Demand For Affordable Housing Drives Construction Trends In Hawaii

Hawaiians are at the forefront of a national trend favoring smaller, more affordable homes, say industry experts

After a two-year slump in Hawaii's construction industry, builders are beginning to see a plateau. As demand for luxury housing has reached a standstill, the construction of smaller homes is a new opportunity for growth, thanks to a rising demand for low-cost housing. Hawaiian residents are at the forefront of a national trend due to the burden of traditionally high housing costs on the islands.

Hawaii has long been known as an expensive place to live, and home prices are just one part of a larger picture. For one thing, the cost of electricity in Hawaii is three times the national average. In addition, many physical goods must be shipped from the mainland. Thus, the cost of living in Hawaii is high, and salaries are not high enough to compensate.

For example, even though the average home in San Francisco costs more than the average home in Honolulu, a San Francisco homeowner's mortgage will only account for about one-third of his or her total income. In Honolulu, the portion is likely to be much higher.

In fact, the cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii is close to 90% higher than the national average, and housing costs are fully two times the national average. Economists say that one of the problems is the fact that many of the richest 1% around the world have bought property on the islands and driven up property values, making it increasingly difficult for middle class residents to own a home.

As a consequence, Hawaii has seen many of its professionals leave the state in search of a more affordable place to live. It is one of few states that has seen a decline in population in recent years, and it is currently suffering from a chronic shortage of teachers.

New housing developments, like O'ahu's Koa Ridge and Hoopili, which will together comprise more than 14,000 new homes, are two examples of an emphasis on affordable housing. At Koa Ridge, for example, developers have committed to selling one-third of the homes at affordable prices. Hoopili developers have made a similar promise that a portion of their homes will be sold at a lower-than-average cost.

According to Honolulu Architects, there has also been a marked increase in individuals building small homes on their own property. Architects Hawaii are seeing more and more residential clients who are interested in reducing space and saving money by designing a small, energy-efficient home.

Cutting the cost of electricity can have a profound impact on a home owner's monthly expenses. Small homes cost less to heat and cool, and new homes can be built with energy-saving features, such as solar panels, well-placed windows for light and ventilation, and energy-efficient appliances.

With the help of local architects, a growing number of residents are custom-designing small homes that use fewer building materials than average, have greater energy efficiency, and in many cases, provide a higher quality of life. Small-home owners cite spending more time outdoors and more time with friends and family as two of the top advantages of their lifestyle, in addition to lowering their cost of living.

Economists are optimistic that the construction industry in Hawaii will see growth in the near future. They predict that the demand for affordable homes will continue to dominate construction trends as more developers and individual property owners seek solutions to the problem of over-priced housing in Hawaii.

Contact Info:
Name: Michele Damico
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Organization: Home Planning Hawaii

Release ID: 88919367