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Make your Current Home Your Forever Home

It’s easy to understand the appeal of building a new home—everything’s brand-new, with no outdated materials to replace and you can make every design decision from light fixtures to window placement. But new doesn’t always mean better, and with the number of available residential lots on Oahu constantly shrinking, remodeling your existing home might be the best path to your “forever” home.

Here’s five reasons to consider a remodel instead of a new buy…

1.Remodeling your existing home allows you to continue building equity in your investment and therefore increasing the potential profit should you sell in the future. If your home is “almost” perfect but just needs a second bathroom or a larger kitchen, maximizing the resale value of your home and improving your future profit margin is a better financial decision than starting over in a new house with a new mortgage.

2.There are renovation projects for every price range, which means you can improve your home over time and within your budget— as opposed to the significant upfront cost of building a brand-new home. From combining two rooms into a master suite to designing an outdoor living area, there are countless ways to gradually transform your existing space into the perfect home.

3.Speaking of outdoor living spaces, existing homes often come with established landscaping, making it that much easier to create an outdoor oasis without spending the bulk of your budget on trees and foliage that may take years to fully grow into an island paradise.

4.Finding the ideal property for a new build may take years, and may not be in as an ideal location as your current residence. Since 93% of the island is zoned for agricultural or conservation purposes, finding the land for a new home may prove nearly impossible, especially if you want to stay in a certain area. Remodeling your existing home allows you to stay in a beloved neighborhood, keep your short commute, or continue living near family and friends.

5.A home remodel gives you the best of both worlds: allowing you to live in a home customized to your needs and preferences, while maintaining the emotional attachment to the place where you raised a family or created a safe-haven from a busy outside world. Whether you intend to age-in-place, open your home to multigenerational living, or simply want enough room to entertain friends, renovating helps homeowners preserve the past while preparing for the future.

Ready to remodel? You’ll need a team. From interior designers to contractors and architects, Home Planning Hawaii is the best place to start planning your forever home. From budgeting for your project and navigating the permitting process to finding Hawaii’s best experts in renovation, we’ve got the resources you need to make your existing home as good as new.

New Year, New ADU

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, became legal for residential properties back in 2015. Lawmakers hoped to relieve Oahu’s extreme housing crisis, and since then, the ADU construction is one of the most-popular building projects on the island. Perfect as a rental property, additional living space for multigenerational families, or as a way to allow senior couples to age-in-place, ADU’s are a great fit for many homeowners.

Considering building your own ADU this year? Here’s three tips for making an Accessory Dwelling Unit work for you!

Plan Ahead: Designs for your ADU will look different depending on their intended purpose. For example, building a space intended for elderly parents often entails accommodating for the aging process, which means single-story structures, wider doorways, and non-slip flooring materials in kitchens and bathrooms. On the other hand, designing for potential rentals might allow for trendier design choices—like loft bedrooms and open-concept floorplans.

Planning for with future residents in mind also helps determine how you’ll orient your ADU on your property, incorporate the required additional parking, and use landscaping two differentiate between shared and private spaces between both homes. If you’re building an ADU for family, you might consider an attached structure, with shared parking and communal backyard living spaces. Otherwise, you’ll need to get creative with your use of space in order to help potential tenants feel a sense of autonomy and privacy. However you plan to use your ADU, plan with your intended future tenants in mind.

Keep it Simple: Hawaii’s ADU regulations determine the size of your ADU based on overall lot size. For properties less than 5,000 square feet, the ADU cannot be larger than 400 square feet. If the lot is above 5,000 square feet, the ADU cannot exceed the 800 square footage limit. This means any potential Accessory Dwelling Unit will need to maximize every inch of space in order to act as a practical living space.

Use space efficiently by keeping designs simple and functional, replacing traditional dressers, cabinets, and cupboards with equivalents built into the wall, and using high windows along the ceiling to preserve privacy and open up more wall space for storage and furniture placement.

