Master Craftsmen

Building a home is big. Finding an architect and contractor who fit the homeowners' styles and tastes-huge. We sat down with top designers and builders in Hawaii. Read on to learn who they are and what they want you to know.

Article by Merideth Kimble & Jenny de Jesus

Issue Date:  September 2007

Green Sand Inc.

900 Fort St. Mall • Pioneer Plaza, Suite 1710
457-1360 • • LIC # AR-7762

Matthew Goyke, president and founder
photo by David Croxford

Background: Green Sand Inc. might be new to Hawaii’s home construction market, but its team members have long-term experience. Company owner and president, Matthew Goyke, has been practicing architecture in Hawaii for 18 years.
The Green Sand Inc. team has more than 60 years’ combined experience. Rhonda Goyke, co-owner and Matt’s wife, has worked for 17 years in the environmental field. Company designer Steven Gangwes has more than 18 years in the building industry.

What We Offer: “We have a strong focus on creative and sustainable design,” Matt says. The company incorporates Built Green and U.S. Green Building Council LEED strategies whenever possible. These include passive cooling, solar energy and water heating, he says.
However, Green Sand Inc. evaluates each project and implements only those strategies that make sense. “A big part of our philosophy is listening to the client and responding objectively to the conditions of the project to create something truly custom,” Matt says.

Our Advice to Homeowners: Above all, find an architect who listens, Matt advises. “An architect should use his eye for design to translate what the client says into what the client envisions.” He recommends Green Sand Inc. of course, but no matter who you choose, be sure to use a licensed and experienced architect.

The Ironwoods at Kailua
Why We Are Green Sand Inc.: When Matt and Rhonda first came to Hawaii, during a tour of the Big Island, they ventured to South Point. Their rental car only went so far, so they hiked the rest. At the end of the trail was a green sand beach, shimmering with deposits of gemstone from the cliff above. “It was one of those beautiful places that occur only in Hawaii,” Matt says. The name also embodies the eco-friendly nature of their company.

Why We Are Building Green: “The built environment has a profound impact on the natural environment, on our health and on our society,” explains Matt. He sees Hawaii as the perfect landscape for this growing trend, as architects and builders can take advantage of our best resources: breezes and sunshine.
Currently, Green Sand Inc. is working on The Ironwoods at Kailua, a 153-unit condominium project with D.R. Horton, Schuler Division. It will be one of the first residential LEED-certified projects in the state.

3builders Inc.

P.O. Box 1185, Waialua
637-7532 • • LIC # BC-23342

Nick Denzer, owner
photo by Scott T. Kubo
What We Offer: 3builders Inc. was founded in 1998 by, you guessed it, three builders. When his business partners went their separate ways, Nick Denzer took the helm. 3builders now provides complete contracting services with serious customer service to projects on all Islands, he says. Currently, 3builders’ specialty is medium- to high-end oceanfront residences, historical renovations and commercial construction.

Our Advice to Homeowners: Hire contractors with current licenses. Sound like common sense? Not all contractors keep their licenses up to date, so it’s wise for the homeowners to follow-up. Denzer suggests calling the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at 587-3222 or 587-3295.

How We Build Green: “We always offer homeowners the opportunity to use green building products,” Denzer says. For example, he uses lumber that is environmentally responsible. Solar water heating and solar electric power are also encouraged. However, it is always the customer’s prerogative, as many green building elements may cost more.

Denzer’s Proudest Accomplishment: Early in his career, Denzer was working on a home on the Big Island. He and his crew were building a much-needed house for a family. He says, “It felt good to watch these people literally overflow into a space they needed so badly.”

ACS Construction Inc.

148 Hanohano Pl.
479-3893 • • LIC # BC-25877

Dale Grover, owner
photo by Tomas Del Amo

What ACS Offers: The first stop for homeowners looking for an environmentally-responsible, solid, state-of-the-art building material should be ACS Construction. Owned and operated by Dale Grover, the company uses Nudura-brand insulated concrete forms (ICF). These termite-proof, hurricane-resistant concrete blocks keep the inside cool and nearly sound-proof.
Not only does the company have the latest in green building material, ACS Construction (which stands for Advanced Concrete Systems) is also a complete design/build company. The team includes architects and contractors under the name Blue Green Innovations. Grover stresses the importance of each player being at the table during the design stages. “We work together with designers and builders toward the same goal,” Grover says.

