By Caroline Wright
On Oahu, where renovation costs can range from $180-$250 or more per square foot, it’s important to make each dollar count when you’re budgeting for a remodeling project.
As president of Honolulu-based Atlas Construction, Bruce Kim shares some seasoned renovation tips on how to maximize both the potential of your space and every dime of your investment. A fourth- generation builder in Hawaii, Kim began working for his family’s award- winning construction firm almost three decades ago, and he’s built and remodeled hundreds of homes over the course of his career.
Planning beyond retirement
Are you planning to live in your home until retirement and beyond? Make sure your contractor has that on his radar. “Nobody really wants to think about what’s going to happen 20 years down the road,” says Kim, “but that’s the sort of thing we talk about with our clients. Will they be able to go up and down stairs? Will they need to negotiate doors in a wheelchair? We try to help them with design so they can age in their own homes.”
For clients remodeling kitchens in which they plan to cook 20 or 30 years from now, for example, Kim and his team make sure cabinets, countertops and appliances are accessible, with safer flooring and plenty of light. And when a home’s master suite is on the second floor, Kim urges clients to consider adding a ground floor bathroom and bedroom if at all possible.
“Sometimes, older people have to turn their living rooms into bedrooms, and they don’t want to have guests anymore because they’re ashamed,” Kim reports. “With foresight and creativity, homeowners can avoid that sort of thing.” As a certified Aging In Place/Universal Design company, Atlas Construction helps make it possible for homeowners to spend their golden years in their own familiar spaces.
Big families need space
Not all extended families can live together happily, but if yours can make it work, this can be a perfect arrangement for everybody in the ohana. “Multigenerational builds are the highest percentage of our business, whether we’re adding on to a house or knocking it down and rebuilding to accommodate multiple generations,” says Kim.
As childcare costs skyrocket, and working parents find it increasingly challenging to raise their families in two-earner households, multigenerational renovations and rebuilds are sensible solutions. And it’s not always because the kids can’t afford their own places. With costs as high as $5,000-$10,000 per month for assisted living and nursing home care, many adult children move back in with aging parents.
“Sometimes Mom and Dad — or Grandma and Grandpa — need help with cooking, chores, and home maintenance,” says Kim. “Unfortunately, a lot of homes just
aren’t functional for them anymore. That’s where our planning expertise comes into play.”
Developed over the years by the entire team, Atlas’ four-step planning process helps clients make informed decisions about their plans for their homes. “Asking the right questions, and understanding how the homeowners will use the house today, tomorrow, and in the future helps us build an idea of what we can recommend as design options,” says Kim.
Think creatively (and within your budget)
Are there areas in your house in which your family doesn’t really spend much time? Make those spaces part of your renovation strategy! In a testimonial, Atlas client Pita P. says the team at Atlas Construction figured out how to save a garage that otherwise would have been eliminated from her property. “They remodeled an area that had a lot of wasted space and made it better, even adding on an extra bathroom and increasing the value of our home,” she says.
Last but not least, you’ll also want to ensure that your contractor knows and respects your financial limits. “In a way, these families are investing their hard-earned money into our company,” Kim says. “We help them stay within their budgets. That’s key for us. We make sure we educate them before they make these decisions. I think we’re experts in understanding how people live,
and how homes should be built to accommodate families for long periods of time, with the least amount of maintenance.”
Atlas Construction’s aim is to continue being recognized as Hawaii’s best contractor. The company does this by placing the homeowner’s best interest before profit, and by retaining a strong commitment its core values: