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Five Kitchen Design Trends Perfect for Your Hawaiian Home

Once a room homeowners tried to keep out of sight from guests and visitors, the kitchen is now the undeniable heart of every modern home. It’s where people entertain, spend quality time with family, or even relax after a long day. So if you’re building a new house, it’s important to make your kitchen as inviting and functional as possible. Fortunately, many of the latest trends in kitchen design work perfectly for new Hawaiian homes.

Here’s our favorite of the current design trends, guaranteed to help you build a new kitchen that’s both current yet timeless.

1.Smart-design kitchens with plenty of customizable cabinetry and work-space options specially designed to utilize every inch of space and avoid clutter. Think concealed cupboards and hidden drawers for small appliances, and pull-out or moveable food prep stations that disappear once the cooking and baking ends. While every kitchen design needs to maximize its square footage, this trend is especially great for smaller island homes or multigenerational residences with plenty of cooks in the kitchen.

2.Multi-functional islands to best maximize storage and seating options. Kitchen islands serve a myriad of functions, from acting as the at-home bar to the after-school snack station. Which is why the latest home kitchen designs include a large island with built-in appliance and bakeware storage while also providing enough space to seat additional guests.

3.Natural elements, such as exposed wood and stone, in darker tones for a dramatic effect. Goodbye, all-white kitchens. Good news: matte stone countertops and dark wood cabinets look especially striking in rooms with plenty of natural light, so take advantage of Hawaii’s beautiful landscape and fill your kitchen with as many windows as possible to make this current trend a long-term classic.

4.Built-in seating and dining options that blur the lines between dining and living spaces. Open concept floorplans are nothing new, but the latest home designs further dissolve the line between kitchen and communal spaces. Built-in bench seating and fold-out or adjustable dining tables open up more floor space to include reading nooks and other entertaining spaces usually only found in a traditional living room—another innovative solution for small to mid-size homes.

5.Statement pieces that act as timeless works of art. From gourmet ovens to designer lighting, kitchens are a perfect space to highlight investment pieces that are both functional and beautiful. Want to include a statement piece in your kitchen without breaking the budget? Choose a bright and unique color for your cabinets, like a forest green, sky-blue, or dramatic red.

Need help finding a designer and architect to implement your plans for a dream kitchen? Contact us today and we’ll help you find your home construction team, starting with establishing a budget. Our free online estimator is a great place to start!

How to Modernize Your Home

If you love your current home but want it to look and feel more like the newer homes being built across the islands, it might be time to modernize your space. More than just a renovation to add square footage or replace aging materials, modernizing your home does more to increase the value of your property while simultaneously improving your quality of life. And don’t worry, modern doesn’t mean trendy—a good architect or builder can design modern upgrades with timeless and long-term benefits.

For the best return on investment, start in the kitchen. This is the number one room homeowners and buyers wish they could expand, so if possible, take a closed-off kitchen and create an open floorplan between the kitchen, dining, and living areas. If a major renovation isn’t in the budget, you can modernize with new appliances, repaint the walls and cabinets in neutral tones, and replace fixtures with contemporary alternatives. Mid-level changes include new countertops in a sleek quartz, or new cabinets with plenty of storage.

Get smart: from smart thermostats that keep track of temperature preferences to energy efficient water heaters and HVAC systems, the biggest difference between the newer homes and older residences is often just technology. Start simple by installing new ceiling fans and LED light bulbs, or commit to going green with solar panels and new appliances throughout the home. No matter where you start, your budget will thank you, both now and if you choose to sell your home in the future.

Update your curb appeal with a new porch or patio. A new porch, especially with an added roof feature, can dramatically transform an older home. Replacing or repainting worn out siding or adding natural wood elements and new stonework can further help your home blend-in with newer builds. Residential architecture currently favors contemporary and craftsman style exteriors, which means a new porch in either style can help create a cohesive and modern look for your home.

Add an en-suite. En-suite bathrooms are basically standard for new home designs, but are rarely found in older homes. If possible, work with a designer and contractor to add a master bathroom to your home—both to increase your home’s property value, and to avoid sharing the hallway bathroom with guests and family. Keep the design elements simple to appeal to a wide audience, and use accents and décor to personalize the space.

