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Bright Ideas: Lighting Design Trends for 2021

Building or remodeling your home? Don’t forget the lights! Lighting design is now a focal point of residential construction, especially with more people working from home, and new technology that makes high-quality lighting design as easy as…well…flipping a switch. Here’s the lighting trends we’ve got our eyes on for 2021 and beyond. 

Be bold

Light fixtures are no longer considered just an appliance—interior designers now see them as an essential part of the overall design of a room. Which means that dramatic, sculptural, and over-sized fixtures are in. 

Not only will this add more visual interest to your room, it can also significantly brighten your space, since many fixtures now contain more bulbs in larger sizes. Worried about the added brightness bringing a little too much intensity? Focal point light fixtures should always be attached to a dimmer to control the ambiance.

What to look for: Oversized chandeliers and statement fixtures in bold, geometric shapes. Floor and table lamps that look more like a fine art sculpture than a light fixture, and lighting made from unique materials like blown glass or textured metals. 

Get Smart

As mentioned before, dimmer fixtures are an essential part of good lighting design. But dimmers aren’t the only way to regulate the brightness of a room. Smart lighting now includes color temperature control, which means you can program your bulbs to give off warmer or cooler light based on the time of day or personal preference.

Some new LED bulbs even mimic natural sunlight, which can help improve mood and relieve stress—making them perfect for your new work-at-home office. And for even more customizability, most high-tech lighting options can now be controlled from an app on your phone, making it easy to dim, brighten, or warm up or cool down the lighting in every room of the house. 

Highlight your faves

Did you know there are three components to good lighting? General, accent, and task lighting are all necessary to achieve a truly well lit space. While many people are great at incorporating general lighting—the overhead lights and fixtures that illuminate the entire space, and task lighting—the lamps and fixtures on desks, end tables, and above kitchen prep areas designed to improve visibility, it’s easy to forget the importance of good accent lighting. 

Accent lights are meant to help highlight parts of the room and draw attention to a specific focal point. Which means they are perfect for highlighting your collection of antique canoe paddles, your art collection, or even the decorative molding along your ceiling. 

Whether it’s your child’s kindergarten masterpieces or your grandpa’s stamp collection, accent lighting is the final detail that makes a room feel truly finished. 

Lighting made easy

Lighting design starts at the beginning of the design process, and isn’t complete until the very last lamp finds it’s perfect spot within your home. That means you’ll need a team of professionals to get it done right—from electricians and contractors to speciality lighting experts. Here’s our bright idea: contact Home Planning Hawaii and let us help you connect with the best professionals for your project. 

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to try our free online estimator to ensure there’s enough room in your construction budget for that truly fantastic chandelier or light fixture. 

Kitchen Trends for 2021

Kitchen design is going through a major and long-awaited overhaul, both as part of the normal trend cycle and in response to the current work-from-home lifestyle maintained by both individuals and families.

A move away from the all-white kitchen was inevitable, especially when the concept became over-saturated on home design shows and social media. But there’s more to the latest kitchen trends than swapping out paint and cabinet colors. 

So if a new kitchen is in your future home design plans, keep reading. Here’s how home design is changing the way we decorate and use one of the most important rooms in the house. 

Photo: Maxime Desbiens, House & Home April, 2019

Kitchens that do more

Recent kitchen design trends favored spaces that looked more like a high-end gourmet restaurant over a residential home. White, minimalist, and high-end appliances were the norm, and designing or remodeling kitchens to conform to the designs seen on TV and social media became a standard part of building or buying a home. 

But the ubutious all-white kitchen is on it’s way out, especially since many homeowners are changing the way they utilize their spaces. Now it’s all about the multifunctional kitchen—a space that not only functions as a place to eat, but also as a place to work, entertain, study, and even just lounge.

More means more

The minimalist aesthetic of the last five years is being replaced with warmer paint and wood tones, as well as an eclectic mix of decorating styles. 

From displaying artwork and kitchen wares to adding texture through textiles and natural building materials, modern kitchens are a fresh mix of both old and new.  This allows the space to truly function as the central part of the home while blending in seamlessly with living spaces and other common areas. 

Return of the pantry

Walk-in pantries are back in a big way, and so are second kitchens. Both were once considered a waste of space or “old-fashioned,” especially since they don’t always work with an open concept floor plan. 

