Before and After my North Shore Remodel

Posted by Tony Kawaguchi, RA on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 at 1:03pm.

People often ask me about remodeling in Hawaii. Is it hard to find a good contractor? Yes.  Are materials and labor more expensive?  Yes. But you can do it and you should. I've done several remodels now, and this one is my favorite.  

A couple years ago I bought a foreclosed home on the North Shore from a bank.  The process of buying it was a crazy ordeal that took over a year to complete, dealing with title problems and termites.  But once I finally closed on the purchase, the real work began.  This is what the front of the house originally looked like. The trees and grass were overgrown, and the carport had a very plane look to it. 

Original Front of HouseWe removed the center post in the carport, added a nice door and some wood to give it a board and batten look, and cleaned up the landscape for a nice clean look. Landscape is often a part of house flipping that gets overlooked in the budget. 

New frontThe original kitchen had a wall that closed it off to the living room, apparently because people in the 70's liked that kind of thing.  I wonder if that will come back in style, but for now, everyone prefers the kitchen to be wide open. So we took this original kitchen, which had a hole in the floor and mold growing everywhere from the leaking refrigerator... 

Original kitchen

And turned it into this new open concept with quartzite and monkeypod wood counter, with simple shaker style cabinets, and new tile floors that look like wood.  The wood counter is everyone's favorite part. Hard to believe it's the same room isn't it?  We got the wood for the monkeypod counter from my friend Ty, who tragically passed away last year, so it's a constant reminder of my friend whenever we use it. 

New kitchen

We had to gut almost every part of the house.  New electrical and plumbing, new roof, and we refinished the original oak floors, which looked like this. See the dark stain on the left side?


After the wood refinish, new paint, and the wall removed, the room looks like this. Yes that's the same wood, but sanded and with a new satin finish on there. Satin finish doesn't hold the dust as much, so it's easier to keep clean. Also we replaced the old windows with vinyl jalousy and added a pantry where the stairs used to be. This is a how a kitchen should feel - open and inviting. 

living and kitchen

This house original had a weird addition on the side, which many people told me to tear out.  I try not to tear out things that can be used.  The room  was formerly a second living space for the many drug abusing squatters who were renting the house from the foreclosed owner.  (Yes I had to evict them.)  This odd room was long and narrow, with a makeshift bedroom that someone had apparently built out of scrap wood and leftover tiles that were unevenly cut as you can see in the bottom of this next picture. Look closely to see the next room that was built with an interior sliding door in between this wall and the rock wall in back. 

We cut this odd room in half and made a master bedroom and a family room.  Here it is with new flooring, windows, doors, paint, baseboards, etc. This picture below is just the back half of the room above. 

family room

The other half of the long narrow room was turned into a master bedroom with a huge new walk in closet, new carpet, and a new bathroom. Here is the new master bedroom. 


Then we added a new bathroom in what used to be part of the carport. I got these vanities off the shelf at Home Depot.  They actually have really good stuff sometimes, and these actually match the kitchen counters. 


Every house in Hawaii should have a nice outdoor dining space.  When we bought this one, it was like a jungle with an odd rock formation that looked like some kind of altar.  Pretty much a total mess. 

old outdoor

We removed the rock firepit/altar, added a new fan, a new set of french doors, and cleaned up the landscape. 

Best of all is the beach at the end of the road.  We didn't have to do anything to that part, and it's just a 1 minute walk from our front door.

Alligators beach Oahu

Special thanks to Ashton McNab and John Boehm who did a ton of work on the house. Anyone who is going to remodel or be house flipping in Hawaii needs to have great carpenters, and these guys were both awesome. 

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