This House

by Mrs. Smith on July 16, 2022

It was built in I-forget-which-decade.

It is actually two houses, transported here from the other side of the island, and smooshed together. No idea how they did it or why, but it reminds me vividly of what building a family is like – uprooting yourselves and smooshing two lives together in an attempt to create something new and (hopefully) better.

Some of the bedroom walls have actual redwood paneling, ten inches wide. They don’t make that stuff anymore, nor would I want them to. But… redwood trees line the rooms upstairs. When I learned that little tidbit of information, I may or may not have cried, it just seemed so incredible to have that kind of element in this house.

It’s canec ceilings up there, too. (Link provided if you, like me, enjoying learning trivia of this nature.) Canec is basically drywall made out of the leftovers of processing sugar cane. They don’t make that any more either, and I think it’s beautiful. Not that drywall isn’t great, but I can feel the resourcefulness and cleverness and beauty there in the canec stuff. It’s so pretty.

The previous owner was picky. I don’t remember how long she lived there, but she was a project manager professionally, and she project-managed this house like a boss. Built herself a bigger closet for the master bedroom. Created a better space for laundry in the back. Put up a pretty big shed with an awesome workbench in the back with a lovely porch over concrete, making it the perfect place to work out or hang laundry out of the rain. Replaced all the single-pane windows with nice sturdy double-paned hurricane windows. Extra straps holding the roof down. Redid the siding, changing it over to nice quality stuff you won’t ever have to repaint or replace, and while they were at it, greatly improved the insulation around the entire house.¬† Added solar panels and a solar-powered water heater. Built a lovely screened-in lanai off the kitchen.

She took the bones of this house and improved them greatly.

After the house flooded a second time for her, she really went to work. She took the money from insurance and transformed the kitchen into a thing of beauty. Granite counters, soft-close drawers and cupboards, gas stove (which, in Hawaii, is not very common), high-quality appliances with a comprehensive warrantee (which we renewed and it’s paid for itself several times over), tiled backsplash that she put up herself (so, yeah, it’s not professionally perfect, but I love it way more knowing she did it)… I mean, she created a kitchen so lovely that when she excitedly asked if I like cooking, I sincerely said, “No, not at all, but this kitchen makes me wish I did!”

And if you know me, you know that’s a really big deal.

She also put up a 6ft concrete wall around the back and a 3 ft wall along the side, that we watched hold back a massive river of water last year. The neighbors houses are lifted, so most of them dodged significant damage, but without that wall she built, ours would have been a repeat of what she experienced 20 years ago.

According to legend and my very likely flawed memory, the previous owner didn’t stop with her home improvements. After that flood in the early 2000’s, she took her frustration and canvassed the whole community, assessing for damages and compiling it into a professional report that she submitted to the government. She was loud enough¬† and persistent enough about it that they legit built a wall going up the mountain to divert heavy rains out to the ocean better. (That’s the story I heard, and I don’t disbelieve it. She was an eccentric little powerhouse of a woman and I was grateful she let us get to know her a little in the process of buying her home.)

That wall up the mountain does a pretty great job, actually, keeping floods out of this area. I think there was something like a 15 year reprieve for this house. It really took a LOT of water to get that flood we saw in 2021.

As you can probably tell, I have a great deal of love for the woman who sold us this place in 2018. I love her so much, I (almost) didn’t even mind that the lanai + wall she built made it almost impossible to replace the septic tank because of the way it blocks construction equipment access. Don’t ask how not-fun that was to figure out, lol. We had a couple companies tell us straight up that they wouldn’t do it.

So. Just, you know, as a note here, if you are going to make improvements to your home, think about the long game and make a plan for septic tank replacement, k?

ALL OF THIS IS TO SAY,

This house is special. There’s something about it. I didn’t know what I was getting into when we moved in, but I knew it was good.

Thus concludes part 1. I wonder how many posts it will take for me to feel like I’ve given adquate tribute to this magical place.

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