KAILUA-KONA — HPM Building Supply last week announced plans to launch a new line of modular homes for Hawaii island residents, “HalePlus,” that the company is calling a “fast, customizable and affordable option for homeownership.”
“We’re trying to make this as turn-key as possible,” HPM Building Supply CEO Jason Fujimoto said in an interview Friday, “where literally we’re delivering completed modules of the HalePlus unit that are finished as much as possible, that have appliances, that really can be lived in within a three-month timeframe from order to move-in.”
HPM Building Supply has its corporate office in Keaau and locations on this island, Oahu and Kauai.
The base model for HalePlus is still in the prototyping and finalization phases, HPM said, and is planned to be available to the public next year. HPM is aiming for a target price of about $100,000 for that base model, which would include basic home construction costs. More information is available at www.hpmhawaii.com/haleplus.
“It’s really a natural evolution for HPM as a company and really combines and leverages everything that we do as an organization,” Fujimoto said. “That’s why it’s just very, very exciting for us.”
HalePlus comes via a collaboration between HPM and contractor Gilbert Aguinaldo of Pacific Rim Construction.
Aguinaldo and HPM partnered last year in the wake of the eruption to build a series of microunits, based on a modified shed design offered through HPM, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa for those who had been displaced from their homes.
After the village’s completion about a year ago, Fujimoto said, conversations turned to finding a permanent solution to addressing the local housing need.
Working with Aguinaldo, Fujimoto said, they homed in on a solution that is affordable while also modular, expandable and transportable.
The HalePlus line offers another tool to help address the serious need for housing in the state.
“Our population has been declining for two consecutive years now, and we really cannot afford to have more of our local community move away because they can’t afford to live here,” Fujimoto said.
He also referenced the United Way’s “Asset limited, income constrained, employed (ALICE)” report, which, citing 2015 data, said 48 percent of households in the state and 55 percent of households in Hawaii County have incomes either below the poverty level or above the poverty level but not enough to afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food transportation and health care.
Fujimoto said they’re working closely with the county on ensuring there’s a pre-approved designation for the HalePlus homes as well as a “seamless inspection process.”
The 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom base model is envisioned as a plantation-style home with a covered lanai. The company also plans to make available HalePlus homes with optional configurations including additional bedrooms, home offices, expanded kitchens and extra storage.
The home’s adaptability also makes it an option for young families, who can start with a basic unit and build the home out as their family and needs grow.
“It makes it easy down the road to say, ‘Hey, you know what, I think we’re at that point where it makes sense for us to add on another, say, one-bedroom suite,’” Fujimoto said. “So we transform a house from being a single one-bedroom house to now a two-bedroom house.”
The homes are also designed to be transportable, meaning they can be disconnected from a permanent footing and moved elsewhere.
While the homes aren’t meant to be mobile homes moved from place-to-place on a regular basis, Fujimoto said, the design makes it possible to transport the home should the homebuyer purchase a new lot of land or, notably, in the event of a disaster where homeowners have an opportunity to prepare and move their home.
Aguinaldo in the HPM press release also pointed to the value of having transportable units should an emergency arise.
“After the devastation of last year’s lava flow, and the impact I saw on friends, neighbors and our community, I wanted to make sure our solution provided mobility,” said Aguinaldo. “With a little notice and a little work, these homes and their contents can be detached from their permanent footing and moved out of harm’s way.”
HPM is already planning to provide 12 HalePlus studio units at a discounted rate to Hope Services, which oversaw last year’s micro-shelter effort, to house low-income seniors in Pahoa next to the 20 micro-shelters.
In advance of the 2020 public release, Fujimoto said, they want to focus much of their production over the next six to 12 months on supporting other groups in the community working to address housing needs on the island.
“We really want to dedicate our capacity now for that,” Fujimoto said, saying they’re also working on plans to expand and scale production in preparation for the public launch.