Topics of Concern and Consideration in alphabetical order:
Automobiles – You may find one or more of these on your property before or after purchase. You can choose to take steps to get them hauled off and disposed of properly. Just beware that things grow up, through, over and around these and you may not know they are there or even the current owner may not be aware they are there. This is a common discovery.
Bones, human remains – If you find these, especially around a pile of rocks they are most likely to be old remains and you should choose to report these and have the proper steps taken for this discovery. Be aware it may halt construction temporarily or more.
Bulldozing -Roads, housepads etc. There are different types of Lava, Blue lava is a harder lava and can cause more damage to equipment and will normally cost you more to have people work with. Usually there is a charge to bring a dozer to the site and then additional per hour fees normally. Good operators can get a lot done though. I suggest trying to leave all good plants and trees as some take 20 years to grow, mature and bear fruit and it is a shame to destroy these beauties. You can work around the good stuff.
Cats/Felines (Feral )– These are everywhere on the island, especially around the dump. I feel that the best thing if they are on your property, is to catch them humanely and have them neutered or spayed and then release again rather than euthanization. The Humane Society sometimes runs specials on fixing the feral cats and kittens and even loans traps to help you accomplish this. Be careful, the cats/kittens scratch wildly through the cages, and who can blame them, they are scared of course. Males often spray around your home when they aren’t fixed and this is really super stinky. These wild cats also breed very very young, 5 months or less, and multiply fast if they aren’t fixed. If you feed one you’ll soon have 6 show up, and the poor pregnant moms. Then they’ll start using the bathroom right around your home, yuck! So even though you want to be kind, don’t feed them, or if you do, set up a cat box, that hopefully they’ll use. They carry fleas often as well, poor things. I think getting them fixed is best personally. Of course this is a personal choice.
Contractors – You’ll want to get multiple bids to build your plans and make sure you can do it within your budget. Get licensed reputable builders and signed bids. Make sure you can communicate with them easily, never assume things. If you don’t have good communication during the bid process it is likely you will have problems during actual construction etc. Take your time finding the perfect people. Be clear about desired timeline etc. If they’re into surfing, you might experience a no-show on good surf days/mornings. Discuss this openly and work it out if this is the case, as they still might be a great builder. Ask around and get references. Realtors often know as well.
Drive Time – To the city, shopping, groceries, doctors, schools etc. You will want to take into account, how long and far your commute will be and how many days you want to do it. Take into account during rainy season on Hilo side that you will most likely drive slower as well.
Electrical -You should use licensed contractors for these needs. If living off grid, find someone who knows solar systems. Get referrals and get informed yourself as well about what you are going to need to have done. Get several bids. Schedule ahead of time as electricians are often backlogged and in high demand.
Electricity/Power – If city power is available, find out how much it is to hook up to it and how much average costs for a house your size in that area will run per month.
Fireplace – It seems weird but at times the island can be chilly and this would also be a nice source of light and a possible backup cooking area if needed. Having plenty of wood to burn (most land has a lot of dead wood usually) makes a fireplace a good way to use it up unless you compost it or take to the green waste facility. Fires also help dry out a damp house during rainy season and cheer up inhabitants with the snuggly glow, heat and crackle.
Check into your land to see if it falls in one of these. Be aware that when the rain falls, rivers can form and you don’t want it to be on your land!
Flooring – Wood (bamboo), tile, stone, cement are recommended. Carpet holds dirt and can mildew or get fleas and their eggs.
Frogs – Be careful when bringing plants home from store and/or areas where coquis frogs could attach themselves and/or their eggs. Once you have these, it is hard to eradicate them. Local efforts may still be going on, you’d have to check your area on ways to reduce or eradicate these if on your land. Problem is your neighbors have to want to eradicate them as well or they’ll just encroach on you again and again.
Geothermal Plant – can be noisy for some at night. See if you are located next to one.
Lava Zones – These are assigned to help assign risk factor. The higher the risk, the harder or more expensive it is to buy insurance for your home and contents etc.
Mosquitoes– The dried Ulu seed pods can be used as a smoke smudge incense for a mosquito repellent! Citronella plants and citronella candles or coils are supposed to help. Coconut butter on skin and hair, seem to help too.
Clearing out some land so the breeze can move through in areas where it is dense can really help reduce the mosquitoes and let the sun shine in.
