Are You Ready for a Remodel?

by Jason Roberts | Jun 14, 2021 | Hawaii Real Estate

Important considerations before renovating your home or purchasing a “project” property in Hawaii.

Owning a home on Maui is a dream come true and having the opportunity to customize your little piece of paradise with personal finishing touches can be rewarding for many years to come. Remodeling can make your home an extra special place for you to enjoy, share with your friends and family, and maybe even pass on to your loved ones.

When it comes to large-scale home improvements, failing to plan might be planning to fail. In the case of remodeling a home in Hawaii, at the very least, it can make things more difficult, costly, and time-consuming than you might expect.

Here are a few initial considerations to keep in mind as you plan to renovate your new home, or as you search for properties that may not quite be move-in-ready.

Research the Rules

Some things you will want to consider when putting together your renovation plan and budget include building materials, contractors to do the work, local housing association rules, possible county permit requirements, and (perhaps most importantly) the timing of all of these facets to work together efficiently so your project comes together timely and as you expected.

Before you begin to dream up your project, take a look at what is doable considering the type of home you are currently in or are looking to buy.

To start, is your remodel of a single-family home or a condo? Both property types will have similar needs and requirements for interior updates, however, single-family homes will have additional exterior maintenance needs that association dues most likely do not cover. If you are looking to purchase a property in need of major upgrades before moving in, keep in mind additional association fees and rules that may or may not be in your favor. 

Condo associations in Hawaii often have what look like relatively high AOAO (Association of Apartment Owners) fees when compared to single-family residential properties, however, these fees may cover more than you would expect. Before deciding between a condo or detached residential property, do your research and check to see what is included as part of monthly maintenance fees and renovation rules.

Are county water and maybe even cable TV and internet included? Those are some costs that I can assure you will likely not be covered by an HOA fee for your single-family home. How about roof maintenance? Tenting for termites? That water heater that is 7 years old and needs replacement? If you will be responsible for these things, it’s important to hire the right person to get the job done when it comes to all aspects of your reno. 

Find a Trustworthy Contractor

As a remodeling contractor I have seen the workmanship of some of the “contractors” on Maui and after doing a little research had to, unfortunately, tell the client their “contractor” isn’t really a contractor at all. They don’t have the required Hawaii state license and therefore most likely not the insurance that’s required either.

But don’t let all this scare you! I’m here to lend my experience to prepare you for what I hope to be a smooth project that will leave you loving your property even more than the day you closed on it.

First things first. Is the person you found on Yelp or somewhere on the internet really who they say they are? Are they qualified, licensed, and insured to do the work you are asking about? You asked them and they said yes. Is that enough? Probably better to be safe than sorry, and there’s an easy way to find out. Here’s how.

All state licenses are available for you to search on the State of Hawaii PVL (Professional Vocational Licensing) website. As part of the DCCA (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs), a list of complaints against any licensee are available and listed on the site if they have any filed against them. 

You can look up contractors by name and license number to make sure they are “active and in good standing.” This is the minimum you will want to know when inviting someone do work on your home or investment property.

There are many types of licenses and in turn, specific limitations and abilities licensees are able to legally perform. If a licensee does work outside of their scope of license and something goes wrong, well let’s just say that’s a can of worms you don’t want in your living room. 

Did you know some contractors are legally able to “sub-contract” other licensees? Furthermore, did you know some licenses are specific to a single scope of work while others cover multiple trades? For example, ALL electrical and plumbing work MUST be done by a company that holds an electrical or plumbing state license. However, a remodeling licensee can do the work of a painter’s license without directly having a painting license. The painting is covered under the C-5 remodeling license. 

Sourcing Materials

Did you know Hawaii is one of the most secluded places on the planet? That little tidbit will be a major factor in the success of your renovation, and something you will want to keep front of mind before demolition day. 

Building resources and construction materials in Maui are expensive and limited. Knowing the right type of materials that are best suited for the location of your home is critical to your planning process. Many of your desired building materials, decorative fixtures, and other supplies will need to be shipped from the mainland and are not easily returnable. 

If you’re interested in learning more about various contracting licenses, who does what and when, materials and where to source them, and what you can do yourself to make sure the project as a whole stays on budget and timelines, stay tuned for future blogs and feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I am here to help you find the perfect project home and steer you in the right direction when it comes to remodeling your current house!