Why ACS Builds Green: Currently, Grover and ACS are concentrating on becoming one of the first LEED certified builders in the state. “I believe in building energy-efficient homes in Hawaii that will last for 100 years or more. Hawaii is beautiful, and we shouldn’t create more waste by rebuilding every 30 years,” Grover says.
ACS doesn’t stop with energy-efficient materials—it strives to incorporate as many green building practices it can in each home. Grover recommends tankless water heaters, which reduce energy use and last much longer than solar water heating systems.

Homeworks Construction Inc.

1370 Kapiolani Blvd., 2nd Floor
955-2777 • • LIC # BC-20040

(left to right) Sylvio Boucher, president; Marc Dawson, vice president; Marshall Hickox, president; Jim Byxbee, president
photo by Scott T. Kubo
Background: In 1994, Homeworks president and CEO Jim Byxbee saw a void in custom building in Hawaii and set out to create his own “true design/build company.” Thirteen years later, with more than 100 years of combined management experience, Byxbee, co-presidents Marshall Hickox and Sylvio Boucher, vice president Marc Dawson and their team of 60 employees have more than 1,000 finished projects. “We’ve never failed to complete a project,” Boucher says.
Hickox adds, “I have two favorite projects: The last one we finish and the next one we start. I’m excited when we’re done and the clients are happy, and I’m excited when the next one is signed and ready to go.”

What Homeworks Construction Offers: A positive design/build experience—all under one roof. “We provide clients with plans, permitting, engineering and design of any home—from modest to high-end custom,” Hickox says.
With customer satisfaction the top priority, Byxbee continually strives for the “best service and best quality of work we can provide the homeowner.”

photo by Scott T. Kubo
Our Advice to Homeowners: Byxbee stresses client education, clear expectations and good communication. “The client should have an understanding of the process of working with a contractor. A better educated client is simply the best client,” he says. Start with a strong contract and strong specifications, and pay attention to all the details. “Make sure it’s in writing,” Hickox adds.

Community Contributions: Homeworks provides Hawaii’s families with quality fair-priced, new and remodeled housing. Byxbee serves on the Building Industry Association board of directors, and the company offers free monthly educational seminars and a weekly live talk radio show. Additionally, Dawson has stepped up as project manager to Habitat for Humanity projects, and is helping run permits on other Habitat homes.

Why We Are Sensible Builders: Building green makes sense for the homeowner and the environment, and Byxbee encourages his clients to take this into consideration. Long before sustainability flooded mainstream consciousness, energy-efficient windows, ENERGY STAR appliances, cross ventilation, natural light, roof ridge vents and engineered materials were the norm at the company.

“Build New or Re-Do”

Seminars: at Ferguson Bath and Kitchen Gallery, 925 Kokea St., every last Tuesday of the month, 6 to 8 p.m.
Radio Show: KHVH News Radio 830, Saturdays, 1 to 2 p.m.

HK Construction Inc.

905 Factory St., Honolulu
841-1800 • LIC # BC 25837

Mike Mudgett, general manager
photo by Tomas Del Amo

Why we are HK: Although HK could stand for Harry Kim, the initials actually stand for Hale Koa. Mudgett explains that this translates to “strong warrior” in Hawaiian. Pertaining to building, it means “strong building” or “house of strength.”

What HK Offers: HK Construction Inc. owner, Harry Kim Jr., followed his father and his grandmother into the construction business in Hawaii. While Kim’s experience covers his lifetime, HK is his latest venture, begun three years ago. “We have an architect at our disposal … and all of the contractors under one roof,” says Mike Mudgett, general manager.

HK Construction Inc. is a design/building company. It walks homeowners through each phase, including the all-important budget. “We want to create a design that satisfies the client, with their budget in mind,” Mudgett says. Once this step is complete, HK can get to work building a home that reflects the homeowners’ ideas and feelings about their projects.

Our Advice to Homeowners: The three Cs: Comfort, confidence and communication are the keys to a successful project. To find the right fit, Mudgett advises homeowners to do their due diligence research. Call the Contractor’s Licensing Board at 586-3000 to check out reputations.

