Doing business on the Big Island & related valuable Information
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First main point is- whenever dealing with anyone that provides services, especially home service related contractors- Do not ever give them massive amts of money up front. Offer to buy the materials for them and have them delivered and offer to pay them per day when they actually show up to do the work, or at the very least in increments and not huge amounts up front. In any rural area, there is a tendency for service providers to suck you into as much work as they can possibly create, and a tendency also to pressure you towards doing everything thru them. This is human nature where there is not a lot of work available and so providers can tend to subtly harass you in a way to stick with them for everything. There are providers on the big island that are not completely honest with you, especially when you are off island, so you need to be careful and work with people like us who do not operate in this manner. There are, of course, providers who are totally honest, but if you do not know who those providers are, you can be taken for a ride quite easily. We are honest, and personally monitor the work and your satisfaction. We ask for money on a schedule based on your personal inspection of work completed first, or photographs if you are not on the island. We do ask that you respect our time, and operate with clarity and efficiency, no business can afford spending unlimited time with any client.
Second point- We do not recommend that you purchase land in an area where you are isolated unless there is always someone at home at all times. You do not want to have a situation where no one is on property in an isolated area. This is recommended, and everything is of course ultimately up to you. Unfortunately there is crime on the Big Island, it is the haves vs the have nots, so be smart. Have a silent alarm service and always have someone home. Dogs are very handy also, but nothing beats having nice neighbors who are retired and mostly at home to keep their eye on the neighborhood. If you are out in the boonies and totally isolated, you do not have this luxury. Think about these things before purchasing property, and call us for recommended areas and recommended realtors that know the neighborhoods and are honest and hard working.
Third point- We have found that many Big Island realtors do not meet our standards of ethics, effort and integrity. This is only our opinion, we are not making a formal statement on all Big Island Realtors in general, it is simply our opinion. We do work with a Realtor who is honest and knows the Big Island neighborhoods well. She has been selling property on the Big Island for over 27 years. We have referred many clients to her. She actually knows many areas, especially in the Puna area, Kapoho etc where she often knows the people living in the area, and can tell you most times what the people are like who live in the area you are interested in. You can’t manufacture this kind of knowledge without having been in business for many many years. There is a common practice that we have seen on almost every transaction whereby you call a listing agent about a particular property, and they say “oh yes, we just had an offer come in a few days ago on the property, but you are welcome to submit an offer, but if you really want the property, you might want to offer above asking if you really want to get it, its up to you what you want to offer, of course, but that is what I recommend”. Most of the time, we believe this is not true, again our opinion is based on a lot of transactions and a lot of experience buying property on the Big Island. Our advice is offer what you want to offer, do not fall for this game unless the property is absolutely perfect and you must have it. I am sure this will upset some Realtors. We are not saying they all do things like this, but we feel that many do, and also most do not know enough about the properties they are listing. This is always a problem. To be completely fair, it is not always their fault, but many times we have been told inaccurate information. Our opinion is that if you don't know for sure, do not manufacture an answer for the sake of moving forward making a deal. We also recommend having an attorney review your deal to make sure that it is what the realtor says it is in terms of surveying the lands boundaries accurately, and any seriously important claims that are made about the property. This often only costs about $350 or so. There are a lot of law suits that spring up due to misrepresentation, or simple laziness on the details. Most realtors do not do enough homework for their clients because it is time consuming. We only work with realtors who are willing to do the homework before we or our client makes an offer on a property. We are happy to explain the pros and cons of various Big Island locations to help you figure out where to purchase. As far as making a final decision, you need to personally meet the neighbors face to face for yourself in our most humble opinion. It is a major decision, we do not recommend taking it casually. You do not want to move into an area with the neighbors from hell, nor do you want to move into an area that has a lot of criminal activity, spending your life savings. You need to do your homework. This advice may not be what you wanted to hear, but it is the truth, and I am not wanting to ever lure people into moving here just because I want to make a buck. Again, you need to make that decision based on information gathered and time on the ground. Do not make decisions remotely, or based on your friends advise without checking things out in person for yourself.
