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Newsletter:  Issue 1 - May 5, 2019 (Our First Newsletter)

Aloha! We are less than 6 months away from our retirement and move to the Big Island! You either subscribed or we subscribed you because we thought you might be interested; you can unsubscribe at any time.

Tropical Leaves 7
In This Edition

We share our longer than expected

bamboo house planning process.

Bamboo Leaves

Best Laid Plans


Any achievement, great or small, starts with a plan. The plan can be as simple as “I plan on going to work tomorrow” or as grand as “Let’s plan on sending a man to the moon and returning him back to earth.” Plans are born from hopes and dreams, visions and aspirations and are borne out by diligence, hard work, patience, perseverance and good luck or good fortune. Good luck or good fortune being described as “a thing that works out in favor of a plan that was not thought of in advance.”


For the man or woman who plans on going to work on the morrow, he or she must plan on going to sleep at a certain time for the requisite number hours of rest. They must have ready clean clothes with which to wear. They must arise at the allotted time to allow for the necessities of cleanliness, to make the coffee, and to eat. Additionally they need to leave the house in time, in order to arrive on time, and on and on and on.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the example of the grand plan of sending a man or woman into space and beyond, requires much more planning — more logistics, more resources, more people, more time. Between these two extremes lies a vast ocean of potential in the infinite nature of the human spirit. This too is where we find ourselves and our little five year plan.


Five years ago, in 2014, we had a desire, a dream, a vision: to retire and move to Hawaii. We have been vacationing there over the years, visiting all the main islands, and fell in love with them. Could we actually turn our dream into a reality? With faith and patience we started our plan. 


First we had to decide on which island to stake our claim. Between Zillow and Google Earth, (view video) deliberating the pros and cons of each, we decided on the Big Island. From there we also spotted our property. This quite literally took us close to 36 hours over a three day weekend. We closed the sale three months later!

Fast forward five years and we are now at the stage of designing our house plans. We thought this would be a fun part of the planning process; however, it proved to be highly frustrating. The cause of this frustration was due to the inability to obtain clear and adequate price estimates, in spite of all of our efforts.


This is how it works (at least in Hawaii). General contractors do not like to talk to potential clients about price estimates unless you have a plan that can be submitted to the County. So you spend a lot of time and money working with the architect designing your house plans. Then you spend maybe equally the same amount with the structural engineers, getting your plan code compliant, which you then turn into the County for approval.

Now for the bidding process. The first hurdle is to get a contractor to answer or return a call. Second, if they do respond, getting interest in your plans, based on site location, is yet another challenge. We though that being only forty minutes from Kona with access to the property right off the main road was reasonable; however, many did not. Lastly, many were not interested or just too busy - guess that is a good thing.


We did manage to get two quotes. The first one came in at $250K over our budgeted plan, which came to us as quite a shock. Although we have been diligently seeking estimates for three years, many aspects of our plan were best guesstimates. To make matters more confusing, contractors are still reluctant to give a break down on the project costs, even after the bid. All we wanted were ball park figures to know if we were close. We knew we had some special designs in our plans that were likely to be more of an expense so it was difficult to say what, if anything, should be considered to scrap from our plan.

The second bid we received did come with line item expenses which did show how our money was spent and even included the contractor’s own cost. This was indeed very detailed and we did see how much work can be invested in giving bids; however, at $1.3 million (yes, million!!) over budget, this was a definite no go!


Suddenly, the first bid looked much more reasonable! Tucking our proverbial tails between our legs, we went back to the first bid to see if we could resurrect our dream. (Ironically, this happened over Easter weekend). Now we had to make cuts to our plans in order to meet our budget without a clear understanding of the actual costs, plus having to redraw and resubmit the plans to the county. In spite of the confusing nature of this process, perhaps there is still some good fortune lurking around the corner.

Such is our life ordered by our plans — whether deliberately, incidentally, accidentally or habitually.

“But mouse you are not alone, in proving foresight may be in vain; 
The best laid schemes of mice and men often go askew.” 
— To a Mouse by Robert Burns, 1785

Mahalo (thank you) for your interest.


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