The tourist ads have told you about the calm, laid-back vibe that invites visitors and newcomers to fantasize about a permanent vacation. What the ads may not have told you is that Honolulu has a surprisingly diverse blend of cultures and ethnicities. That diversity shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Hawaiian islands are positioned almost perfectly between Asia and North America: Honolulu has historically been a gateway city between the East and the West, and the homes of this diverse city reflect that eclectic, historic blend.
Honolulu is also one of the happiest American cities, ranked at #35 as one of the best places to live in the country. It’s such a happy city that it drives up property values. The median home price in this city exceeds $500k, so many people choose to rent, rather than buy. Honolulu homes come in a wide variety of styles: the three most common styles you will see on this list are the plantation style, the Asian style, and the modern Hawaiian. The first is the signature 20th century home style reminiscent of ‘Old Hawaii.’ The Asian style was brought in by immigrants a few generations ago; it usually includes moon gates and upturned eaves. Finally, we have the modern Hawaii style, a rich fusion of the plantation style and the Asian.
The firms in this list often employ these styles but since Honolulu is a popular tourist destination and has numerous hotels, these excellent home builders have the experience to build a wide variety of homes that function perfectly in the country’s tropical weather and capture the Hawaiian culture’s love of nature.
15) Turner Construction Company Design & Build
Website | 808-201-4288 | 956 Kaluanui Rd., Honolulu, HI 96825
Turner Construction Company Design & Build was established in 2011 by two co-founders who had extensive experience building homes in California. Co-founder Jeremy Turner was born into an artistic family, and he honed his design skills when he was a child. Meanwhile, co-founder Mike Perez is a native Californian who brought his knowledge of building in warm climates to the Hawaiian islands. He still travels periodically to California to oversee projects for the company. Some of these projects were featured in Hawaii Home Remodeling.
One of its most striking projects is a Tudor home with stone masonry that highlights the home’s sturdy detail and craftsmanship.
14) Kahala Construction
Website| 808-737-7757 | 132 Royal Cir., Honolulu, HI 96816
Kahala Construction was formerly known as a historic home restoration firm. But over the years, the firm notched a few wins from well-known industry organizations, including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Merit Award and the Hawaii Renaissance Grand Prize. Established in 1981 by George Puder, Kahala construction started building a handful of new homes that incorporated traditional Hawaiian style. Since then, the company focused on developing homes that blend contemporary finishes with sturdy architecture.
One of its most distinctive projects is a new residence in Aina Haina Beach. Built in the Hawaiian plantation style, this home has numerous windows and balconies that capture scenic views of the Pacific. Its interiors, meanwhile, exhibit bold, bright blues, reds, and creams that harmonize with the Hawaiian landscape’s natural palette.
13) Dan O’Sullivan Construction, Inc.
Website| 808-395-7079 | Honolulu, HI 96825
Dan O’ Sullivan Construction Inc. has played a more active role in premium home renovations and remodels since 1984 and has done as much new homes as their remodels. One of its most memorable works is a Kailua home built with local architect Brooks and Brooks Inc. An H-shaped house, it has covered lanais on both sides and is set back from the beach. The main purpose of this configuration is protection from the elements, but it has the happy side-effect of a vast lawn. This design is typical of founder Dan O’Sullivan whose insight into Hawaii’s unique weather patterns allowed him to anticipate a property’s maintenance needs depending on its location on the island.
Over the years, O’Sullivan’s expertise resulted in a variety of awards and accreditations. Its most recent win was from 2008 when the firm won the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIAH) Overall Grand Award.
12) Hamasaki Construction
Website | 808-845-0054 | 2130 Bannister Place, Honolulu, HI 96819
Hamasaki Construction LLC started in 1984 and does new home construction and renovation work. In 2016, the firm was reorganized to focus on continuing the family tradition of quality, on-schedule construction. The projects usually come in modern or plantation styles. One of its most striking residential projects is the Moani’ala. Standing across two lots in the Hawaii Loa Ridge, this custom home’s infinity pool grants expansive and impressive views of everything from Diamond Head to Koko Head. The residence was built for a successful businessman and his family. Its most notable features are the custom millwork and a full-service wine cellar.
