See our local resources page for a quality realtor. Lots and land vary from about $250,000 up into the millions. Some lots are already graded with a home pad but may need a retaining wall, which are typically a “mass wall” of lava rocks and concrete. Lot prices should be considered on their build- ability, or the cost to get it to that state. Build- ability on the Big Island is affected by the lack of soil, steep slopes and very hard rock in the soil or just under it. However it is quite porous, thus surface water runoff is drained into the ground not onto the streets.

Like the people of Hawaii there is a melting pot of home styles. Here are some descriptions of the most popular styles :

RESORT CONTEMPORARY : Typified by one open living space which combines the kitchen, dining and great rooms, and opens further onto a large lanai through large sliding pocket doors. The use of exotic stained wood trims, travertine tile floors and smooth drywall finish out the interior. Standing seam metal, tile or wood shake roofs, stucco and outdoor showers spilling out from spacious bathrooms protected by lava rock walls mark the exterior.

BEACH COTTAGE/COFFEE SHACK : Classic simple construction which we love – traditionally elevated to ward off termites, cool the home and tame steep rocky slopes, permitting a pleasant step down into the yard. Typical features are rich wood floors throughout, handrails, painted wood siding of board and battens, all topped with corrugated metal roofing. These are typical of the Kit homes available from the lumberyards, which can become a charming nostalgic home which truly blends in with the local fabric.

MISSIONARY : With roots going back to the early 1800’s (see Hawaii’s first church:Mokuaikaua in downtown Kailua-Kona). A New England flavor with horizontal siding and shingle roofing, painted white wood trim, and lava stone walls.

PLANTATION STYLE : Large wrap around lanais elevated off the ground with handrails. Wood siding with painted trim and hip roofs of metal or wood with split pitches(two angles).

DESIGN + BUILD (100% "built-for-you" service) - Give us an idea or rough floor plan and let us run with it. We’ll get you rough pricing, deal with all the entities needed to get your project off the ground, built and completed on time and on budget. Contact an Architect from our Local Resources list. Full services include design, specifications, and permitting. Throughout the duration of each project, the builder is hands-on with the crew on-site. The preliminary plans come back to us for rough pricing. The final plans are bid on.

OWNER - BUILDER + ARCHITECT (hybrid "built-with-you" service) - Let us fill in the details adapting for Hawaii codes and style, which will keep costs down. A local designer will generate a set of computerized plans that are easy to make changes to. A structural engineer and licensed architect sign off on plans. The architect is also required to make inspections of foundation and framing.

PREFAB HOUSE PLAN PACKAGE (you build & we handle all permits and bids) - Select and build the home that is right for you by purchasing a home package from a local lumberyard. Choose from a selection of house plans that can be upgraded and modified in-house. They will also assist in pulling permits as well. We will price out the labor and miscellaneous items in a bid, or work together with you in our owner- builder program.

OWNER/BUILDER You are responsible for every aspect of the construction process; from plans, permitting, financing and getting bids. The construction management and liability including workman’s compensation are your responsibility. The buck stops here! It is very tough mentally and physically if you have no prior experience. There are lots of surprises along the way. This option can be very rewarding if you make it through to completion in one piece. We are happy to assist you, see the Greg Putman Construction/Owner Builder Program section below.

ARCHITECT The architect you use must be licensed in Hawaii, and is responsible for everything including oversight of construction. They will document the progress and report back to you. You are responsible for funding the project and set your own involvement with the architect. This can be great if you are off island and have little time to spare. This option is costly, often priced as a percentage of building costs, but can take a load off you mind.

GENERAL BUILDING CONTRACTOR Contractors must be licensed in Hawaii. One person or company is responsible for pricing and building the project based on a set of plans provided by your designer. The greater the detail and specifications provided the more accurate the pricing. Otherwise, the use of allowances for unknowns such as fixtures varies widely. Typically a few contractors bid on the project and you work out, possibly with your architect, which contractor seems the best fit for you. The general contractor will have their regular sub-contractors they like to work with. They may or may not have their own work crews, a superintendent, or personally participate in the actual labor. You pay the general contractor, they pay all the bills including overhead. Liability shifts away from you to the general contractor. You should receive general releases from all material suppliers, workers and contractors along the way, ensuring no liens are filed against the property. You don’t want to pay twice.

GREG PUTMAN CONSTRUCTION/OWNER BUILDER PROGRAM You will work with us as a team and can choose your degree of involvement and responsibility while participating in the truly rewarding experience of building your own home! Determine your strengths and weaknesses, where do you need help? By teaming up with an experienced, hands-on builder and guide, we will form a casual partnership to negotiate our way through the trying building process and make it a win-win for all. Examples include, but are not limited to: you controlling all the payments, helping choose sub-contractors, laboring side by side learning new skills. Liability becomes shared with the contractor using his insurances. Advantages also include a licensed contractor on record for bonding or the lender if you are borrowing money. Typically a budget and timeline is produced. A fixed fee is agreed upon depending on the estimated job duration. There are no hidden costs and fewer surprises. Changes are easily made. You have someone to bounce ideas off. Cost savings along the way are yours. We have used this method often in Hawaii, and it works well.

