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Posted to Kapoho-Retirement-House by Kathy in Santa Ana, CA on 5/4/2010

We bought our lot on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2003. For over five years, we battled the County of Hawaii to be able to even submit a building permit. Finally, we had to get a lawyer and take our plight to the planning commissioners. The result is that we showed that the planning dept had been lying and doing everything to keep us from building on our lot. We now have the right to build, and of course added almost $20,000 to the price of our lot.

Our lot is 40' off of the Kapoho Tide Pools. In a little-visited area between Hilo and the volcano. Actually it is being discovered more and more by people that are tired of the "resorty" Hawaii. As we face almost straight east, the sunrises are incredible! Our little area of Paradise sticks out on the easternmost point of the Hawaiian Island, and the rain clouds pass over Kapoho and back up on the two huge volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, and dump about 200 inches of rain on Hilo while sunny Kapoho only gets 40+ inches a year.

We only have an 8,007 sq ft lot, and our lot has its own tide pool that swells over the majority of the lot at extreme high tides. We have about a 900 sq ft footprint for the main part of our home and we span one of the ponds for a large lanai. Our son is an architect and has designed a wonderful tropical modern home that is in multi-levels.

My husband and I have been self-employed retailers and farmers almost all of our married life. Because of our background, we have the feeling that we can accomplish anything if we try. I will say that this adventure has brought many self-doubts. When this happens, I just pick up The Owner-Builder Book and get our confidence back.

It has taken a year to get our plans to the county for the permit process. In the state of Hawaii, you have to have your plans stamped by a licensed Hawaiian architect or structural engineer. Trying to find one that was on the same playing field as our son and ourselves proved difficult. But finally the plans are in the county for the permit process, and should be out in about two weeks.

Another idiosyncrasy of Hawaii is that as an owner-builder with a construction loan that we have to have a bonding agent and the bonding agents are the builder-supply companies. They bond that we will finish our project and they control the purse strings. We have to fill out miles of paper work to prove that we know what we are doing, that we are real and good people and that we pay our bills. After they approve us, we are required to purchase 25% of our materials from them. They of course tell us that they want us to buy all of our materials from them. We just got our material take-off today, so we will see how much this bonding is actually going to cost us.

I am in the middle of packing as we are leaving for Hawaii tomorrow. I will add more to the journal as the tale continues.


The house has evolved a bit since this 3D rendition, but it is still has the basic design.
Another look at the house. Every room has been designed (except the bathrooms) to have a view of the tide pools.
Some day this will be the view from our home.

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