Thinking about building or renovating a house, or adding new rooms to your home?

If you’re the sort of homeowner who appreciates the convenience of working with one cohesive team from the beginning to the end of a project, you might consider hiring a design-build firm.

“A design-build company offers a single point of responsibility for your project, which can maximize efficiency, streamline communication and save money,” says Ryan Graham, vice president of operations for Graham Builders in Honolulu.

Project complexity is another consideration. If you’re making significant changes to the structure of your home — its load-bearing walls, for example, and/or its plumbing or electrical systems — a design-build firm can help ensure the work is done safely and seamlessly.


But how do you begin choosing a competent, capable and reputable firm?


For starters, check with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to see if a firm’s license is current and if there are unresolved complaints.

Ask the firms on your list if they’re willing to provide a project performance bond and clear written warranties for their work, as well as samples of payment and change order policies to ensure they’re written clearly and plainly.


Graham Builders senior architectural designer Malia Yee strongly recommends reviewing the portfolios and experience of your short list of candidates.

“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 similar to yours, whether beachfront or mountainside, or somewhere in between,” Yee says. “Take a look at their past work and see if you like it. Look for designers whose tastes are similar to yours, or ones that think outside the box.”



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

“If you’re going to build a forever home, or one for multiple generations, you might want a company with a certified aging-in-place specialist on staff,” Yee adds. “If you’re concerned about the environment and energy effi-ciency, look for a firm with sustainable building certification.”


Finally, take advantage of any educational sessions or seminars with general information on new construction and renovation offered by the firms on your list. That will help you get to know people who might be working on your project.

“Find a firm that you trust and get along well with,” Graham says. “You’ll be spending tons of time with the people on your team, so you should feel comfortable sharing some of your personal interests!”

Established in 1990, Graham Builders has helped hundreds of local families create comfortable, beautiful homes that offer privacy and accessibility for each member of the ohana. The first home construction company in Hawaii to have a certified aging-in-place specialist on staff, Graham Builders is also the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business.


Learn more about the basics of home remodeling and rebuilding at Graham Builders’ free Building Your Home for Life seminar from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sept. 2. For information and registration, visit, or call 808-593-2808.

CONTACT 808-593-2808