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Building a Kid-Friendly Home

When building a new home for you and your family, it’s important to create a space that’s child-friendly and beautiful. And even if you plan on making your new place your “forever home,” you definitely want your space to function even after the kids grow up. Fortunately, good architects and builders can help you design a home that works now and in the coming decades. Talk with your home-design team about incorporating the following elements into your home, and enjoy building a dream space that meets everyone’s needs.

Storage, storage, and more storage: The key to keeping kid-centered spaces neat and functional is providing plenty of storage that can contain a variety of kid memorabilia— from the trains and blocks of toddlerhood to hockey sticks and high school art projects. Built-in shelving and closet space is key for keeping your home timeless and organized, and still looks beautiful long after the kids leave the nest.

Create flexible bonus spaces: While open-concept building plans are great for creating functional common areas, it’s important to designate some square footage as “kid only”
spaces that can change in purpose over time. Playrooms can transition into study spaces or multimedia rooms, and kids thrive in homes with specially allocated spaces for play and relaxation. And when kid-friendly spaces are no longer needed, the former playroom can easily become a guest room, home office, or gym.

Invest in indoor-outdoor living spaces: No matter how cool the playroom is, kids still like spending time wherever the grown-ups are. This makes indoor-outdoor living spaces ideal: kids feel free to play outside and explore since adults and older siblings are always nearby. Talk with your architect about designing an outdoor kitchen and dining area, or an open-concept sunroom that offers a great view your kid’s backyard adventures.

Bathrooms that actually increase home value: From double-sink vanities to a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between bedrooms, spending a little extra time and money to create kid-friendly bathrooms not only gives everyone enough space to get ready in the morning, it actually increases the value of your home. The double vanity in your kid’s bedroom might become the perfect his-and-her vanity for future owners living with aging parents, or future owners with kids of their own. Adding an additional pocket bathroom or a three-quarter bath is another great way to make your home functional kid-friendly.

Ready to start building the perfect family home? Check out our online estimator for a free cost analysis of your project, and contact us today for help finding the architects, contractors, and builders with the experience and expertise you need to make your next home truly special.

Making a Master Bedroom Santuary

It’s easy to overlook the master bedroom when designing a new home, especially when communal living spaces (think kitchens and living rooms,) require lots of space and detail-oriented planning. But given how much time is spent in a master bedroom, it’s important to work with your architect or designer to create a sanctuary worth escaping to at the end of each day.

Whether you’re working with personalized designs or building in a planned residential community, following a few simple tips can take master suite from standard build to relaxing sanctuary without compromising your budget. Here’s to creating a beautiful and unique escape within your home…

Give yourself some space: Whenever possible, orient the master bedroom away from central living spaces and other bedrooms. Whether this gives you some needed distance you’re your (otherwise well-loved) kiddos or just away from a busy kitchen or home office, physically distancing the master bedroom from the rest of the home creates the illusion of a private retreat where you can truly relax and unwind. An otherwise unused loft space is perfect for a master suite that exists on its very own level, and using necessary but less-utilized rooms (like a laundry room or home gym) can insulate your bedroom from noise while simultaneously providing privacy.

Create versatility with smart lighting: Ask your contractor to enlarge the windows in your master bedroom to increase the available natural light and add visual interest to your room. Of course, while natural light might be welcomed in the morning or early evening, don’t forget to invest in light and heat absorbing window treatments to keep your space sleep-friendly. Beyond windows, a variety of light sources—including those that can be adjusted for brightness—can help keep your space feeling warm and welcoming or cool and calming depending on your mood.

Make it yours: Personalizing your master suite helps make your bedroom a place you’ll want to spend time in, making it worth the initial investment. Whether it’s adding a little extra space to the en-suite bathroom to accommodate the spa-worthy tub and shower you’ll use every day after a long run, or building a comfortable reading nook to enjoy each evening, find a way to bring a little bit of your own unique personality to your master bedroom.

Creating a sanctuary-style master bedroom takes time and careful consideration, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today for help finding an architect to design your dream space, and for assistance finding a contractor or builder capable of making that dream a reality.





How to Spot a Lemon of a Fixer-Upper

Our last post covered the characteristics of a good fixer-upper: older homes that can be transformed into dream homes and potentially resold at a profit. But even if you find a competitively priced home in a great area, a home inspection can uncover structural issues extending far beyond cosmetic repairs—a “lemon,” or home with flaws that far outweigh the potential benefits of ownership.

