Author Archives: Will

ByWill

10 Years of Custom Home Builiding!

In 2006, Phil Barker and Brett Kappelle partnered to form Barker Kappelle Construction. Both entered the trade as carpenters, and over the years developed an intimate knowledge of home building. By the 1990s each had moved to Hawaii, Phil from New Zealand and Brett from California. Soon they took the next step and went into business for themselves. Through dedication to quality and attention to detail they have created a strong name for Barker Kappelle Construction. They have built excellent homes across Oahu for 10 years, and strive to make the process easy for home owners from start to finish.

Custom Home Building

Where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going next!

general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
ByWill

Neolith and the Dream Kitchen

Kitchen Remodeling with Neolith

The kitchen is a gathering place for family, conversations and of course food! When you’re dreaming of the perfect kitchen, you want a space that looks and feels great, stays clean, and makes cooking as easy as possible. It may seem hyperbole, but the right countertop can make all of those things a little easier to achieve.

Imagine the perfect countertop, not just color but characteristics. It should look great, shouldn’t stain or get discolored, and must be easy to clean. If a countertop could do all that it would be pretty great. What if there was a surface that could do that, plus things you don’t even associate with countertops? Imagine a surface so strong that you can use it as a cutting board without thinking twice about scratches or chipping, one that is heat resistant so you won’t need hotpads, and is safe to eat off of. Neolith is all of those things. While it isn’t naturally occurring, Neolith is made up of all natural components. Clays, feldspar, silica, mineral oxides, and natural pigments are sintered at extremely high pressure and high temperature in a kiln to create a porcelain that is incredibly strong, can be cut super thin, and can be made into large slab sizes.
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
The natural pigments ensure that the color and appearance of the slab stays the same over time, and isn’t subject to fading or discoloration. In addition, unlike most traditional surfaces it does not stain. It’s nonporous. You can treat it like a porcelain plate that won’t break.
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii
Because Neolith isn’t naturally occurring, unlike stone it is virtually a blank slate for color options, and a variety of pigments can be added with intention to create outstandingly uniform designs.

While countertops are an obvious starting point for Neolith, it can also be used as flooring, and walls.

ByWill

Wood Flooring Done Right

Wood Flooring

Wood flooring is a wonderful way to upgrade your home. It adds a classic, beautiful aesthetic, is easy to clean, and is a real improvement over carpet for people with allergies. However, in Hawaii, especially on the windward side of Oahu, improperly installed flooring can be highly susceptible to water damage.

In areas like Kailua or upper Manoa in Honolulu, frequent rainfall can pool under the house and vapor rises through the ground and unsealed concrete. This can cause warping or bowing of the wood, it also can rot through the wood like the image below shows:
general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii

When we install wood flooring, we recommend the use of an epoxy water barrier. Liquidam is an epoxy resin product that seals concrete and prevents a significant amount moisture from getting through the concrete and reaching the wood.

We’ve found adding a sealant to be an extremely effective way of protecting wood flooring from water damage. For more details about how moisture, concrete, a sealant, and flooring interact, check out this video from TEC, the maker of Liquidam:

While adding a sealant is more expensive than not, and it is not a universal approach from all general contractors, we pride ourselves on thinking about building homes made to last and hold up well for the long term. In that regard, it’s an important consideration.

ByWill

Under Construction in Kailua

New Construction in Kailua

Things are really starting to take shape at the new home we’re building in Kailua. Though we enjoy working on a wide range of projects, from small remodels and renovations to large new design, there is a certain amount of excitement involved in building an entire house from the ground up. At this point the plumbing, concrete, framing, and roofing are in place and from here on out things are going to move quickly. Once the drywall is up and the exterior of the house is painted to protect from the sun, flooring, cabinets, beautiful custom doors, electrical and plumbing fixtures, and appliances will transform this shell into a beautiful home. We look forward to posting more updates as the project progesses!

ByWill

Design Build in Hawaii Loa Ridge

Perched high up on Hawaii Loa Ridge sits our newest design build project. The cedar exterior stands out as the first in the Hawaii Loa Ridge community. The spacious three level home utilizes a modern open layout that maximizes the visibility of the surrounding scenery.

Whether you’re enjoying a glass of wine on the large deck or a dip in the infinity pool or Jacuzzi, beautiful unobstructed views, stretching from Koko Head to Diamond Head and even downtown Honolulu, are a plenty. The serene quiet neighborhood enhances the features of the home to make it seem like there’s nothing separating you from Hawaii’s beautiful landscape.

