Many homeowners underestimate the total costs involved in a renovation or new-build construction project. While most are familiar with a dollars-per-square-foot pricing, it’s easy for contractors to take advantage of that initial quote and tack on additional dollars toward the back-end of the project.

Graham Builders, the first and only builder to win the prestigious Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business, has successfully worked within homeowners’ budgets for the past 26 years to craft quality homes that last for generations. Graham Builders president and BIA-Hawaii 2017 president Evan Fujimoto offered a few tips to plan your next remodel or new build.

Set a budget

Fir st, homeowner s should clearly outline the goals of their project, weighing the cost versus the value of the project. “Remodel areas that will provide the maximum impact for functionality — in other words, fix what needs to be fixed,” said Fujimoto. “Redo the roof or stabilize foundations before investing in expensive finishes.” A budget is more than an amount of money; it’s a necessary financial tool that helps allocate funds and track expenses. Budgets show you where the money is going and provides you with a spending plan to help you make rational, sensible choices. If you are planning a significant renovation and your kitchen starts taking the lion’s share of the budget, you’ll become aware of that early on and you’ll be alerted to the possibility that you’re not allocating sufficient funds for other critical parts of the project.

Meet with a lender


Next, meet with a lender to ensure you’re borrowing the adequate amount to get the job done. In addition to the overall construction costs, there are design costs and permitting fees. The design cost is typically between six to 15 percent of the cost of construction depending on the size of the project.

This includes architectural and engineering costs. Permitting fees can run into the thousands. While construction costs should loosely adhere to a dollar-per-square-foot amount, it’s a good idea to have some additional budget set aside for contingencies. Often times, situations don’t pop up until construction has begun.

“It’ll always cost more than you think, and you’ll want extra funds on the side to take care of unforeseen conditions and upgrades you might want to make along the way,” said Fujimoto.

Select the right design-builder

Selecting the right builder is probably the most important decision you’ll make. Remember that in any competitive bidding process the low bid is the starting price, not the ending price. “Good. Fast. Cheap. You can have any two,” said Fujimoto. “If you want it good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want it good and cheap, it won’t be fast. And if you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good.”


Learn more from the Graham Builders team at the Building Your Home For Life Seminar, scheduled for Saturday, April 8. Call 593-2808 or visit to register.

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