Structural issues put an enormous strain on your budget, and should make you think twice before investing in the home. Want to know the top budget-busters of residential renovations? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to avoid choosing a lemon of a fixer-upper…

Watch out for:

*Water Damage: Long-term expose to leaks and flooding can lead to dangerous mold, degraded wood and insulation, and eventual foundation issues. Older homes are particularly susceptible to water issues, since poorly placed drainage systems, tilted driveways, and eroded pipes cause gradual but significant damage to the structural integrity of a home. Be wary of a home requiring extensive repairs due to water damage, as these issues are often ongoing and costly.

*Electrical Issues: Another issue common in older homes, rewiring or replacing the electrical system is rarely a DIY project, and hiring a professional will drive up the cost of your renovation quickly. Before buying a fixer-upper, make sure the home inspection doesn’t reveal excessive electrical hazards that make a home dangerous to live in and expensive to repair.

*A Damaged Foundation: Often the result of extensive water damage, foundational issues impact the entire home— causing cracks in the walls, uneven floors, and sinking window and door frames. Fixer-uppers with a bad foundation are a risky investment since many problems require you to raise and replace the foundation, a process that can cost several thousand dollars and is only sometimes effective.

By avoiding the “lemons” of the real-estate market, you’re better equipped to spot the true fixer-uppers, homes that with a little TLC can return your financial investment and provide you with a unique and personalized dream home. If you need help bringing an older home into the present, we are here to help. Contact us today for resources on finding the best contractors and architects in your area, and be sure to check out our free online-estimator for an initial cost assessment of your next project.



Four Questions to Ask About that Fixer-Upper

Ready for a new-to-you home? We all know that a fixer-upper is sometimes just a dream home in disguise. But we also know that purchasing the wrong property can lead to nightmare levels of expensive stress. Wondering how you can tell if the older home in your neighborhood is a real-estate Cinderella story waiting to happen? Here’s four questions to ask before investing in a fixer-upper.

*Is the price competitive? An ideal fixer-upper should cost significantly less than nearby comparatives, freeing up some of your budget for the necessary renovations. After all, why spend money on a home that requires extra work when you could buy a turn-key alternative for the same amount? Furthermore, a fixer-upper is almost always guaranteed to go over budget, even with careful planning, so securing your home for a low price guarantees you’ll be able to afford the inevitable surprise project.

*What’s the floorplan? Open layouts and floorplans still reign supreme in real-estate, and some older homes simply cannot be renovated to fit the ideal, at least not without extensive changes that may not be worth your money or your time. While some home repairs and alterations are to be expected when working with a fixer-upper, be wary of homes that will only “work” if you remove several walls or build a new addition. When touring potential homes, look for ones with “good bones,” homes that can easily be updated to modern standards without major changes to the original layout.

*What condition is it in? Major flood, termite, or fire damage may render a home too expensive to save, and any potential repairs may necessitate special (and difficult to obtain,) permits. Avoid homes that require you to replace entire systems: think plumbing, ventilation, electrical and stick with the homes that require cosmetic updates that won’t blow the budget: paint, minor landscaping, updated appliances. Of course, be sure to include an inspection clause in your purchasing offer, so you’re free to keep searching for the perfect fixer-upper if an in-depth inspection reveals excessive structural damage.

*Where is it? The age-old real-estate adage—location, location, location—is still very true, and a useful barometer for determining the long-term resale value of your potential home. Homes in desirable areas consistently sell for high prices, so a fixer-upper in a good neighborhood might be worth the risk. If you’re house-hunting in an unfamiliar area, take the time to check out nearby homes and businesses. Are neighboring homes in good repair? Are the nearby businesses established partners in the community? Well-maintained homes and businesses are indicators of high-value real-estate and an important question to consider before investing in a home that requires expensive repairs.

Despite the inherent risks to buying a fixer-upper, carefully considering the above questions can help you mitigate potential problems and find the fixer-upper destined to become your new home. The next step? Hiring the best professionals to help you plan, design, and transform your fixer-upper into something beautiful. Contact us today and let us help you find the best fixer-upper dream team on the islands.