But homeowners are now interested in a kitchen that functions as well as it looks, and that means plenty of storage for food, appliances, and entertaining necessities. Walk-in pantries and second  “butler’s kitchens” provide plenty of storage and food prep space without cluttering the main kitchen and living areas. 

And for smaller spaces, homeowners are foregoing traditional spaces like dining rooms and dens to make room for pantries and prep areas that see a lot more use. 

Get your dream kitchen with Home Planning Hawaii

Whether you’re planning a remodel or a new build, designing the perfect kitchen is crucial. Let Home Planning Hawaii help connect you to the architects, interior designers, builders and contractors you need to create a kitchen that’s both beautiful and  up-to-date. 

Contact us today for more information, and get starting on planning your budget with our free online estimator.

When to Hire an Architect for a Remodel

You love your home—but you’re ready to make some big changes. We’re not talking about your weekend DIY paint job, we’re talking room additions, structural changes, and maybe even removing a wall or two. 

That means it’s time to bring in the professionals. While you’ll definitely need a contractor to execute your project, figuring out whether you need an architect is a little trickier. Some experienced contractors are able to handle a remodel from start to finish, so is paying for an architect really necessary? Let’s find out.

Here’s how you know it’s time to hire an architect: 

  • The cost of the remodel is more than 5% of your home’s value. There are certain projects that can change the appearance of your home, but don’t inherently change the structure of the space. Projects like installing new  cabinets or countertops, replacing the flooring, or installing large-scale features like a fireplace or new tub. 

Because these projects do not change the floorplan of your home and are relatively inexpensive, a contractor is usually more than qualified to get the job done. But if your project could dramatically impact the property value of your home by adding rooms or fundamentally changing the original layout, it’s time to contact an architect. 

  • You want to increase the property value of your home and/or resale your home for a higher price. Remember, projects that could dramatically raise the value of your home are considered major remodels—especially if they completely rearrange the layout of your home.

While there are some highly experienced contractors that can build you a new kitchen or main bedroom and en suite from the ground up, architects create designs that ensure your home maintains it’s value. Contractor created designs don’t always match the overall flow of your home, and could turn off future buyers who don’t want to live with an untrained individual’s design decisions. Using an architect for major remodels ensures that not only is the job done correctly, it’s aesthetically pleasing as well. 

  • You want a detail-oriented liaison between you and your contractor. Without an architect, you are responsible for communicating with your contractor about every aspect of your project, and making every design decision. An architect helps ensure the overall design vision of the project is maintained from start to finish.

An architect can be especially helpful if you are planning a project with a specific aesthetic or design requirements. For example, if you’re hoping to use sustainable materials and energy-efficient technology throughout your home, hiring an architect with experience in that area of construction can be particularly useful. Architects in specialized fields can also help put you in contact with contractors and other professionals needed to reach your construction goals. 

Whether you decide to hire an architect, contractor, or both, Home Planning Hawaii can help you find the right professionals for your job. Contact us today to get started, and don’t forget to check out our free online estimator to begin the budgeting process!

4 Fun Ways to Personalize your New Home

Congratulations, you’re building a new home! You’ve created a budget, you know your “must haves” and you’re ready to start working with architects, contractors, and builders and finally start making your dream home a reality.

And as a responsible homeowner, you know maintaining a realistic budget is crucial to the success of your budget. You’re not getting tempted with unnecessary add-ons, or upending your budget by changing your design every time you see the latest trend in home design.

You’re on the right track, stay on it! But before you finalize your plans and your budget, remember that if you just wanted a functional residence, you’d probably buy an existing home. Your new home needs to be yours, and that means personalizing your space and having a little fun with the design. 

Wondering how to add some fun back into the home design and construction process? Consider adding one or two of the following suggestions to your design plan. Not only are most of them budget-friendly, they might just be the thing you need to keep your enthusiasm alive over the next few months of construction. 

  1. Add in an element of surprise with a secret passage, room, or entrance. This doesn’t need to be elaborate, but swapping out the standard door for a hidden doorway (maybe in the form of a bookcase?) can make an otherwise every day closet into something special and unique.

This is also a great option for side by side kid bedrooms, stairways, loft access, or simply as a way to connect the  main bedroom to an  ensuite or  home office. 

