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3 Best Hawaii Home Remodeling Projects to Instantly Increase Value

Looking for the most efficient way to add value to your home? These remodeling projects will make your home feel both functional and inviting. Whether you plan to stay in your home for years or hope to sell in the near future, here’s a plan for creating the best home on the islands.

  • Every Hawaiian knows space is at a premium when it comes to designing and remodeling homes. One of the best ways to increase your home’s value is by adding in-demand spaces to your existing home. If you’re living in an older home with too-few bathrooms, adding a half-bath or an en suite bath to the master bedroom can instantly increase your home’s value. Make sure your new bathroom addition recognizes the latest in home design trends: floor-to-ceiling showers save space while adding luxury and even a half-bath on a main floor or off the primary communal space can increase a home’s value by 9%.
  • Another way to increase home value? Remodel your kitchen into a functional, multi-use space filled with natural light. Though less budget-friendly, remodeling a kitchen is still considered one of the best ways to add value to your home and recoup most of your expenses. It is important to remodel effectively- remove unnecessary walls and eliminate any multi-layer transitions-steps, unneeded banisters- etc. to make your kitchen a focal point in the home that is easily accessible to everyone. Replace dated cabinetry and counter-tops with high-fashion materials that are easy to maintain- quartz counter-tops and natural wood are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Lastly, consider adding or enlarging windows to fill the room with light and give the illusion of added space.
  • Lastly, when your budget allows, consider finishing and transforming the unused spaces in your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, every 1,000 square feet of usable space added to a home increases the value by more than 30%. Not all completion projects are created equal, however. In places like Hawaii, creating additional living spaces offers the most return on investment- so look for ways to turn your attic into a spare bedroom and turn the patio into a rentable apartment before designing an expensive balcony or adding a second garage.

Benefits of Hiring an Architect

With the thousands of ready-made home design plans available online and through residential constructions companies, it’s easy to see the added expense of hiring an architect as unnecessary step in the home building process. However, while stock plans may work for many individuals, there are key instances in which hiring an architect can save you time, money, and stress. Wondering if hiring an architect is right for you? Consider the following benefits:

  • There are no pre-made plans for extensive renovations. If you are remodeling a home instead of building, you won’t find existing plans online or through a builder, since each renovation is different. Working with an architect means that all additions and remodeling projects are structurally sound and function cohesively with the original structure.


  • Architects save money long term: If you have specific needs or considerations for your home, a pre-made plan might not be able to meet your requirements, and making changes to an existing plan can add thousands of dollars to your budget. Furthermore, if changes are made during construction you could find yourself paying extra money for additional building materials or extended time spent on site. Hiring an architect ensures that your home design is customized to you, and that the ideas that look good on paper also function in reality.
  • Want a unique floor plan but don’t want to detract from the resale value of your home? A well-trained architect can design a home plan that stands out from every other home in neighborhood while still maintaining a home’s potential resale value. From helping you make design choices that are personalized yet timeless, to guaranteeing that the home’s layout remains accessible to future owners, an architect can give you the dream house you want now while still accommodating for the future.

At Home Planning Hawaii, we pride ourselves on our ability to match clients with the best architect for both their project and budget. Contact us today for help finding the best architect for you!

Inside Out: Designing the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

Bring the inside out: of the most important trends in residential construction involves the creation of outdoor living spaces that are just as functional, beautiful, and long-lasting as their interior counterparts. Gone are the days of small patios with limited utilization or a stand-alone barbeque stored behind the garage. Today’s new homes recreate all the convenience and comfort of indoor kitchens and living rooms outdoors in order to create new spaces perfect for entertaining and enjoying Hawaii’s beautiful tropical weather.

Ready to embrace this trend in your new space? Here’s how to work with your architect or contractor to create an indoor/outdoor home.


Homes that successfully blend indoor and outdoor living spaces transition the two spaces seamlessly and efficiently. Instead of seeing the outdoor space as separate from the rest of the house, blur the line between the two spaces with glass doors that slide or lift directly on to the outdoor space. Additionally, outdoor spaces are often semi-enclosed- increasing the useable square footage and protecting furniture and appliances from the elements. For maximum accessibility, kitchens and dining rooms inside should be parallel to those outdoors, so that you can move back and forth between the two easily and quickly.


Consider designing one big kitchen that just happens to extend outdoors. Specialty outdoor kitchen designers can work with your architect to properly place key appliances for maximum use, and help you design eating areas that work for the whole family. While investing in high-quality appliances designed to withstand outdoor weather is important, don’t forget to find the best building materials for your environment. Stone flooring instead of traditional wood increases durability, but make sure not to pick a stone that will grow slippery and dangerous when wet. Give yourself plenty of food-prep space and storage capacity and eating and entertaining outdoors will become an enjoyable routine.

