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Big Island The Island of Hawaii
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:36 AM
Location: Ohio
21 posts, read 35,090 times
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we are in the infancy of planning a move to Hawaii. Our first real feeler trip is coming in May. I can't wait. In my opinion feeler trips are the only way anyone will ever know if they can survive the extreme change.

This is an "IF" questions for the future.

If I were to buy a house it would definitely be a fixer upper. I would need a small container for some household items that I do not want to part with. (Good quality older family furniture) Knowing there would be items to repair on the house would it be wise to use the extra room in the container to bring construction materials? I'm thinking things like water heater, tile, bulk screws & nails, etc.. My thought on that is it should be cheaper here as i have a lot of items stored already & minimal cost to add to a container that is not full.

Good idea?
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:11 AM
Location: Fort Collins, CO
76 posts, read 145,351 times
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Disclaimer- I do not live in Hawai'i
Others can give you specifics but what I would do for your feeler trip is plan on visiting some OPEN houses (so as not to bother people if you aren't serious at this time) and visit the hardware store. That way you will be able to get a sense of what might be worth bringing and maybe meet some RE agents. From what I gather solar water heaters are the way to go and may be required. They don't have natural gas so that is a consideration. I would also educate myself on issues, that I don't currently deal with much, like termites and mold.
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:37 PM
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
5,484 posts, read 11,639,465 times
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It's a given that everything costs more here. If you already plan on shipping a container, then by all means bring construction-type stuff. Other people will try to talk you out of shipping a container over, but you said that you are already planning that.

Of course, bring all your tools. You might as well bring appliances, which run at least $50 more here than the prices in the nationwide ads. And then add on delivery costs to that. Regarding tile, there are a couple of places on island that sell tile, but the selection is limited.

Agree with lanormun about the solar water heaters. And altho he/she is right about natural gas, we do have propane and it's a simple conversion for gas stoves.

People talk about picking up deals on Craigslist, but unless you are in Kona, Hilo, or Waimea then you've got to do a lot of driving to just get to see the stuff. We are very rural, so CG doesn't work very well for us.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:26 PM
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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A lot of whether to bring the stuff or not depends on the stuff you are planning on bringing. An electric water heater will eat you out of house and home. Electricity runs about forty to forty-five cents a kilowatt hour. Look at your current electric bill, find the amount of KWs used and multiply by .45 and see what number you get. Air conditioners aren't used much for the same reason. Solar water heaters are really easy to live with and many Hawaii homes have them. Lots of folks are putting in photovoltaic systems and running the electricity in their house on sunshine these days, too. However, in order to do that, you are not using tons of electricity so it's back to the solar water heater. There is also an "on demand" gas water heater that folks use a lot. If you have a new "Energy Star" type appliance, then it might be worthwhile to bring it. Older refrigerators, electric dryers, and appliances like that are frequently free on Craig's List since folks can't afford to run them.

Bulk screws and nails if they are galvanized or better would be worthwhile. "Green sinkers" just rust and any other unplated fastener is just a rust spot waiting to happen. Even if it is covered with drywall and paint, it will still rust. Ospho is your friend, coat rust with that and it will stop rusting. At least, for awhile.

Check the prices of paint and such while you are visiting. That might be worth shipping. You'd already know which house you'd be working on before shipping the container, wouldn't you? That would help let you know what to ship, too.

If your older furniture was put together with hide glue (many antiques are) try to keep them out of humidity or be ready to re-glue them back together. When re-gluing veneer, a sheet of heavy glass is useful to make the surface really flat. Corrugated cardboard doesn't work.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:49 PM
Location: Pahoa Hawaii
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And don't bother bringing building materials or anything else for that matter made of strandboard or MDF, starts decaying and swelling immediately.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:20 PM
Location: North Idaho
30,178 posts, read 41,230,033 times
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Here's what I would do: make a list of what you might need and head down to the home improvement stores and the hardware stores and write down prices. Price double glazed windows. Then compare to what you would pay on the mainland.

You won't know what you will need until after you buy something. Add it all up. Add the cost of shipping, and see if you come out ahead.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:08 PM
Location: Puna, Hawaii
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It will be cheaper to buy the stuff over here. The "household goods" barge rate is a lot higher than what the stores pay to ship items over. Think about it- whether you buy a refrigerator here or on the mainland somebody has to pay to ship it over here. Why pay to ship it at the highest tariff? Besides, you buy a fridge at Home Depot here with the extended warranty. They deliver it and hook it up for free. When it breaks you call the 1-800 number and somebody comes to fix it. How are you going to handle that if you buy it at a mainland store? If you don't have a container worth of stuff to bring over, then don't bring a container. You can pay the palletized rate.