How to: Survive a Home Renovation

There’s few things more satisfying than a successful home remodel, but it’s also an intense endeavor that can overwhelm even seasoned renovators. From trying to live in a construction zone to making sure your dream home doesn’t become a budgeting nightmare, it’s important to start the renovation process with a lot of patience and an open mind. Fortunately, we have a few tips to help you survive remodeling your home and maybe even have a little fun while doing it…

  • Make a Plan: Clear parameters are essential for any renovation project—maintaining established gorals helps protect your budget and your sanity. Work with your contractor and designer to determine the desired end-results, and do your best to stick to the plan, even if a late-night internet search reveals photos of the kitchen backsplash you never knew you wanted until just now.

 Remember, if your bathroom remodel calls for adding an en suite off the master bedroom, avoid the temptation to stop the project midway and swap out a soaking tub for a custom rainshower. Or, if you’re finally ready to create the kitchen of your dreams, disregard any last-minute decisions to knock out an extra wall in order to add a last-minute butler’s pantry. Do your homework beforehand and start your renovation with a clear idea of your needs and wants, and you’ll be less tempted by costly alternatives.

  • Honor the Budget: Any home construction project—from a small bathroom redesign to building a new home— needs a detailed budget that maximizes financial resources as much as possible. Balance your budget with low-cost decisions that make a big impact (like repainting the walls or refinishing cabinets,) with high-cost items like additional square footage or adding a window or skylight. Making budgeting decisions based on personal priorities and individual needs will help you save money while still loving the end result.
  • Know When to Hire a Pro: With a little research and a lot of careful work, some home renovations truly are a DIY endeavor. However, when it comes to large-scale additions, changing the overall layout of your home, or adding complex features to an existing space, it’s best to work with designers and contractors to ensure the job is done right. You can read more on our tips for avoiding a bad contractor in a previous blog post, but the essentials are always the same: hire someone who will let you walk through examples of their completed projects, contact their references, and then work together to create a contract with clear expectations for both parties.

Home renovation and remodeling can be stressful and expensive without the right team. Let us help you start your budget, find the best professionals, and get a little bit closer to living in your dream home. We’re the best resource for matching homeowners with leading experts in residential construction, so contact us today for more information on finding the perfect designer, architect, or contractor.

Latest Home Construction Trends

With all the exciting technology, building materials, and design resources now available to anyone considering a new house, it really is an exciting time to be creating a dream home. But with new “must have” trends developing almost daily, it can be difficult to determine which upcoming styles will help you design an innovative yet timeless home you’ll love living in for years to come.

Skilled architects, interior designers, and builders can help you make the important decisions, but it’s great to start these conversations with a basic understanding regarding the latest updates in residential construction. Need a crash-course in the latest home design trends? Here’s three things you should keep an eye on if you plan to build or renovate your home in 2018.


Smaller Homes, Bigger Spaces

Well-designed smaller homes continue to replace the sprawling McMansions that dominated the early 2000’s. But smaller doesn’t architects are sacrificing design. Instead, newer homes are smaller but more functional— with extra emphasis on creating larger common spaces for gathering and entertaining, and eliminating rarely-used spaces (think formal living and dining rooms.) Hallways and doorways are wider too, allowing better access for older residents who want to “age in place” as well as multigenerational families.

Modern but Practical

Clean lines, oversized windows, and open concept floor plans are all standard features of a modern home, but the latest designs combine both a contemporary aesthetic with convenience and practicality. Tall windows allow for natural light, and sliding glass partitions between rooms create air-flow patterns that further reduce heating and cooling costs. Open floorplans allow for rooms to be multifunctional–a space can easily convert from an at-home office to an entertainment center or exercise space. While you’ll see plenty of non-traditional elements in new homes, the designs consistently value a realistic approach while still retaining a sense of style.

Smart and Green

Green technology is quickly transitioning from an innovation to standard practice for many builders, but the latest trends tend to focus on green design that remains energy efficient no matter how much technology changes and adapts. From eco-friendly building materials like reclaimed wood to insulation made from recycled materials, homes are now more environmentally friendly than ever before. When combined with smart-home technology systems that regulate light and water use, as well as heating and cooling, tomorrow’s homes are safe and more cost-efficient than ever before

Ready to find the best designers, builders, and architects to help you navigate the latest home construction trends? We’re experts at helping match your project with the right professional. Contact us today and check out our free online estimator to start planning your new home.