Living Room

Turn your backyard into an entertaining oasis with a few key steps. Outdoor living spaces benefit from a variety of seating options- from outdoor sofas and loveseats to chairs seated around an exterior fireplace. Remember to include plenty of outdoor lighting options so that you can enjoy your space long into the night, and consider installing space heaters if your location gets chilly during the evening.  Use landscaping as a border between mixed use spaces and the rest of your yard while simultaneously adding visual interest.

Contact us today for help finding the right professional for your project!

How to Find the Perfect Floor Plan

Whether you’re working with an architect to create a customized floorplan or choosing from the variety of options offered by your builder, finding the right layout for your new home can be intimidating.

After all, it’s relatively easy to adapt to the design plan of an existing home- every homeowner remembers walking through a home and imagining themselves living in the space. It’s much more difficult to envision living in a home based on 2D architectural drawings, even if there’s a model home available to tour.

So how do you find the floorplan that’s right for you? The key is to make decisions based on the reality of your lifestyle now while remembering to plan for the future. Sounds simple, right? Here’s how to breakdown the “today” and “tomorrow” decision-making process.

Things to think about today:

• What size home do you need? If your lifestyle involves lots of travel and months away from home, you probably don’t need a spacious floorplan. But a growing family with multiple children probably won’t be happy in a minimalist small-space oasis. Avoid the temptation to use your new home as a catalyst for a major lifestyle change that doesn’t fit the needs of you or your family today.

• Is this layout comfortable and safe? Balconies, loft spaces, and open floorplans leading from kitchen to pool offer serious safety risks to small children. Considering moving grandparents into your new home? A design with three flights of stairs might make that impossible. Your design plan needs to do more than just look good, it needs to feel good too.

• What will this home feel like without the upgrades? Walking through a model home is a great way to assess the functionality of floorplans outside a black and white architectural drawing. But it is important to avoid getting distracted by beautiful countertops or fancy technology. Imagine the home without the upgrades, and see if you still feel confident in living with a similar space.

Things to think about for tomorrow:

• Is living here sustainable? The floor-to-ceiling windows and vaulted ceilings you love in theory may be difficult to maintain long-term. Can you afford to maintain the space in terms of heating and cooling? Does the layout make smart design choices that save money long-term? Talk to your builder or architect to make sure you can afford your home now and in the future.

• Does this stay within my budget? Square footage is not the only thing to consider when trying to determine the cost of building a new home. Remember that choices you make regarding building materials, interior design costs, and price of land all factor into your budget. Finding a floorplan that fits your needs and remains affordable throughout the construction process ensures both a happy homeowner and a beautiful new home.

How to Avoid a Bad Contractor

Nothing threatens the success of your home construction or renovation project more than a bad general contractor. A good contractor establishes and oversees the building schedule, works directly with subcontractors, orders materials, and manages equipment–so finding the right professional for your project is a vital part of the home building process. Want to avoid an irresponsible or negligent contractor? Here’s some warning signs:

  1. Presents a bid with a deposit that is either exorbitantly high or suspiciously low. Average deposit payments for a home range between 15-30%, so be wary of anyone who asks for excessive funds up front. More concerning? An untrustworthy contractor requires large sums of money before the project even begins and requests additional funding regardless of the status of your project. Only work with a contractor willing to schedule payments based on measurable progress, like laying foundation or excavating the basement.

Considering a lowball offer? Don’t. If the bid seems too good to be true, it’s highly likely the contractor uses subpar materials, or keeps costs low by skirting insurance requirements. Your ideal match will request a reasonable deposit and provide a schedule for when and why additional funds are required.

  1. Avoids leaving a paper trail. Whether dishonest or just disorganized, an ineffective contractor avoids making and sending clients a detailed schedule, regularly tries to amend or change their cost estimate verbally, and doesn’t provide proof of purchase when it comes to buying materials or renting equipment. Your new home is an investment, so your contractor should make it easy for you to monitor how your money is contributing to your dream home.
  1. Changes subcontractors regularly. The most effective project managers and contractors assemble a team of professional subcontractors who work well together. Talk to subcontractors in your area and ask them to share their experiences working with a potential general contractor. If a contractor’s team suffers from regular turnover mid-project, or is in constant need of replacements, steer clear– their inability to create and work with a team will only delay your project and cost you extra time and money.

While finding the right general contractor can take time, the experts at Home Planning Hawaii believe finding a skilled, honest, and affordable professional shouldn’t cause undue stress. We’re experts at finding the best contractors in your area, and can help you create the budget and timeline you need to ensure your project gets off to a great start. Want to learn more? Contact us today!