Hawaii Loa Ridge Design Build

general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii

general contractor & custom home builder in kailua hawaii

ByWill

Giving Your Attention To The Drywalls | Barker Kapelle Construction LLC

Many novice painters seem to think that priming new drywalls is just an option that can be bypassed when by putting an additional coat of paint. This is usually not true. First of all, primer and paint are two distinguishable materials with different functionalities. That means that when you skip the primer, you are likely to end up with very undesirable consequences. You may be able to notice some of the defects immediately but some of them become more apparent long after a project has been completed. Here are reasons you ought to pay attention to drywalls to get the best results.

Effective sealing

Using the primer makes it possible to seal the drywall and protect it from damages. A drywall primer comprises of a binder referred to as polyvinyl acetate. The core purpose of the adhesive substance in the primer is to seal the drywall paper. If the primer is not used, waterborne paints (consisting of a latex binder) can easily soak into the drywall and spread unevenly. This creates visible blotches that make the drywall look bad. In addition, the drywall will have rough areas. The primer is effective because it is more porous as compared to the drywall. That means it can take in additional coats of paint and ensure that the blotchy areas are evened out.

Paint adhesion

A primer has a base that has glue properties. This allows the paint to adhere to the drywall effectively. Therefore, when you choose to skip the priming part, you are definitely creating room for paint to peel on the drywall particularly when the moisture level is high. In addition, drywall cleaning can be a little difficult several months down the line when paint has dried up. The paint may wear off easily when you are wiping the drywall to remove dirt. In cases where the paint color is actually lighter, any attempt to clean the drywall will only result in a dirtier wall. Although you may put the blame on paint quality, the truth of the matter is that you failed to use primer during installation.

Color uniformity

A primer leaves a seal on the surface of your drywall. This allows the paint to spread evenly on the drywall. With regard to color, you will definitely have nothing to worry about because there will be color uniformity. However, when primer is not used during drywall installation, there will be a reduction in the pigment ratio (for the topcoat). Therefore, too much pigment will end up soaking into the drywall. Moreover, the ultimate color will be lighter and may seem washed out. To avoid this mess and keep the sheen from being chalky in the end, reputable general contractors in Hawaii recommend the use of primer for effective results.

Repainting

You may be repainting your wall because you want to simply change its color or because it is damaged. Whatever the reason, you are allowed to work without the primer. This is because the existing paint creates a seal on the wall. Omitting the primer allows you to achieve great adhesion and even coverage. In the case of a drywall that has been damaged by smoke or water, you may require a special primer to keep the smoke and water from bleeding through the wall.

Drywalls can be delicate and in the event you fail to handle them with care, you may get a terrible outcome. That is why you need professional assistance when it comes to drywall projects. A contractor has the required professional experience and can help you see everything in detail. For the best drywall project results, always ensure that you use the primer before painting.

ByWill

Keeping Your Roof In The Best Shape Can Enhance Your Home Value | Barker Kapelle Construction LLC

With the roof covering literally everything in the home, it would not be much without it because there would be nothing to cover your head from environmental factors such as rain, sunlight and the like. The roof is not only an essential component of the home, but also a part that adds value to the house. Therefore, it is important to ensure that it is in the best shape. A great roof basically makes the difference between a home that is more comfortable and a home that is either too hot or cold. Here are roofing issues that you can address with the help of the best contractor in town:

Leakages

In many cases, roof leakages tend to be small and they can be hard to identify with the naked eye. When you hire a roofing contractor, he can inspect the roof for any kind of damage and tell you whether it requires repair services or not. One of the common signs of roof leakages is water dripping down the walls during heavy storms. In some cases, you can tell that there is a roofing problem when there is a musty smell and molds in your attic. Roof leakages need immediate repair as they can cause damages to your home.

Replacement of shingle

The shingles will fall off during strong winds. If you particularly had a roofing structure that has not received any maintenance for a long period, it could result in wearing out. When the shingles fall off due to strong winds or damage, they should be replaced as soon as possible. Leaving the matter unattended could result to leakages in the roof and other damages. Luckily, they are not costly to replace. You can get contractual assistance from Hawaii home builders as soon as you notice the problem.

Waterproofing the roof

There are certain geographical locations with very adverse weather conditions that may require you to waterproof your roof. More often than not, the roof gets special treatment to keep it from getting water damages due to continual exposure to severe wet conditions. Home contractors offer a number of roof waterproofing options that help keep your roof safe from weather conditions that could expose the entire house to water damage.

Mold threat

In cold weather, mold can easily spread and cause extensive damage to your roof. The presence of mold in the roof can also be a potential health threat to you and your family. Therefore, you need to ensure that mold is removed from the roof as soon as possible. This will help prevent further damage to the roofing structure. Damaged roof structures can easily leak water into the house and cause further damages.

Gutter maintenance and repair

Gutters play a vital role at home by keeping it safe from water damage. Since they are frequently exposed to water, especially during heavy storms, it is important to ensure that they are repaired and replaced from time to time to maintain their functionality. Poorly maintained gutters affect water flow during heavy rains, which may end up causing costly damage to your home foundation. Home contractors can help you fix gutter issues when they arise.

