6. GET ANY PROMISES, GUARANTEES OR WARRANTIES IN WRITING

The guarantee of work should state what is guaranteed, who is responsible and how long the guarantee is valid.

7. KNOW WHO YOUR SUBCONTRACTORS ARE

Have your contractor provide a list of subcontractors to be used on your project and verify that they are properly licensed and have no outstanding complaints against them.

8. BE ALERT AND NEVER SIGN A BLANK CONTRACT

If you are offered a price that is far less than other bids received, it may be too good to be true.  Never sign a blank contract!

9. PAY AS YOU GO AND PAY BY CHECK

Your contract should contain a payment schedule that follows the amount of work completed.  Avoid paying all of the money up front or on-the-spot cash payments. It is best to write a check to the company. Thirty percent of the total cost is a reasonable down payment. If a contractor insists on an advance payment for materials, make the check out to the supplier, or to both the supplier and the contractor.

10. GET PROOF OF INSURANCE AND BONDING

Confirm your contractor carries general liability, workers' compensation insurance and is bonded.

11. AVOID LIENS

Request partial lien releases for partial payments and a final lien release for final payments.

12. MONITOR THE WORK AND KEEP GOOD RECORDS

Keep a file with the contract, cancelled checks and correspondence. Make sure any change orders are in writing.  Have work inspected before it is buried or hidden (e.g., sewers or below grade walls).

13. AT THE END OF THE PROJECT, DO A THOROUGH “WALK-THROUGH” AND TAKE CARE OF ANY “PUNCH LIST” ITEMS IMMEDIATELY

 

14. DON'T MAKE FINAL PAYMENT UNTIL THE WORK IS DONE TO YOUR SATISFACTION

To ensure that no one who supplied materials can put a lien on your home because the contractor did not pay them, obtain a final lien release prior to final payments and make sure a notice of completion is published in a newspaper.

Persons who are having problems with a contractor or who suspect fraud are urged to contact:

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
345 Kekuanaoa St., Room 12
Hilo, HI 96720-4388
808-933-8846


Kona Office
75-170 Hualalai Rd. Room C-3-09
Kailua-Kona, Hi 96740
808-327-9590

www.hawaii.gov/dcca/rico