Reducing Home Construction Stress

Is it possible to build or remodel a home with little or no stress? Maybe. With unlimited time, resources, and professional help, building a home without ever feeling overwhelmed might be feasible. But since most people live and build in reality, focusing on reducing unnecessary stress during a major construction project is a great place to start. Here’s what you can do to prevent stress and enjoy the process of creating a new living space.


  • Know what you want, and stick to your plans. Building or remodeling your home involves a seemingly endless number of decisions. From materials to floorplans, there’s no end to the number of resources available when designing a new space. So it can be easy to get distracted by the latest trends, and it’s even easier to second guess yourself once the process starts. But if you’ve dreamed of living in a craftsman-style bungalow for years, resist the urge to change those plans midway through construction just because you toured and loved a more contemporary home down the street.

Once you’ve finalized floorplans, chosen materials, and worked with a designer to ensure each decision will lead to a well-planned, beautiful, and functional home, don’t waste valuable time and money second guessing your choices. Keep any required changes as small and inexpensive as possible. It’s one thing to decide you want the bathroom painted sage green instead of sky blue, it’s another thing entirely to move the master suite to a different floor of the house or remove a wall.

  • Make a budget and timeline, and do your best to stick to both. Know in advance what features you are willing to spend money on, and remind yourself that some upgrades are either unnecessary for your lifestyle, or can be added later once the major home expenses are accounted for. Working with an ethical designer can save you money, since they will show you options and styles that work with your finances. Avoid designers or salespeople who always push the latest upgrade or most expensive materials.

As for your timeline? Unexpected delays are inevitable when it comes to construction. Bad weather or waiting for the right subcontractor can cause temporary delays.  But while you can’t control a thunderstorm, you can maintain regular communication with your contractor and builder to ensure that scheduling delays are managed efficiently. Making a timeline in advance lets you know when key decisions need to be made, and helps keep you sane throughout the process.

  • Of course, working with the best contractors, designers, architects, and builders can help eliminate stress. Experienced professionals can make remodeling or building a home easier, especially if you’re not sure where to start, or how much to spend various aspects of your home. Contact us today and we will not only help you establish a budget, but we will help you find the right expert for your needs.

3 Simple Ways to Make your Home More Efficient

Any home designer or architect will tell you that a well-designed home should be both beautiful and functional. But we’d like to raise the bar a little higher and suggest that your new home should actively make your life easier. How? By increasing efficiency and saving you money. Want to make your new home “work” for you? Here’s three simple tips for increasing the productivity of your new home.

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  • Impact Resistant Windows

In Hawaii, most residential construction projects are required to install impact resistant windows capable of withstanding a category 3 hurricane or tropical storm. However, the islands regularly experience category 4 weather systems, putting your new home at risk for permanent damage. Installing windows with a higher impact resistance rating protects your home from weather damage, but also makes your home more efficient by reducing heating and cooling costs, minimizing noise pollution, and allowing for home designs to include lots of natural light without compromising safety.

  • Multipurpose Living Spaces

Current trends in home design are eliminating multiple hallways and enclosed spaces in favor of open-concept design plans that utilize space more effectively. If you want to further increase the efficiency of your home, consider making central living spaces capable of serving multiple purposes. A formal living room might only experience occasional use, but a living room that simultaneously serves as a library adds additional function to an otherwise limited-use space. Casual dining spaces can also act as homework centers, and your patio can double as an outdoor kitchen. Clean lines, limited enclosures, and a little imagination can make your home’s floor plan multipurpose and highly efficient.

  • Customized your HVAC System

Not every room in your house is the same size, maintains the same exposure to direct sunlight, or experiences the same level of use. A high-quality HVAC system allows you to customize the heating and cooling needs for different parts of your home, saving you money on energy bills while keeping each room at its ideal temperature. With advances in smart home technology, you can save time and resources managing your home remotely via your phone or computer.

Building a new home is an exciting but complex endeavor. Make sure the final results make your home life easier and more enjoyable. For help finding the right professional for your home, contact us today!

Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development, and Hawaii’s New Water Quality Regulations

Hawaii’s newly adopted rules regarding water quality go into effect on August 16, 2017, representing a significant shift in how home owners, architects, and construction companies design and build new homes on the islands. The new mandates hope to minimize water pollution caused by erosion and poor water drainage systems, but will inevitably increase the cost of new construction.

However, there are ways potential home builders can mitigate rising construction costs while still complying with the state’s new regulations. When researching architects and builders, look for professionals with experience in Low Impact Development (LID), and plan to incorporate LID or “green infrastructure” into your design plans.

LID or green infrastructure refers to construction and engineering practices that mimic the natural water cycle and prevents stormwater runoff from polluting the water supply, and Hawaii’s new water regulations hope to address stormwater pollution by preventing erosion and poor water drainage caused by land development. After August 16th, all new construction will need to submit construction plans detailing how their project complies with the new standards.