When you’re ready to modernize your home, Home Planning Hawaii is your one-stop destination for finding the best professionals in residential construction. Contact us today to start modernizing and renovating your home, and you’ll be enjoying a new-to-you space in no time!

Maximize your Floorplan

Ever look at residential floorplans and wonder what they’ll really look like in “real life?” Wondering if anyone really ever uses that enormous kitchen, or that half bath off the living room? Planning on building a home in Hawaii where space is often at a premium and small to mid-size homes dominate the market? You need a floorplan that maximizes every square inch of space. Fortunately, maximizing your floorplan doesn’t mean giving up your ideas of what makes a dream home. Here’s three tips for making the most of your floorplan, no matter what the square footage.

First, create a floor path and a floorplan. Designs for a new home might look great on paper only to function poorly in execution. Want to avoid building a beautiful but disorganized home? Make sure you can map a clear floor path through the home that works for you, your family, any potential guests. Does accessing the outdoor living space require guests to walk through a private bedroom, or is there a more convenient entry from the living room? Can all members of the family access shared bathrooms easily? Can you bring in groceries from the garage quickly and efficiently, or does your floorplan require you to move through two different doorways and up a flight of stairs? Creating floor paths through your design plans can help ensure your home works in reality as well as on paper.

Borrow space: If you’re working with limited square footage, borrow space from transition or limited-use areas like hallways, entryways or foyers, guest rooms, or half-baths. These spaces likely won’t miss a few inches of space, but your master suite, kitchen, or even laundry room will definitely benefit. One exception to this rule? Minimizing hallways and bathrooms if you hope to keep your home accessible for elderly family members who may need wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. For homes that need to remain accessible to all members of a multigenerational family, borrow space from laundry rooms, offices, or guest-room closets.

Lastly, plan for the future: Whether it’s planning for future kids, grandparents, or even the return of adult children, multigenerational families are on the rise, especially in Hawaii. That’s why it’s critical that new home builders plan for a potentially non-traditional living environment. And while it’s impossible to plan for every potential scenario, a well-designed floorplan should accommodate a variety of scenarios, without requiring major renovations. Single-level plantation or bungalow style home are great for homeowners concerned about limiting accessibility with stairways, and adding a small but functional en suite bathroom to a second bedroom can provide privacy and independence for families living with grandparents or adult children.

In order to fully maximize your floorplan, you’ll want to work with the best architects and designers, and we’re here to help! From finding the right builder to designing a unique floorplan custom-made for you and your needs, let us help make the home building process easier and more convenient than ever. Contact us today for quotes, permitting resources, and tips for getting started on your next home.

Building for the Affordable Housing Market: Making the Most of Bill 7

Honolulu’s newly signed Bill 7 hopes to make building affordable housing easier and more financially viable. The bill allows property owners with lots 20,000 square feet or less the option to construct new homes— on the condition that they charge rent on 80% of the new units at a rate deemed affordable for those making 100% or below the city’s median income.

Bill 7 also offers several financial incentives to property owners, including waiving the fees for building permits, parking, and wastewater facilities, and a 10-year waiver on property taxes. When combined with an expedited permitting process, it’s never been a better time for property owners to consider investing in building a rental property with the potential to generate income in perpetuity.

Want to make the most of your property under Bill 7? With some carefully budgeting and good design, you can build a rental property that’s both affordable and profitable. Here’s our top five tips for building a rental home for the affordable housing market.

  • Create the illusion of light and space: In single story homes, maximize a pitched roof to create vaulted ceilings that not only make the space look larger, but allows for larger windows to bring in more natural light. Well-designed rooflines can also provide increased air ventilation, and added well-placed windows can further reduce energy costs.
  • Make the space multifunctional: Small spaces require ingenuity, so use sliding doors or partitions that can be moved to expand a dining space out onto the patio, or close off a common area into a temporary guest space. Materials like glass or vented wood work particularly well at dividing space without making rooms seem too small.
  • Use space efficiently: When working with limited square footage, make every inch count. Create storage space under stairwells, use tall ceiling-height cabinets in kitchens, create add additional shelving in closets wherever possible.
  • Keep floorplans simple: Open-concept homes with plenty of multi-use space appeal to renters who want to be able to make their individual lifestyles work while living in a space they can’t personally renovate or change. Make the kitchen, dining, and living spaces flow together, and allow residents to use furniture to create use-specific spaces according to their needs.
  • Invest in quality building materials where it counts: A rental home might not require high-end marble countertops in the kitchen, but you’ll see a better return on your investment property when you utilize high-quality materials in a few key areas. Good insulation and roofing materials keep cooling costs to a minimal, as do energy efficient appliances and well-designed windows. Spend your money where it will go the farthest, and look for remnant materials for the cosmetic choices whenever possible.

