When you think about the houses you find most comfortable and inviting, is your own home on the list?
“A well-designed home doesn’t just look good; it feels good, too,” says Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders, the award-winning Honolulu design-build firm. “There’s natural light and air flow; there’s space for a family to gather and for everybody to have privacy as well.”
Conversely, a poorly designed home can have surprising effects on a family’s well-being.
“Wasted space, tiny rooms, bad lighting, inadequate bathrooms, thin walls that offer no privacy … All common issues that really affect the happiness and comfort of everybody in an ohana,” Fujimoto adds.
Safety issues can be serious problems in homes needing renovation. Older houses can have electrical systems with antiquated knob-and-tube wiring, vinyl asbestos tile, or Canec (building material made from recycled sugar cane bagasse and treated with arsenic).
“Or the house might simply be inadequate for aging homeowners,” Fujimoto says. “Slippery floors, bathtubs that cannot be used due to decreased mobility, narrow doorways that don’t allow wheelchairs … Living in a home that’s no longer accessible can be incredibly demoralizing.”
Create a happier home
Happily, the psychological effects of renovating a home can be positive, even transformative.
“Most of us think about how much new space could be created in a renovation, and how that space might look and function,” Fujimoto says. “When you and your family begin contemplating a renovation, it’s important to reflect carefully on how you want your home to make you feel. Not only are you changing the physicality of your home; you’re also imprinting your personality onto it.”
The renovation process itself can have significant emotional impact on a family — before, during, and after it’s completed.
“Excitement, anticipation, anxiety and stress can all take a toll,” he acknowledges. “But watching your project come to fruition makes it worthwhile.”
Simply deciding to get started with a renovation can have a positive effect.
“If you’ve been putting it off for a long time, it’s probably a source of stress for your family,” Fujimoto says. “Launching your project can provide a big boost of excitement and energy, and bring everybody together to work toward your common goal.”
The planning process can be tiring, Fujimoto adds, because there are lots of meetings with designers and project managers, and many decisions to make.
“And sometimes costs are higher than anticipated or unexpected problems arise, which can create tension,” he cautions.
Thankfully, elation generally follows when, after months of planning and permitting, construction finally begins.
“After that, homeowners are engaged in the process, communicating with contractors and project managers, and when the project is finally done, there’s a general feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment,” Fujimoto says. “Don’t be surprised to find that your family spends more time together, in the beautiful new space you’ve created.”
Established in 1990, Graham Builders is the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business. If you’d like to learn more about smart home technology, sign up for Graham Builders’ free Building Your Home for Life seminar from 9 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 2 and talk with seasoned design-build professionals about your project. For information and registration, visit grahambuilders.com or call 808-593-2808.