There are machines that are supposed to attract and capture them, ask around as not many people had luck with these in my past experience of what was on the market as of 2008.
Find out the reputation of neighbors on all sides, across street etc. Be discreet of course, but you want to know who you are going to live by ahead of time if possible. Drive by at night, on weekends and check out the scene then. Shop the local stores, visit the schools, the library, etc. See if you enjoy the energy of the general area before you buy.
Permitted – These homes were built with permits etc. Banks normally allow for loans with a permitted home as collateral. You also can Insure your permitted home and/or contents normally with little trouble depending on your lava zone on the island. Being permitted usually means the property is worth considerably more than the same home un-permitted home. Owners also need to get permits and have electrical, plumbing done by licensed contractors or certified it is safe etc. vs. Un permitted – Loans not as easy to get on these properties and no known insurance coverage available. If you are going to resell this is a factor too, but there are some intriguing and less costly options of this sort that are sturdy.
Pigs/Boars (Feral) – These are not to be approached or antagonized, even the piglets, as mom and/or dad are most likely very near! They are dangerous and these root up your plantings and spread mosquitoes as they create places for puddles to form and the larvae can grow easily in these. They can be snared, shot humanely and washed and butchered if they appear healthy. If you pressure cook them, it’s wonderful. I have made BOARittos and BOARbque sandwiches and also BOAR Stroganoff, BOARdip sandwiches, etc. just like shredded beef. Go with an experienced hunter to really know how to do this safely. Be mindful of not entering land that is private or you can cause yourself a lot of grief on that issue.
Plumbing -Should use licensed contractors for these needs. Get several bids if possible from recommended plumbers. Plan ahead as these guys are usually in demand, so you may have to wait awhile.
REALTOR – I would strongly suggest you seek the professional services of a good Realtor, having them act as a Buyers Rep if you are considering purchase of land or a home or business. Usually the seller pays the fee, as the commission is split between the selling agent and buyers rep from the sellers commission fee money. Verify who pays before signing, but a good agent is a great asset and they know the specifics of Hawaii issues relating to Real Estate, know the areas and the pro’s or con’s, and believe me, there is a lot to know such as:
DLNR, Division of Land and Natural Resources restrictions
Vacant Land Addendums
Ocean Front property considerations and upkeep
Also, don’t think you can call a Realtor and ask to just “WALK THE LOT” or “WALK THE LAND”. The land that these lots are on, are full of unknowns and can be dangerous to walk on for many reasons such as: lava tubes or puka holes going down many feet, razor grass that can cut, fire ant hills are also possible, impassable foliage, rough up and down vegetated wild impassable terrain, wild boars, bee nests possible squatters on land, or a growers field, possible aggressive dogs on the land, just any number of unknowns. So, unless it is a cleared lot, I’d be safe to say that it isn’t safely navigable, if navigable at all, in its current overgrown and unexplored and unverified state.
Try to allow time for seeing your possible properties, as driving around is part of the adventure, getting to the places takes time often. Don’t be rushed, plan ahead. Try to be considerate of your Agent’s time. Get a pre-approval from your lender unless you are paying cash. That way you and your Agent know what you can really afford to look at and don’t waste anyone’s time and gas. Be specific about what you MUST HAVE, and what you are flexible about. Have your list of questions ahead of time and add more as you think of them.
You’ll want to know who takes care of the road and pays for repairs, grading, repaving, curb and gutter if applicable and upgrades etc. If it’s dirt, find out if it will be paved, who pays for it and when it is supposed to be done etc. Don’t assume anything, find out the real scoop. Some roads flood out in heavy rains, know if you’re in one of these areas or if the flood runs right onto your property?!!! Good to know these things before purchase.
Roofing – Should be free of rust, dirt or debris as much as possible. Owners should be vigilant about fixing leaks, sealing cracks (bugs, leaves and rain get in), keeping rooftops clean and gutters too, as this is your water supply source usually if on a catchment system. There are clear roof panels now that help with natural lighting of living spaces below them, used for top floors or one level structures. Skylights that don’t leak are good for light. Venting if needed is good to release heat from hot attics; there are solar roof fans that are great.
