We Recently “Talked Story” With Big Island Builder Phil Tinguely of Tinguely Development
We recently sat down to ‘talk story’ with Phil Tinguely, President of Tinguely Development, a custom design-build firm located in West Hawai‘i, with a proven track record of quality craftsmanship on the Big Island.
They also recently chose Hawai‘i Life to represent Waimea Parkside, their 40-home residential development located in the heart of Waimea. Also known locally as Kamuela, Waimea is one of Hawai‘i’s most charming and long-established towns in the state. Referred to as upcountry for its altitude, or paniolo country (Hawaiian for “cowboy”), Waimea has a rich history and ranching traditions that dates back to the beginnings of nearby Parker Ranch, a 250,000-acre cattle ranch established more than 160 years ago.
Photo by Peter French
HL: So, how long you’ve been building on the Big Island?
PT: I moved to the island in 1987 from California and began building projects at that time. We incorporated Tinguely Development in 1995, and we have been developing land and a wide variety of commercial and residential projects ever since then, focusing on West Hawai‘i.
HL: Tell us about the capabilities of Tinguely Developments.
PT: We have a full range of design-build capabilities, including architectural design, interior design, construction management, and land development. Our company has built everything from professional office complexes to ultra-luxury, single-family homes, gas stations, credit unions, educational facilities, premium retail, and residential developments.
HL: Is there an advantage for a builder in working on a wide range of projects, as you have, as opposed to specializing in one type?
PT: Absolutely! In a development model, diversity has definitely helped us to the explore and build relationships with the best design resources available. It has also enabled us to determine and source the most appropriate building materials and customize them to each project. We build in so many different environments – from upcountry to waterfront properties – and we build for so many different uses. One of our strengths that has emerged from the diversity of projects is knowing which building materials are best suited to the environment and the planned use of each project.
HL: So tell us about your Waimea Parkside Development.
PT: It’s a small community in the heart of Waimea – or Kamuela, as the town is also known locally. Once complete, there will be a total of 40 homes, so it’s quite an intimate neighborhood. It’s currently 60% sold. The lots are 10,000 square feet, and the homes are designed to honor Hawai‘i’s heritage architecture. So they borrow heavily from the plantation-style home because we wanted the community to fit seamlessly into Waimea and to have a sense of place. The homes feature board-and-batten exteriors and metal standing seam roofs, which are classic plantation style elements. There are volcanic rock walls and neighborly front porches.
HL: What makes Waimea Parkside different from other homes in Waimea.
PT: There’s very limited residential inventory in Waimea and even fewer new homes. Waimea Parkside is one of the few new construction projects. The appeal for buyers, of course, is moving into a brand new, warrantied product built in a classic style, but that also offers energy-saving, cost-effective features.
HL: What are some of the homes’ interior design features that reflect plantation style?
PT: They have similarly classic features like hardwood flooring, crown molding where the walls meet the ceiling, and wainscoting. However, we’ve also built in modern conveniences that older plantation homes wouldn’t have, and which are particular to Waimea’s environment. At 2,600 feet above sea level, it can get chilly up there. So we built the homes with radiant heat in the bathroom floors, heated towel bars, and a fireplace to help warm the homes.
Koa Model MLS# 616574
HL: Did you also add exterior features to contend with Waimea’s unique environment & weather?
PT: Yes. The homes are raised to keep them above the ground moisture. They also have thicker walls that are fully insulated, and lots of double-hung, insulated windows to keep the cold out. They’ll also naturally cool and ventilate the homes in warm weather. The metal standing-seam roofs are also fully insulated to withstand the winds in Waimea, and they come with a 40-year warranty. We also built in some “peace of mind” technology features, like a built-in safe and security cameras that homeowners can access through their smartphone to check on their dogs or kids, or to check on their property when they’re away.
HL: Who did you have in mind as buyers for Waimea Parkside?
PT: Well, we talk about this all the time. When one sets out in the development world, you have an idea or sense of your target market, and you try to focus in on a buyer demographic. At Waimea Parkside, as time has passed and 24 of the homes have been purchased, we’ve realized that our buyers are a reflection of Waimea’s unique culture and its diversity. It’s a place where ranchers and retirees live alongside scientists from the nearby observatories on Mauna Kea.
HL: So who has bought those 24 homes? What kind of people live in the neighborhood?
PT: At Waimea Parkside, we have active professionals, doctors, attorneys, retirees, and some young families who have moved there for the benefit of the fine schools in Waimea. There are returning Hawai‘i residents and families who have downsized to simplify their lives.
HL: What do you suppose has attracted them to Waimea Parkside?
PT: The neighborhood is very vibrant, with Waimea’s park right across the street. It’s got a great vibe, and it’s walking distance to goods, services, jobs, the post office, and Waimea’s two private schools. Residents enjoy an urban lifestyle, where they don’t have much need for a car. You can ride a bike to run your errands in town. It’s a neighborhood with a lot of openness, diversity, and friendliness, and it offers a great quality of life.
HL: So what’s the process for buying a home in Waimea Parkside? Are the homes ready-made or made-to-order? Can they be customized?
PT: We currently have a standing inventory of four homes, which are finished or under construction. We typically have a few of those for buyers with immediate needs, who want to move in straight away. But for those buyers who’d like to choose their home type, we have five different styles and floor plans. The homes take about ten months to complete. A custom-build allows potential buyers to select their finishings, and even make some minor customizations, as well.
HL: How do you approach design?
PT: We have the advantage of experience building many residential developments in West Hawai‘i. I make it a practice to meet with buyers to get their feedback about their new homes, with continuous improvement in mind. I enjoy the evolution, always striving to tweak and improve the designs incrementally once the homes have been lived in a little. With this community, we wanted it to have a sense of place and to fit in with much of Waimea’s existing architecture. We also wanted a home that’ll look classic and timeless 40 years from now.
HL: How do you get feedback and use it to your advantage?
PT: At Waimea Parkside, we’ve incorporated some of the design changes that residents have suggested at our regular get-togethers. I manage Waimea Parkside, LLC, so we hold regular events in the neighborhood to recognize our homebuyers, to show our gratitude and appreciation for them. They get the chance to tell me directly about how to improve the next home we build – what little things might make a difference. If their suggestions make sense from a design perspective, then we will incorporate them.
Ohia Model Kitchen
HL: What would you describe as your company’s ethos? What do you hope to achieve?
PT: We build for lifestyle and quality first. Customer service is paramount in our business. We are there to help homeowners, moving forward. I know that the current owners at Waimea Parkside can attest to the positive feeling of the neighborhood. It really is unique and special.
HL: Why did you choose Hawai‘i Life to represent Waimea Parkside?
PT: I was impressed with their local knowledge, for starters. Hawai‘i Life has agents and brokers that are resident in Waimea, so that really helps them to understand the town’s unique appeal. I have a pretty low-key approach, and I’m always juggling several projects. The Hawai‘i Life team brings a lot of upbeat energy to the project, in addition to their experience and local knowledge. I felt confident in their ability to convey the unique offering we have at Waimea Parkside.