Often when we are out showing properties to clients the reaction is, “I really love this feature but I don’t care for that one.” Or, “I wish I could take the layout of property X and use it to replace the entrance on property Y.” This generally leads back to clients finding some components of a property they like and some parts don’t like as much.
Is building a home a reality on the island?
The short answer is YES, but only if you have the time, patience and resources necessary. It’s very hard to find the perfect house for everyone when you are looking at resales. Most clients have an idea of what they want and like and can see certain aspects in different houses. When you agree to build your dream home you obviously have the ability to add, modify or include anything and everything that your budget can afford. With that said, is building usually cheaper than buying a resale on Oahu and that answer typically is no.
Being on island, you have to deal with labor, materials and building and zoning departments. These can be extremely time consuming, costly and frustrating. We simply do not have the same amount of skilled labors and materials on the island that you would find in a big city. Hence, the prices for everything on an island are higher. The process can also take longer as the departments that allow the building and passing of inspections are at times very overworked. This can add lots of delays and possible costs to the project. However, if you have the time, patience’s and resources the end product can be your perfect home.
Land on the island is not overly inexpensive.
Most of the buildable areas have been developed over the years. That is not to say that you cant find a beautiful piece of land and build your dream home. There are certainly owners lots that have been waiting for the right time and price to sell. Some land is owned by the state or military and is not for sale but plenty of parcels change hands frequently. There are very specific rules in the state for what you can build where and on how much land. For example, we have a land designation of R5, meaning the lot is a residentially zoned parcel with the “R” standing for residential. The 5 denotes 5000 square feet the minimum size for that category. This gives you the ability to build one house with one kitchen for every 5000 square feet. That’s not to say that if the land is 7500 square feet but still zoned R5 you might be able to build a duplex. The categories and rules change from there such as R10 and so on. The larger the lot the more you can build within certain city and county guidelines. Some other considerations are sewer connections, neighborhood rules and restrictions, easements and utility hookups. So this really requires a lot of due diligence on the potential buyers part to make sure what they envision is actually possible. You absolutely need to consult with architects, engineers and others that specialize in Hawaii construction to make sure that everything will work with the rules set forth by the city and county building department.
Land can be purchased all over the island.
The typical starting price for property on Oahu can run from $200K to over $15M for a larger, beachfront lot. All the islands have different prices and some land is certainly more desirable than others. There are also some parcels that can be purchased as agricultural and you have the ability to add a house. Agriculture land does have different rules and systems versus straight residential but something can be found for any buyer if you have the means.
Over the years, we have developed a team of general contractors, architects, and engineers that we often work with. This can be a small addition to a massive custom home. The group can handle every aspect of designing, building and permitting a home on the island. They also have the ability to use expediters to move the building process along faster than without. Typical building costs can start at $200 a square foot and go up from there depending on the project. Approvals can take an extremely long time if you are not familiar with the system. This is certainly not a place to try and do things on your own even if you are experienced with the process on the mainland. Hawaii certainly has some old school procedures and mentalities in place so respect and patience are needed. This is a beautiful island to live and call home but its certainly not moving at the pace you would find in a city such as New York, and that’s why we proudly call Hawaii home.