Tiny House on the Big Island: 4th edition

Tiny House on the Big Island: 4th edition


Day 15: I was so excited to put in a full day today but it stormed all through the night. When we arrived at the property to mark where the piers would be set we were met with a gigantic puddle.

I dug a trench to get it to drain to the lower portion, which worked well but there was so much water it didn’t look like it even drained at all. With more rain in the forecast we strung a tarp over the puddle to prevent it from getting any bigger.


Day 16: The property dried out quite a bit but still had some standing water on it. We took down the tarp and let the sun hit it. We ordered cinders (lava rock) today to try and make a pathway that’s not muddy but we got them too big I think. We laid down used shade cloth on the path to keep us from sinking in the mud. Hopefully I will find another use for the cinders because it wasn’t cheap.

I was able to mark the four corners where the posts will go. Which is 16′ by 16′. To make sure they are square you have to figure out the diagonal measurement which in this case 22′ 5/8″.


Day 17: We made a Home Depot run this morning to get pier blocks instead of making them ourselves. We were planning on borrowing a trailer but our hitch was too big.

The beater truck I bought shocks are shot so we couldn’t load them in it. I had called about getting delivery and was told it was $80. Which isn’t bad if I buy all the lumber at once. The island apparently has issues with theft especially when it comes to lumber. I don’t know if it’s as bad as everyone says but I don’t want to risk it by getting everything at once. Also plans change so frequently that it’s hard to do that anyway. However when I asked about deliveries in the store they said there was another $20 option for a normal pickup truck, same day delivery – total score!

The pier blocks are heavy, about 120lbs. Way too heavy for me to lift so we rented a dolly for $5 which was also a lifesaver. It took both me and my mom to position them in place. We still are working on getting them all squared and level. That’s going to take some time to get right.


Day 18: We got our pier blocks squared away. It took us was too long because we had the wrong diagonal dimension. Once we figured that out it went pretty quick. Most the day was spent trying to get them level and spaced evenly.

I have one in each corner 16′ apart and then 4′ in from each corner. Making 3 posts in each corner for a total of 12 posts.


Day 19: Well I’ve been going back and forth about lowering the stilts to 8′ instead of 12′. Everyone here has been trying to get me to go lower for the ease of building. I however want it IN the trees, the decision was making me sick. My mom and I were going over the pros and cons but when I stood the two different heights on the blocks I knew instantly that it needed be the taller one.

We used transit level to figure out the post heights since they vary slightly. We couldn’t get the generator started so we drove to my neighbor Gabrielle’s house and he let us borrow some electricity to get them cut. It was a long day but we got the posts up and sheeted. We have to put the 1/2″ sheeting up to protect against sway from wind.

12 Responses to Tiny House on the Big Island: 4th edition

  1. Steve says:

    This is SO awesome !!! I am SO impressed and motivated reading your blog… it’s so “real life,” too, you know? I am looking forward to seeing your structure come up and evolve… hang in there and ho’omanawanui !!! ~Steve

  2. Steve Bussell says:

    Hi! I’m excited to see your progress on the build. I think I missed part of your post. Did you have to put in footers first?
    And how deep were they? If you did. I’m praying for you and your build to go smooth. I enjoy the posts. Steve B

    • kristiewp says:

      We dug a few inches down and put a bag of dry ready mix concrete. Then set the pier block on top. Since it was dry we could move the blocks around as needed to get them level. Then we just allowed the moisture in the air to harden the concrete over night.

      Everybody says this is all we need. As we continue to build we will see if we think we need to add more concrete to the base but so far so good.

  3. Tim says:

    I am just catching up to your project. That is a really neat idea building up in the air like that. I understand that the locals informed you about the footing requirements but also consider that most of the mass of the building will be up in the air. You may want to consider some method of tying down the pads to the footing or some other wind protection if you haven’t already. Look forward to seeing this progress.

    • kristiewp says:

      Hey Tim – yep we figured that into the plan. There’s a lot of small earthquakes here all the time so it is really important.

  4. I am SO excited to see your progress!! You should know you re-awakened a dream I had when I was a teenager to live in Hawaii. After stumbling on your blog I have started believing my old dreams might become a reality! Im 32 yrs. old and happily married to my best friend and we have two little girl (6 & 4). Just a few questions I wanted to ask..How much land did you get for $8,000? What area did you buy in on Hawaii? Also, how many square feet and what style tiny home did uou decide on? Mahalo and Aloha!! I wish you all the blessings on your adventure!!

    • kristiewp says:

      Alpha Stephanie,

      My $8,000 dollar lot is about 1/3 of an acre. Shorter in the front next to the road and it goes pretty deep back – the locals call these ‘spaghetti lots’. I’m near Volcano but Puna, Keauu and Kurtistown are very close too.

  5. Hugh Wolfe says:

    Kristie your doing a fantastic job… this is great to be able to follow along on your project from so many miles away. I’ve been helping out on a tiny house being constructed locally, the first I’ve seen in person, http://www.abedovermyhead.com… check BA’s blog for construction updates. She has a lot of good information on her site. And she’s co-sponsoring her first tiny house workshop February 15/16. Yes I’m signed up, I was the first. The “vortex” as BA calls it has pulled me in to the tiny house community even further than I’ve been for the past few years of simply watching from the sidelines. Now I want one of my own.

  6. harvy ann says:

    wow! its so cool to see do the work! I so wanted to build my own in our farm here in the Philippines and show my dad the practicality of a small house or hut (cos of earthquake) I will follow how you do and built your house.This is motivating!!! you go girl!

  7. Dan says:

    Hi Kristie,
    Can you please tell me which carrier you choose for a good internet speed and phone signal on the Big Island?

    • kristiewp says:

      I switched from Sprint to Verizon after arriving because I literally didn’t have a signal. I don’t have wifi at the treehouse & all of the people I met & friended over there, not a single one even had a computer in their home!

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