Every residential new build, addition or renovation job comes with its inherent design challenges. While the owners might be more concerned with quartz countertops or working that extra bedroom into the floor plan, general contractors with decades of knowledge and building experience in the islands also focus on the proper placement, or siting, of the project.

Proper siting allows for maximum natural ventilation and passive day lighting, as well as landscaping opportunities for shading and privacy. These can save you significantly when it comes to your utility bill.


The pervasive northeast trade winds provide us with natural ventilation. For new builds, the home should be oriented on the property to take advantage of the trade winds as they pass through and over the home, naturally ventilating and cooling the home. For additions and renovations where the placement of the home is literally set in concrete, natural ventilation can be achieved through window placement and strategic design.

“If the existing house is a rectangle and there are two bedrooms along the back wall, it might be possible to extend one half of that wall out and create more of an L-shaped addition as opposed to going straight back with the whole width,” said the president of Graham Builders, Evan Fujimoto.

“With an L, at least one bedroom would have more ventilation.”


With the strategic addition of windows for ventilation, natural day lighting can also be achieved simultaneously. “Wall heights also come into play,” Fujimoto continued. “If an existing living room is hot, raising the ceiling and installing clerestory windows could possibly bring in natural light and ventilation. This works even if the living room is in the middle of the house and other rooms block the interior airflow.”

Landscaping is an integral part of the overall design, which is often overlooked for its utility. Effective and attractive landscaping is designed in concert with the proper siting of the home or addition, not as an afterthought. With this attention to detail, landscaping can be used for shading, privacy and aesthetics.

“If you’re planning for a pool, you wouldn’t want to plant trees near it that will drop thousands of small leaves into the water,” said Fujimoto.


Fruit trees are a healthy addition to a yard, but make sure that Haden mango tree is situated so that it can provide fruit and shade without damaging a roofline or gutter as it matures over the years.


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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