New home reunites sisters

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Oahu Builder Contractor Unites Sisters

With a rich history of bringing island families together in homes that offer both private spaces for solitude and common areas that encourage interaction, Graham Builders was a natural fit for this project and two aging sisters.

“The younger sister lived her entire life on Oahu, and the older sister lived most of her adult life on the Mainland,” explains Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders. “Because they hadn’t grown up in the same place, they wanted to come together as a family.”

The first step: conversations with the sisters about their lifestyles, needs, desires, and expectations.

“They both needed personal spaces, and they wanted rooms to enjoy together as a family,” explains Fujimoto. “And both sisters desired a residence that would allow them to age in place.”

Thanks to Graham Builders’ five-phase design method, which brings homeowners, architectural designer, estimator, and project/construction manager together in collaboration, the group came up with a vision and plans that pleased both sisters. Although working with clients in different states can be challenging, Graham Builders’ team kept both siblings in the loop, sending photos, meeting notes, plans and documents to the sister on the Mainland.

Throughout the process, the team paid sharp attention to the things they heard and incorporated those desires into the design strategy. One of the largest concerns was having individual privacy, and this was addressed by the placement of the great room.

This open, shared living space separates the older sister’s accessible master suite from the younger sibling’s wing. When both gather in the center, the sisters feel like they are family; when they retreat to their personal areas, they have the privacy they deemed necessary.

The atmosphere is bright, cheerful. Temperatures are kept comfortable with the residence’s high slanted ceilings, big aerodynamic wood fans, and a design that harmonizes with the property’s natural sun paths and wind patterns.

There was something else that weighed on the younger sister’s mind. After living for decades in rural Oahu, she had concerns about the noise level that is part of city life. Graham Builders’ superb craftsmanship easily handled this worry. She now marvels at how the tight insulation allows her to forget the outside urban neighborhood when her windows are closed.

The quest of these sisters presents a challenge that is familiar to the Graham Builders team. “We see this often: clients who aren’t really sure exactly what they want,” comments Fujimoto. “People know there are things they don’t like about the homes they’ve lived in, but they’re not quite sure how to quantify them, or how they could change them in the homes they build or remodel.”

The Graham Builder’s team has a special accomplishment that enables them to provide homeowners with solutions to their objectives. Whether they long for a home that is comfortable, flexible or provides privacy and family-time, the company’s 30 years of experience offers homeowners a wide assortment of considerations.

“A new ‘aha moment’ is available to us each day. These learning opportunities allow us options to offer our homeowners. Experience is a gift that enables us to say, “This is what we’ve done for others. Here’s what might work for YOU.”

Founded in 1990, Graham Builders remains the only design+build contractor in Hawaii honored by the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Business Ethics. The company also employs Oahu’s first Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS, a designation administered by the National Association of Home Builders. For more information, and a library of award-winning designs, visit graham


Photos by Hawkins Biggins Photography.

Article by Caroline Wright.

Project Details

DATE August 11, 2020


PROJECT TYPE Residential New Build
Extended family

CONTRACTOR Graham Builders, Inc.

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