New homes
at half price

Modular homes intended for
West Hawaii will sell for about
$250,000, including the land

KAILUA-KONA » Using factory construction of entire interior and exterior walls, a family of new Kona companies plans to offer 100 affordable homes in West Hawaii at roughly half the cost of typical home prices in the area.

The homes, structured as low-rise, four- and eight-unit condominiums, will sell for about $250,000, which includes the price of the land, said Alan Dickler, president of Westpro Holdings LLC.

In comparison, for West Hawaii homes under $1 million on the market now, the average price is about $600,000, while condominiums comparable to the Westpro units average $450,000.

Assembly of the 100 homes is set to start in the third quarter of this year at the company's 10-acre Seascape project, about two miles uphill from the Kona airport.

Actual construction will take place at a new $2.5 million factory owned by Westpro affiliate Aloha Aina Homes LLC, near Honokohau Harbor, five miles from Seascape.

Dickler explained that his company is already building homes with pre-constructed sections of wall, a process known as "panelization."

Factory construction of entire walls makes the process "modular," he said. About 70 percent of new homes on Oahu are panelized, and modular construction is increasingly common on the mainland, he said.

The construction process is called FAST, for "Factory Assembled Steel." Steel structural members will be used in the walls of the Seascape units, while the exterior surface will be a type of cement board and the interior will be drywall.

The factory process is so complete that kitchen walls, for example, will have cabinets installed at the factory rather than at the home site. Walls also will have wiring and window assemblies installed at the factory.

Dickler needs an initial 80 employees and eventually 150 to complete the project. He'll hold a job fair 2-7 p.m. Tuesday at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.

One area of savings which will make the homes affordable will be in wages. Aloha Aina will hire and train people without previous experience in this construction method rather than journeymen carpenters used in conventional construction.

Having all materials at hand at the factory, rather than distributing them to 100 different construction sites, also creates cost-saving efficiency, Dickler said.

Two other companies affiliated with Westpro will market 30 FAST homes at Discovery Harbor subdivision in Kau this year, priced at $319,000, Dickler said.

Westpro has already built 190 units using panelization at another project called Lokahi Makai near the Seascape site. Because of panelization, each of those homes was framed in a single day, he said.

While the county required 10 percent of those homes to be "affordable," Dickler was the first developer to put such units in the same subdivision as the market-priced units, rather a different location, he said.

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