  1. Want to make your kitchen feel like something out of a fancy period television drama? Bring back an updated version of a butler’s pantry. While this may require some budget negotiations, a butler’s pantry doesn’t need to be a major expense. 

Consider reallocating some of your kitchen, dining, or living room space to create a full-service pantry off your kitchen, complete with prep space, additional appliances, and extra food supplies. 

A Butler’s pantry is especially helpful for open concept homes, since it provides prep space for cooking that can be closed off from the main entertaining and central living areas. Just think, hiding your cooking mess from guests is just a pantry away.

  1. If you already know you plan to spend a lot of time using your outdoor living space, why not make room in the budget for upgrades that will take your porch or lanai to the next level. 

Whether it’s a fully functional outdoor kitchen, an authentic pizza oven, or an outdoor movie theater, spend your money where you spend your time, and skip on the upgrades that don’t truly add value to the experience of living in your home. 

  1. Transform necessities into focal points. If a standard rectangular staircase is already part of your design plan, why not explore modifying the design for a curved, spiral, or otherwise statement stairway—think added built-in elements, or using unexpected materials or colors. 

Statement stairways or similar accent features will help personalize your home, and distinguish your personal style from every other new build on the block. 

Need some help navigating your budget or the design process? Let’s connect. Contact us today for resources on budgeting, hiring the right architect or contractor, and getting inspiration for your next project. 

Design Solutions 101: Foolproof Floor Plans

Whether you lived in one or just tried to navigate it while looking for a future home, everyone’s experienced a house with a  poorly organized floor plan. 

From needing to walk across a private bedroom in order to access a common area, to kitchens and dining areas on opposite ends of the home, a home with bad “flow” is a risky investment and a very expensive fix. 

Fortunately, this is an entirely avoidable problem. For this installment of our Design Solutions 101 series, we’re talking about common floor plan issues and how to avoid them in your future home.

Floor Plans for Beginners

Residential floor plans tend to adhere to a set of basic standards. Kitchen and dining areas are typically placed near one another for easy access, and the bedrooms are oriented away from common areas in order to maintain a sense of privacy. 

In locations with long periods of temperate weather (like Hawaii) common living areas indoors often open up onto an outdoor living area like a lanai or covered patio. 

While floorplans do change over time, i.e. the rise of the open concept trend and the decline of closed concept floor plans with walls or partitions separating each space, most homes are designed to maintain a sense of flow or continuity throughout the home. 

When designing or remodelling a home, consider whether or not your floor plan allows people to easily move between spaces, and if you could successfully manage your daily routines within the space. 

For example, is it easy to bring in groceries from the garage to the kitchen, or does it require a long walk? Is the outdoor living space easily accessible to everyone, or will you be requiring guests to go through your bedroom in order to reach the patio? Do you need to climb an extra flight of stairs to get to the guest bathroom?  All of these things are worth considering when designing a floor plan. 

Find your Floor Plan

While basic standards for floor plans exist for a reason, it’s still  important to create a layout that works for your lifestyle—both now and in the future. And while open-concept floor plans remain incredibly popular, a modified open or “broken” concept home might be best for your circumstances.

If you’re planning on staying in the home after you retire, or anticipate elderly relatives moving in with you in the future, building a single-story home is likely a good idea for your circumstances. Stairs can be a major hassle for aging in place, and accessibility should definitely be a priority. 

However this means you’ll need to find other ways to distinguish between common living areas and private spaces, which may involve a floorplan that separates the home into different “zones,” such as grouping bedrooms into one area and kitchen, living, and dining in another. 

On the other hand, if you’re building a home for a growing family, you’ll maybe need to add an extra bathroom to your floor plan or increase the size of your common living areas instead of adding in a home gym or other single-use space. 

Whatever your floor plan needs, finding the balance between the logic of established floor plans and making modifications based on your individual needs is the best way to ensure you’re not making major changes to your new space.

Don’t Try this Alone 

A well organized home with good flow is easy to live in, maintains its value, and is relatively easy to update, since future homeowners are unlikely to need to tear down a wall or move a room for the sake of better convenience.  

