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Old 12-31-2008, 06:54 PM
 
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How does permitting work in Hawaii? Is it required to build a structure? Can you put up a yurt and hook it up to power and water without it being permitted? I don't really know anything about this sort of stuff and my family and I are just beginning to look into some alternative building.

Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
8,365 posts, read 15,655,839 times
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Building Permits - Department of Public Works

There are "alternative" houses other than yurts which are easy to build and work well in Hawaii. The original yurts were used by steppe horse nomads to survive bleak and cold climates and were designed to be portable. Hawaii has lovely views and great tradewinds which should be encouraged into your living quarters which is hard to do within the design parameters of a traditional yurt.

Folks like the idea of alternative housing and communities and they can be built in a variety of fashions other than round yurts. But, get what you like, you can fix the rest.
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:13 PM
 
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What are some other types of alternative construction? Thanks for that link, it answered my questions.
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Old 01-01-2009, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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Old style single wall construction is legal in Hawaii, several of my clients have done small houses using that method in the past several years. Post and beam construction is also an alternative construction style as well as the telephone pole and beam "haiku house" type construction. I do drafting, so folks are always telling me what sort of house they want and then I draw up the plans so they can build it. Depending on the type of construction you are used to, "post and pier" might be considered "alternative" construction. That type of construction has the house built up off the ground so the air can blow under it to keep it cool, it sometimes has screened floor areas in closets with louvered doors so the air can circulate better. There are generally less centipedes in a post and pier house and the wood floor is much kinder to your feet. It also is a good type of construction if you are building somewhere a concrete truck can't get to. Frequently, yurts are put on a post and pier foundation although there is a bit of a round house on a square platform conundrum.

Almost all houses will need some sort of ground work done, usually a bit of land clearing for a driveway, house area and some sort of septic/cesspool. Either solar/photovoltaic for off the grid houses or attachment to the power grid. Those prices will remain the same for the different types of construction. The rest of the construction prices can be kept low by using the less expensive construction materials and using the ones available here so they don't have to be shipped in.

Generally, for Hawaii houses, really wide eaves are good so they not only keep the rain off the side of the house so there won't be mold and mildew but it also keeps the sun off the sides of the house so the house won't be so hot. Three foot wide eaves is almost considered minimum. Also putting a lanai or other covered indoor/outdoor type use between the house and the outside allows the breeze a bit of time to cool down and or dry off a bit before entering the living areas of the house. Having cross ventilation is extremely important for having a liveable house. The price of electricity here is astronomical, so running an air conditioner is too expensive for most folks. Also, many houses are off the County water lines (there is also a small private water company over in Pahoa, but most piped in water is from the County) so having the wide roof eaves gives them more rain catchment area.

The expense of electricity shapes a lot of proper house design in Hawaii. Big windows let in light and air, sky lights or those new sola-tubes bring in sunlight to decrease the need for electric lights. Energy efficient appliances as well as no-energy appliances whenever possible (such as solar clothes dryers), etc. Each house is generally different because each house has to fit it's own unique house site as well as suit the owner's needs.

Some of the construction methods which aren't frequently seen here are straw bale construction, due partly to the excessive rain in many areas but also due to the price of straw bales. Those are generally shipped in from the mainland and are terribly expensive, at least, for a straw bale. We also have a lot of earthquakes here so concrete and rock might crack in an earthquake so they aren't overly favored for building the entire house from. Bricks are all shipped in from the mainland and ferociously expensive as well as prone to cracking in earthquakes so brick houses aren't common, either. Stucco isn't very favored in many areas because of the humidity. Steel doesn't get eaten by termites, but gets eaten by the salt laded tradewinds. The balmy tropical climate is actually really corrosive.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:48 PM
 
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Thanks a lot hotcatz, very informative!
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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Hotzcatz, you've got it so right on in so many ways! But not on yurts per se... I'm interested to know what experience you've had that makes you see yurts as not good here? There are many, many people here that have lived in yurts for years and they LOVE them! Do you set it up the same way you would in Mongolia or Alaska? Absolutely not! You make adaptations, many of which are done when they are manufactured for you, many are done in the building process, much like the post and pier that you speak of with vents in the floor, that's a great adaptation. Gutters keep the rain from pouring down the sides, as do awnings and rain diverters over the doors, many people put covered lanais, some even build roofs the whole way around. We've done a lot of different designs, each one tailored to each customer, just like you do when you design and draft a home. I like reading your posts, you're obviously very experienced in building and permitting here in Hawaii, but it's such a drag when every time you post on this thread you are downing yurts in this climate. Again, please, what is your experience that brought this attitude on?
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcblack182 View Post
How does permitting work in Hawaii? Is it required to build a structure? Can you put up a yurt and hook it up to power and water without it being permitted? I don't really know anything about this sort of stuff and my family and I are just beginning to look into some alternative building.

