What’s Unique About Building on the Big Island of Hawaii?

building Hawaii condominium

Many people dream about a home, (or second home), in Hawaii. The surf, the sand, the sunsets – there’s so much to love – but there are unique challenges to building here and it’s important that you have realistic expectations and are prepared for the process. Here’s a look at just some of the issues you will face when building in Hawaii.

Where to Build?

As with any home, location is critical, but here in Hawaii, it makes a big difference in the types of choices you will subsequently need to make during the building process.

Our business is focused on building in and around Kailua-Kona and even within this specific area, you can choose to build “up mauka” which means “up mountain” or “makai” which means oceanside. Each will have different issues.

Setting Your Expectations

One of the most important things to remember is that almost everything must be shipped from somewhere. Items ranging from building materials to home goods and furnishings mostly must be shipped to the island and not all vendors ship here. If you are shopping on the mainland, it’s important to find out about shipping before getting your heart set on a specific product or item. Also, be sure to find out if they charge a shipping premium so that you know the true cost. (Sometimes shipping charges and fees will cost more than the item(s) itself.) We do our best to work with local resources and recommend buying local as much as possible.

Building Materials

Due to the humidity, insects, and more, specific building materials are important to protect the life of your home and to minimize bills for upkeep and repair. Using durable materials for siding – for example, a fiber cement product – is important for creating beautiful and durable home exteriors. Products like wrapped composite board for decking and lanais help ensure they will be long-lasting and good-looking. There are many options for materials, and we will make recommendations based on your design requirements, budget, and the unique needs of the local climate.

Your Home’s Interior

What you want your home’s temperature to be and how you control the interior climate requires some thought. You will want to maximize airflow for comfort. A/C and fans are two of the keys to your indoor climate. Do you want A/C in each room or central AC? Sometimes people choose to divide A/C between upstairs and downstairs or front to back.

Fans are another way to help manage temperature and comfort. Most people want fans in every room. This affects the look as well as the comfort of a room so it’s also an important interior design choice.

The type of window treatments you choose will alter your comfort since they help with sun exposure, but they need to work well with your design aesthetic and they can impact your view.

Flooring choices will also affect your comfort. One option is porcelain tile that can even look like wood or quartz, and there are other options such as natural stone and concrete. Again, all of this must be balanced with your design style, budget, and durability over time. We partner with our clients to ensure they are aware of the pros and cons of multiple options.

What Does This All Mean?

What all of this comes down to is:

  • Building in Hawaii has unique challenges that will impact all the phases of the building process.
  • Having realistic expectations will make the process much easier for you.
  • Above all, patience is key!

For more information on building in Hawaii, be sure to check out the “how-to” section of our website.