WAILUKU - Shari Rabbett's third-floor lanai in the Sand Hills area has a peaceful view of the entrance to Kahului Harbor.
Her perch also is just spitting distance from a high-pitched vibrational hammer used to build a retaining wall at the Imi Ikena affordable housing project.
For hours in the morning and afternoon, she has heard the hammer's din, making it nearly impossible to carry on a phone conversation. The construction work shakes the ground, making the floor in Rabbett's apartment tremble under her feet.
Puuone Hale Alii resident Shari Rabbett wears stereo headphones Thursday to block out the noise of a vibrational hammer during ongoing construction of the Imi Ikena affordable housing project. The floor trembles underfoot in her third-floor apartment. The construction crane holds the vibrational hammer in place as it drives sheet metal into the ground for a retaining wall.
The Maui News / BRIAN PERRY photo
"It's unbearable at times," she said Thursday, looking worn and stressed out in her tiny apartment packed with boxes and paintings at Puuone Hale Alii.
Rabbett, a 61-year-old retired interior decorator, has lived in the apartment for seven years.
Because she is disabled with acute asthma and a bad back, she said she mostly stays at home while most of her neighbors flee to work or elsewhere while construction work is done from around 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.
Project representative Darryl Banks said workers will continue today and then take a break for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Fliers with the project's work schedule were sent to 320 neighbors, he said, and notices were issued to newspapers and radio stations.
"We're trying to be a good neighbor," Banks said.
After work ends today, construction will not resume until Jan. 3, Banks said. Other work periods are Jan. 4 and 7, Jan. 28 to 31 and Feb. 4 to 7.
To ease impacts on neighbors, the project developer accelerated work from three to two phases, at extra cost, he said.
"We do apologize to the neighbors," he said. "We're assessing all damages. We've got site monitoring going on."
Hawaii Inspection Group was hired to do the site monitoring, Banks said, and so far noise and vibration levels were within industry standards. Seismic monitoring was ongoing.
"We're trying to do what we can do," he said.
Hawaii Inspection has already taken a look at nearby buildings to determine existing conditions and to check on any damage from work on the project, he said. Some cracks in buildings were noted before the Imi Ikena project started in the fall.
"We're watching those areas as we go," Banks said. "We have not heard of anything getting worse."
While preliminary site work is ongoing, construction eventually will begin on the 28-unit apartment complex at 511 Imi Place. The Hunt Co. of Oahu is the construction contractor.
The project has a noise permit from the state Department of Health.
Rabbett said she does what she can to cope with the noise. She keeps her jalousie windows closed and wears stereo headphones to watch TV. And, she has hung heavy movers' blankets between her curtains and windows to absorb some of the sound and to keep away dust and diesel engine grime.
Keeping the windows shut during the day can make her apartment "hotter than Hades," she said. So, she opens them at times. An electrician told Rabbett her apartment isn't wired properly for the installation of an air conditioner.
Vibrations from the construction work knocked a glass and cups out of her cupboards, breaking on the kitchen floor, she said, adding that she was fortunate she wasn't hit and injured by them.
She said she's not the only resident who stays home while work is ongoing next door. There are a number of elderly residents, she said, including one man who is deaf.
"He just feels the vibrations," she said.
Rabbett said life in her apartment has been "very stressful" since the project started in the fall, and that she has been seeing a behavioral therapist.
"I have not eaten today," she said. "I've thrown things up since this project started."
Banks said that if Rabbett contacts him, he'll look at paying for her broken belongings.
"We have no problem taking care of anything that we did," he said.
Rabbett said that when she can't stand being in her apartment, she escapes by going to watch a movie.
"I've seen 'Breaking Dawn' twice," she said.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.