MNKO: What’s the highest they can build on O’ahu?
Jim: About 1,500 feet.
Atom: At sea level, you’re protecting [the home] from the heat. When you’re up in upper Kula, you’re considering the cold at night.
Peter: There’s also our ability to navigate the County of Maui’s permitting process, which is hugely valuable — people learn that very quickly if they don’t hire an architect. It’s not like on the mainland, where they can submit a basic set of plans, cross their fingers, and expect to get a building permit two months later.
Atom: Most of us have developed a relationship with most of the people at the County. A lot of times we’re on first-name basis, or can send an email request for more information, as opposed to a letter that takes a week to prepare . . . and sits on someone’s desk for two weeks . . . and finally gets mailed out to you . . . and it’s been a month. With most of our correspondence, it’s almost instant. That translates to faster turnaround of permit time, saving money, ultimately.
Frank: And keep in mind that there’s a lifestyle at the end of the construction. You may have saved money, but now you don’t have a lānai to sit on and enjoy the sunset or sunrise. The built environment has got a lot more issues than just the price tag.
Atom: And this house is going to be here for seventy to one-hundred-plus years. If it’s going to be in your family, it shouldn’t be designed and assembled haphazardly. The money is important, but at the end of the day, so is how the house functions, how it’s put together, and how it looks.
Jim: This ties into how a local architect can design more economically. In this climate, we don’t have to protect ourselves from the environment so much. You can live in a smaller space, especially if it’s a vacation home, with outdoor rooms that may be sheltered or not. We can design a smaller footprint, and bring the cost down, but it still can be very well designed, very tasty, and give you delight, which is really what architecture is all about.