Its founder Brad Hamasaki graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Creighton University before working in Hamasaki Construction. At first, he worked in office administration for five years before becoming a project manager. By 2016, he had become the company’s president.
11) JG Design Builders
Website | 808-295-5243 | 4064 Koko Dr., Honolulu, HI 96816
JG Design Builders was founded in 2009 and since then it has been building custom homes, kitchens and baths, renovations, and additions. For both the largest and smallest projects, this firm can be trusted to deliver the highest standard of quality, service, and value. Its founder, Jonathan Gonzales, is the latest in a line of a multi-generational family of master builders who has built thousands of homes across America. JG Design Builders also has a team of seasoned professionals who are committed to excellence in every venture the firm undertakes. JG Design Builders is also a general contractor licensed to work in Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah.
One of its most distinguished projects is a plantation-style home with a monochrome colored exterior, complete with a balcony that overlooks an inviting pool.
10) Weile LTD
Website | 808-395-0000 | 6312 Pohoiki Pl., Honolulu, HI 96825
Established in 2016 by Felix Lowell Weile, Weile LTD offers a wide range of project services including architectural design and general construction. The firm specializes in packaging design and construction services. The firm also does commercial and residential projects, including single-family homes and penthouse apartments. Everything the firm builds is designed according to the city’s climate, culture, and people. This firm’s team believes that good design is one that introduces fresh ideas.
One of the firm’s most notable projects is this residence, built in the modern style. Exhibiting a cool look, this home has pronounced, upturned eaves that highlight the home’s Asian influences. It features a patio that opens on to the pool, which is landscaped to blend naturally with the Hawaiian environment.
9) R. Clary Builders
Website | 808-263-4463 | 970 N Kalaheo Ave. Suite C-104, Kailua, HI 96734
Founder Rick Clary has been in the construction industry for over 30 years. He worked through the construction trades, gaining valuable experience that now informs the way his own firm operates. In the 10 years before he established R. Clary Builders, Clary managed projects for Hawaii’s two largest residential developers.
The firm is now known as a premier contractor for high-end custom luxury homes, as well as bathroom and kitchen renovations and additions. This firm is a member of the NAHB and is a certified Green professional and a LEAD safe certified firm.
8) Canaan Builders
Website | 808-842-1400 | 1122 Makepono St. Unit #300, Honolulu, HI 96819
Throughout the state of Hawaii, Canaan Builders is repeatedly identified as a premier contractor for high-end custom homes and luxury renovations for bathrooms, kitchens, and additions. With a team of talented builders and skilled craftsmen that believe homes must never be considered disposable or replaceable, the firm leaves its hallmark attention to detail in every residence it builds.
Giving evidence of this fastidious attention to detail, one of the firm’s most striking projects is a residence in Diamond head. A 7,000 square foot residence, this modern home has a wonderful view of the famous surf area called “Browns.”
In addition to building quality custom homes such as the Diamond Head residence, Canaan Builders has also completed countless luxury remodels, magnificent kitchen renovations, and meticulously crafted boutiques and shops that have won numerous building and architecture awards.
The firm was known as Canaan Decorating when it was founded in 1978. Before totally involving himself with the company, company founder Raymond C. Suiter pursued a career in chemical engineering. By 2014 he had returned to construction work and rebuilt the company into Canaan Builders. Suiter has built projects in a wide array of venues, from luxury condos and high-end custom homes to mainland ranch complexes, to impressive commercial projects.
7) Pyramid Premier Properties
Website | 808-734-1683 | 4614 Kilauea Ave. Suite #205, Honolulu, HI 96816
Pyramid Premier Properties is best known for creating a series of unique homes that embody the luxury of the modern Kahala lifestyle. Founded by Tim Gutierrez, this firm is one of Hawaii’s leading design and build companies, and it specializes in creating custom homes for regional and international clients alike. As expected, these homes can be found in exclusive neighborhoods and hold the highest prices in Hawaii. With so many striking residences under its belt, the firm has been featured in publications like the Luxury Home magazine, Richesse magazine, Homes and Land, and Hawaii Remodeling. One of its homes was even featured on CBS’s TV show, “Hawaii Five-0.”
