Could These Ecofriendly Tiny Homes Be the Future of Affordable Housing in Hawai‘i?

Elevate Structure is hoping to build ecofriendly units that could be used as a home or a business in Hawai‘i.
Photos: Ashley Camper


In Hawai‘i, where land is scarce and housing is astronomical, it makes sense to try to scale down your living space while taking advantage of the Island climate. Civil engineers Nathan and Tiffany Toothman are hoping to do that with their new Elevate structure.


The Toothmans have created a 16-by-16-foot model on Kapa‘a Quarry Road in Kailua to show people the possibilities. At first glance, it looks a bit like a treehouse, as it’s perched on a narrow pedestal and covered in plants and herbs.



“The original concept of the center base was that this would be water storage—this space holds up to 1,500 gallons, and addressing water issues around the world is a huge need,” Nathan Toothman says. “But we also have options to store water under the floor joists to keep this center area more open because it’s a very useful space.”


Due to the way it’s made, the space under the home can then be used for parking. Nathan Toothman says you could lock the stairwell or ladder in the base, which is also good for restricting access, which keeps things inside safer.



The Elevate unit was originally conceived as an off-grid solution for the remote areas of O‘ahu’s North Shore but, in the process of developing the unit, they realized it could be adopted for many different types of commercial and residential applications. It can be used as a micro-home, a café with rooftop seating or a studio. Every unit is customizable and the design team can create specifications that the community wants. To see a drone video by Brandt Haapala, click here.


The home has sunroofs and large windows for air and light, and there are solar panels on the side for energy—all helping to leave a smaller carbon footprint and save money on additional bills.



A home or office like this model can cost about $75,000 to $125,000, depending on additions to the interior. As more of these are built, however, the price will come down. Toothman says you can get creative with the space by adding a kitchen, bathroom and elevator.


The Toothmans launched a Kickstarter today for $57,080 to build a commercial structure and partner with a local company to do the first commercial application.


To find out more about Elevate and its Kickstarter, click here.


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