Ready to get building? Home Planning Hawaii can connect you with experts in both home construction and design, as well as help you navigate the permitting and incentive process. Start by checking out our free online estimator, and then let us help you find the best professionals for your next project!

Everything You Need to Know About Hawaii’s New Construction Laws

Two recently passed Bills regarding residential building may change the way homeowners, builders, and architects approach Oahu’s home construction process. Bill 79 (Ordinance 19-3,) which replaced Bill 110 (Ordinance 18-6) concerns the approval process for “large dwellings,” or what many refer to as “Monster Homes.” On the other hand, Bill 7 completely reconfigures the building codes for small parcels of land in an attempt to make it easier for property owners to develop affordable housing options for lower income residents.

Interested in building a new home, or transitioning an existing property into a single-family residence? Here’s everything you need to know about both bills, and how they impact new or renovated builds.

Bill 79

Passed on May 3, 2019, this ordinance replaces its predecessor (Bill 110,) and creates additional guidelines for the construction of large dwellings. Many of the original requirements remain the same—new homes cannot exceed a floor-area-ratio (FAR) of .07, meaning no more than 70% of the property can occupied by the structure.

However, additional building regulations require buildings with a FAR greater than .06 to maintain 8-foot rear and side yards, and limits how much of the property can be covered with an impervious material like concrete or asphalt to 75%. The City Council noted that large residential lots covered in concrete surfaces increase potential water-damage via storm-water runoff and raise ambient temperatures.

Additional development standards included a maximum height restriction of 15 feet, and mandates that structures exceeding the height requirement must be set further back from all property line boundaries. The Bill maintained existing limits on the number of bathrooms, laundry rooms, and wet bars permitted in a home using a sliding scale based on square footage, as well requiring sufficient parking spaces for each building.

Bill 7

Created in response to the affordable housing crisis present throughout Hawaii, this law makes it easier to create walk-up rental units for tenants earning 100% or below the city’s area median income. Changes to the zoning laws now allow residents to turn existing buildings or unused property in mixed-use areas into apartments. Due to these changes, currently defunct office or commercial spaces can become housing units throughout the city. Lawmakers suggest these changes could add up to 500 housing units per year to the housing market.

Financial incentives are also provided to property owners with lot sizes 20,000 square feet or smaller, including property tax exemptions, building permit fee waivers, fewer parking requirements, and special financing options provided by local banks.

Whether you hope to build a new home or renovate a small property into an apartment, Home Planning Hawaii can help. From navigating the ever-changing permitting process, to finding the right contractor or architect, we provide a complete resource guide to connecting with the best construction experts in Hawaii. Contact us today to get started, and don’t forget to check out our free online budget estimator!

The Unseen Magic of a Good Interior Designer

While it’s easy to understand the importance of a great architect and a reliable contractor, many homeowners underestimate the role of a high-quality interior designer in creating a home that’s both beautiful and functional.

But if you want a home that feels timeless, fits the needs of your lifestyle, and also happens to look incredible, an interior designer is an essential part of the home remodel or construction process. Here’s some of the oft-ignored benefits or working with a skilled professional when designing your home…

An interior designer is specially trained, and different than an interior decorator. Interior decorators are fantastic—they are great when it comes to finding and arranging beautiful pieces for your home.

However, an interior designer creates functional and well-designed spaces alongside architects and contractors. An interior designer will work with you and know that your lifestyle requires larger common spaces and more natural light, while another client may need a quiet master-bedroom that acts as a retreat from the outside world. And yes, they’re great with color and furniture as well.