The firm has built over 40 homes in the Kahala neighborhood, including it’s newest residence 506 Hakaka. This brand new contemporary luxury custom home is located on the edge of Kahala, will exhibit Pyramid’s acclaimed architectural craftsmanship and fine quality details. Situated on the East facing slope of Diamond Head, 506 Hakaka offers spectacular panoramic ocean views from virtually every room. The residence has a modern, open concept floor plan that promotes relaxed family living and includes 2 master suites, a separate guest suite, an elevator to the upper level, as well as an infinity edge spa looking out towards the ocean. Estimated Completion 2020.
6) H-1 Construction
Website | 808-670-1436 | 590 Farrington Hwy., Suite #524 – Box 226, Honolulu, HI 96707
Creating a great home usually means collaborating well with the homeowners. H-1 Construction is one of those firms that prides itself on great communication with its clients. For over 25 years, this firm was able to build well-crafted beautiful, sustainable, and functional homes. As a firm that is known to be strong and dependable, H-1 construction won many awards for its work. In 2016, it won the Local AIA People’s Choice Award, the Hawaii Home and Remodeling Editor’s Choice Award, and the 2016 BIA-Hawaii Grand Award for New Residence in the $500k to $800k price range. Some of these wonderful homes were built in collaboration with the local firm Fujita + Netski Architecture.
One of the firm’s most notable projects is a modern beach vacation home named the Hal Kilo I’a or ‘The House of the Fish Spotter.’ The residence employs traditional Hawaiian architecture and is made up of two separate buildings that exhibit bold colors, patterns, and forms. The residence has an expansive feel and playfully interacts with the indoor and the outdoor. Other notable features include the house’s ply-bamboo cabinets, the tempered glass kitchen backsplash, colorful glass tiles in the bathroom, and the metal roofing.
With the high sloped ceiling and large openings that harmonize with the interior and exterior, ‘The House of the Fish Spotter’ is a unique space that captures the essence of living in Hawaii.
5) Ko‘olau Builders Inc.
Website | 808-349-4539 | 3158-C E Manoa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822
Founded in 2010 by Nicholas Tang, Ko’olau Builders Inc. is a design-build company that specializes in residential remodels, renovations and additions, commercial and federal contracting, as well as new home construction. In 2015 and 2016, the firm was also featured in Hawaii’s Fastest 50 where it was recognized as one of the fastest growing businesses in Hawaii. It was also on the cover of Home + Remodeling magazine’s September issue.
In the industry the firm may be best known for its quality work, it clean job sites, and its friendly employees. One of its most notable works is a plantation-style home found in Kahala. Built for a young, growing family, the house has a calming color palette and a large garden perfect for active children.
4) Armstrong Builders
Website | 808-848-2484 | 80 Sand Island Access Rd. Suite #209, Honolulu, HI 96819
Founded in 1976, Armstrong Builders is a recognized builder not only in Hawaii’s residential market but in the commercial market as well. This firm specializes in green building, commercial developments, and large scale residential homes. Some of these homes were distinct and magnificent enough to help the firm win the BIA Hawaii’s Builder of the Year award five times. It was also named Builder of The Decade for the 2000s. One of the award-winning homes is the East Oahu residence. Built with local firm Peter Vincent Architects, this home won the 2012 Hawaii Home + Remodeling Magazine Editor’s Choice Award.
The firm was founded by Robert Armstrong. For over 35 years, he was a leader in the construction industry and held multiple positions in the NAHB and the BIA. Currently, the firm is under James R. Keller’s leadership. He has been with the firm since 1985 and took over as president in 2005.
3) Homeworks Construction Inc.
