Building a custom home is a big decision. Before going in this direction, you have likely looked through countless homes for sale and made notes about things you like and others you don’t. Maybe you found a great location, but the home on the lot does not work for you? Maybe you love part of a design, but there are areas of the house that drive you crazy?
Building a custom home is a strong choice when you find a lot with a great location but are not satisfied with the current home, when you find a home in need of significant repairs, or for undeveloped lots.
Among the most powerful reasons for deciding to build a custom home is a desire for choices. A custom home can start as a blank slate. In essence, you have the opportunity to build your dream house. Beyond choices like the appliances and finishes, every detail from small to big is in your control. It is ideal when you have a vision for the type of house you want. Whether you want a design that makes a statement, a house with the latest technology, or simply a place that feels like home, building a custom home allow you to make those ideas a reality. Maybe you are taller or shorter than average and want doors and windows to fit you perfectly, maybe you are left handed and want optimized doors and fixtures, or maybe you just love a certain aesthetic, species of wood, or a color scheme. Whatever the impetus, a custom home can facilitate that expression.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you do not want to get caught up in minute details you can work with a designer or architect you respect and let them choose details you might love but never knew existed. At the end of the day, building custom is best when you want something unique.
Another significant reason to go with a new custom home is greater reliability and less maintenance. When you buy new fixtures, appliances, and build with new materials many of the common repairs needed with older houses get pushed way down the line. Over the course of home ownership, repairs and maintenance can really add up. If you buy an older house and have to replace the roof, the A/C, buy new appliances, fix water damaged bathroom walls and floors, replace flooring, and repaint, pretty soon the money you thought you were saving by buying used stretches thin.
Let us not forget another great reason for building custom, secret rooms! Who has not thought a spinning fireplace that leads to an underground man cave would be cool? In all seriousness though, your imagination is the limit for what can be done, whether it is a room for a guitar collection, a garage set up for building a muscle car, a kitchen Julia Child could only dream of, or a dining room large enough to accomodate the entire extended family on holidays.
When you’re considering remodeling, renovating, or building a new home there are many questions to answer. You likely have a vision for the way you want your house to look, but how do you get from an idea to a finished product?
The first step is the design. With the help of an architect or designer, depending on the project, you’ll be able to get those thoughts on paper. Unless you plan on doing all of the work yourself, the next step is where a general contractor comes in. A general contractor functions as a general manager. They facilitate communication between owner, architect, sub-contractors, and any other involved parties. They also go through the plans, figure out what needs to be done, which materials need to be ordered, and which workers or subcontractors are best suited to do the work. In addition, a general contractor sets an initial budget for the project and works to prevent the project from exceeding the budget. They also warranty the work, oversee day-to-day operations, and create timelines and schedules. In essence, they provide the labor, often via sub-contractors, materials to build the house, and make sure the work gets done. General contractors go through a licensing process at the state level to help ensure reliability.
While some general contractors charge a flat rate for their services, most charge an overhead percentage on all labor, materials, permits, and other expenses that accumulate during the project.
One important advantage of using a general contractor on your project is their construction expertise and relationships with subcontractors. As a homeowner, if you decide to hire plumbers, electricians, tile setters, and other specialized trade workers on your own for a remodel or renovation, you’ll likely encounter a few obstacles. Do you know exactly what needs to be done for your project, who should do it, and in what order? If you remodel your kitchen and have new lighting fixtures and appliances and you don’t know that you might need to check to see if an electrician should rewire for additional power requirements, you could find yourself with contracts that don’t cover your needs. You may feel that the electrician should cover this extra work, but if it’s not in the contract you’ll likely find yourself in a dispute where the contract isn’t on your side.
A good general contractor will be providing regular work for their most used subcontractors. Over time they build relationships and establish quality expectations. From time to time when disagreements or disputes come up, the steady stream of work the general contractor provides plays an important role in making sure both sides are committed to finding a solution. Whereas, if you’re a home owner and your personal project is the only one you have going, you don’t have as much leverage in negotiating directly with workers in case something doesn’t go as planned.
If you have any questions for us about the role of a general contractor, send us an email and we’d be happy to get back to you.
In 2015 we finished work on renovating an apartment right on the water in Honolulu. On it’s mauka side was Diamond Head, and out the front window was the pacific ocean. We recently had a photographer take photos during the day and also in the evening to capture the wonderful light through the floor to ceiling windows.
One of the challenging aspects of overseeing construction on this renovation was its location. The apartment sat about 10 stories up in an apartment building with an older narrow elevator and small parking lot. Anything too big to fit in the elevator had to be brought up 10 stories outside of the building. Despite those limitations, the project came out great.
It’s a modern design incorporating glass, marble, and tile into a seamless and wide open layout.
Check out our project on Houzz for more photos.
When you are building a new home or doing substantial renovations requiring new walls, it’s important to think about how the drywall finish will affect your final paint quality.
To meet the highest standards and the most discerning eye, a level 5 finish is essential. It helps remove bumps, lines, and other imperfections.
Drywall finishes are ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest quality. For more information, you can check out this drywall specific website for details on the characteristics of each level.
Below is a handy video detailing the steps that go into applying a level 5 drywall finish:
Roofs in Hawaii endure intense sunlight, frequent rainfall, humidity, and corrosive ocean air. Considering all of those factors, picking the wrong roof leads to frequent maintenance, repairs, and early replacement.
Below are some of the most popular roofing choices, ordered by lifespan and cost.
Besides lifespan and cost, one of the biggest deciding factors when choosing roofing is the style of the house. A Spanish villa style home will fit best with ceramic tile, a modern design often jells well with metal roofing, whereas wood and slate roofs fit well with more historic European style homes.
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.
Where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going next!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.