Overcoming Oahu’s Construction Challenges

There’s no place like Oahu. From the bustling city-center of Honolulu to the pristine beaches of the North Shore, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in one of the most beautiful and unique places on earth. So it’s no surprise that real-estate on the island is in constant high-demand—who wouldn’t want a dream home in a tropical paradise?

But high-demand also leads to significant challenges when it comes to building a home. From a complex permitting process to navigating the construction costs and limited square-footage, new buyers can be easily intimidated by the residential construction process. In our experience, here are the top three challenges in building a home in Hawaii, and how the right team can make overcoming these obstacles as easy as possible.1. Permitting: Even with a newly expedited permitting process, getting your proposed construction plans approved is still a complex procedure. Fortunately, working with a licensed Third-Party reviewer can help get your building permit approved without compromising the quality of your design plans. Additionally, this process allows builders the option to negotiate with inspectors at the Department of Planning and Permitting over prosed changes and corrections.2. Construction Costs: The average cost per-square-foot for a new home in Hawaii is anywhere between $200-250 per foot. Combined with the increased cost of materials and labor, building a new home can seem impossible when building on a strict budget. In this case, working with a contractor or architect to minimize costs can include options like designing a multigenerational home, whether that means including separate entrances to separate living areas, or building a free-standing Ohana Dwelling Unit on your property. Multigenerational living is a long-standing tradition on the islands, and can help reduce the cost of finding a separate residence for elderly family members or adult children.Additionally, building an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, can bring in additional income through renters, as well and increase the value of your property long-term.If a multigenerational or additional rental property isn’t the right answer for you, a good architect and contractor team can work together to reduce the cost of utilities in your home by using sustainable building materials, installing energy-efficient technology, and maximizing access to inherent energy sources such as natural light and passive ventilation.3. Space: Limited available land and newly passed laws regarding the construction of large-scale dwellings mean that even without the high cost of construction, building an enormous home is rarely feasible. You’ll need an expert designer to help make the most of your living space, and Hawaiian designers are uniquely capable of creating functional spaces that utilize every inch of space. Talk with your design team about including a traditional Lanai-style deck, an enclosed porch, typically built with concrete flooring, that can act as a functional outdoor living space regardless of (most) weather conditions. Enlarged glass sliding doors, retractable patio screens, and shade-producing landscaping are all additional ways to extend your home’s living space while enjoying Hawaii’s beautiful scenery.A team of highly-skilled professionals is a critical component of a successful home build. Whether it’s developing the mandatory Erosion and Sediment Control Plan or ensuring your floorplan maximizes access to natural light and potential solar panels, the builders, contractors, architects, and designers hired to build your home need to be the very best in their field.That’s where we come in. At Home Planning Hawaii, we specialize in helping you connect with the very best in the construction business, whether it’s a simple question about permits, or working with a drafting expert to customize your design plan. Contact us today to start building your home-construction team, or use our free Online Estimator to start budgeting your next project.

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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