Website | 808-955-2777 | 2111 S Beretania St., Honolulu, HI 96826
Homeworks Construction Inc. has been ranked on Qualified Remodeler Magazine’s list of the nation’s Top 500 Remodelers since 1999. That was a quick leap considering that the firm was established in 1995. The firm’s reputation as a leader in Hawaii’s construction industry is well-established; it has done more than 750 projects that are known to be custom, quality homes. Other than earning a place in the Top 500, the firm is also a five-time winner of the BIA Hawaii Builder of the Year Award and was featured in the 2017 issue of Hawaii Home + Remodeling.
The firm also plays an active part in the community with outreach programs and monthly educational seminars that focus on industry topics and trends in Hawaii. It works with Habitat for Humanity and developed the “Door to New Beginnings” program where the firm donates front doors and acts as project managers for homes volunteers are building. Co-owner Marshall Hickox can also be found at the annual BIA Home and Renovations shows, offering free kitchen and bath forums.
The firm has numerous stunning projects, but one particularly intriguing one that comes to mind is the luxury custom home in Hawaii Loa Ridge. A three-story home, it is a contemporary house that captures traditional Hawaii with high ceilings and recessed lighting. Its full wall windows capture a panoramic view of the island.
2) Longhouse Design + Build
Website | 808-669-9085 | Alakea Corporate Tower, 1100 Alakea St., 3rd Floor Atrium, Honolulu, HI 96813
Throughout the years, Longhouse Design + Build has been recognized for its magnificent oceanfront residences. The firm is comprised of Long and Associates Architects and Interiors which handles all aspects of design, and Longhouse Development LLC which specializes in residential and resort construction. Because of this blend of architectural design expertise and high-quality construction, the firm creates stunning luxury homes. Styles range from traditional to the Mediterranean, from contemporary Hawaiian to mid-century modern.
Countless magazines have featured the homes: Honolulu Magazine, Green Magazine, Hawaii Modern Luxury, and Ocean Home. HGTV even included one of its houses in the 2016 Ultimate House Hunt. It also won the 2013 BIA Hawaii Overall Grand Award for the Residential category and the 2013 ASID Hawaii People’s Choice Award for Interior Design.
All this recognition and success can be traced to the company’s founder, award-winning architect Jefferey T. Long, who established the firm in 1980. He personally designed and oversaw the construction of over 150 custom luxury homes and specialty projects across Hawaii, the West Coast, and Asia. Thanks to his diverse upbringing and his extensive experience traveling, his designs possess cultural and architectural influences from both Asia and Europe. These influences helped provide the perspective and expertise needed to combine traditional architectural design with modern solutions.
The firm has a collection of beautiful homes, but one of its most striking projects is the 3 Kapalua residence. Completed in 2012, it is one of only the four beachfront residences found in Maui’s prestigious Kapalua Resort. Just one of its best features is the dramatic two-story living room that features 18-foot corner pocketing doors that reveal breathtaking ocean views across the edge of an infinity pool.
1) Barker Kappelle Construction
Website | 808-664-9212 | 970 N Kalaheo Ave. Suite A #306, Kailua, HI 96734
Years of building experience is a great advantage for any company; Barker Kappelle Construction has that advantage in spades. The firm was established in 2006, but founders Phillip Barker and Brett Kappelle have 40 years of combined experience in the construction industry. Phillip Barker is an experienced New Zealand contractor who has completed projects in the Cook Islands, in London, and in the Maldives. Brett Kappelle, meanwhile, has sharp management skills and a nose for getting things done. Together they provide the firm’s projects with great balance. That balance explains the firm’s numerous awards and its diverse magazine features. Just this 2018, the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIAH) and Hawaii Home + Remodeling gave the firm the Overall Grand award for the Kailua Road Modern Plantation.
A new residential home built with local architect firm Trigg-Smith Architects, this home’s design was built to preserve Kailua’s comfort and privacy on Kailua Road, a busy thoroughfare. This residence has custom Sapele wood siding and Breezway louver windows that provide ample airflow. The front travertine wall, cedar fence, and lush landscaping act as a cushion against street noise. There is also an L-shaped swimming pool, a Baja ledge, and two outdoor showers. The Kailua Road Modern Plantation has a price above $999k but Barker Kappelle Construction builds for every budget. It also specializes in residential additions, remodels, and commercial contracting.