One of the most common questions the staff at Atlas Construction receives is, “How much does it take to build a home in Hawaii? Is it more expensive to build or buy?”

Atlas Construction decided to break this question down and give you an answer.

In shor t, it depends on the following factors: Where do you want to live? How big of a home are you building? What is your budget for building?

Do you have a time constraint?

Here is an example formula that allows you to work it out yourself:


Currently, the median price to buy a home on Oahu is about $650,000. Most likely, such a home will be older and need work. (Newer homes will likely run you $800,000 and require little to no work.)

Now if you want to build from the ground up, you need to find property, and your options are limited.

If you have the time and patience, you might be able to get a distressed property in a short sale. The lowest the staff has seen recently is $400,000 and the home was a tear-down.

Next, you need someone to do the work — someone who you can trust. Finding a Design Build Contractor with an established history is key to making sure you get what you asked for and don’t go over budget.

If you are thinking of doing it yourself, be prepared for a lot of headaches as the system is not an easy one. Obtaining permits, for example, is a process that even most contractors struggle with. The process can even be challenging to the people who work at the DPPA. Also if you do not have experience locating materials or a relationships with vendors, you may be getting substandard materials or paying more than necessary.

Once you’ve found someone to build, the question then becomes, “How much is it going to cost?”


To build a home in Hawaii, it costs about $180 to $250 a square foot if you go with a reputable, licensed contractor who uses safe, quality materials. If you do the work yourself, you might be able to get the cost down to about $150 per square foot.

If you build a 2,000-square-foot house on Oahu, you are going to spend at least $400,000 on the construction. If your property cost $400,000, you are looking at a total of $800,000.

In short, to buy new or to build is about the same price. The real question, though, is, “Should I build or buy?”

And the answer is obvious: Build.

One main reason is you get what you want. Why pay for another person’s vision or problem when you can build your own dream home? It may take more time than buying a ready-to-movie-in house, but getting what you want from the beginning with a reputable contractor who can look at your long-term needs like ohana living and aging-in-place, will pay off in the long run.

For more information, call 951-9500.

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