Lofted ceilings can create additional space for storage, and mobile or fold-away furniture can make each room a multipurpose room—think rolling kitchen islands, dining spaces that fold away into the wall, or living rooms that double as an office or formal dining area.

Be Green: Especially if you’re planning on using your ADU to generate extra income! Don’t build an ADU only to mitigate potential earnings with a high utility bills or unexpected repairs. Keep your structure financially sustainable by using high-quality insulation to maintain internal temperatures without relying on costly cooling systems. If you do install an AC unit, consider an energy-efficient central-air system that saves space and can be programed to avoid over-use. Solar panels, smart appliances, and LED lighting systems can also keep your ADU-related costs down.

Whether your future ADU makes multigenerational living easier or helps you mitigate the high-cost of Hawaiian living, Home Planning Hawaii makes building an Accessory Dwelling Unit simple. And with building permit and wastewater fees waived until June 30, 2020, there’s never been a more financially beneficial time to build add an ADU to your existing property.

With our access to Hawaii’s best architects, contractors, and designers, we help you connect with the right professionals for each step of the construction process. Contact us today to get started, and use our Instant Online Estimator to start budgeting for your 2020 ADU.

Four Tips for Building a New Home in 2020

If your New Year’s resolutions include finally building a dream home on Oahu, we’re here to help. While building a new house can be challenging, it’s easy to reduce construction-related stress with a little planning and the right team. Here’s four simple tips to get you closer to this year’s new-home goal.

  1. Make Your Budget: Before you sift through flooring samples, pick out appliances, or deep-dive into a pile of fabric swatches, you’ve got to establish your budget. From cost per square foot to setting aside a contingency fund for unexpected additional costs, working out your proposed budget is the first step to building your home. Need help getting started? Our free online estimator can help you get a good idea of how much you’ll need to build your dream home. Once you get a preliminary budget established, identify areas where you can add money if needed, and what areas can be trimmed as a result.
  2. Find the Right Professionals: The right team can make or break your construction project, so choose your contractors, builders, and designers carefully. When possible, ask to see past designs, visit current building sites, and speak with former clients about their experience with a particular company or professional. Don’t forget to contact us when it comes getting professional advice and recommendations from the best architects, draftsmen, and interior designers in Oahu.
  3. Anticipate Delays: Even the best-laid plans experience delays due to weather, shipping delays, or unexpected issues with the building site. But the most frequent delay often occurs during the permitting process. Despite numerous improvements, getting your building plans approved can still take months, increasing your construction budget and adding extra stress to the process of building a home. To avoid these delays, consider hiring a licensed third-party reviewer to manage each step of the permit approval process in a matter of weeks.
  4. Research Available Sustainability Options: From alternative heating and cooling solutions like ridge and soffit ventilation to solar design, insulated concrete, energy-efficient appliances, and thermally modified wood, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore environmentally-friendly building options that can help save you money both long and short term.

Of course, the very first step to reaching this New Year’s goal is contacting Home Planning Hawaii. We can help you get started on working out a budget, finding the right professionals, and exploring your options for navigating the permitting process. Happy New Year’s and happy building!

Designing the Perfect Master Bedroom

A well-designed master bedroom provides space for rest and relaxation while also adding significant financial value to your property. Fortunately, building and designing the perfect space is possible— even when working with the limited square footage so common in Hawaiian real estate. Whether you are remodeling your existing bedroom or designing a brand-new home, here’s four things you’ll need to achieve a perfect master-suite…

Make Room: All too frequently, residential floorplans neglect the master bedroom in both design and functionality. Make sure your master is as functional as your kitchen or living room by incorporating plenty of additional storage—from built-in bookshelves and wardrobes to drawers under the bed and extended shelving in the closet. Built-ins and extra shelving not only help keep your master bedroom neat and organized, it also creates an opportunity for you to display the personal treasures and collections that make your master bedroom unique.

