Home Remodeling

Many homeowners in Hawaii often choose to remodel their existing home and customize it to meet their needs versus finding and purchasing a new home.

Getting Started*

Before beginning a project, whether large or small, make sure you understand what is involved and know how it will be accomplished. There are many questions that must be answered before you begin a remodeling project.

Defining your goals – Do you plan to live there a long time or is the house an investment? Will you be able to recoup your investment if you decide to sell your home? If this is not your long-term home, how will other people feel about your aesthetic choices such as carpeting and color choices? Can you do the designing and planning yourself, or will you need to hire a professional? If you decide to do the work yourself, do you have the necessary skills to get the work done? Where will you live while the work is under way? Are you prepared to live with the mess and inconvenience?

Budget – Before you make your budget, you will need to know what materials you will need and learn the prices of potential materials.

  • Visit showrooms, home centers, lumberyards or appropriate vendors. Obtain catalogs – many appliance and cabinet manufacturers have 800 numbers and showrooms will often photocopy information for you.
  • Do your math and calculate how much of everything you will need. List all the materials you will need and the services and labor you will be using as well as any permits required. Include any shipping charges or taxes and add 15 to 20 percent to the total cost as a contingency figure.
  • Include small details such as hardware, bathroom fixtures as well as hidden components such as nails, glue and electrical wire.

Hiring a Professional*

Although there are fees involved, when the scale and scope of the remodel becomes too much, many homeowners look to a professional for assistance in their home remodel.

Architect – If you are planning a renovation or addition, a state-licensed professional with a degree in architecture may be essential. Architects are trained to create designs that are structurally sound, functional and aesthetically pleasing. They are also knowledgeable in construction materials, can negotiate bids from contractors and are able to supervise the actual work.

Interior Designers – Even if you are working with an architect, an interior designer specializes in the decorating and furnishings of rooms and is able to offer fresh, innovative ideas and advice. Through their contacts, a homeowner has access to materials and products not available on a retail level.

Kitchen and bathroom designers – If you are planning to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, designers who specialize in one or both rooms are individuals who are well-informed on the latest trends in furnishings and appliances, but they may have neither the aesthetic skill of a good interior designer nor the structural knowledge of an architect.

Look for a member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) or Certified Bathroom Designer (CBD). Each association has a code of ethics and a continuing program to inform members about the latest techniques and building materials.

General Contractors – Contractors specialize in construction, although some also have design skills and experience as well. General Contractors may do all the work themselves or they may assume responsibility for hiring qualified subcontractors. Contractors order construction materials and see the job is completed according to contract. Contractors are also able to secure building permits and arrange for inspections as work progresses.

Subcontractors – If you are considering doing the work yourself and are acting as your own general contractor, you will need to hire, coordinate and supervise subcontractors for specialized work such as wiring, plumbing or tiling. You will also be responsible for permits, insurance, and payroll taxes as well as direct supervision of all aspects of construction. Some building codes require certain types of electrical and plumbing work be handled by licensed contractors.

Finding a Reliable Contractor**

Hire licensed contractors – Licensed contractors must meet experience, examination and insurance requirements. Contact the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Professional & Vocational Licensing:

  • To verify if a person is licensed
  • Request prior complaints history on a licensee
  • To file a complaint on a licensee

Phone: (808) 587-3295, or visit its website at http://pvl.ehawaii.gov/pvlsearch/app.

You may also contact the Better Business Bureau to review basic information on complaints filed with the BBB, against BBB member and non-member businesses. Phone: (808) 536-6956 or visit its website at http://hawaii.bbb.org.

Request References – Use references to check your contractor's work history, reliability and ability to stay on budget and schedule. Contact previous customers or personally review and examine the contractors work.

Obtain a Written Contract – A contract should include details about what the contractor will and will not do as well as include approximate start and completion dates.

  • Be sure the contract includes the contractor's name, address, phone and license number.
  • A detailed list of materials for the project should be included in the contract with information such as size, color, model, brand name and product.
  • Known as the "Right of Recision," Federal law requires a contractor give you written notice of your right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing, provided it was solicited at some place other than the contractor's place of business or appropriate trade premises.
  • Make sure financial terms are understood and spelled out in the contract. The total price, payment schedule, and any cancellation penalty should be clear.
  • A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year should be written into the contract. The warranty must be identified as either "full" or "limited." The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty (contractor, distributor or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure the time period of the warranty is specified.

Be sure to put all changes in writing if your remodeling project is modified while work is being done. Both parties should sign an amendment, called a "change order."

Request a contractor's Affidavit of Final Release be provided to you at the time of final payment and a final waiver of mechanic's lien. This s your assurance that you will not be liable for any third party claims for non-payment of materials or subcontractors.

*Source: Home and Garden

**Source: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

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