Older Hawaii homes

The Most Important Things You Need to Do to Maintain your Hawaii Home

Older homes in Hawaii are full of memories, history, and charm, but they have unique needs when it comes to care, repairs, and maintenance.


Keeping your your roof in good repair is crucial, because leaks can start very expensive compounding effects. When moisture is allowed to seep into your roof, an expensive roof replacement bill will follow shortly after. Tiny little cracks, roof plant growth and inadequate drainage all have to be caught early, otherwise, roofing structures become vulnerable to water damage and mold. This can affect your landscaping, health, flooring and even affect your foundation and make you vulnerable to shifting, buckling and cracks.

Have your roof checked out at least 2 times a year.Roof maintenance ensures that your home remains strong and is capable of withstanding tropical weather conditions for years to come.


Keeping your home painted, especially with a 10 year paint can preserve the wood and prevent against rot, mold, and termites.


Speaking of termites, there is nothing more devastating to your home investment than termites. Hawaii home owners should tent their homes every 3 years. Go with a company that offers a warranty and free checks during that time period. They will come and tent again if you show any signs of termites within the contracted period. Watch for signs an stay on top of it. Termite damage is costly to treat and repair.

Outdated Plumbing and Electrical

Electrical wiring and plumbing problems are common in older homes. Before the 1960s, galvanized pipes were used and they commonly get clogged and corrode over time. They eventually need to be replaced with PVC or copper

Old wiring is also common and a nuisance: If you’ve ever lost power when running the microwave and the rice cooker at the same time, then you are familiar with the problem.

Unsafe Materials- Lead and Asbestos

If your house was built several decades ago, there’s a good chance the paint has lead and there is asbestos in the flooring, ductwork, popcorn ceilings, roofing, etc.

Bad Layouts

If you have shopped for homes in Hawaii, you have probably already noticed that the floorplans in older homes vs newer homes are very different. It is more common now to have open floorplans. Older homes have more walls and rooms, many without closets, very small bathrooms and no laundry rooms.  Finding room to grow for your ohana can be hard. Atlas Construction prides itself in coming up with solutions for even the most complicated projects.

Bad Renovation Work History

The older the Hawaii home, the more times it’s been sold.  Each person’s ideas of “improvements” aren’t always made with a disregard to the rest of the structure. Hawaii homes are commonly pieced together. You may have inherited problems you aren’t even aware of yet.

Use this handy HOW LONG STUFF LASTS guide to help you analyze your home and identify issues you need to stay on top of it, and reduce emergency and costly repairs and purchases.

Older Hawaii Home

Was your Hawaii home built before 1970? Here is the bad news.

If you are a Hawaii homeowner in a home built before 1970, here is the bad news.
Your home is probably single wall and poorly designed.  It is most likely made with redwood, but with untreated framing which means over time termites and wood rot will take its toll on the framing.
If you have cast iron and galvanized pipes they will deteriorate and eventually need to be replaced with Plastic and Copper AVS.
If you have louvered or jalousie windows you probably have already noticed they cause water damage, costly utility bills, and security problems over time.
The roofs were mostly pitch and gravel, so they don’t  allow for drainage and have no hurricane anchors and ties to protect them from damage.
Bad foundations are common, if you are noticing cracks in your walls or uneven door frames, you will have to eventually deal with your foundation problems.
And the floor plans that were often designed for single family living leave you no room to grow or accommodate aging in place.
These are the most common reasons Hawaii homeowners start needing to consider remodeling or rebuilding so the faster you start dealing with these issues before they become critical the better.

Pros and cons of having your laundry room outside in Hawaii

It is common to see laundry rooms outside on the lanai or in the garage in older Hawaii homes.  The reason is because homes in Hawaii were poorly designed.  Laundry rooms have no standard size so they end up in awkward places as afterthoughts. Especially if space is limited. One of the first requests we get when working with homeowners is a better solution for their laundry room.

PROS of an outdoor washer and dryer

  • Saves electricity. Hanging your clothes rather than drying can save on your bill
  • Washer and dryers are noisy, if they are outside you wont hear them
  • Clothes dried outside smell better
  • Saves valuable indoor space
  • Health issues. A home has between 1 and 2.5 gallons of water in the air at any given time, and a load of laundry releases an additional 1/2 gallons of dirty air that you later inhale such as cancer-causing chemicals and mold spores are 300% higher when laundry was dried indoors. Also humidity is a breeding ground for dust mites that trigger allergies and asthma


  • The weather (rain and heat)
  • Machines become vulnerable to rust and weather elements and will need to be replaced sooner
  • Not as convenient
  • Not as clean
  • Privacy

The solution

If you’re lucky enough to have space inside for a washer and dryer in your home, having it indoors is more convenient and comfortable. If you decide to remodel your older Hawaii home, your contractor should easily be able to design something that fits into your home. If you like drying your clothes naturally and are concerned about the health issues of indoor drying, you can get an outdoor clothesline. Tell the contractor so they can come up with the best location that makes it convenient to take clothes outside.


crown of thorns

Organic Security for your Hawaii Home – Security Landscaping

Looking to secure your Hawaii home? If you can’t afford a security system or you want added security, consider going organic.

