Buying Land on the Big Island of Hawaii

What does it feel like to own land in Hawaii? Exhilarating!

A client who recently purchased 3 acres showing his son where his future home will be.

There is something exciting about buying raw land in Hawaii that is like being at the top of the roller coaster before the first big drop. It’s a little scary and your heart beats quickly. You might say, “I can’t believe we are doing this.”  Then you imagine the home and living in it and you smile from ear to ear. For those of us who have been there or are just beginning the journey, you know what I mean.

In 2009 we are enjoying the view from our lot and making plans

Hawaii Island is the largest in the chain and has only about 200,000 people living here, yet there is shortage of housing. If you cannot find what you are looking for you may want to consider building. This may be a good option if you have time and patience to wait for the home you desire. Building here can take anywhere from 12 – 18 months once you have the lot and plans in hand. This time depends on availability of contractors, subcontractors, materials as well as the County Planning and Building Departments.

The price of land naturally varies with location. Oceanfront land in sunny locations can run as high as $1 -2 million for half an acre. For off-grid parcels in lava zone 2 (high risk) you can buy a 7,500 sq. ft. lot for $7,500. There is everything in between of course, and that’s where a Realtor comes in handy.

The cost of building in this remote part of the Pacific is higher than mainland USA. Depending on quality of materials, finishes and labor required you can spend anywhere from $200- 700 per square foot. The lower end being a straightforward modest home, and the higher being a luxury resort quality home you see in the magazines. Costs can be contained somewhat by being an owner builder. If you do this, you will need to coordinate your subcontractors and plan on this being a full-time job for the duration of construction. You must have patience, flexibility, and skills to work well with people. Having knowledge of the process and planning is a must.

My owner builder husband helps with framing and trusses

Building a home on vacant land here can be a uniquely rewarding process. If you would like more information on selecting, purchasing a lot and first-hand experience on building a home here,  please contact me. I would be happy to share my knowledge.

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Andy Gulmon

May 11, 2018

Hi Lisa,
I’m about to buy a property on the Big Island in Mountain View near hwy 11. I will need to install a septic. The property is on 3 acres. Can I assume that I can install a septic system? Has anyone ever not been allowed to put one in? How costly are they?


August 21, 2019

I don’t agree with out side companies or even local realtors sell land here in Hawaii. I hope people understand between crown lands, government lands and land for private sale. Remember buying land here in Hawaii will always be a undivided interest. Many Kanaka Maoli are researching their rights to Kuleana.’aina. This land division was.called the great.Mahele propsed to DHHL 1920 organic act. This was made possible for all Native Hawaiians land to grow.crops and live. Always keep in mind when purchasing land in Hawaii that you.are.purchasing land on a.undivided.interest. Hawaiian concept, we malama. Aloha ‘aina. ‘Aina used to be called kaina and kiana means family. We have all these non Kanaka whi come to our home and thing this is the wild.west, where people use up all our natural resources, desecrate our land, and not to mention our sacred.places, where we can fish,.hunt.and gather. All of which is a protected Hawaiian kingdom law. Remember now, the Kingdom of Hawaii till this day still exist. The second attemt.of.5 haole sugar plantation businessmen took it upon


September 21, 2019

Do you buy lots for development on the big island? I have two side by side lots in Nanawale that I am thinking of selling.

Sasha Nealand

October 24, 2020

Just a comment, I am sure you know that there are almost no pure Hawaiians left and most “Hawaiians” currently living in Hawaii are mixtures of the many races that have settled here including haole. Hawaiians are also invaders to this island, bringing with them off-island species and eradicating the native ones, the only difference between the Hawaiian invaders and later invaders ( Japanese, Portuguese, Philippine, white, whatever…) is that the Hawaiians were maybe the first invaders to be recorded , so no need to be so hostile as you are just basically saying stuff against your own ancestors ( Japanese, Portuguese, Philippine, white, whatever…)

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