Create Zones: Even if you’re working with limited square footage, organize your master bedroom space into “zones” by adding seating, incorporating a dividing wall or partition, or changing the flooring from hard-wood to tile as a design transition between the bedroom and en-suite bathroom. Pre-planned “zoning” helps you make the most of a smaller space and adds functionality to otherwise unused areas. Think added seating along a bay window, a reading nook in the corner, or a beautifully designed and decorated partition wall between the bedroom and walk-in closet.

Let there be Light: Many builders and homeowners wisely place the master bedroom away from common living spaces and busy hallways in order to maximize privacy and minimize noise in the master bedroom itself. Unfortunately, this makes some master suites stuffy and dark, since they are cut-off from both the natural airflow moving throughout the rest of the home and the natural light from exterior windows placed at the front of the house. Prevent making a master-suite cave by incorporating large windows wherever possible, especially on opposing sides of
the room. Opposing windows create a naturally cooling cross-breeze when opened, and can help you take advantage of Hawaii’s beautifully scenery. Skylights and textured bathroom windows can also increase natural light and keep your room feeling open and airy.

Create an indoor/outdoor Oasis: Make your master-suite a true sanctuary by extending the space with a private balcony or patio. Sliding glass or French doors not only give the illusion of a larger space, but adding outdoor seating can help you feel as if your master bedroom truly is a luxury retreat far away from the busy outside world—or even just the rest of the house. Make sure to add removable or retractable shade options to your space so that you can enjoy outdoor living throughout the day, as well as create additional privacy when needed.

When you’re ready to make your dream master-suite a reality, Home Planning Hawaii is here to
help. Our free online estimator can help you calculate costs, or put you in touch with Hawaii’s best architects, interior designers, and draftsmen. Contact us today to get started.

Tips for Adding a Bathroom to Your Home

Few additions add more value to your home than a new bathroom, but the idea of altering or extending your plumbing and water system can feel intimidating at first. Fortunately, adding an additional bath doesn’t have to break your budget— or the plumbing. From adding a tiny but practical powder room to luxurious master en suite, here’s how to make a bathroom addition work in any home.

Add a few high-end features: Good news: bathrooms are relatively small, which means you can afford to incorporate high-quality elements like marble or quartz countertops, unique tile, or spa-grade fixtures for the shower or bath. For smaller bathrooms that still need a little glamour, invest in high-quality glass shower doors, large-scale mirrors, or even an opaque window to create the illusion of a larger space.

Keep it low maintenance: If you build it, you’ll need to maintain it. A new bathroom can be a beautiful addition to your home, especially if it’s simple to clean, and easy to protect from water damage. Be sure to build or replace existing flooring with low-maintenance glazed tile or sealant-treated stone, which prevents water from leaking into the subflooring. When designing a bathroom with kids or senior adults in mind, look for textured flooring options to prevent slips and falls, or use small tiles to increase your floor’s “grip.”

Finding the space: Redirecting water and waste lines or trying to connect new plumbing to an existing structure can get expensive fast, so try and find space within your home that can easily be transformed into an additional bathroom. From adding powder rooms and half baths to an unused corner space to restructuring a hallway closet, there’s rarely a home that can’t accommodate a new bathroom somewhere in the floorplan.   If you are building a new addition, orient additional bathrooms near existing water lines for a less-expensive plumbing bill.

Get creative: Other unlikely but great spots for a new bathroom? Within an existing laundry room, at the end of central hallway, and between two bedrooms with adjoining closets. Want to add an en suite? Consider replacing or shrinking your walk-in closet to make room for a new bathroom. And while storage is an important feature in a master or family bathrooms, guest or half-baths can function perfectly well with a space-saving pedestal sink and wall mounted fixtures, making it all the more feasible to build into your existing layout.