And finding that balance between tradition and personalization is a lot easier with the right professionals—especially an experienced interior designer who can work with your builder, contractor, and architect to create a floor plan that works now and in the future. 
We make finding the perfect team for your future home simple and convenient, and our free online estimator makes creating a realistic budget easier than ever. Contact us today to get started, and we’ll put you in touch with the right professionals to answer all your floor plan questions and concerns. 

What you need to know about building a home in 2021

Homebuilders in 2021 face a complex set of construction challenges: supply delays and skyrocketing materials prices, low property inventory, and the lingering effects of the worldwide pandemic. 

It’s enough to make anyone long for the days where the biggest challenge to home construction involved finding the right contractor—which is also more important, and harder to do, than ever before. 

While there’s no simple solution to the obstacles of building a home in 2021, a little preparation for what to expect can go a long way, and make the experience less stressful and even possibly less expensive. Here’s what you need to know if you’re determined to make 2021 the year of your dream home. 

Anticipate Delays

Residential construction was already a cycle of “hurry up and wait” but you can anticipate even longer wait times now. Why? Several reasons:

  • Many contractors and builders are still behind schedule on pre-existing projects derailed by the 2020 pandemic. Which means finding a reputable contractor with any upcoming availability is especially challenging. It’s worth keeping a short list of professionals you’re interested in working with and checking in regularly to see who can start your project fastest. 
  • Pandemic-related shipping delays. A return to normal consumer behavior means an increased demand for shipping services. But suppliers are struggling to meet this demand both due to reductions in labor and a reduction in available transportation—especially maritime transportation. For Hawaiians, this is nothing new. Shipping materials from the mainland was always an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, but the new delays mean that patience is especially crucial for beginner homebuilders. 

Plan for and Mitigate Increased Costs 

  • Shipping delays and shortages are also driving up the cost of most construction materials, most notably lumber. Reports from The National Association of Home Builders state that material shortages are more widespread than ever before, especially for materials such as lumber, plywood, and oriented strand board. This is causing the prices to skyrocket, and further increasing existing construction delays. 
  • Some builders and contractors are trying to mitigate rising construction prices with “price escalation” clauses in their building contracts, which means that cost of construction will remain based on the current price for building materials, regardless of how much the costs increase over the course of construction. 
  • Another option? Deliberately pausing construction when prices spike without risking the structural integrity of the home. Some builders are building in a planned wait time after the foundation is built, or after the major framing is completed. 

With all the complicating factors associated with building a home in 2021, it’s never been more important to work with the best and most experienced professionals in the industry. We help homebuilders find the right contractors, architects, designers, and builders for their new home, and our free online estimator can help you navigate the ever-changing economic landscape of residential construction. Contact us today for more information on making the most of these unique (but not impossible!) construction challenges. 

Green Light: Hawaii’s Next Steps Toward Sustainable Energy

A new utilities program sponsored by the Public Utilities Commission will provide cash incentives to homeowners who install battery energy storage systems to new or existing solar power systems— on the condition that they allow Hawiian electric to access and use the stored power during the hours of 5 and 9 p.m.

Proponents of the program hope it will help prevent a power shortage after the planned closure of a coal-fired power plant in 2022.

Homeowners can get an immediate upfront payment from Hawiian Electric on the condition that they allow Hawaiian Electric to access their stored battery power for two hours a day for 10 years.

However, installing a solar power system requires a building permit from the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, so homeowners need to act quickly if they hope to get the necessary permits in a timely fashion.

The solar power initiative is one of the many ways both the Hawaiian government and many developers are  attempting to increase sustainable construction practices while protecting economic growth.

Potential homeowners can also limit their carbon footprint during their construction by working with sustainability-minded architects and builders with experience in green construction. And this means going far beyond installing solar panels on the roof. (Although that’s always a great, and financially savvy place to start!)

For example, architects can design a home that requires minimal external heating and cooling elements based on how they orient windows and doors, take advantage of natural light, and use the surrounding landscape to shade homes from excess light and heat.

Builders can swap out traditional insulation for high-quality alternatives that do more to regulate the temperature of the home. And as more alternative forms of insulation become mainstream—think recycled cotton and wool instead of the standard fiberglass foam—insulating a home can be environmentally friendly from start to finish. 

