Kehena House
Location: Kehena, HI (Puna Coast, Big Island)
Architect: Greg Higgins
Structural Engineer: Kris Hamilton, PE, Geiger Engineers, Bellingham, WA
Steel components: HabiTek, LLC
Scope: 1140sf with 770sf lanai; 2 bed, 2 bath

The design for the Kehena House was largely conceived by the owner/builder and artist, Greg Buettner, after he visited the Honomu House. This is a testament to how readily the HabiTek system can be understood and translated into unique designs. The house consists of 3 levels: a ground level, largely open, where a storage room, catchment tank (cistern) and laundry are located; the main living area which incorporates a large lanai; and an upper level master bedroom suite and lanai. The house is nestled in tropical trees and plants, planted years before, left largely untouched during construction.

The owner/builder positions wood joists within a steel frame bay. A wood sleeper is screwed to the top of the steel beams, and the joists hang on standard metal joist hangers. Later plywood sheathing will be installed over the joists and sleeper to complete the sub-floor assembly. This approach to floor construction is one of several that can be utilized with the HabiTek system.

The assembly team uses a combination spud wrench and ratchet to tighten bolts. Special “fin-neck” bolts are held in place by the pressure of one finger, which means just one tool is necessary to position beams and set the bolts and nuts for tightening. Note the wood framing infill: this owner/builder elected to build his exterior wood framed panels in situ.

A view from the neighbor’s lanai. Special wood plywood box-beams were designed to support the barrel vault roof over the master bedroom suite. Engineers had to analyze the air-foil like barrel vault for hurricane level winds, as required in Hawaii. HabiTek supplied special brackets that could be bolted to pre-punched holes in the steel beams to secure the wood barrel vault to the steel framework.

Box-beams and joist framing are shown in place. This site fabricated wood structure is not unlike an inverted boat hull. It has been carefully detailed and constructed to withstand high winds in the coastal environment. All the wood used is borate treated for termite control.

Installation of the decking for the entry bridge is underway. The bridge railing components were pre-fabricated in Spokane and shipped to the site powder-coated and ready-to-assemble. Sub-components, such as railing systems, arrive at the site in a container along with the complete steel framework, with all required bolts and fasteners.