When it comes to rerouting plumbing, rearranging the wiring, or reframing a new room, you need an expert. Contact us today and let us connect you with the best interior designers, contractors, and builders in the industry, from finding a contractor that understands your vision to navigating the permit process, we’ll help simplify the home renovation process so you can get back to enjoying your home and your new space.

Renovating your Home without an Addition

Need more space without the additional square footage? It may sound counterintuitive, but it is possible with some imaginative design and a savvy contractor. Whether you need more space in the kitchen or want to make your master bedroom an en suite, here’s our guide to finding and utilizing all the extra space in your home, no addition required.


  • Identify your unused spaces, and make them compatible with your current lifestyle. Maybe it’s your home office that consistently remains empty since your best ideas always seem to strike when you’re working from the living room couch. Or, like many home-owners, your formal dining and living room spaces only see use once every few years. Reinvent these “dead zones” by removing (or adding) walls, opening up closets, and finding ways to connect these spaces to the more high-traffic areas of your home. That unused office off the living room might be a great common/entertainment space, and your formal living room might just become your new master bedroom.
  • Finish what you (or someone else) started. Got an unused attic space in desperate need of a transformation? Love your patio or deck in theory, but find it’s too sunny/exposed to the elements too be enjoyed regularly? Don’t let unfinished space go to waste. Close off your patio or outdoor dining by adding sliding doors, glass paneling, or sun shades that allow the space to become multifunctional and compatible with a variety of weather conditions. Still not sure how to maximize the square footage in the attic? Good designers and contractors can help add proper air ventilation, windows for natural light, and modified ceilings to make this empty space functional and comfortable.
  • Uncover hidden storage spaces. Open up spaces under the stairs, add closets to empty hallway spaces, raise cupboards up to ceiling height, and additional lazy-susan style cupboards to corner spaces in the kitchen. You’d be surprised how many hidden storage areas exist in your home, you just might need a second set of eyes to help find them.
  • Find the “downsize” that just might be an upgrade. Most of the time, renovations focus on adding an extra bedroom, but sometimes the best way to maximize your square footage is to turn two small bedrooms into a larger master, especially if this allows you to incorporate a en suite bathroom into the design. While it’s important to consider the potential impact on resale, going from a four to three-bedroom home, (or even three to two,) might be worth it if you increase your home’s usability and value in other areas.

 Many of Oahu’s residential lots offer limited space for expansion, and combined with strict building code requirements, increasing the square footage of your home may not be feasible. Instead, focus on working within your home’s original footprint and redesigning the space into something more functional long-term.

It might seem like the ultimate renovation fantasy—finding more space without a costly addition— but with the right designers and contractors, a better-designed home can easily become your reality. Contact us today to get started!

Dream Homes with History: The Mission and Renaissance Style

Hawaiian architecture represents a variety of cultural influences: everything from traditional-style homes molded after those built by the indigenous population, to sleek contemporary styles highlighting cutting-edge technological advancements. And if you’re looking to build a home influenced by Hawaiian history, the options are practically limitless. Today we’re highlighting Mission and Renaissance architectural styles, both of which offer plenty of inspiration for a new home that’s as unique as the islands themselves.

Hawaiian Renaissance Style

Beginning in the 1850’s, Hawaii’s King Kamehameha V sought to develop visual representations of Hawaiian culture, as well as showcase Hawaii’s rise in international prominence. He commissioned the famed Ali‘iōlani Hale palace, which drew on both local Hawaiiana tradition and elements of Roman-style palace building. The resulting style, sometimes referred to as “American Florentine,” remains a hallmark of the First Hawaiian Renaissance, featuring Roman-style columns, wide verandas, and cylindrical details throughout. For modern-day homebuilders, adopting the wide verandas and curved details of the Hawaiian Renaissance style can create a home with plenty of space for casual outdoor living while maintaining a regal and high-end appearance.

