Is an accessory dwelling unit right for your family? As hundreds of island homeowners have learned, an ADU is a creative solution for families who want to generate income from their property or need more space than their primary homes can provide.

“The ADU is a great way to add a small but functional apartment to a single-family lot,” says Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders. “ADUs can also be ideal for homeowners who want to age in place in houses that simply aren’t functional for those with mobility issues.”


Flexible housing
As Hawaii’s first design-build firm with a certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) on staff, Graham Builders has successfully created ADUs with mobility and safety in mind. The firm now employs three CAPS, certified by the National Association of Home Builders, to help create designs that are ideal for their owners’ lifestyles — both today and in the future.

For those with accessibility issues, the ADU can make perfect sense. Several years ago, Graham Builders did a teardown and rebuild project for an active, busy Manoa couple.

“We also built a fully accessible ADU on their property,” Fujimoto says. “They realized that climbing the stairs in their new two-story home would be increasingly difficult as they aged. They also knew the ADU could provide a home for an adult child, or even a rental income.”
“We had conceptual ideas as to how our new home should look and feel, but it took Evan and his team to turn our ideas into building plans,” one spouse says.


ADU designs
Since the City & County of Honolulu passed a law permitting ADUs on single-family lots in 2015, the concept of this type of housing has received enthusiastic public support. ADUs have full kitchens, bathrooms and sleeping facilities. They can be an extension of the main house, conversion of a garage or other existing structure, or a new build. However, ADUs must meet a number of criteria, including a minimum lot size of 3,500 square feet for a 400- square-foot dwelling.

“ADUs add to affordable rental housing, minimize urban sprawl and encourage diversity,” Fujimoto says. “Through careful planning and design, they can also help preserve a neighborhood’s unique character.”

He shares the story of a client who decided to add an ADU to her mother’s Kaneohe home. The Graham Builders team proposed a design for a spacious unit above a carport. It blended perfectly into its surroundings. The stylish dwelling includes a great room with high windows that mimic those in the main house, offering panoramic views of the Koolau Mountains.


“Looking at the house from certain angles, it appears to be one structure, not a separate unit,” the homeowner says.

Founded in 1990, Graham Builders remains the only local general contractor recognized by the Better Business Bureau Hawaii’s Torch Award for Small Business Ethics. The firm’s next free Building Your Home for Life seminar is scheduled for March 2. Register now at or call 808-593-2808.