O‘ahu family chosen for home makeover

An O‘ahu family had quite the wakeup call on a recent morning.

Ty Pennington, along with the rest of the crew from the hit television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” greeted the Kalihi Valley family of six with the good news: they had been selected to receive the next home makeover.

Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i was selected to be the builder, taking on the task of completing the home in 106 hours of around-the-clock construction. The two-hour episode is scheduled to air in September as the show’s fifth season premiere.

“Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i is the perfect builder for this project,” said Conrad Rickettes, co-executive producer, in a press release. “They have created diverse neighborhoods across the islands that evoke a unique sense of place and reflect the harmony of the land. Their designs honor and incorporate Hawai‘i’s cultural heritage and island lifestyle. Moreover, their Hawaiian-style architecture fits in with the family’s vision for their new home.”

“It was easy for us to say yes to be part of this amazing project,” said Jeffrey Prostor, president of Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i, in the release. “In the truest sense of ‘ohana, our talented team members, our local vendors and partners, and our community are coming together to build the Akana family’s dream home.”

The Akana family was selected to receive the extreme makeover after dedicating the past 11 years to the native Hawaiian community. Theresa “Momi” Akana was a single mom on welfare when she started Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Family Learning Centers, a non-profit organization that offers culturally educational programs for free to those who would not normally be able to afford them. In the beginning, Momi used her food stamps to buy snacks for the center and considered her welfare check her paycheck for the services she was providing for these families.

In the end, the family’s needs came second, and while Momi and her three children attempted to make their own improvements to their home, they never had the money or the expertise to complete anything properly, so the house is a series of unfinished construction projects. In addition, their house is built on the edge of a river and the foundation has suffered erosion over the years. A major floor in 2004 washed away half of their foundation, leaving only a couple of pillars to support their home. Momi now worries that it is only a matter of time before the rest of their home falls into the river.

Remarried last year, Momi counts her family among her blessings. The Akana family members are: step-dad Ben; 14-year-old Keahi; 12-year-old Kuulei; 8-year-old Maka; and their newest addition, 2-month-old Poli.

“Momi and her family have given so much to the community, embodying the aloha spirit,” said Prostor, in the release. “Building a new home for them is the least we can do to show our gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do for the future of Hawai‘i.”

Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i looked to JZMK Architects to design the perfect home for the Akanas. JZMK Architects also designed the homes in Brookfield’s Leihano Village. The architectural character of the new home was inspired by the humble plantation style homes that are common throughout Hawai‘i, as well as the humble, welcoming and friendly nature of the Akana family, and their connection to the ‘aina (land).

The construction marathon on this house will begin on June 7. Hundreds of Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i employees, partners and community volunteers will join Pennington and the design team as they charge toward the home in a symbolic gesture of power and unity that has become a hallmark of the show. Following the charge, the remnants of the home will be moved off-site and the area readied for the build.

In a hectic weeklong period, the existing home will be replaced with an extreme made-over home. Construction is expected to be complete by June 13, when the Akana family returns from vacation to see their new home for the first time.

During the build, the public can monitor progress 24-hours a day at www.brookfieldhawaii.com/extreme.

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