This is part two of a three-part series

Last month, Graham Builders shared the beginning stages of a Hawaii couple’s journey in building a brand new house with the company.


As the couple’s home sits atop loi kalo and ponds of wild watercress, the contractor bids they received were over their budget. This was all before they consulted with Graham Builders, who was able to devise an innovative foundation design that saved the couple a significant amount of money.


During the construction phase, the biggest challenge Graham Builders faced was building on a lot where nearly 50 percent of the area is covered with water. Kalo and wild watercress are cultivated in ponds fed by artesian springs. Footings were excavated below the water table, which made pumping water out of the footings prior to placing concrete challenging. Crushed rock was used to support the new footings and hollow tile (CMU) columns were connected with massive concrete grade beams that encase steel re-bar cages. This ensured each footing was tied together with other footings to increase their bearing capacity and reduce movement.

The lot also is very steep with a compound slope (sloping two ways), which made it necessary to build a concrete driveway and garage off the ground, supported by structural I-beams and corrugated metal decking. Graham Builders’ experience with hybrid structures — combinations of concrete, masonry, structural steel and lumber — resulted in a cost-effective design that is durable and easy to maintain.


“Designing homes on lots with steep topography is one of our specialties,” said Evan Fujimoto, Graham Builders’ president. “Minimizing floor level changes, providing adequate driveway areas and avoiding the feeling like you’re living in a high-rise are major considerations. This home features a short flight of steps from the garage and entry level to the main living level. The open plan with high ceilings eases the transition from the upper to middle level. Many homes built on slopes feel stratified, meaning there is separation or division between floors that impedes the natural flow between spaces. Not this home.”


This story is part two of three that follows the homeowners in their design+build journey with Graham Builders. The final product will be revealed next month. Don’t miss it.

Learn more about the latest trends by attending Graham Builders’ free upcoming “Building Your Home for Life” seminar on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Honolulu Country Club. To reserve a seat, visit or call 593-2808.

Building Your Home for Life
Oct. 26, 9 a.m., Honolulu Country Club

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