Renewal, rejuvenation, realignment, revitalization! The new year inspires change in so many ways. Do your dreams for 2023 include a new addition, a complete kitchen and bath renovation, perhaps even the construction of a new home?

Once you’ve decided it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started, what are the next steps? Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders in Honolulu, suggests considering a design-build company for your project.

“Nearly half of new projects in the U.S. are constructed through design-build,” Fujimoto says. “This construction method outperforms other methods in every area: reduced risk for homeowners, speed of delivery and cost.”

In the traditional method of construction, sometimes called design-bid-build, the homeowner hires an architect to design the home, and then solicits construction bids from contractors and subcontractors.

With the design-build method, the homeowner works with a single company that handles design, estimating and construction.


“The firm’s designers, contractor and crew, subcontractors and suppliers will collaborate as a team on your project,” Fujimoto explains. “That’s why it’s important to search for a reputable and experienced company that’s responsive and easy to work with.”


If you’ve decided to hire a design-build firm for your job, your list of candidates should include companies whose portfolio includes projects similar to your own.

“Look for firms that have experience with renovations in houses similar in age and style to your own, or experience building new homes on lots that are similar to yours, whether it’s beachfront or mountainside, or somewhere in between,” recommends Malia Yee, senior architectural designer for Graham Builders.

The firm you choose should assign an architectural designer to your project to help you define your needs and expectations — and specialists, as appropriate.

“For example, if you’re going to build a forever home, you might want a company that has a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) on staff,” adds Yee.


As you’re shopping for a design-build firm, remember that a good firm should be able to design to fit your budget. The designer and estimator will work with you to help you quantify and assess your priorities for your project.


“It’s wise to choose a firm that has upto-date CAD (Computer Aided Design) software that they can use to create renderings (images generated from models) of your project,” says Yee. “Ideally, the design team should offer a library or sample room of finishes and fixtures so that you can personally choose what you like for your home.”


Ideally, your list should include only firms that are able to provide you with excellent references from recent clients.

“They should be well rated by the Better Business Bureau,” Fujimoto says. “And it’s also smart to check with the DCCA (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs) to see if a firm’s license is current, for how long it’s been active and if there are unresolved complaints.”

Fujimoto says it’s a good idea to ask the firms on your list if they’re willing to provide a performance bond for your project, as well as clear written warranties for their work.

“It’s also smart to request samples of payment and change order policies, to see if they’re written clearly and plainly,” he adds.

If the firms on your list offer educational sessions or seminars with general information on home construction and renovation, it’s a good idea to check them out.


“Get to know some of the members of the team to see if you feel comfortable with them,” Fujimoto advises. “The design-build process is pretty intimate and collaborative. Before your project is finished, a good team will practically feel like family!”

A leader in the design and construction of multi-generational homes and aging-in-place design, Graham Builders can help you plan a new home or renovation that will evolve and change with your family’s needs. Its next free “Building Your Home for Life” seminar is scheduled for Feb. 4. Register now at or call 808-593-2808.

CONTACT 808-593-2808