Security Measures – I would suggest instituting these right away, as even during construction petty theft happens in this bad economy and poorer area because of few jobs locally. If you can affordably and feasibly fence the property, that’s great, but at the very least install a gate with a beefy padlock. Install no trespassing and/or dog type signs. Also have good doors/windows/door locks etc. If you have a dog it helps as well usually. Even a security system is something to consider. In the home have on hand mace/foam. Have motion detector lights, good neighbors and have their phone numbers available, have local police phone number available. Have a plan or a neighborhood watch program, report suspicious activity with good descriptions immediately and get license numbers, personal descriptions, names if possible, all details etc. Get a house sitter/caretaker when away. Keep areas mowed by a trusted party while you’re away and have the mail/papers picked up etc. or held.
If you are in an unpermitted structure and there are no windows or doors, just don’t bother to lock as they can get right in your screens. Just don’t keep anything of value around that can easily be transported and always lock your gate.
Termites – Get a termite inspection as they are common in Hawaii. Tenting is a treatment process if termites are found, it is a little inconvenient but rather successful, seek a professional and ask for more information. Citrus based remedies now available also.
Subterranean Termites are treated differently as they are underground. Seek professional written bids from licensed individuals with local recommendations.
TIP: Be careful when bringing used wood home, verify you aren’t bringing home termites with it.
See what services are available and what the local rates and averages are for a home your size. This includes land line phone and/or cell phone reception and internet availability, television either cable or satellite etc. Thoroughly check into everything you want to have access to and how much it will cost you to have.
Vegetation – Depending on what is there, it may be a big job and expense to clear areas to build on and keep the structure safe from damage due to falling trees from your property of neighbors. Or the flipside is the existing vegetation could hold lovely surprises as you find there are fruit trees that are mature and bearing fruit inside that jungle.
Water/Sewer/Trash – Find out if you have it available on the property you are looking at, unless offgrid, you’ll want to know costs to hook up and any fees that could come your way.
Windows/Screens -These have to be cleaned regularly and should fit properly and not be damaged. They help keep out mosquitoes and other undesirable pests/insects. Clean screen allow a breeze to flow through, which helps cool your home.
Zoning – Of course there are different types of zoning and the ocean front properties have specific guidelines to follow. Check into current building or use restrictions for any property you are considering. Work with a knowledgeable Realtor and verify all information yourself as well through proper channels.
These are just some considerations for life on the BIG ISLAND.
It is a wild but beautiful ride. Seek information for every aspect your individual project and dream, and may the outcome be blessed for you. ALOHA
Please verify any and all information as necessary with official sources. This is a general overview of what I’ve experienced as a starting guide for you of thought provoking information. I would also suggest enlisting the services of a great Realtor on the Big Island with years of experience there.
See also my posts for the following for more fun info on Hawaii:
Big Island of Hawaii List of Visitor’s Essentials, containing a list of suggested items that are a must-have for a trip here.
Big Island CONSIDERATIONS and CAUTIONS, containing great information about island conditions and situations and how to stay safe and have a vacation to remember.
Big Island of Hawaii Etiquette Suggestions
Miscellaneous tips for Aloha Style Vacationing and Living on the Big Island of Hawaii
Big Island Hot Spots – HILO side
List of great spots to see on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Besides Pahoa are this is a favorite of mine.
Big Island Hot Spots – Pahoa way
So much to do in this original and unique Hawaiian town Village. Enjoy the Aloha to those open to a great experience.
Big IslandHawaiiGarden Topics
A good overview of some basic information if you are new to the Island and are going to start working on the land (Aina).
So many things to learn for doing things efficiently and enjoyably.
Big Island OFF GRID LIVING
Tips and overview for living off grid, in either a remote location or an more easily accessible one. Starting from scratch can be quite an undertaking but with good information and a strong will, you can make it happen and love being off the grid.
Big Island Jungle Tips for Cleaning
Covers the challenging basics for cleaning a home and such in the jungle environment.
Big Island Skin Care, Hygiene and First Aid Type Topics
Covers the many issues that can arise regarding skin, bites, rashes, cuts, etc. from the many sources on island.
Big Island General Low Down Topics Real Jungle Living in the Puna Hawai’i area in the Rainforest. My firsthand Observations and very detailed information I learned and would like to share with others.
Big Island Foods to try and General Food Tips Info
General information on food shopping, storing and cooking issues in Hawaii, as well as some unique things to try when first on-island!