How to Choose a Contractor

By Herman Goldma

Whether you’re planning an energy-producing project like a solar water heater or wind turbine, or buying an energy-efficient appliance, one of the most important decisions you will make is which contractor to hire. Here are some questions to ask to be sure the job’s done right.

1. Does the contractor hold the appropriate license for the work he/she proposes to perform?

A contractor needs to be licensed for any project whose total cost exceeds $1,000.

Contractors must also be licensed for any project that requires a permit, such as electrical or plumbing work.

2. Does the contractor carry the proper insurance?

To be licensed, a contractor must carry liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance.

3. Is the contractor experienced in the field?

One good way to determine experience is to ask for customer references (five recent ones, if possible).

4. Does the contractor pull all necessary County of Maui permits for each project?

It is important to be sure that all necessary permits are pulled, and that all required inspections are requested and passed. Failure to meet these requirements may complicate future work or affect the sale of the property. To review the permit and inspection history of a contractor, visit the County of Maui permit site:

5. Have any complaints been filed against this contractor?

The State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs keeps track of complaints filed about a contractor on its Web site:

For more information on how to choose a contractor, visit