These are some of the most common roof issues that may degrade its quality. However, addressing these issues early enough goes a long way to ensure that your home is protected from water leakages and other damages that may result. It is always recommendable to seek professional help when there is a serious roofing issue that may compromise home value and safety. Dealing with an existent problem at an early stage will help keep it from spreading further and causing more damage.

ByWill

Opting For Rammed Earth Buildings | Barker Kapelle Construction LLC

To start with, building with earth is an unbelievably old construction technique, but this doesn’t stop it for being fantastic for contemporary building designs. Also referred to as rammed earth, this compressed building material has multiple construction properties, including being flexible in application and design. Moreover, it exemplifies low-tech building techniques.

How is rammed earth as a building material formed?

Rammed earth is formed from loose subsoil that is moist and compacted into manageable building layers. The compacting process compresses the material to about half its original depth through compelling the clay in the earth to bond with the aggregate. Since all this is done manually, there are no chemicals involved in the process. However, you do require a high enough clay content, approximately 15-30%.

Due to its simplicity and ease of production, rammed earth as a construction method has been popular all over the world. While rammed earth, adobe and cob were utilized decades ago, these conventional construction techniques are now being rediscovered by many sustainable construction companies in Hawaii. Rammed earth, in particular, is becoming ever more prevalent in contemporary architecture with the growing demand for green and sustainable buildings.

Environmental advantages of rammed earth buildings

There are multiple benefits to rammed earth buildings. In a majority of cases, building built with earth emits virtually no pollution and require low energy outputs. Moreover, rammed earth has very low embodied energy. The embodied energy of a brick is 6 times more than that of rammed earth. Here are these benefits in a brief summary.

Fire resistant

The thick walls of rammed earth buildings are incredibly fire-resistant. How so, you might ask? Well, compressed earth has no flammable components on it and everything is so tightly packed that there is little chance of combustion.

Somewhat moisture resistant

And when a stabilizer is added to the building material, it effectively becomes resistant to moisture; however, continued exposure to water at the bottom and top of earth walls should be avoided.

Thermal mass

Since compressed earth is quite dense, it offers enhanced levels of thermal mass. External walls of approximately 250 mm thick provide perfect protection from extremes in climate. The density and thickness of the building material means that cold or heat penetration of the wall is relatively slow. As a result, the internal temperatures inside the building remain comparatively stable.

Unfortunately, the thermal resistance of compressed earth is quite poor, meaning that its uses in external walls need to be minimized.

Low maintenance

Compressed earth walls are relatively maintenance free. Moreover, there are feature that stand alone and don’t require finishing with wallpapers, paint, tiles, render, gyprock or anything else. Simply put, with rammed earth walls, there is no need to ever again spend money and time painting. Best of all, should a homeowner prefer any of these finishes, they can be applied to compressed earth walls in just the same way as to other masonry walls.

Noise reduction

Since rammed earth walls are quite think, there is reduced noise penetration. As a result, this building material can be extremely helpful when it comes to providing sound insulation between areas in a building with different requirements, for instance between the sleeping and living areas, or between a family room and a study section in a home.

Versatile

Many building developers are utilizing rammed earth in residential and commercial constructions of different styles and for multiple purposes. Variations in finish, color and texture are quite possible, and elements such as feature stones, alcoves, circular windows and relief details can be incorporated. Simply put, rammed earth is a natural product that blends beautifully with the environment and other natural building materials.

All in all, while the above list of rammed earth is not all inclusive, it will give you an idea as to why you should opt for this natural building material in your next construction project.

ByWill

Should Building Design Be Promoted As Sustainable Instead Of Green? | Barker Kapelle Construction LLC

There is a huge difference between natural, green and sustainable structural design. Sustainability seems to be a more popular concept in professional building circles than all the other terms put together. Whichever the case, what does the prefix ‘green’ mean? For a majority of people, green simply means the end product reduces effects on the natural resources, resulting in less wastage in the process.

A lot of the backlash against the use of the phrase green steams from the trend to promote brands and businesses as environmentally friendly, even when they are not. This is commonly referred to as ‘greenwashing’. Luckily most of the underhand tactics utilized to make businesses to appear environmentally responsible have now been stopped by international advertising standards and regulatory bodies. Nevertheless, it appears that genuine green building construction companies in Hawaii prefer to promote their constructions as sustainable these days than just being green.

What does natural building entail?

Natural building largely focuses on utilization of local resources to negate the environmental effects of a structure. These resources include the surrounding ecology and geological factors. The utilization of plentiful of materials that haven’t been treated with synthetic chemicals is normally the key to minimizing the ecological effects. This simply means that most of the buildings are informed by historic processes of building. As such, natural or green building tends to heavily relay on human labor, more so than cutting edge technology.

