Episode Descriptions


Season 15: Honolulu, HI
1930s Bungalow
This project premiered on PBS
February 1994
Eight half-hour episodes; Programs #1319-1326

Program #1319
The guys paddle into Honolulu, Hawaii, to begin an eight show series on the renovation and expansion of homeowner Christiane Bintliff's oceanside bungalow, built in the 1930s. The house sits on part of a larger parcel given to her great-great-great-grandfather by Hawaii's King Kamehameha III in return for his services as admiral of the royal navy. Despite the apparent termite damage and out-of-date systems, Christiane is determined to save this old-style island home. So our master carpenter goes off to the lonely island of Molokai to see the restoration of Father Damien's church, recently completed by the firm of Ching Construction, and our host visits a stunning renovation of an oceanside home by architect Norm Lacayo. With the team assembled, the jobsite is blessed by Hawaiian minister the Reverend Abraham Akaka.

Program #1320
The guys start the workday by climbing Diamond Head for a view over the city of Honolulu. At the jobsite, our host meets contract supervisor Roland Lagareta to discuss the permitting process and demolition. Our master carpenter meets site supervisor Rob Varner to see progress on replacing termite-ravaged beams and joists, catches up with the electrician, sees the pouring of pier foundations, and meets roofer Jim Wilkinson, whose crew is starting the removal of the house's four layers of old roofing. Homeowner Christiane Bintliff gives us an update on her plans for the house. We visit Waimea on the island of Kauai, where a man named Mike Faye has a collection of old plantation houses restored to original condition and used as vacation rentals. We go to architect Norm Lacayo's downtown Honolulu office to see a model of the house, with improved floorplan and addition.

Program #1321
The show opens at the Punchbowl, an extinct volcano crater that is the site of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, burial place of Americans who have fallen in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. On site, the new addition begins to take shape, with stud walls up and prefabricated trusses arriving on site. All lumber is pressure-treated to battle the resident termites. Homeowner Christiane Bintliff decides to go with a wood shingle roof, as the original house had, and our host talks to roofer Jim Wilkinson about the reasons behind the high—$21,000—labor cost involved. We visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and learn of the events that brought the US into World War II. Back on the job, engineer John Allison and project super Rob Varner discuss options to tie the roof down to the sidewalls to protect against the lifting effect of high winds. Inside, our master carpenter shows us the unique way the original building is put together, and then builds a new single-wall interior partition to match the others.

Program #1322
The show opens at Hanauma Bay, a sea-filled crater whose marine life attracts thousands of visitors a day, creating a conservation dilemma. At the site, project superintendent Rob Varner gives us a tour of the framed-up addition and rebuilt kitchen area. Up on the roof, our master carpenter sees the hurricane tie-down system connecting the roof to the sidewalls, and roofer Jim Wilkinson and crew install copper valleys, treated red cedar shingles with a 30-year warrantee, and a three-dimensional nylon mesh underlayment that allows the shingles to "breathe" and dry more evenly. Inside, electrician Pierre Jaffuel shows us how he's using underfloor junction boxes to cope with the original building's single-wall construction, which leaves no room for burying wires. Project architect Dan Moran and window manufacturer Sue Marvin discuss the specifications of the new windows, made to match the originals but with weather- and termite-beating features. Then, to begin an inquiry into the high cost of construction—and living—in the islands, our host boards an incoming container ship. More than 80% of consumer goods are shipped to Hawaii. The inquiry continues at a local home center, where the guys compare prices to those on the mainland.

Program #1323
The show begins at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a 1927 beauty known as the Pink Palace, one of the first two luxury hotels on the beach at Waikiki. At the site, our master carpenter explains how the addition's siding will be made to look like the original's board and batten, then catches up with job super Rob Varner to see how the lanai is being reinforced with a welded steel frame. Inside, the kitchen wall is opened up to give Christiane the ocean view she's wanted. We visit Iolani Palace, home of Hawaii's last king and queen, and the United States' only royal palace. Built in 1882, its painstaking restoration is one of the country's finest. Back at the site, "invisible" audio speakers are built into the ceiling, and project architect Dan Moran shows us recessed halogen lights for the "art wall," prairie-style exterior light fixtures, and brass entry hardware with a molecularly bonded finish that the manufacturer warranties as tarnish-free for life. The show ends with a Hawaiian beach picnic, complete with Spam (Hawaiians consume more per-capita than any state in the country).

Program #1324
The show opens at Aloha Tower, built in 1921 and now part of a redevelopment effort by the same group that built Baltimore's Harborplace and Fanueil Hall in Boston. At the site, our host sees ground treatment for termites, our master carpenter trims out the vestibule with poplar, using a coping saw. Downtown, we visit a woodworkers' co-op where Christiane's built-in entertainment center is being built out of native koa wood, with a rack-and-pinion TV lifter. The security system for the house is reviewed, and our host visits architect Norm Lacayo's latest commercial project, Harbor Court, a mixed-use skyscraper on Honolulu's waterfront.

Program #1325
Our host opens the show at Halekii heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple on the island of Maui. Surrounded by an industrial park and tract housing, it is an example of the tension between development and historic preservation. At the site, we check out what's left on project supervisor Rob Varner's punch list, and tour the house. Our host visits a termite fumigation job where the entire house is tented and poisonous gas injected. Richard Trethewey reviews the new solar hot-water system and shows us the split-system air-conditioning units. We then visit a house in Maui designed in 1936 by the dean of Hawaiian architecture, Charles W. Dickey.

Program #1326
The final days in Hawaii. Our host starts the show in Kalapana on the Big Island, where a 1992 lava flow from Kilauea volcano obliterated much of the town and its famous black sand beach. At the house, landscaper John Mitchell and crew install plants, to be watered by an in-ground irrigation system. Inside, Rob Varner shows off the new sisal-like wool carpet in the addition, as well as track lighting and fans in the studio. Decorative painter Angela Adams works on a tropical motif in the powder room, and the guys see the imu (pit) where the luau's pig will be cooked on the final day. The next day, Christiane gives our host a tour of her new kitchen, and he continues into the master suite. In the living room, our master carpenter oversees the installation of the room divider/TV box. Finally, the luau, with thanks to all who made the project a success.