Building a Home: Is it Worth It?

With all the time, stress, and expenses associated with building a new home, it can be easy to forget the benefits of working with a builder or an architect to create a living space designed to match your lifestyle. If you’re wondering if it is truly worth the hassle to build a home instead of simply buying an existing residence, here’s a few reminders that help highlight the benefits of building…


  • Your home is customized to accommodate your individual preferences: No one homeowner is the same, and building a new house allows people to focus on their specific design needs. So if you love entertaining, you can design a kitchen and dining area perfectly suited to big dinner parties by eliminating the traditional but unnecessary-for-you home office space. Planning for a growing family? Talk to your designer about adding extra bedrooms or opting to finish the basement. Whatever your future holds, building a home allows you to match your living space to your future goals.


  • Live in your dream house now: Instead of attempting costly renovations on an older home, building your next place allows you to start living in a home that already accommodates your needs. Furthermore, you won’t experience the worry of possibly forgoing your ideal renovation plans due to unexpected or unseen structural damage common in older houses. Getting things right the first time by starting with a new home can save you money long-term, even if the upfront cost seems intimidating.


  • New homes are greener and cost effective: From design plans that keep homes cool with high-quality insulation and strategic orientation to energy efficient appliances, your home can be as eco-friendly as you are— while still remaining within your budget. By including energy-saving strategies like solar panels or tankless water heaters into your initial home design plan, your home can start saving you money as soon as you move in.


Ready to start the process of building your dream home? We can help expedite the process and match you with the builders, contractors, and architects compatible to your needs and goals. Even better? With our free online estimator, you can start calculating your budget to ensure that your journey to a new home is both enjoyable and exciting.

How to: Build Multigenerational Dream Home

According to recent population data, multigenerational living in Hawaii is on the rise— from grandparents moving in with their adult children, to young adults who “boomerang” back home after college while establishing their careers. Fortunately, there are many benefits to multigenerational living, including reduced housing costs and increased home values. If you’re considering remodeling your home to accommodate additional family members, we’ve got three tips guaranteed to help all parties feel right at home.

  • Give everyone space. And no, we don’t mean putting a bed into your old office or cleaning out the closet of your guest room. If you’re considering moving aging parents into your new home, it’s important to remember that they are accustomed to space and privacy. Work with your contractor or architect to design a “home within a home” that includes not only a bedroom, but a possible seating area, private bathroom, and depending on the zoning laws in your area, a small kitchenette space. While it may feel like a big commitment, these additions will increase the value of your home and maintain healthy relationships across both generations.


  • Eliminate empty spaces. Few families regularly use a formal dining area, and while a two-story foyer looks lovely, it takes up valuable real-estate that could be used for a second master bedroom and attached bath. A multigenerational home doesn’t necessarily mean a larger home, it means using your square footage effectively. Make sure your remodeling project or home design avoids creating unnecessary or rarely used rooms, and focus instead on maximizing the usability of both common and personal living areas.


  • Think long-term. Building a mother-in-law apartment above the garage or on the second story may not work for elderly relatives with limited mobility, so make sure your plans work for all family members far into the future. Remember to consider separate entrances for both living spaces to ensure privacy, and be sure to determine whether or not you’ll need additional garage or parking space for multiple vehicles—all measures that will make multigenerational living easier while simultaneously increasing the value of your home.


Studies indicate that successfully integrating multiple generations into one home can strengthen relationships, improve physical health, and provide financial security for both the primary homeowners and their live-in family members. If your future dream home includes everyone from grandparents to grandchildren, contact us today for a free estimate on your remodeling or home construction project, and let us help connect you to the right professionals for the job.




Where to Spend your Money when Building a New House

Building a dream home that stays within your budget isn’t impossible, especially if you focus on elements that add monetary value to your home. While there are endless upgrades and options available for customizing your space, smart consumers will spend the majority of their budget on kitchens and baths, increasing the height of ceilings and windows, and installing high quality insulation and weather-proof windows to reduce energy costs. Here’s a breakdown on maximizing your budget and your design goals when building a new home.

Kitchen and Baths: From upgrading to gourmet appliances to designing custom cabinets, investing in a high-quality kitchen instantly increases your home’s value. Even better? The initial upfront cost is easily recouped at resale.  Customizations like installing high-end lighting, adding additional storage or counter space, or simply choosing coordinating name-brand appliances all allow you to enjoy your kitchen while guaranteeing you a positive return on investment should you choose to sell.