The most commonly used natural building materials are such as locally sourced wood, sand, renewable wood, clay and stone. To create a more resilient structure, these materials are simply combined. For example, earthen architecture is one the oldest options where sustainable constructions are concerned. Adobe, rammed earth and cob are good examples of earthen architecture building techniques.

How does sustainable architecture compare to natural (green) building?

Sustainability as a concept can often be muddled and contradictory. To be sustainable is to be aware of the long-standing impacts on what is being done on your environment and the future. Simply put, to sustain isn’t to over-reach but to endure. So we can comfortably say that sustainability is about as much as being green. Nevertheless, a structure can claim to be sustainable without being truly environmentally sustainable. If a given building is energy efficient, then it can be argued that the structure is reasonably sustainable. As a matter of fact, energy efficiency has become the prevailing consideration for most of sustainable architecture.

Are there energy efficient buildings that aren’t green?

An architect might design a building that is fully energy efficient but that isn’t green. In this case, as sustainability assessment techniques such as passivhaus or LEED certification become more popular, the objective of most sustainable building projects have greatly shifted. The aim now is to achieve a given rating, for instance R-value, at the expense of the environment. A good example of this is the utilization of concrete as a building material. Because concrete has high thermal mass, it is quite efficient at insulating buildings and storing heat. This makes it an energy efficient building material.

Unfortunately, its production is quite energy-intensive. Concrete producing companies emit huge amounts of carbon emissions in its production and transportation. But because concrete is a resilient material, building built of it are quite long lasting. Moreover, the materials required for its repair are minimal. This all highlights how the construction material can be seen as sustainable but not necessarily green.

All in all, while some professionals might not want their projects defined as being green, others such as architects and construction engineers are not afraid to label their sustainable processes as green. By designing buildings that have a green ethos and holistic approach, architects can consider the overall effects on the environment and the climate for that matter.

ByWill

Does Your HVAC System Need An Upgrade? | Barker Kapelle Construction LLC

With winter fast approaching, it is highly crucial to ensure that your HVAC system is fully operational and well maintained. The last thing you’d want is to expose yourself to a heating system failure just when the deep freeze is setting in. This is even more critical if you live in a winter storm-prone area as you will need to assess the system in your home or alternatively consider investing in one.

This is why getting the services of a qualified professional to tackle this issue for you is important. Not only will they have the required expertise to handle the task, but their experience in handling all sorts of ventilation, conditioning and heating systems will enable them to provide you with the maintenance, repair and other installation services you may need. Since there is inherent risks in you undertake the project yourself, it is better to leave it to the professionals, lest you incur hefty utility bills and possibly freeze during the winter.

Upgrading the home HVAC system

Is it time for an upgrade? To be able to answer this, you should ascertain the following:

• The age of your HVAC system.

• If it is older than 10 years and no longer keeps you comfortable.

• If the furnace runs more than has always been the case.

• If your home’s utility bills have increased.

If you establish that some or all of the above are occurring, then it is time to replace your system. If you cannot ascertain these things by yourself, you can always ask the HVAC technician to assist you in knowing the status. Since companies usually offer free inspections and estimates, you should try and look around for one and gather as many quotes as you can to determine which is best.

Boosts heating efficiency

With statistics showing that the cooling and heating components of this system suck up your home’s yearly energy bills in excess of 40%, it is highly essential to ensure that they are working optimally. Whether you decide to hire a HVAC professional or a skilled professional versed in energy efficiency to assess your system, you cannot afford to overlook this step while also ensuring that they check for leaks. The last thing you’d want is letting all the heat generated during winter leak out through your windows. Once you fix the leaks, you will forego having to buy a new system, but if it is too old which happens to be quite often, replacement will be inevitable. Thus, if you can make some tweaks to your current system, it will become easier to size and install the new system when you do get it.

Seeking a Qualified Professional

Although there are many HVAC systems in the market, identifying one does not need to be a complicated process once you conduct thorough research. You can even ask for a recommendation from an insulation or energy-efficiency organization, contractor, local builder or even family and friends. You should ensure that they are insured and licensed, and have the requisite experience. However, in as much as you might be tempted, going for the lowest price will not be advisable. Hiring someone with adequate experience will ensure that your health and safety together with that of your family is not compromised due to poor installation which can lead to carbon monoxide leaks. More so, poor workmanship can lead to increased utility bills, fire hazards and mold growth.

The HVAC contractor you choose must have the capacity to perform a load calculation in reference to the one required for your system in addition to assessing all the factors pertaining to the size your home, the insulation levels, local climate and ventilation requirements. Ensuring you select the correct Hawaii home builders will allow you to have a positive experience and get your home ready for the winter.