Through creative landscaping you can help secure your home before anyone even gets near it.

Plants and bushes have been used for centuries to designate property lines and the perimeters of a home. The also create visual barriers and sometimes have defensive capabilities built in.

There are a couple of great plants that are like natures barbed wire.

Citrus Hawaii

Just look at those thorns

Citrus tress for example have impressive thorns.

Or the popular Thai hybrid crown of thorns which blooms for months and does not need a lot of water.

It’s also considered a good-luck plant in Thailand. You will be granted good luck in accordance with the specific mythic power of each of the saints: health, bravery, wealth, beauty, artistry, cleverness, poetry and victory over evil spirits.

Of course Bougainvilleas grow easily in Hawaii and are great as defensive hedges as well as for in vulnerable spots like under windows.

Roses are also great, you can put up trellis’ and train climbing roses which can also help cool your home.

Blackberry and raspberry vines grow thorns that serve to protect the fruit. This can give you both protection and a supply of freshly grown food.

Pyracantha angustifolia aka the fire thorn bush is a species of shrub in the rose family that contains thorns that leave a burning sensation that lasts for hours. The fruit is inedible for humans, but they are a food source for birds.  It can be used to make hedges for home security but is considered invasive in Hawaii.

Before planning your beautiful yet painful security landscaping project, be sure to check with the University of Hawaii’s invasive species council who can make sure the plants you choose are safe for your Keiki, pets and the aina.

hawaii home security

We Secure Your Atlas Home

Atlas is proud to now offer the future of security systems with all of our homes!

3 Exciting Innovations in Solar Power

With solar power such a viable option in Hawaii, we’re especially excited by the latest developments in the solar power industry. These three innovations have the potential for tremendous impact on the way we create and use energy in the very near future.

  1. Thin film solar panels

Thin photovoltaic film makes more efficient use of materials and has a resulting smaller carbon footprint than traditional solar panels. This translates into lower cost to the consumer and solar energy that is even more cost-efficient.

Thin film PV solar modules use an extremely thin layer of semiconductor material bonded and sandwiched between two pieces of glass and sealed with a laminate coating. Modules produced in this way absorb the solar spectrum more efficiently and produce more electricity than the usual silicon wafers.

The modules are expected to last for about 25 years, which is comparable to currently used solar products. And at the end of their lives, thin film modules are easy to recycle, with materials that are readily re-used.

  1. Solar coated windows

A related technology to thin film solar panels, this process is still in the development stages. It involves creating a “spray on” coating for windows that generates electricity. While remaining transparent, solar coated windows will generate electricity with tiny solar cells smaller than a grain of rice.

Solar coated windows will be capable of generating electricity with common indoor lighting like fluorescents and LED, as well as converting sunlight to energy.

  1. Micro-inverters

Solar panels produce DC power, but your home uses AC power. The inverter is the device which achieves the transformation from DC to AC and makes usable energy for residences and businesses. Rooftop inverters can be extremely costly, and not very efficient, to boot. But the new micro-inverters are more efficient (five times more according to developers), and cost much less than traditional inverters.

Empower Micro Systems, the developer of this radical game-changer, is already completing field testing of their product. They’re in the process now of forming agreements with manufacturers and vendors, and hope to release a pilot product before the end of 2013.

Innovations in solar technology are appearing fast on the horizon. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

Rodney Kim featured in the Wall Street Journal

Land Scarce for Luxury Homes

A shortage of developed land is driving up lot prices in affluent areas like Beverly Hills, Southampton, Miami and Chicago.

The demand for land is driving up prices—especially for prime lots in affluent neighborhoods.

Median list prices for land in the country’s top luxury markets were up 8.7% in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, according to listings website Realtor.com. The South saw the steepest increases, with median asking prices up 13.33% from last year.

n the U.S. overall, the median list price for a lot in a high-end neighborhood was $635,000, according to Realtor.com. Beverly Hills, Calif., Southampton, N.Y., and downtown neighborhoods in Miami, and Chicago saw the greatest jump in median land prices in luxury markets, according to Realtor.com. ( News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns Realtor.com, the listing website of the National Association of Realtors.)

Driving up prices is a shortage of vacant, developed lots in prime areas, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group. Released in May, the survey found that 69% of the 333 home builders surveyed said “A” lots—the most desirable parcels because of their location—were in low or very low supply.

The dearth can be traced back to the real-estate collapse that started in 2007, says Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist. He says the finite supply of land and a lack of developer financing have contributed to the shortage.

“The legacy of the Great Recession was that banks weren’t lending,” Mr. Dietz says. “Even when the mortgage lending came back acquisition, development, and construction loans were tight for years.” When funds dried up, builders stopped or slowed the pace of developing land for future construction.

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, beachfront properties near the commercial center in Waikiki, as well as land in the Diamond Head neighborhood are the most desirable, says Rodney Kim, vice president of Atlas Construction, a home builder based in Honolulu. “You have to look for bigger lots that can be subdivided,” Mr. Kim says. “Unless you go out into rural areas, you can’t find vacant lots, but that’s where zoning restrictions get more problematic.”