Limiting the amount of impermeable surfaces on a property can help prevent flooding and erosion, and home and landscape design that includes rain-water disbursement can also reduce water use and energy costs over time. 

Whether changes to the construction industry are mandated by legislation or simply become a better alternative to traditional practice, residential construction in Hawaii continues to go “green” in order to better achieve sustainability. 

So if you’re hoping to navigate the permit process in time to benefit from energy incentives for homeowners utilizing solar panels, or want to build a climate-friendly home from start to finish, let the team at Home Planning Hawaii help you find the right professionals and resources for your needs. Contact us today for more information, and don’t forget to try out our free online estimator to get started on the budget for your next project!

Big Changes at the Department of Planning and Permitting

Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting is undergoing some major changes, all intended to increase access to affordable housing and streamline the permitting process for new builds. Here’s what you need to know: 

Updated Affordable Housing Income Limits 

The DPP recently updated it’s method for determining affordable housing income limits. The guidelines now align with the limits established by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC).

As a result, the 2021 affordable housing income limits decreased 4.0%, representing the biggest drop in income limits since 2001. Additionally, the maximum rent for affordable rental units decreased by an average of 7.1%

The new guidelines are intended to help more Hawaiians qualify to purchase or lease affordable housing on Oahu. Maximum monthly housing payments  are based on income qualifiers of Low, Very Low, and Extremely Low in order to best serve a variety of economic situations. 

In addition to the updated income guidelines, The Honolulu City Council approved a $170 million toward affordable housing measures. 

Electronic-Only Permit Applications 

For over 20 years, anyone hoping to get a building permit approved in Honolulu has been forced to navigate the outdated DPP permit filing system. Applicants were allowed to submit both paper or electronic plans, which created duplicates, loopholes, and major inefficiencies. 

As of June 2021, the department only accepts electronic building plans through it’s ePlans system. This applies exclusively to the new construction of residential properties, although plans for additions and alterations, as well as commercial projects, are all slated to go online by 2022.  

The City Council also approved a $300,000 budget to modernize and upgrade the software used by the Department of Planning and Permitting 

No More Cash Payments 

In response to the federal indictment charges against five DPP employees involved in a bribery scandal, the Department of Planning and Permitting has announced a series of sweeping reforms designed to prevent future malfeasance. 

In addition to computerizing all permit submissions, the DPP is also eliminating  cash payments and fully digitizing the payment process. The possibility of adding a built-in auditing mechanism is also being considered.  

By going fully online with both the application and payment process, the DPP hopes to eliminate any opportunity for wrong-doing while simultaneously improving efficiency. 

A report from an independent investigator and the hiring of a “special master” to investigate management issues are also intended to reform the department.

Navigating Change with HPP

Whether you’re designing a new home, remodeling your current space, or hoping to build much-needed affordable housing options, Home Planning Hawaii is here to help. We offer free resources and advice from Hawaii’s best architects, draftsmen, and interior designers, as well as our free online estimator for a jump start to your next project. 

Three Ways to Increase the Value of your Home

Whether you’re planning a move or planning a remodel, everyone wants more financial security when it comes to the property value of their home.

Fortunately, increasing the value of your home is possible with just about any budget. Here’s our top three tips for a guaranteed return on investment, from improving the curb appeal to embracing the unique aspects of your home. 

Up the Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is a relatively obvious way to increase the value of your home. After all, a home that looks inviting and ready to move in is likely to sell for a better price than a home that looks like it needs substantial repairs.

But the benefits are more than just aesthetic. Whether it’s replacing a damaged roof, adding some landscaping, or repainting the exterior, upping the curb appeal has additional financial benefits. 

Repairing damaged roofing and repainting exposed exteriors can help preserve your home against additional weathering, preventing leaks and serious damage now and in the future should you choose to sell. 

Adding landscaping, especially in the form of large foliage or trees, helps create a shade canopy around your home and can help prevent soil erosion and flooding. Shade canopies also keep your home cooler during the day and provide additional protection against the elements.

With the right landscaping, you’ll not only save on energy bills, you’ll also improve the financial value of your home, especially once your trees, bushes, and shrubs mature. 

Windows for the Win

When it comes to building a brand new home or remodeling your existing space, bringing in plenty of natural light is a simple way to increase the value of your home. That means prioritizing big, high-quality windows as much as possible.

