Kailua family fights to save their home after contractor and refinancing fiascos

Updated: Sep. 14, 2019 at 8:45 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The drawing in Kaiulani Manuwai's hand shows the dream home her family envisioned for the Kailua property they've lived on for generations.

It’s where she and her sisters grew up.

"It's what we would consider our Puuhonua. It's our sanctuary, where we come to to hang out, to laugh. It's everything," she said.

But they run the risk of losing it all. Their problems started 12 years ago.

“We just wanted to give it a face lift,” Manuwai said. “It started with hiring the wrong contractor. It started off well and ended really badly.”

She said that contractor ripped them off, did shoddy work, and skipped out before the job was done.

"We couldn't close some of the permits because the building wasn't up to code. The new portion that was built actually is worse than the portion that was existing pre-1930," she said.

Then last year the family decided to refinance the home, but that plan took a terrible turn.

Manuwai said the financial adviser they trusted took them for a ride.

"We found out that money that was supposed to be used for refinancing was not necessarily going to that because there wasn't a track record with the bank that the original loan was with," she said.

They were out hundreds of thousands of dollars and drowning in debt. The house was auctioned off and the bank bought it.

"It's not easy to watch my parents silently struggle with this," Manuwai said. "I can only imagine how many other families have gone through this."

Three weeks ago they, were ordered to vacate by Sept. 12. So in civil court they told their story to a judge.

“In the end she decided to side with us and gave us an extension until Dec. 5, and ordered the bank to work with our family to give us a chance to stay,” she said.

The Manuwais are desperate to save their property. They set up a crowdfunding page and set the goal at $1 million.

“We’re not trying to buy the house. The house needs to be knocked down. What we’re buying back is our aina,” Manuwai said.

She said it's hard to ask for help but it would be even harder to lose their home.

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