I mostly regret bringing a 20' container of crap over here. It would have been cheaper to replace it and we would have replaced it with island appropriate stuff. Fortunately we were able to ship over a container that was for sale. I could have sold it on island for $1000 more than what I paid for it. We decided to keep it because we bought a house without any storage space. So I don't regret shipping over the container, I regret shipping over the container's contents. Like you I had read all the posts from people who said they wished they came over with just their luggage and maybe a few mailed boxes and like you I thought I was different. I wasn't. My advice to people is get rid of everything. Even most of your clothes. Once you dress Aloha you won't want to ever wear that other stuff again. Give the sentimental stuff to family. That way if you change your mind and return to the mainland, your sentimental stuff will still be there instead of getting destroyed by the climate or insects. If you can't mail it here, or take it with you on the plane- you don't need it. You might be looking around your house admiring your furniture now, but remember that your house here is probably going to be smaller and you'll want to spend most of your time outside. Look at your furniture and then imagine yourself scrubbing mildew off of it. Then imagine seeing tiny bits of sawdust underneath of it and wondering what it is. Then investigating little holes and find out some wood eating organism is destroying it. Now do you really want to pay to bring it over?
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:17 PM
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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Hmm, Terracore has a good point. It might be better to ship via pallets than a container. They also make a whole lot of different sizes of containers so perhaps a smaller container might be better and less expensive.

Houses also aren't as complicated here as they are on the mainland. Generally no heating or air conditioning. Insulation is either very minimal or non-existent. Houses are also usually much, much smaller. Maybe on the mainland you are kicking around in 3,000 square feet, but here it's much more likely going to be less than half that number. So, less tile, less paint, less fasteners, etc. It only takes one box of 16d nails to build a house, so a container full of miscellaneous hardware will most likely be overkill. Then if you don't use all the stuff you bring, then you'll have to do what with it?
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:29 PM
Location: Volcano
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Originally Posted by terracore View Post
It will be cheaper to buy the stuff over here...
Originally Posted by hotzcatz View Post
Hmm, Terracore has a good point. It might be better to ship via pallets than a container...
Agreed. Think of moving to Hawai'i as an opportunity to change your lifestyle... which it will be, like it or not... and getting rid of everything non-essential as preparation for that change.

Houses are smaller, dress is more casual, humidity and mildew ruin a lot of things that were fine on the mainland.

I'll add that new appliances are shipped to Hawai'i with all kinds of protective packing around sensitive elements, none of which are there when you move a used one. So many appliances suffer fatal damage in long-haul shipping, even just trucking cross-country. So what do you think are the chances of them making it all the way from the mainland in a steel box that is not handled gently? Hints: the odds are high that you'll have to replace something.

As for furniture, unless your taste runs to high-end stuff, everything is readily available used in the islands, because so many people ship stuff here, then they don't last, and they can't afford to ship it back when they leave. Buy mattresses new, but everything else you need or want can be acquired at garage sales and thrift stores, and sometimes at astonishing prices. I found a genuine NordicTrak exerciser in great condition at a thrift shop in Hilo, a $200+ value for $5.

And yes, yes, you'll have to invest some time in shopping for replacements, but on an hourly basis you'll be highly paid for for your efforts.

As to building materials, a container FULL of lumber from the Northwest can be less expensive than buying locally, if you have an accurate bill of materials for whatever you'll need to build here.

The only material I have specifically heard that cannot be bought locally is firebrick and refractory cement, for building kilns and fireplaces and woodfired ovens. My neighbors the potters all had to buy theirs in California and have it shipped.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:40 PM
Location: Ohio
21 posts, read 35,090 times
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Thank you for the great responses. I will definitely visit local stores to compare prices.

I live in a 1000 sq ft house now & do not expect to go bigger unless the price is right.

I also do not plan on selling my current home here as it is perfect as a rental & have family to watch over it So I will leave appliances here.

If it all works out I do plan to buy before I ship so I would know what supplies would be needed. When I get closer I will start breaking numbers down to see which way is better to ship & if some things are worth it.

No real antiques or long time family furniture just some simple well built things that should last over there. I'm already bringing less than I thought just typing about it. LOL

Off to work for now. I'm killing myself working to bank everything I can for the next few years. It's amazing how much you save when you work all the time.
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