With rising home prices and growing competition for homes on Oahu, one might ask: Is building a home a better alternative? The answer is complicated. There are many factors to building a home. The three main factors are location, size, and budget. The challenge with finding vacant land to build on Oahu is the availability. The availability of buildable land is limited due to zoning regulations. Preservation and conservation land makes up more than 50% of the island. Finding a nice piece of land to build will be very difficult. Therefore, the next option will be to find a tear down and rebuild. Depending on the location, the acquisition cost of the land will most likely be the biggest expense. Land value in an areas like Kahala or Hawaii Kai will cost double compared to areas like Ewa or Makakilo.
After you’ve identified the location, the next step is to determine how big of a home you’ll need or want. This is where an architect, builder, or contractor can help. Some companies may have all three professionals to consult with. It is best to interview several and preview their work before deciding. Finding a good builder or contractor you can trust is essential and can make or break your project. If you are handy and think you can build the home yourself, you may be able to save but you may question the stress that goes with it. Is it worth it? The permitting process to build is not an easy one. Most contractors have to go through hurdles with getting the right documents to get permits approved. Once you’ve decided on a contractor, the fun part begins. You’ll want to work closely with your architect to design your dream home – choosing the type of materials and what layout is best fit for your family. This is also a good time to understand what your budget for this build will be.
The size of the home you want to build will determine how much it will cost. On average, to build a home in Hawaii, it will cost about $200-250 a square foot with a reputable licensed contractor. If you build or do most of the work yourself, you may be able to get the cost down to $150-180 a square foot. Keep in mind to factor in the cost to tear down the existing home if it is not a vacant land. At this point, you will have a good understanding what your budget will need to be to build the home. A good rule of thumb is to factor in 20% for over unexpected cost. Staying on top of the process and timeline will help minimize the risk of going over budget. Understanding these factors will help you determine if building a home is right for you.