Why We Are Building Green: “This is the greatest environment in the world, and we want to help take care of it,” Mudgett says. HK Construction builds green whenever possible, using solar water heating and electricity, insulation and passive ventilation.

South Pacific Design Group

66-250 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa
637-9100 •

(left)Robyn Titcomb, associate designer
(right)Ursula Gehrmann, partner
photo by Tomas Del Amo

Who We Are: Partners, and “born artists,” Ursula Gehrmann and Christopher Moreland have been collaborating on home design for nine years. Together, they began South Pacific Design Group five years ago.

What We Offer: South Pacific Design Group is a design firm where homeowners will get more than just a plan for a home. “We offer an insightful and inspirational design experience,” Gehrmann says. The company’s Web site describes the design process as an artistic journey, guided by Gehrmann, Moreland and team.

Why We Build Green: “Our goal is always to be environmentally sensitive. It is always a positive experience to have a client who is willing to explore and take advantage of the technology and materials available,” Gehrmann says. She points to her company’s respect for Hawaii and the community as her company’s influences to be green. “We conscientiously guide our clients, and encourage compatible design.”

Our Advice For Homeowners: “Go with your very first instincts, trust yourself. Take a deep breath, and be honest with everyone involved. But, most importantly, have fun,” Moreland says.


1325 Moohele St., Waikapu, Maui
(808) 249-8182 • • LIC # 10189

Marc Taron, CEO
Photo by Randy Miller

Background: Arquitectura’s Marc Taron, AIA, does it all. “I own the company, I direct the company. I do the design, the marketing, I do the books. I make and drink the coffee,” he says. Taron hails from the East Coast, and has slowly made his way west in pursuit of a career in architecture. Summer breaks from high school were almost always spent on a construction site. A major in landscape design from Oklahoma State University gradually became a degree in architecture. “I was always designing small structures for my landscapes, so I decided to switch majors. It was tougher, but I was more inspired by the challenges,” Taron says. From the Midwest, Taron made his way to New Mexico, where he worked for various architecture firms, designing commercial buildings and public works.
Hawaii was his next stop in 2000. He began Arquitectura in 2005.

My Advice to Homeowners: For homeowners, building a new home can be the most wonderful experience, or it can be a horrible one, Taron notes. To prevent the latter, he recommends creating a team of an architect and a contractor who work well together.
“For me, the greatest thing is walking clients through the whole process and seeing their faces when it is all done. And, still being friends when it is all done,” Taron says.

Why I Am Arquitectura:
Thinking of a company name was difficult. When “Marc Taron Architects Inc.” didn’t ring true, Taron brainstormed ideas that would reflect the creativity of design. “Architecture is a form of art,” he says. Arquitectura, Spanish for architecture, sounded just right.

What Arquitectura Offers: Arquitectura has found a niche in the high-end custom home market in Hawaii. Taron doesn’t want to stop there. He has sites in the affordable home market, bringing an architect’s expertise to the masses. Although he is based on Maui, Taron is interested in working on all the islands.

Taron begins each project with a homeowner’s ideas. “When clients come to me, they are bringing me their hopes and dreams, and I do what I can to make them into a reality,” Taron says. He then visits the jobsite to check out the environment so that he can include views, shade, natural light and breezes in his design. “I work with homeowners to organize their floor plans in the coolest way possible,” he says.

Architectura recently won several design awards at the annual Building Industry Association of Hawaii Renaissance Awards. These include the Grand Award for new residential over $2 million, the Distinguished Entrant award, for new residential under $2 million, and the Editor’s Choice Award.

Seven Valleys Design/build

1130 N. Nimitz Hwy., Ste. C-120
521-7134 • • LIC # BC-21011

Chuck Siebenthal, owner
photo by Tomas Del Amo

What We Offer: Seven Valleys Design/Build specializes in renovations and kitchen and bath design. Company owner and certified kitchen designer Chuck Siebenthal has more than 30 years in the construction business.
“I’m a hands-on guy, even though I don’t bang the nail anymore,” Siebenthal says. His company can take homeowners from setting a realistic budget through design and construction. “It’s a simpler process for homeowners to have everything in-house, and that’s the way I’ve been doing business for 30 years,” Siebenthal says.

