contractors Owner Builders Building Planning

Home Planning Guide Step 6: Choose Contractor or Owner-Builder

While we will provide most of the construction materials for an HPM Home and guide you through the building process, we do not have contractors on our team. You’ll need to find and work with a general contractor to complete your new home build, or if you have an Owner-Builder permit, you can do it yourself. Here are some considerations to think about before making your final choice.


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Hiring a Contractor vs. Serving as an Owner-Builder


What’s the Difference?

If you don’t feel like you have the bandwidth to deal with the building process, find a contractor. They’ll have the necessary expertise and experience to construct your home according to building codes, local laws and whichever design you choose.

If you want to take on more ownership and make granular choices without going through a licensed contractor, you can apply for an Owner-Builder permit. But note that as an Owner-Builder, you are responsible for building the home and acting as the general contractor including coordinating inspections for each phase of the construction. You will need to find subcontractors who can handle each aspect of construction, from plumbing and electrical wiring to roofing and drywall installation. 


Which Option Is Right for You?

This decision has wide-ranging ramifications for the flow of your home’s construction. 

Owner-Builders have the privilege of taking on their own construction projects and, in return, earn a deep connection to the results. For many people, this is a dream come true. We understand — we’re in the home-building business! But we also have to advise you: Hiring a contractor offers more legal protection because they hold all the required insurance and certifications, making it less risky for the person who will eventually move into the property (that would be you!).

Keep in mind if you're an Owner-Builder, you're responsible for managing and obtaining insurance that may not be in your initial quote or plan. You will also spend more time searching for reputable subcontractors and tracking the spending on your project. That said, for the motivated individual, acting as an Owner-Builder affords the ability to stay on top of these tasks more rigorously than if someone else was overseeing them.

Due to the tremendous amount of time and work involved, we always ask that people think through what serving as an Owner-Builder entails. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your ‘ohana to decide which route is best for your project goals. We’re here to help if you need a sounding board!

The HPM Home Process

For an Owner-Builder

Whether you’re working with a contractor or acting as an Owner-Builder for an HPM Home, everything is permitted directly to the land owner, and these permits are required before commencing any construction. Once permission is officially granted, the differences between the two approaches have a lot to do with the distinctions in the law of that jurisdiction and associated proper paperwork. Because someone has to get through this paperwork, if you opt not to hire a contractor, that means you’re on the hook! Meanwhile, a flurry of subcontractor work can flood in too, so if you’re acting as Owner-Builder on your project, be prepared to manage both the administrative side as well as the construction itself. 

Working as an Owner-Builder also means being responsible for legal requirements related to building codes, licensing and safety regulations. You may also need to consider compliance with any other jurisdiction’s requirements related to ownership, such as occupancy and background checks.

For a General Contractor

If you decide to go with a building contractor, find out whether or not they’re bonded, insured, or neither. A bonded contractor has a Surety Bond, which guarantees the customer will receive the services they have paid for in full and protects them from any fraud or negligence by the contractor. An insured contractor has an insurance policy that provides liability coverage against damages to property or injuries to people that may result from their work.

While both are key in protecting customers, a Surety Bond does not provide physical protection but rather financial protection if something goes wrong with the project. Insurance policies can provide more comprehensive coverage that includes physical damage caused by the contractor's work. That’s why we recommend seeking out insured contractors. Since it can take a while to find one whose schedule aligns with yours, it’s best to start your search now.


How to Find a Reliable Contractor


To help our clients find trustworthy contractors, we put together the HPM Better Builder Directory. This online database lists qualified local professionals with valid contractor licenses and good HPM account credit standings. We also periodically recheck licensing, which you can also do yourself at the Hawai‘i Department of Consumer Affairs.

Do your due diligence with careful research to find a contractor you can count on. Meet the candidates in person for interviews so you can ask questions about prices, timelines and service expectations and get a quote. Also, note how well you get along with them—you’ll be working with your contractor for a long time after all. If you’re building an HPM Home, ask if the contractor has that experience—it’s not essential, but it is helpful since a contractor needs to be bonded with HPM to build an HPM Home. 

Having a reliable contractor on your team will ensure a smooth home-building experience, so take the time to delve into every option before making a decision! Once you have the right person for the job, you’ll need to prepare a written agreement with them, which we can weigh in on.




Building a home is a team endeavor, so you want people with experience and expertise on your side. Whether you take on the role of Owner-Builder or partner with a general contractor, our HPM Home Planning Consultants will be with you to offer personalized guidance and cheer you on through thick and thin.



Ready to Begin Your Homeownership Journey?

Contact our HPM Home Planning Consultants to schedule a consultation.

Hilo: (808) 319-2249   |   Waimea & Kona: (808) 762-6246   |   Kaua‘i, O‘ahu & Maui: (808) 319-2421



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