Actuarial tables tell us that people today are living longer and, generally, remaining healthier. Residential building contractors are well aware of this and, for some time, it has affected how they design and build. A whole new approach to residential design known as “designing for life” has evolved based on the needs and wants of maturing Americans, a big percentage being the group known as baby boomers.

These are people who want homes that incorporate spaces for entertaining and “living the good life,” as well as features that will serve them should they become less mobile or decide to include aging parents in the household. Homeworks Construction CEO Jim Byxbee, who is serving as 2011 president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, noted that “designing for life” is sometimes confused with ADA design, which is regulated by the codes of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Designing for accessibility and convenience of people at all life stages could take disability into account, but shouldn’t be equated with just creating extra wide doorways or wheelchair ramps,” Byxbee said. “When we build or remodel for people who intend to continue living in their home, ‘aging in place’ as it’s called, or for people whose families include older members, there are many different design features to consider.


“Today we are designing new two-story custom homes and doing additions to existing homes to include a bedroom and bath on the ground floor, and often with an exterior entrance. Generally one of the bathrooms will include a walk-in shower with special blocking behind the walls for the installation of grab bars.

“For clients who have had concerns about accessibility in the future, which has been the case with owners of hillside houses or houses with two or three floors, we’ve actually created a space where a lift or elevator could be added later.

“It’s much more cost-effective to build these features into the new or remodeled home now, rather than later.”

Since Byxbee founded Homeworks Construction 16 years ago, the company has designed, built or remodeled hundreds of homes ranging from affordable to luxury throughout Oahu and won many awards. Homeworks has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s Top 500 Remodelers by Qualified Remodeler magazine.


Byxbee will be a featured speaker at the Building Industry Association’s Remodel It Right, Remodel It Green Expo at the Hawaii Convention Center Aug. 26-28. His topic will be “General Contracting” in a special presentation, the Remodel It Right “Panel of Experts,” scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 28 from 11 a.m. to noon. Doors open at 10.

A photo gallery of Homeworks Construction projects will be on display at booths 215 and 217 until the conclusion of the Expo at 4 p.m. Aug. 28.

“Designing for Life” as it relates to trends in kitchens and baths will be the focus of a free Homeworks seminar to be held at the Homeworks showroom at 2111 S. Beretania St. Aug. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. For reservations and directions, call 955-2777.

Homeworks’ new custom homes and remodeling projects, including its award-winning kitchens, can be viewed on the website

Contact: 955-2777