Keeping Your Hawaii Home Safe

Bull's Eye

Don’t make yourself a target

It’s raining down cats, dogs and mongooses as I write this post in the Makiki area of Honolulu. It’s the first real torrential downpour in a while, definitely the first since my wife and I moved into the neighborhood recently. The river flowing down our street is washing everything away in its tracks – I hope our resident hen has her chicks in a safe spot!

As I was driving back from one of our homes for sale (during a lull in the rains), I saw a couple cars skidding along H-1 westbound and it got me thinking a bit about safety, something that we probably all take for granted at times. Most of us know not to drive crazily in wet weather, but do we exercise enough caution when it comes to our homes? After all, we spend more time in our homes than our cars and they cost more as well.

Common Threats to our Homes

We may not always be aware of threats to our homes, but they’re out there whether in sight or not. Let’s examine a few:

RAIN. Appropriate for today, Hawaii wouldn’t be so lush and green without the mountains that force the clouds to give off their rain (orographic precipitation for you geography lovers). And while we love our waterfalls (which will be raging this week), they also threaten our homes if we have leaky roofs or a vulnerable foundation especially in heavy rains with possible flash floods. Poorly-built retaining walls can also cave in and cause a mini-landslide in extreme cases. So be sure to get your roof checked and install gutters if your home requires them.

TERMITES. Anyone who’s bought a home in Hawaii knows to watch out for termites. Few areas, if any, are safe from these wood-eaters. Before buying any real estate here, always get a Termite Inspection Report (or TIR) so you know if any treatments will be required. Spot treatments, fumigation and orange oil are all potential remedies, depending on the types of termites and the level of infestation. If you see piles of wood shavings, call up the bug guys.

COASTAL THREATS. I’ll lump these into one category, but there are a variety of threats unique to Hawaii coastal or beachfront property. These include longer-term threats such as coastal erosion and salt-laden seaspray as well as episodic threats like hurricanes and tsunamis. You may need extra insurance in these areas. You may also need to brushen up on the Hawaii state and county regulations regarding building in these zones. Don’t just put up a seawall and build to your heart’s delights – there are strict rules, regulations and policies for coastal homeowners in Hawaii.

OTHER PEOPLE! Yes, you may be a model citizen with a solidly built house, but there are bad folks out there no matter how you slice it. Such is life. Most of us go to bed at night under the Hawaiian stars feeling rather secure that nothing will happen while we’re counting sheep or that our homes will remain untouched while we’re away. But we know that’s not always the case. Thieves, robbers — we need to protect ourselves. This is where a good home security system can provide a lot of security and comfort. If you don’t want to install anything electronic, just get a dog. You’ll get a best friend as well as a safer home!


  • Jessica Sala

    Great post! Never knew you folks had such a termite problem!

    • Michael Borger

      We have termites all over Hawaii — it’s standard practice to get a Termite Inspection Report when purchasing a property here.