The Concept-Design process varies with the design methods listed previously, but is usually one to three months. Reviewing preliminary plans and projected costs of construction with site development will take a few weeks. If you agree to continue further you can use this time to search for funding of project if necessary. Final plans and specifications, including engineering and early fixture selections will take one to three months depending on level of detail and project size. Finalizing the budget and getting actual bids and detailed cost estimates will take approximately one month. You can now finalize your financing. Applying for County Building Permit and getting Association approvals if any can take two to four months, we will take care of this as part of our service. Time can overlap with previous step. Apply for bonding if required. Continue planning, this is where the details are filled in and building time frame develops further. Time overlaps with other processes. Select the early sub-contractors we wish to work with and order special materials needed within the next two to three months. Time overlaps with the permitting process. Obtain permits, sign early subcontracts. Start site work including retaining walls, pool, grading, drainage and utilities. Time varies with lot condition and can take a couple of weeks to a few months. Building foundation, continuing through the entire construction process will take three to twelve months depending on size, complexity, desired pace, and financial loan terms if any. Will various crews be working on top of each other at a frenzied pace or will you allow time to get the details right? Using 350-400 square feet of house, lanai and garage erection per month for a quality built home, a 3200 sq. ft. project divided by 400 equals eight months of building time. Landscape, finish grading, pool plaster and startup, final permit signoffs, obtain last of the lien releases, file notice of completion and move in, one month. In conclusion, it takes a half year to plan and a year to build a quality 3,000-6,000 sq. ft. home on a prepared lot with pool and landscaping, or six months for planning and building a package home with upgrades on a prepared house pad. Enjoy and reflect on a product and experience well done!

Building costs vary depending on complexity and material choices. Here are some rough numbers to help with your budgeting that do NOT include land:

A package home might start for basic materials at only $65 / sq. ft. Add in the footings, permits, labor and other costs for a total bare minimum of $120 / sq. ft. With some nice upgrades and contractor labor to build can be up to $200 / sq. ft. A lot of upgrades and site costs including a pool could push it up to $250 / sq. ft.

Design fees are mostly included, but a couple thousand dollars would certainly cover some changes and the required professionals for sign off. An upscale home selling in the $1-2 million range on a residential lot (not acreage) in the Kona area, including pool, site prep and landscaping will cost between $300 to 350 / sq. ft. A resort home might be near $1,000 / sq. ft. to build.

If you supply the house plan and don't require a lot of details, design prices can range from $15,000 to $50,000 for a 3,500 to 6,000 /  sq. ft. home.

The contractor’s set is all we require, but we will work with you on the details. You need the fully detailed set if you put the plans out for bid and expect equal pricing comparisons.

An interior decorator is not included in the pricing shown. Using the examples above they might charge in the $10,000 to $15,000 range for a complete specification book with fixtures, color boards, and be available for the entire process.

A note on prices per square foot in Hawaii: residential area calculations are computed differently here. Hawaii square footage includes lanai and garage, but not your roof eaves, called “under roof” (which is misleading). Measure out to the posts and beams holding up your lanai and porch roofs for an accurate measurement.

When building a house, there are a lot of decisions to make. The building process can be fun, but also very stressful. Decide how involved you want to be. Are you comfortable being "hands off" through the process? Or, do you prefer to be more involved and "hands on?" What is your budget range? To help alleviate some of the time and money spent on finding tradespeople and designers, we have an in-house stylist, landscape architect and a very detail-oriented builder.

Construction standards have been increased to more closely follow the lead of the mainland. Hawaii County is using the 2018 International Building Code/IRC with the addition of county modifications. These can be found online at, click on public works and it is subdivision building. They have a nice informative brochure “Home Permits and Inspections: What’s Involved” to help with any questions you may have about building your home in Hawaii. You must use a Hawaii licensed architect, electrician and plumber, and the general contractor as well if you are not building as an owner/builder. Hazards of living in Hawaii include hurricanes, earthquakes and termites. Our effective design maximum wind speed in most of Kona is 110 miles per hour. Seismic category is level E, which is high and similar to California. Safe rooms are not required in a residence. County inspectors, architects and engineers must review, sign off and inspect foundations and framing. We build mostly with Douglas Fir wood framing as does the west coast of the U.S. Wooden trusses are used for roof construction. Fully wrapping the house framing envelope in shear panels (plywood) for strength is a difference here. For termite protection framing lumber must be treated by soaking in a borate (salt) solution at the factory. Plus, if using a concrete slab foundation, ground treatment prior to the pour is required. County of Hawaii building permits are inexpensive, $1000-$2000 typically for everything. Slow permit processing is typical, as are inspection delays. It would be nice to pay more for a higher level of service. There are very few required inspections on the other hand with the architect of record on your home required to inspect the structural integrity. Construction delays are few if you plan well ahead. Rain usually comes before or after building hours. Workers do not disappear to go surfing (very often). People are typically happy to be here and are friendly with the Aloha spirit. Give them time to enjoy Hawaii also. Does your project really need to be completed that fast? Slow down a bit and enjoy the process. Big box stores and lumberyards are well stocked and close by. However anything different is not a day’s trucking away as on the mainland. All special orders that can’t come in the mail are two to three months out. Plan well and early.

Greg Putman Construction


Hawaii General Contractor’s License #: Class BC-33564

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