Real Estate

Common Concerns for Maui Property Buyers

June 24, 2015, 2:03 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 2:05 PM
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Termite damage. Google image.

Termite damage. Google image.

By Alexandra Mitchell

When looking for the perfect property to buy on Maui, there are a handful of concerns that new buyers should be aware of, including termites, mold and water damage.

For long-time Hawaiʻi residents, these are issues we’ve probably all dealt with on some level.

So what should the prospective homeowner know about these issues before purchasing a home?

The last thing you want is to finally buy your Maui dream home and then find that you have black mold behind your shower wall, or that the previous owners just painted over water damage spots on the ceiling. Fixing termite, mold and water damage in your new home is not only going to cost you some hard-earned cash, but it’s also a total necessity for various health and safety reasons.


These are just a few of the things buyers should pay close attention to when searching for property in Hawaiʻi.



In Hawaiʻi, termite home inspections should be conducted at least every five years–but not everyone does this! Termite inspections are typically done while negotiating the sale of a property, or during an escrow period.

For new buyer protection, it is highly recommended that a professional termite specialist, a property inspector and a construction professional visits the home to check for living termites and any structural termite damage. Both termites and termite damage are very common in Hawaiʻi, so don’t be alarmed if the home does have termite issues.


As the new buyer, make sure to set firm terms of responsibility during negotiation; put the condition of the home in print, and agree who will be financially responsible to fix any termite issues if there are any existing, or affecting the structure of the home.

For more information about termites, go online.

Water Damage & Mold

Many kinds of mold live in tropical and subtropical environments, and its rare to find a property in Hawaiʻi that does not have some kind of mold due to the high humidity and frequent rain here. FYI, mold is usually found alongside water damage.* New buyers should be especially sensitive to smells in a new home, because mold carries with it a musty and recognizable odor.

In addition, look for peeling and cracking paint, wood trim that’s separating from structures, and water spots that may have been painted over (especially ceilings, under toilets and in showers).

If you have a concern about mold, make sure to hire both an environmental inspector and a professional home inspector prior to purchasing a property.

Be aware that certain kinds of mold in Hawaiʻi can contribute to allergies and severe illnesses. For more information about mold, go online.

Asbestos & Canec

Both asbestos and canec are building materials that you should pay extra close attention to when looking to buy property in Hawaiʻi. Asbestos can be found in flooring, walls, ceilings and other structural elements. If asbestos fibers are being released into the air, you may have a huge problem on your hands–for your overall health and your wallet. To alleviate all future issues, asbestos should be removed.

Although canec is no longer used in building, it (fiberboard made from sugar cane) was once commonly used in both residential and commercial properties in Hawaiʻi. It is often found on Maui, especially in plantation-style homes and buildings that were built and/or remodeled between 1930 and 1965.

Canec is a unique construction material because it was treated with inorganic arsenic compounds for anti-termite control. Canec sheets and tiles were usually used for interior ceiling walls, like drywall is used today.

There are many dangers and health issues regarding the presence of canec in a home. If canec is present, safety measures must be in place when handling it in any way during removal, demolition and disposal. Not all canec needs to be removed, but damaged canec (rotting or powdering) definitely does. Major health concerns are associated with extended exposure to inorganic arsenic–birth defects, respiratory issues and high risks of cancer.

If you have concerns about asbestos or canec, make sure to hire both an environmental inspector and a professional home inspector prior to purchasing a property.

For more information about asbestos, go online. Further information about Canec can be found online.

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