The Mission Style

Originally brought to the islands by Protestant missionaries in the early 19th century, this architecture style mirrors the church meetinghouses and rural farmhouses of colonial New England. Hawaiian builders eventually replaced the traditional building materials brought over by missionaries with ones those found on the island, swapping out traditional bricks for ones made from coral. Later arriving French missionaries introduced arched doorways and windows to the style, and the overall result is a unique blend of both Hawaiian and European cultures.

Known for its high-ceilings, steeply-arched roofs, and exterior symmetry, this style is perfect for homeowners hoping to achieve a classic and timeless looking home, with plenty of room for more modern customization on the interior—especially if you want an open-concept floor plan with plenty of communal living space.

Make your own place in Hawaiian architectural history by building a home perfectly designed to suit your needs. And by drawing on Hawaii’s rich architectural history, you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration: from the arched windows of the Mission style to the stately columns of the Hawaiian Renaissance, all you need is a good architect to help you incorporate a little piece of Hawaiian history into your design plans. Contact us today for help making your dream home a reality.

Overcoming Oahu’s Construction Challenges

There’s no place like Oahu. From the bustling city-center of Honolulu to the pristine beaches of the North Shore, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in one of the most beautiful and unique places on earth. So it’s no surprise that real-estate on the island is in constant high-demand—who wouldn’t want a dream home in a tropical paradise?

But high-demand also leads to significant challenges when it comes to building a home. From a complex permitting process to navigating the construction costs and limited square-footage, new buyers can be easily intimidated by the residential construction process. In our experience, here are the top three challenges in building a home in Hawaii, and how the right team can make overcoming these obstacles as easy as possible.

1. Permitting: Even with a newly expedited permitting process, getting your proposed construction plans approved is still a complex procedure. Fortunately, working with a licensed Third-Party reviewer can help get your building permit approved without compromising the quality of your design plans. Additionally, this process allows builders the option to negotiate with inspectors at the Department of Planning and Permitting over prosed changes and corrections.

2. Construction Costs: The average cost per-square-foot for a new home in Hawaii is anywhere between $200-250 per foot. Combined with the increased cost of materials and labor, building a new home can seem impossible when building on a strict budget. In this case, working with a contractor or architect to minimize costs can include options like designing a multigenerational home, whether that means including separate entrances to separate living areas, or building a free-standing Ohana Dwelling Unit on your property. Multigenerational living is a long-standing tradition on the islands, and can help reduce the cost of finding a separate residence for elderly family members or adult children.

Additionally, building an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, can bring in additional income through renters, as well and increase the value of your property long-term.

If a multigenerational or additional rental property isn’t the right answer for you, a good architect and contractor team can work together to reduce the cost of utilities in your home by using sustainable building materials, installing energy-efficient technology, and maximizing access to inherent energy sources such as natural light and passive ventilation.

3. Space: Limited available land and newly passed laws regarding the construction of large-scale dwellings mean that even without the high cost of construction, building an enormous home is rarely feasible. You’ll need an expert designer to help make the most of your living space, and Hawaiian designers are uniquely capable of creating functional spaces that utilize every inch of space. Talk with your design team about including a traditional Lanai-style deck, an enclosed porch, typically built with concrete flooring, that can act as a functional outdoor living space regardless of (most) weather conditions. Enlarged glass sliding doors, retractable patio screens, and shade-producing landscaping are all additional ways to extend your home’s living space while enjoying Hawaii’s beautiful scenery.

A team of highly-skilled professionals is a critical component of a successful home build. Whether it’s developing the mandatory Erosion and Sediment Control Plan or ensuring your floorplan maximizes access to natural light and potential solar panels, the builders, contractors, architects, and designers hired to build your home need to be the very best in their field.

That’s where we come in. At Home Planning Hawaii, we specialize in helping you connect with the very best in the construction business, whether it’s a simple question about permits, or working with a drafting expert to customize your design plan. Contact us today to start building your home-construction team, or use our free Online Estimator to start budgeting your next project.



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!