Fourth point- We recommend areas that have a piped water supply, and do not like catchment a whole lot. Of course, many beautiful areas require catchment, so we understand that perfectly. We design and install catchment systems with purification systems inline, but there are really nice areas that have well water piped to your property, and we find that preferable. Catchment is a bit scary due to the rat lung worm parasite problem. This parasite can get into your tank possibly, and so you have to purify the water coming into your home. The best systems cannot guarantee that 100% of parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungus etc will get killed. Most people on the Big Island are on catchment and there are not a lot of cases of rat lung worm infection, but the parasite causes a meningitis like reaction, putting people into a coma often, so it is a very serious disease. Most people catch this parasite by not washing their garden grown lettuce properly and not from catchment water. Personally, we prefer well water, but it is not a deal breaker. We do recommend using purified water for drinking and cooking if on catchment, and installing a robust purification system for your home. Safe is always better than sorry.
Fifth point- Although we are extremely pro alternative energy, we find that it is most efficient to be on the grid when utilizing alternative energy systems. Why is that? Well, first off, in the middle of the day when you are producing the most energy and using the least, the voltage on your battery system will most likely hit its maximum voltage by about 11am, and so all that energy produced gets literally thrown away by your charger/controller. If you were on the grid, you would be spinning your meter backwards and getting 100% credit for the energy produced. Secondly, storing energy in batteries and then pulling that energy out of those batteries constantly is stressful to the batteries, and you have to constantly maintain your batteries. Plus battery storage systems are expensive, and last a max of about 5-6 years before needing replacement. If one battery goes bad, it pulls the entire system down to the level of the worst battery, forcing you to replace it. Maintenance involves measuring and thus correcting electrolyte density and doing periodic overcharging on a fairly strict schedule. If you go out of town for a month or longer, and fail to do this maintenance properly, your battery system will not last as long as it could. To top it off, you do not want the voltage to ever drop below a certain point, so at night, you must run a generator if you do not have windmills to give you power at night. Most have to run a generator at night due to things that require lots of power, like refrigerators. In this situation, we actually recommend propane powered refrigerators, unless you enjoy running a generator every night. This off-grid life is all worth it if your dream place is off the grid, but it is certainly a lot of work, and generators are noisy and can inundate your home with carbon monoxide when the wind is variable or really low in velocity. Just some things to think about.
In conclusion- everywhere on the planet has its pros and cons, that is a fact. There are wonderful, magical places that are heavenly, but one bite from a snake and you could die in an instant, such is this material world. Hawaii Island overall is a wonderful place to live. The people for the most part are kind and relaxed, the weather is very nice, the ocean is fabulous and full of life, there is a lot of healthy things to do, and many people grow food on the island, so it is pretty much capable of feeding its people with what is grown on the island. That is pretty cool if you really think about it. On the negative side of the equation, theft is a real problem, so you have to be proactive regarding that. The Big Island has its boom periods, but its economy is mostly down compared to Oahu. This may change in the future due to innovative entrepreneurs that are presently doing great things like energy production, bio fuel production, agricultural production and the like. There is room to move, and land is the cheapest of all the islands, so that makes home ownership possible, especially compared with the other islands. Labor is cheaper, especially on theHilo and Puna sides of the island. Astronomy and educational institutions employ a fair number of people. UH Hilo is so successful that they turn away hundreds of students every year! As of this writing on Oct 2, 2011, Hilo has many job offerings, more than most areas in Hawaii. There are nice beaches, surf, geothermal hot ponds, mountains etc with lots of exciting activities all over the island. Half the electricity is produced by geothermal and wind energy, which is 100% green, so this island has the greatest potential of sustaining its people should the world go into total chaos, which is certainly possible. The entire island could in fact be easily powered exclusively by geothermal, but HELCO is not interested in doing that. In a pinch, I am sure they would because they are ultimately in the business of selling electricity. We would fare well compared to most places in the world if nuclear war were to occur. There are a lot of people that come here and sadly end up going home with their tail between their legs. Most of those could have prevented this experience if they knew what to do, how to plan and prepare and operate intelligently. Coming here with minimal resources and a lack of knowledge generally lowers ones chances of being successful. It is an expensive place to run out of money. It is our hope that you come here with a humble, respectful and giving attitude. Every community is measured by the people who live there, so have a positive effect on yours. We are happy to help you. Aloha!
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