Even if your architect is creating completely customized plans for your home, they may still rely on certain design conventions that don’t fully work for your vision of an ideal living space. An interior designer can help truly personalize your home design—anything from orienting rooms and windows for maximum use of natural light, to using storage space wisely and efficiently.

And while an interior designer may increase your overall budget, a well-designed home automatically earns higher resale value, since potential buyers will spend less time imagining future remodeling projects and more time envisioning themselves in a space that’s already designed for high-quality living.

Fortunately, when it comes to sourcing hard-to-find materials or unique pieces for your home, designers often have access to products not available to the public, and at wholesale pricing. Which means you’ll get a personalized and unique home for a fraction of the cost.

Lastly, interior designers can help you navigate the thousands of design and construction options available when building or remodeling your home. From making sure all your tile choices coordinate from kitchen to laundry, to helping you determine the number and size of closets and bathrooms per bedroom, interior designers can help you avoid decision overwhelm and assist you in making coherent and timeless decisions for your home.

For help meeting the best interior designer for your needs, contact us today! We’ll kickstart the process of finding the perfect design team for your new space, from architect to interior designers to contractors.



Four New and Cost-Efficient Techniques for Building Green in Hawaii

Sustainable construction has come a long way from standard solar panels and reclaimed wood. While those are still great options, the evolution of green construction allows you to build a dream home capable of saving both resources and money. From “passive” energy options incorporated into your home design to specially modified materials, here’s a few of the latest innovations in green building.

Ridge and Soffit Ventilation: Ideal for Hawaii’s Plantation-Style homes, this ventilation technique utilizes vents (soffits) beneath the eaves of the roof to draw fresh air into the home. As warm air rises towards the roof, ridges along the roofline release the hot air, keeping homes cool without and expensive and high-energy cooling system.

Passive Solar Design: While solar panels, (or “active” solar devices,) are a great investment for your home, you can also employ energy efficient home construction to harness passive solar energy. This design model incorporates the basic elements of the home—windows, walls, and floors—in order to collect, distribute, and reflect solar energy.

South-facing windows collect heat throughout the day, which is then absorbed by the walls or floors. Energy is stored as “thermal mass” beneath these structures, and released via cross-ventilation or energy efficient convection systems. A well-designed home can therefore maintain a constant comfortable living temperature with little outside intervention.

Insulated Concrete: Insulated concrete is made by pouring concrete between several layers of insulation, creating a building material that is highly durable and disaster resistant-meaning it is impervious to mold, mildew, and rotting. Used instead of traditional wood framing, insulated concrete also protects your home from extreme temperatures and helps reduce the energy-footprint of your home. Due to Hawaii’s humid climate and sustained rainy season, insulated concrete is one viable way to protect your home against the elements.

Thermally Modified Wood: Wood is carefully heated in an oxygen and chemical-free chamber, making it hyper durable and therefore more eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable. This is an especially appealing option for Hawaiians since this material also resists water damage and warping due to humidity.

Need more information on going green in your new home? Home Planning Hawaii specializes finding the right experts for all your residential constructions needs. From free estimates to finding the right architect, contacting us today is the first step to making your dream home an (environmentally sustainable) reality.






Four Hot Home Renovations to Kickstart Your Summer

Ready to upgrade your home this summer? Make the most of your Hawaiian dream house with four renovation projects that take advantage of the near perfect weather and beautiful tropical landscapes. From making your place a little more energy efficient to building the perfect guest room, consider these updates a homeowner’s guide to the perfect summer.

  1. Hawaii’s rainy months are over, so it’s the perfect time to build that Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU,) or in-law addition. Remember, more square footage can increase your home’s value, allow for an easy transition into multigenerational living, or just provide more room for guests and family.
  1. Repair or replace your roof—especially if you live in an older home. Years of rain and sun can damage your roof over time, making spring and summer the ideal time to check for damage and start researching replacement options. While asphalt or wood shingles are still considered the norm in roofing, new homes on the island are often using weather and climate resistant slate or tile options instead.
  1. Go green: Install solar panels, upgrade your windows to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems, switch to energy efficient appliances or HVAC systems, or create an irrigation system to preserve and utilize rainwater. Good news: sustainable homes save money over time by reducing energy and water costs, and summer is a great time to make your home more environmentally friendly.
  1. Of course, no summer renovation project would be complete without an upgrade to your outdoor living space. Whether you build a simple patio with a fire pit or design a fully-functional outdoor kitchen, creating a permanent outdoor space can act as an extension of your home and help you take true advantage of Hawaii’s beautiful weather.