Our Advice to Homeowners: Get referrals from designers and contractors. Check out projects that are similar to the work you want done, Siebenthal says.
Why We Are Seven Valleys design/build: Seven valleys is the English translation of Chuck’s German last name.

Grand Construction, LLC

1311 Kapiolani Blvd., #106
596-2288 • • LIC # BC-25030

Benny Lee, CEO
Photo by Tomas Del Amo

Background: In 1987, Benny Lee arrived in Hawaii from China with a background in cabinetry and an interest in building. Following his general contractor uncle to work every summer, Lee learned the value of good design and quality craftsmanship.

Our Advice to Homeowners:
“Before hiring a contractor, do a license check. Know the contractor’s reputation. It’s coverage for the homeowner and insurance on the project,” Lee says.

What We Offer: A wide range of building projects, including residential and commercial renovations, kitchen and bath design, remodeling for resale and new home builds. With an engineer and architect on staff, Lee and his team can provide everything all in one place. As the company’s mission states, no job is done until the clients are happy.

Precise Measurements Inc.

622-2215 • • LIC # BC-23761

David and Misty Wheeler, owners
photo by Tomas Del Amo

What We Offer: Husband-and-wife team David and Misty Wheeler knew they wanted to go into business for themselves. David loved construction. Misty grew up watching her parents run their own business. In the summer of 2001, the couple took the plunge, and began Precise Measurements Inc.
The company’s specialty is residential renovations, with a personal touch. “We try to offer a complete, positive experience,” Misty says.
“It is very ohana-style, very one-on-one,” says Misty of homeowners’ experiences with PMI. “We form friendships with our customers. That is key.”

Our Advice to Homeowners:
Set your priorities and be realistic about the budget, Misty says.

What We Believe: “Everything goes back to quality of workmanship, customer service and satisfaction. We build with that framework in mind,” Misty says.

Concept 2 Completion

328 C. Keaniani St., Kailua
261-8384 • • LIC # GC-25447

(left to right) Mark Mench, Michael Nelms, Kai Santos, Karl Mench
photo by Tomas Del Amo

What we Offer: Concept 2 Completion, owned by Karl Mench, has been in Hawaii for six years.
As the name implies, Concept 2 Completion offers everything—architectural design and engineering, construction, even landscape design and all those finishing touches. Mench believes that the design process doesn’t stop with a paper drawing, and he is on hand at each step. His staff is also well-versed in all aspects of home building.
Mench takes pride in his company’s custom designs, which reflect the homeowners’ lifestyles. “A home isn’t just where people live. It should also reflect their personalities and sense of style,” Mench says.

How We Are Building Green: According to Mench, an ecofriendly house is cool, but not from air conditioning. He designs homes with passive cooling—a fancy term that means taking advantage of the trade winds.

Our Advice to Homeowners: Find a designer and builder who fit your personality, Mench says. “I tell people it’s like a marriage, as far as the ups and downs. They need to find someone they are comfortable working with.”


680 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste. 317
532-4444 •

(left to right) Gerald Pascual, owner; Maile Shimabukuro-Pascual, owner; Denise Nakasato, owner
photo by Tomas Del Amo

What We Offer: UBuildIt is a national home-building and remodeling consultation company. In November 2006, friends Denise Nakasato and Gerald Pascual and his wife, Maile Shimabukuro-Pascual, brought it to Hawaii.

Some ambitious homeowners dream of taking on the process of building or remodeling. UBuildIt guides the homeowner as he acts as designer and general contractor by providing knowledge, materials, contacts and advice. Choose from UBuildIt’s list of reputable designers, or from its ready-made plans. Hire subcontractors who have built relationships with the company. UBuildIt is there every step of the way. “We offer clients the tools and resources to make confident decisions based on their unique needs,” says Nakasato.

Our Advice to Homeowners: “Do your homework,” Nakasato advises. Make plans on paper as much as possible before starting construction. “It’s much easier to fix a mistake on paper than during construction,” she says.

Our Building Philosophies: The company’s mission is to “educate and service the local community with the most ideal options to build or remodel,” Pascual says.
Nakasato stresses communication is key to a project’s success. “Being independent and doing things on your own is great, but don’t be afraid to ask for help ... no one can do everything on their own.”

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