Back in 2004, when I was looking into it, an acre of land was about $8000 on the Hilo-side of the island. They got as high as $80,000 by 2006 and have dropped down again, but not to $8000. On the West (sunny) side of the island, 10-12,000 sf lots begin about $200K
I was looking at one company over on Oahu that was making steel-framed prefabs and everything came in 2 containers. Since I lived on the other side of the island to Hilo, there were logistical problems and worrying about theft if I left building materials onsite. Unless you planned to live there while the house is being built. Plus, labor was scarce and went expensive during the building boom of 2003-2006. Many people I talked to were also very disappointed at the low level of quality and length of time it took to put up a house if you used local labor.
We eventually put money down on a home that was built in Waikoloa on the Kohala Coast and it took 27 months for them to finish the house. I did talk to one builder here on the Big Island who hired guys from Oahu to build a house and it took them one month to complete what the local guys would take 6 months to do. If you plan to build it yourself, that is one thing. Right now, real estate is in a slump like the rest of the country. There are great deals on already built homes or ones that can be renovated. But anything older, made out of wood on a tropical island will eventually have termites. Also, when we looked into building our own place, that’s when we foundout it takes the Planning Dept about 6 mo.’s to approve your plans. They have one guy and he takes 6 mo’s to approve the plans. Welcome to the Big Island. I think it was their attempt to slow down growth and new home building on this island.
Not to sound negative, but there were lots of reasons not to build ourselves since we had little experience in home construction. If you have friends in the construction industry who do not work in the Winter, it’s best to hire them and have them come out and help you build your place in the Winter.
Another realistic consideration if you plan to move here is, “Can you stand the vog?’ Madame Pele has a new vent that has been pumping out SO2, acid rain and all that other good stuff over on the Hilo side for over 3 months. It has recently gotten so bad that they have had to evacuate towns on the Hilo side due to intense vog. If you plan to live on the West Side, homes are more expensive but there is less vog.