Even if you’re working with a smaller square footage, larger windows make every room seem bigger. This can increase the value of your home, since future buyers see a light-filled space as a blank canvas that could work for a variety of lifestyles. 

Planning on staying in your space for a while, or in the process of building a new home? Larger scale windows not only make rooms seem more spacious, they can help regulate the interior temperature when paired with high-quality insulation.

Triple-paned windows let in light but not heat, and insulation helps each room retain a consistent temperature. Now your windows are not just a cosmetic investment, but an energy-efficient choice that  reduces energy costs. 

Embrace the Quirks 

It can be easy to see all the quirks of an older home as an obstacle to resale, but embracing a home’s traditional charm can actually increase the value of your home. 

From original moldings, arched doorways, or unique design elements, highlighting and maintaining the things that make your home unique can often be a selling point to potential buyers looking for a home that isn’t like every new build on the block. 

And if you’re building a new home, don’t be afraid to add in a little personality and charm for fear of ruining the resale value. As long as it’s an element that can either be changed with little cost to a future owner, giving your home a little personality can be a selling point.

Want more tips on embracing your home’s original charm? Check out this post!

Find your People

Maintaining your investment and increasing the value of your home is easy when you’ve got the right people. Think of us as your go-to team for all things residential construction, from remodeling an older house to designing the perfect forever home. And don’t forget to check out our free online estimator for easy budgeting. 

Past, Present, Future: Things to Consider Before Remodeling

Ready to remodel? 

Renovating a home can be an extensive project requiring plenty of careful planning. Here’s  a comprehensive approach to  remodeling your home that takes the past, present, and future into account.

Remembering the Past

Before you begin knocking down walls or adding additional bedrooms, take time to consider your motivations for a remodel:

Why is there no longer enough space for everyone in the kitchen? 

Do you really need an extra bathroom on the main floor?

What spaces used to work in your home, but don’t anymore?

These questions are more than just a nostalgic walk down memory lane, they’re your roadmap to planning a successful renovation. If your house used to work well enough for your needs, what changed? 

Maybe your lifestyle or family changed since you first moved in. What was once the perfect home for a busy single professional now feels too small for an active family with young children. The lofted guest bedroom was perfect for weekend visitors, but won’t work for aging parents coming to live permanently. Or, like many people, the 2020 pandemic made you realize that a functional home office is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

Once you determine what changed in your lifestyle or family situation, you’ll be better able to figure out what needs to change about your home. From making a space more accommodating for multigenerational living to customizing a space for working from home, revisiting the past is a great way to plan for your home’s future. 

Protecting the Present

A successful remodel should solve design problems in your home without creating additional stressors. That may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many remodels unintentionally create new problems while attempting to solve others. 

As you work with your designer and contractor, make sure to identify the areas of your home that currently work well for you and your lifestyle. Spend a few days really noticing the flow of your home, identifying where people regularly gather, any unused spaces, and spots that seem overcrowded or perpetually messy.

If you notice that everyone seems to gather on the back patio every evening, it might be unwise to sacrifice that space in order to build a larger closet off the main suite, even if that’s what your designer initially proposes.

On the other hand, your formal dining area may look perfect in photos, but in reality, it’s mostly just a dumping ground for backpacks, work projects, or recreational equipment. In that case, transforming the space into a home office or gym might be the perfect, if not photo-worthy, solution. 

Planning for the Future

Once you’ve considered the past and present versions of your home, you’re finally ready to start preparing for the future, and designing a remodel that will help your home feel both timeless and functional.

Just like you remembered how your lifestyle or family changed since you first moved in, now it’s time to anticipate the future changes that may impact the design of your home: 

If your kids will be moved out and on their own in the next few years, how will that influence your renovation? 

How does an empty nest function differently than a home designed around the needs of a growing family?

Will this be where you spend the majority of your time, or do you plan on travel and exploration after retirement?

Are parents or grandparents planning on living here in the future? Is this home accessible for their needs?

Renovation Done Right with Home Planning Hawaii

Whatever your remodeling needs may be, we can help find you the right professionals for the job. From expert designers to experienced contractors and architects, your home is in good hands. Contact us today to get started, and make sure to try out our free online estimator as you create the budget for your future project.