Bathrooms are also a great investment, and since features like showers and tubs are difficult and expensive to replace, it’s a good idea to allocate money upfront when it comes to finding the perfect rain shower or deep-soaking tub.  These features will also make your home stand out in a competitive housing market, especially if you build with a universal floorplan or in a planned community.

Ceilings and Windows: Vaulted ceilings help a home feel more spacious, and larger windows are an interesting design element that also provide energy-efficient natural light. It’s nearly impossible to change the height of your ceilings after your home is completed, and increasing window size is incredibly expensive— so work with your architect or contractor during the design phase to ensure these value-adding features are added to your preliminary plans. Need to stay within a tight budget? Increase ceiling measurements or window sizes on the main floor of the home, but stick with the standard sizes in the basement or in upstairs rooms where the increased height is less necessary and oversized windows pack less of a visual impact.

Protecting your home: High quality insulation can initially increase your building expenses, but reduces the long-term cost of heating and cooling your home. Additionally, good insulation can help protect your home from weather damage and structural deterioration over time. Since retrofitting a home with high-quality insulation is difficult work, plan ahead and consider installing insulation beyond the minimum-grade required by building codes. Your contactor can help you decide what types of insulation to use in various parts of your home, in addition to recommending energy-efficient windows that block out harsh light and help maintain a consistent indoor temperature.

Avoid unnecessary upgrades or special features: Stay within your budget and avoid luxury add-ons that do not significantly increase the value of your home. Indoor movie theaters, specialty pantries, and extra laundry rooms may look great on social media or in design magazines, but aren’t worth sacrificing your budget—especially since they can often be added later at minimal expense. Identify the most cost-efficient priorities for your dream home, and plan your budget accordingly. You’ll be surprised how far your money can go towards creating a beautiful home.

Need help finding the right architect to help you identify your design priorities? Contact us today for help connecting with the right professionals for your project, and click here for a free estimate.


Understanding Hawaii’s New “Monster Homes” Bill

Individuals hoping to build a new home in Honolulu’s residential zones may need to alter their construction plans in response to Bill 110, a land-use ordinance recently signed by Mayor Caldwell and considered effective as of March 13, 2018.

Created in response to the increase of “monster homes” on Oahu, this bill places an immediate moratorium on the construction of all large dwellings in residential areas. While the long-term results of this bill are still being determined, interim regulations state that no new permits will be accepted or issued for the development of large detached dwellings or the conversion of existing structures into a LDDs, unless said plans conform to additional ordinance provisions.

Additionally, no permits will be issued for two-family homes in the R-5 residential zone on lots less than 10,000 square feet, as homes built on these properties are seen as potential candidates for conversion into illegal multifamily apartment-style dwellings or short-term vacation rentals.

Large dwellings are defined as any structure that exceeds a .7 FAR (Floor Area Ratio.) For example, if your home is built on a 5,000 square foot lot, the home cannot exceed 3,500 square feet. New LDD builds must comply with the following regulations in order to receive a building permit:

  • The number of wet bars cannot exceed two.
  • Each new dwelling can only include one laundry room.
  • Additional off-street parking spaces must be provided, the number of spaces increasing in direct proportion to the size of the home. For instance, a 2,500 square foot home must provide 2 off-street spaces, while a 4,500 square foot home must provide 5.
  • Likewise, the number of bathrooms permitted in new builds is limited based on size. Homes up to 4,000-square feet cannot include more than 2.5 bathrooms, and the bathrooms in homes between 7,000-8,000 square feet cannot exceed 6.5

Proponents of Bill 110 hope that eliminating the construction of “monster homes” will prevent newly constructed homes from comprising the character of residential areas, as well as avoiding unreasonable strains on a community’s infrastructure and energy consumption.

In order to ensure compliance with the regulations outlined in Bill 110, all new builds will undergo post-construction inspections, and penalties will be levied to anyone found in violation.

Fortunately, complying with this ordinance does not prevent potential home builders from designing and creating a beautiful dream home in Oahu. Contact us today for a free estimate and assistance connecting with the perfect architect or builder specially trained to help you maximize all the available space in your new home.


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