Thanks!
Aloha bcblack, a yurt can be built as temporary if your platform is kept under 36" from the ground and you don't take measures to make it permanent (i.e. interior walls/rooms built). The electric company wouldn't hook electric to your yurt at that point, but many people use solar or generators to counteract that. Water catchment is the norm here so you would be able to have a water supply.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:07 AM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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Aloha Yurtgirl,

I guess most of the yurts I've met up with have been the traditional type with no eaves (although a few had gutters), tiny windows, very little ventilation and had run afoul of the building department. Which is why they called me in the first place since if they had remained true to the essence of yurt it would have been a temporary structure and no building permits would have been necessary. They put up a temporary "construction" yurt, invested a lot of time and money in it's construction and lived in it for several years while building their new residence on the land and then didn't want to remove the yurt (even temporarily) to get the final on the building permit for their newly built house. If they don't get a final on the house, they can't refinance and end up paying much higher interest rates on a construction mortgage so generally when they call me there is all kinds of angst all over the place. Not the best way to meet yurts, I'd guess.

Perhaps we need a tropical yurt with large eaves, screened areas up near the top of the walls, vents down near the bottom (for cross ventilation) and really big windows for the views. May as well put a lanai all the way around to get a nice transition between interior and exterior living. By this time, it isn't very portable anymore, though.

I suspect a lot of folks are looking for "a yurt" when they are looking for something other than the standard kit house or architectural wonder. They are looking for "alternatives" which I think may mean something different to them than to us folks in the trade of house construction.

My forte is economical house design using standard available materials to keep the costs down yet creating a house which is eminently livable. A house which won't cost a lot to build nor cost a lot to keep yet will comfort and become a true home to nurture the folks within. That can also be done with a yurt, but a yurt is not the only way. I also think when folks are looking for a yurt they are looking for a specific type of lifestyle as opposed to a specific construction method. I'll generally draw any kind of house folks want and make it meet code and keep the costs as low as possible, but if anyone wants a yurt, I'll refer them to you and we will both be happier, huh?

Actually, the building construction style which I find truly improper is log houses. If you've ever built one of those, you'll know exactly why I dislike those! A log house without electricity would be okay, maybe, but putting power in those is just a severe pain. Anyway, that's entirely "non-yurt".

For the "alternative" lifestyle, I'd like to see some changes in the zoning codes which would allow folks to have employment & shopping within walking distances of their houses. I'd also like to see houses which are open and welcoming, have garages hidden so the first thing you see is the front door or front porch instead of the garage door and have common green spaces so the folks and kids can interact with each other as a neighborhood instead of a group of houses hiding behind garage doors and fences. Perhaps a sprinkling of yurts across a grassy green area would also get "community" happening? I think people, especially the sort of folks who would be looking for yurts, are searching for "community" and I think house design can do a lot to help neighbors interact with each other.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:55 AM
 
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Aloha Hotzcatz,
I see and I can definitely understand why that scenario would bias a person against yurts. We've seen similar situations, it's actually a large part of why we started doing this type of thing for a living. It's mandatory in our climate to retrofit a yurt with all the right upgrades and, just like any other structure, if you plan to permit then you have to follow the rules, you can't just throw something up because it works somewhat. We typically urge people to permit or to build in a way that they can permit later if they plan for the structure to remain on their property indefinitely. If they are building another structure that will be their main residence, then they can permit the yurt as storage or some other out building. The minor cost of having a professional draft you a permittable yurt is an investment that is well worth it in the larger scheme of things.

"Perhaps we need a tropical yurt with large eaves, screened areas up near the top of the walls, vents down near the bottom (for cross ventilation) and really big windows for the views. May as well put a lanai all the way around to get a nice transition between interior and exterior living. By this time, it isn't very portable anymore, though."

Or a yurt with a decent gutter system, insulation to keep them cool, awnings so that you can keep the screened windows open, a 5' diameter skylight that opens to create an updraft that pulls heat up and out and a cooling breeze in, definitely many windows and lanais are definitely a great space to add. The only thing that wouldn't be as portable in that scenario would be the post and pier platform and the lanai, which must be a free standing structure, independent of the yurt. The yurt itself can still be dismantled rather easily and moved if need or desire be.

"I suspect a lot of folks are looking for "a yurt" when they are looking for something other than the standard kit house or architectural wonder. They are looking for "alternatives" which I think may mean something different to them than to us folks in the trade of house construction. "

I would agree with that, but I think it is a wonderful alternative that many designers overlook and discount instead of seeing how they can incorporate and use yurts with a wonderful outcome.

Yours is a good forte, you've got vision, that's a great thing! We should meet up sometime, I love your idea of the community lawns! Ever heard of the theory of the 3rd place? We're all shut up in these little boxes at work, little boxes at home, little boxes to park in, little boxes to drive in, little boxes to tell us what to buy and what to wear... Separate from community. Do we even know our neighbors anymore? This is a bit different in Puna, but it is still a sweeping epidemic. Anyway, I digress, it was good to get your viewpoints and see where you're coming from, Aloha~
Yurt Girl
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:21 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,980 times
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Hello all hippies. lol. I'm new to this. I just got a settlement from my dissability. Not real big but big enough for a used yurt on property or brand new. I would rather buy one that's used & already on property but ether way. I don't want to rush it ether. All I know is I want out of the money trap at least for a while so I can heal up finally- Hurnia repair. I can't hall things around very easily. Does anyone know about a yurt for sale that hasn't been taken down yet? As in- someone wanting to just sell it rite where it stands before they take it down & on property- used & on property. I'm [email]parfithious@hotmail.com[/email] Thanks Dudes...
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