Home Improvement

“Take the Long Way Home” – Remodeling or Rebuilding Your Home in Hawaii

1. “Build Me Up Buttercup”

Should you rebuild or renovate? Questions to consider:

  • Does it need new or more electricity for modern living? For example, if you want Air Conditioning and your home only has 100 amps or worse, knob & tube, you’ll need to upgrade that system.
  • Is the plumbing more than 30 years old? Most homes here on Oahu have copper pipes and in my experience they begin to spring leaks around the 30-year mark. There’s no sense in putting in all new flooring, cabinets and/or trim/molding just to have it all be torn out later to find that elusive leak.
  • Is the home single-wall construction? Even though this type of construction is common here in Hawaii and we enjoy moderate temperatures all year doesn’t mean that adding insulation isn’t beneficial. Adding insulation will aid in keeping interior temperatures more comfortable regardless if it’s hot or cool out. Insulation will lower your electricity bills and with the cost of electricity in Hawaii higher than any other state in the US, this is a no-brainer! Energy conservation is a VERY good thing for our ecological footprint as well as an excellent way of adding value to your home investment.
  • Are you planning to add more living space?
  • Do you want all new bathrooms and kitchen? If you answer yes to more than one of these questions, you might find a new-build to make more financial sense.

House exterior “before”

House exterior “after”

2. “Money Money Money”

The buck stops here; determine your all-in maximum budget. It’s important at this stage to consult with a lender if you’re planning to finance your project. If you need recommendations, your realtor can provide some direction.

3. “Jump Around! Jump Around!”

Regardless if you are overseeing a small bathroom remodel yourself, you are looking for an architect or an all-in-one design-build company, always interview in-person to receive at least 3 bids before committing. This process will help you understand more about what may be included in contracts, may give you new and different ideas based on feedback from the vendors, and will ensure you are receiving a fair rate for your job.

4. “Straight Up Now Tell Me”

You should factor in roughly 20% of your budget for unexpected expenses. Additionally, you should factor in around 33% extra in the project time-line. “The Price of Paradise” and “Hawaiian Time” may be the excuses for these 2 factors, but as I’ve moved from state-to-state, these factors remain. The actual cost and availability of goods and labor may differ from state to state. However, I’ve found the extra time to completion and the padding in the budget to be consistent. While these factors will likely be unavoidable, there are a couple of ways to mitigate these; re-use materials from the old home as much as possible and do some jobs yourself. Materials like the old-growth redwood used in many older homes built here on Oahu are quite valuable. Sustainability and conservation are key; they will add value to your investment. You can also help your project keep on a tighter time-line by doing some of the demo work yourself and/or cleaning up at the end of each workday—allowing for your workers to concentrate longer on the jobs you can’t do and also improving overall job-site safety and organization.

Living room “before”

Family room “before”

Demo Crew: 2 out of 3 LOVE home renovation-at least in this bunch! Wall removed between 2 rooms.

5. “Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House”

Visualizing the finished project will help keep frustration at bay. This is especially important when you’re in the middle of the project, your home looks like a disaster-zone, and your contractor suddenly requests an urgent “consult.” It’s too easy to see why home renovation ranks up there as one of life’s big stressors! However, some people actually LOVE home renovation! Maybe it’s because they keep the dream alive by keeping the “big-picture end-goal” top-of-mind.

Great room “after” renovation

6. “Freeze Frame”

Last bit of advice; this doesn’t happen everyday so be sure to take a ton of photos. Even when the original home is hideous, and you think you’d be embarrassed to show all your friends and family what you bought for THAT price, take the pictures! You’ll feel such a profound sense of pride and accomplishment when the job’s done, and you can see the transformation. Trust me; you’ll be grateful you took those pictures.

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