Build vs Buy: Hawaiian Home Edition

Despite rising construction costs, Hawaii is one of the ten states in the U.S. where it may be cheaper to build a new home than buy an existing residence. According to recent reports, Hawaii’s ever-rising home prices make building your Hawaiian dream the surprisingly less-expensive route. 

Another potential benefit to building vs buying? The average lot size for new construction is .62 acres, almost twice as much as the national average on the mainland. 

Of course, “less expensive” is a relative term when it comes to Hawaiian real estate. Hawaii and New York regularly compete as the most expensive state to build a home, and the rising cost of materials adds an additional financial barrier. Fortunately, whether you decide to build new or buy and remodel, there are ways to minimize the cost of building your dream home. 

Choose a Builder-Designed Home

Also known as builder-grade homes, builder-designed homes use plans already developed by the builder or their development company. That means you won’t have to pay the builder or an architect to design a customized floor plan. And, since these plans have already been created, it’s likely they’ve already been approved for a building permit at least once before, which could 

help expedite your building process.

The key to builder-grade homes is finding a plan that already meets most of your new home wish-list, and to work closely with your builder to discuss what kinds of customization are possible within your budget. With the right team, builder-designed doesn’t always mean cookie-cutter, and prioritizing customization options makes it easy to personalize your home. 

Keep it Local

One of the major costs of construction in Hawaii involves shipping building materials from the mainland. That means one of the quickest ways to reduce the cost of your new home is to source local material whenever possible, including recycled or reclaimed materials.

Bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood are all great options, as are corrugated metals for roofing. Choosing a post-and-pier foundation over concrete is another option, although it may not be suitably flood-resistant in all areas of Hawaii, or in particular soil types. 

Ask your builder about their suppliers to determine where local options can be used, and don’t be afraid to ask for quotes from alternative options in order to lower costs.

Build for the Future

A key part of maintaining your construction budget is knowing what aspects need to be bought right away, and what can be upgraded at a later date. Internal components like energy-efficient HVAC systems, electrical, and plumbing are difficult and expensive to upgrade once the house is complete. 

But light fixtures, appliances, and even larger items like tubs and showers can often be easily swapped out once finances restabilize. Even some aspects of the floorplan itself can be designed for future additions—as long as you plan ahead. 

So if you’re not ready to spring for a luxurious en suite bathroom now, you can still work with your builder to install the necessary water lines and plumbing needed to turn a standard walk-in closet into a dream-worthy bathroom. 

Find your Team

Of course, the first step to building or remodeling the perfect home is finding the right team. Professionals who can help you stick to your budget, plan for the future, and with the right connections to find the best building materials for your project. Fortunately, we can help. Contact us today for resources on getting started, and don’t forget to check out our free online cost estimator for help planning your budget.

Phone Number

(808) 222-4069

Opening Hours

Mon - Sat 8:00 - 5:30,
Sunday - Closed


200 N Vineyard Blvd.
Ste A325 - 5145
Honolulu, HI 96817

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