Hiring a Licensed Contractor
Are you thinking about remodeling your home? As a homeowner, you'll probably hire a contractor to do the work. Make sure you do your homework before you begin your project.
When is a contractor's license required?
A contractor's license is required:
- for any project where the labor and material costs exceeds $1,000; and
- for any project that requires a building permit.
An electrician's or plumber's license may also be required for any electrical or plumbing work on your project.
Why hire a licensed contractor?
- A licensed contractor has the training and experience necessary to obtain a contractor's license. The State of Hawaii's Contractor's License Board has checked into the contractor's background and is satisfied that the person is qualified to hold a contractor's license.
- A licensed contractor has worker's compensation and liability insurance. This protects you as a homeowner from putting your property at risk if anyone is injured on your project or if anything is damaged while the work is being done.
- A licensed contractor is able to obtain and sign building permits.
- Lastly, if anything goes wrong with your home improvement project, the Contractor’s Recovery Fund is available to you only if you have hired a licensed contractor.
What kind of contractor do I need?
General Engineering Contractor (type "A" contractor) is a contractor with specialized engineering knowledge and skill. An engineering contractor will handle projects such as land-leveling, excavating, ranching, sewers and paving.
General Building Contractor (type "B" contractor) is a contractor whose principal contracting business is building structures. General contractors handle projects such as houses and room additions.
Specialty Contractor (type "C" contractor) performs construction work requiring special skills such as electrical work, drywall, landscaping, flooring or roofing.
If your project involves only one area, such as painting, you can hire a specialty contractor to do the work. If your project involves more than one discipline, (your new enclosed lanai needs framing, drywall, a roof and flooring), you may need to hire a general contractor. If you are wondering what kind of contractor you need to hire, you can contact the Contractor's License Board. Also, be sure to ask any contractor you are about to hire if he or she has the right license for your project.
How can I be sure a contractor is licensed?
Get the contractor's name and license number and call the Licensing and Business Registration Information Section at 587-4272 or go online to www.businesscheck.hawaii.gov.
How do I report unlicensed activity?
If you come across a person or business that is engaged in or offering to do contracting work but you discover that the person or business does not hold a contractor's license, please notify the Regulated Industries Complaints Office at 587-4272 or call toll-free 1-800-394-1902. In order for RICO to investigate unlicensed activity, it is important to provide as much information as possible.
This is the kind of information that would be important to provide, especially if the unlicensed person or company has already started to actively work at a jobsite:
- Written contracts or quotes from the unlicensed person reflecting the work to be done and the amount to be paid, and canceled checks or receipts if any payments were made;
- A physical description of each of the workers on the jobsite (gender, height, weight, ethnicity, age, phone number) and how many people are working; description of any vehicles on the jobsite including color, make, model and license number;
- Type of work performed, exact address/location, when the work started and the approximate hours that work occurs, estimated time of completion, and any other relevant information.