As always, we’re here to provide all the resources you need to make summer remodeling a breeze. Whether you use our free online project estimator to start planning a budget, or contact us for guidance in finding the very best contractor for that new addition (or amazing outdoor kitchen!)

Reclaim Your Hawaiian Dream Home

Lucky enough to live in one of Hawaii’s older residences? Congratulations! You’ve captured part of history—and a home filled with plenty of charm and character. But like all priceless antiques, your heirloom Hawaiian residence needs plenty of care, especially after decades of summer sun and tropical storms.

Fortunately, there are many ways to help keep your older home looking and feeling new— from large-scale renovations to equally important, (but less ambitious cosmetic changes.) Wherever you are in your historic (or even just a little worn around the edges,) home reclamation process, we’ve got the best remodeling and renovation projects for your budget.

Starting Small: No need for a major facelift? Minor updates to an otherwise well-maintained home can increase overall value and make you feel like you managed a major remodel with minor stress to your budget. Start by adding cohesiveness to your home by updating lighting and water fixtures and adding uniform design touches throughout the house‑ think coordinating baseboards and crown molding in each room.

Mid-level renovations: If you’re livening in a home that is well-built, but perhaps a little out of style, these projects are for you. Refinish or replace old floors, especially carpeted floors that may have deteriorated in Hawaii’s humid climate. Make sure to maintain the same flooring material in the same stain or color scheme to help your classic home feel a little more modern.

On your home’s exterior, repaint using a high-grade paint guaranteed to survive at least ten years’ worth of heavy storms, sun exposure, and moisture. In addition to giving your house an instant facelift, keeping your home freshly painted helps prevent cracks, water damage, and even termite attacks.

Modernize long-term: Some older homes retain their surface charm while hiding dangerous structural issues that need immediate attention. Before starting any cosmetic projects or new additions, repair and raise a cracked or sunken foundation, replace a damaged roof with weather-resistant roofing, (complete with adequate draining,) and update any faulty electrical or plumbing systems.

Whether you’re starting small or planning a complete overhaul of your Hawaiian dream house, we can help. We provide homeowners with all the resources they need for remodeling or building a new home. Contact us today for project estimates and information on getting started!

Four Important Questions to Ask Before You Remodel

Whether you’re making room for a growing family, upgrading your kitchen, or creating the en suite bathroom of your dreams, remodeling your home requires lots of careful planning. Wondering where to start? These four questions can help you identify your needs and align them with your current home and budget, making your renovation a little less stressful and a lot more rewarding.

1.What do I really need? It’s easy to think you need a large-scale home renovation when you’re feeling cramped in your existing space, but when it comes to potentially expensive remodeling projects, sometime less really is more.

Do you need an extra bedroom, or just more dining space in your kitchen? Will you get more use out of a larger common living area or a private work or office space? Determining your exact needs instead of relying on an ambiguous desire for “more space” will help you and your contractor create an addition that truly fits your lifestyle.

2.Will this addition fit within the overall design? We’ve all seen awkward home additions that ultimately reduce the value of the home. Before you remodel, make sure your addition functions within your existing floorplan—avoid additions that require awkward hallways or entryways, changes that block natural pathways between common living spaces, or oddly placed extensions that reduce the curb appeal of your home.

3.What is the overall condition of my home? Older homes usually require additional maintenance and repair during a remodel, especially when working with plumbing and electrical systems. Be sure to factor any pre-renovation repair work into your budget, or run the risk of encountering costly surprises that could break your budget before remodeling even begins.

4.Is my renovation legal? Hawaii’s residential construction regulations vary by zone, type of project, and size. You’ll almost certainly require a building permit, so make sure to hire an experienced contractor or architect with a thorough understanding of the state’s permitting laws.

Need a guide in finding an expert? We’re here to help. Contact us today to get in touch with the construction professionals guaranteed to have the answers to all your remodeling questions.