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Live on the Big Island Blog

Your Big Island Real Estate resource, by Annette Mejia

Home Maintenance Issues: What to Watch For When Buying in Hawaii

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Due to the wetter climate, constant sunshine, and ever-encroaching jungle, homes on the Big Island endure a lot of wear and tear over the years. As buyers search for real estate, it’s important to know some of the key maintenance issues that will require additional investment on behalf of the owner if they have been neglected for too long. While most sellers will take the initiative to fix many of these issues before putting their house on the market, a smart buyer will inform themselves on which pieces should have been recently renovated, which they can afford to invest in after purchasing, and which will cost a pretty penny if they are not noticed prior to closing the deal. Here are some of the key home maintenance issues to watch for when buying Big Island Real Estate.

Leaks and water damage

Consistent rainfall on the Big Island keeps vegetation and landscaping green and lush, but it can wreak havoc on a home over time. From plumbing leaks to roof damage, homeowners should watch for signs of heavy water damage while searching for a home. Many leaks in the roof or walls are caused by corroded seams and damaged caulk. Fixing these issues can cost buyers a lot of money, and are items that should be negotiated during the initial inspection. Watch for caulk that has receded from the seam and other physical damage. Remember that if you can see an issue at the surface level, chances are there could be some mold, mildew, and rot going on under the surface.

Overgrown landscaping

When people move to the Big Island, many of them have dreams of relaxing in a backyard shaded by palms and surrounded by tropical flowers. This type of landscaping is common and is absolutely a plus for many buyers. Do be aware, however, that plants grow quickly in Hawaii, and a lot of landscaping means a lot of upkeep. Trees and shrubs shouldn’t be growing up against the home as this prevents the exterior walls from drying out after a storm leading to water damage. Check behind overgrown landscaping and be sure there are no problem areas. In addition, you’ll want to be sure that no trees are growing over the home dropping leaves (or potentially critters!) onto the roof.

Pests

Our gorgeous weather creates a lush, resource-rich environment for many species. While homeowners may be primarily concerned with termites on the mainland, there are many types of critters that cause us grief here on the island. A few to watch for include carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and (unfortunately) rats. There are also many species of nesting birds that love to build their homes inside the shady nooks and crannies of ours. Keep an eye out for damage caused by these creatures, and talk to an inspector about the potential cost to fix the problem areas. Some may not be capital intensive. But others (like termite damage) can cost hundreds of thousands to fix.

Electrical Issues

If rain is good at anything it’s corroding electrical equipment. Buyers will find that electrical systems in our Big Island homes were designed to be simpler than what you might encounter on the mainland—probably to make these constant electrical fixes somewhat easier and cheaper. The most common issues are normally caused by electrical systems that were installed incorrectly or without proper attention to covering wires. Be sure to check junction boxes and mastheads for any damage as this may cause issues in the future. Generally speaking, these can be pretty easy fixes.

These are some of the maintenance issues one can expect to encounter when researching real estate on the Big Island. There are, however, several others to watch out for, and buyers should partner with a real estate agent who is fully versed in the types of issues unique to the islands. We’re happy to help answer any of your questions, and would love to help you find a forever home that won’t cost an arm and a leg to renovate post purchase. Contact us at (808) 217-8500 or send us a message here.

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