Here’s what you need to know about Hawaii’s new water quality rules, and how you can reduce construction costs through LID.While green infrastructure can be expensive, building a new home compliant with these regulations is still less expensive than trying to adapt existing structures.

  • Conventional residential construction removes almost all existing vegetation and topsoil prior to building. This leaves land vulnerable to erosion and flooding issues. The new water quality rules mandate that builders must address these issues by building expensive erosion barriers and digging trenches to redirect runoff.
  • However, by limiting the amount of disruption to the existing soil, construction projects can save time and prevent flood threats. Work with your architect to design a home that incorporates existing vegetation- orienting your home around mature trees or away from naturally occurring runoff trails.
  • A well-designed home can be functional and simultaneously prevent water pollution. Consider a rainwater collection system for your roof, which directs stormwater away from existing water supplies, and protects your home from dangerous leaks.
  • Design plans with reduced excavation requirements preserves indigenous soil distribution, so consider building a single level home with minimal foundation requirements. * Limit the use of large concrete blocks in favor of interlocking concrete pavers which allows water to naturally absorb into the soil instead of pooling and collecting bacteria.

Need help finding an expert in LID or want to make sure your plans are in compliance with the new water quality rules? Let us help you find the best professionals for your project and your budget.

The Benefits of Building Small

Building the perfect home doesn’t always mean building a big home.

With the rising cost of construction materials and ever increasing Hawaiian property values, building a home in Hawaii can feel financially impossible. But choosing to build a smaller home provides homeowners a unique opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of tropical living without the financial burden of constructing, furnishing, and maintaining a larger home.

While living in a smaller space may seem intimidating to homeowners accustomed to a higher square footage, the benefits of living small can easily outweigh the initial stressors of downsizing from a larger space. Concerned that a smaller home means sacrificing on good design and high-end amenities? Don’t worry, the recent small-home trend means every skilled architect is already experienced in the art of creating designs that make the most of limited space.

In fact, smaller homes often inspire better design that utilizes every square foot creatively and efficiently. You’ll be surprised how versatile a well-designed home can be, even without a formal dining room or supersized walk-in closet.  More importantly, money saved on building costs means you can focus your budget on innovative appliances or luxury aesthetic features to personalize your home.

As we’ve discussed before, smaller homes are more energy efficient, reducing the cost of utilities and helping protect the environment with smaller carbon footprints. Well-designed new construction takes advantage of the latest green technology while saving money and ensuring that the islands remain beautiful and protected for generations to come.

Living in Hawaii means daily access to some of the world’s best beaches and untouched natural scenery. Building a smaller home means funding your lifestyle, not just your home. After all, there’s less need for large living spaces when the beach is just a short distance away. Building a smaller home allows you to enjoy the innate luxury of living in a tropical paradise, regardless of the size of your master bath. If you’re ready to embrace the small home trend and build a home specifically customized to your needs, contact us today and we’ll get you started on finding the best professionals for your project.

Buy or Build: How to Save Money Building a New Home

Is building a new home cheaper than buying and renovating an older residence?

Yes and no. In all honesty, there’s no definitive answer regarding the cost of building a new home versus updated an existing residence. Factors such as location, house size, local real-estate markets, and architectural design all complicate the economics of choosing to buy or build. But when done correctly, building a home can save you money, and innovations in residential construction offer Hawaiians specific cost-saving advantages when it comes to new home construction. Wondering if you can save money and create the perfect home? Here’s a few things to consider:


  • Builders and architects are increasingly aware that bigger homes are not always better. Recent trends in home design focus on utilizing space efficiently and creating spaces that are both beautiful and functional despite their smaller size. In places like Hawaii, where real estate comes at a premium cost, it might be less expensive to build a smaller home rather than trying to update and remodel a larger, older residence.
  • Freedom to use the best materials with the lowest cost. Some of the latest building materials are higher quality and less expensive, and when sourced locally, might be available at a builder’s discount. Whether you incorporate reclaimed lumber or opt for high-quality synthetic flooring, building a new home gives you the freedom to use the best products with the best value, a great alternative to trying to match or replace the potentially expensive materials used in an existing home.
  • New homes are more energy efficient than ever before. From design plans that facilitate airflow to keep homes cooler to solar technology and eco-friendly water systems, building a home means incorporating “green” home features directly into your design plans instead of attempting to incorporate them retroactively. While this may increase the upfront cost of construction, the long-term financial savings are considerable.
  • Everything works. Building a new home means never being forced to replace an old roof or faulty plumbing three months after signing the closing papers. All the “surprises” of home ownership are eliminated, and many builders now offer long-term warranties to replace or repair your new home at no additional cost.

If you’re ready to start the process of building a new home (and potentially save money doing so,) contact us today to connect with the best architects, draftsmen, and contractors in your area.

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