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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.


Let the Light In

Looking for that key design element to help your new home feel both unique and welcoming? Finding ways to increase natural light throughout your space offers multiple aesthetic and environmental benefits—from reducing electrical costs to improving sleep patterns, there’s no downside to building a home filled with Hawaii’s beautiful natural light.

Here’s three ways to draw light into your home and create a bright yet calming oasis.

  • Be innovative with windows and glass. Simply enlarging window size is one way to maximize the natural light in your home, but you should also consider adding windows in different shapes and in unconventional spaces. A series of smaller windows along the ceiling line of a bathroom, office, or small bedroom can increase light while still retaining privacy. Opting for higher ceilings also allows for more potential window space, giving you plenty of room for added windows.
  • Remove barriers to light throughout the home by replacing traditional doors with glass partitions or French doors—especially between common living spaces, in entry ways, and at exits. This is an especially good idea if you’re hoping to incorporate indoor/outdoor living spaces that automatically bring more light into the home.
  • Orient your home for the best light: North-facing homes enjoy more consistent, even-toned light throughout the day, so orient your primary living spaces and bedrooms in a way that takes advantage of the northern light without overheating your home. Incorporating skylights into your plans can also introduce northern light in rooms with fewer windows, while also improving the overall value of your home.

Remember, natural light reduces electrical costs, helps people develop and maintain healthy circadian sleep cycles, and has been shown to improve mood and productivity. If you are designing a new home, there’s no reason to shy away from floor-plans that fully utilize the benefits of increased light exposure.

Need help finding an expert to help design and build your new sunny space? Contact us today for a free estimate and for help finding the professionals perfect for building your home.

Building a Home in a Tropical Climate? Three Things You Need to Know

Living in a tropical paradise means enjoying access to beautiful beaches, stunning mountain views, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. But building a home capable of withstanding a humid climate and a rainy storm season can present challenges to new homebuilders hoping to create a sustainable environmentally friendly dream home. Here’s three ways your home can maximize the benefits of island living.

  • Keep air moving: prevent mold, stagnant air, and high electrical bills from elaborate cooling systems by working with your architect to design a home that allows for natural air-flow. Ensure that every major living space includes more than one entry-point, and enjoy plenty of cross-ventilation and natural light by including at least two windows in each room. Place vents and additional windows as high as possible to draw warm air out of your home, and remember to insulate both the walls and roof in order to stabilize indoor temperatures.
  • Plan for rain: Hawaii experiences anywhere from six to eight months of consistent rainfall- so good home design not only prevents water damage, but also finds ways to utilize rainwater effectively. A steeply pitched roof draws water away from your home quickly and efficiently, but creating an additional drainage and storage system ensures that water does not damage the home’s foundation and allows homeowners to use collected rainwater to maintain exterior landscaping or man-made water features.
  • Find the light, and orient your home accordingly: Avoid overheating your home with harsh sunlight by keeping east and west facing walls closed, or protected with window treatments, shaded awnings, or outdoor foliage. Placing windows and entrances on north and south facing walls allows for plenty of light while keeping your home cool and comfortable. But when it comes to installing solar panels, pay attention to additional factors like shade from nearby homes and trees, and work with your construction team to determine the best location for maximum access to direct sunlight.

A home well-suited to a tropical climate can make island living enjoyable, safe, and more affordable- giving you time and energy to enjoy all the benefits of Hawaiian living. Contact us today for free estimates, help finding the best professional team, and check our blog for more tips on building your dream home.

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.

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