Kauai News

Lawsuit Claiming Contractor Owed Money for Work on Zuckerberg’s Tree Houses Goes to Court

By Amanda Kurth

Posted September 15, 2022, 7:05 AM HST

On March 17, 2020, Kapaʻa-based Williams Construction was hired to build a “Jungle House & Cabin” and “Tree Houses” on the Kīlauea estate owned by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook.

But Williams Construction said in court documents it has not been paid precisely $133,726.47 for the projects and now is suing after repeated efforts to get the money have failed.

The two sides go to court on Sept. 28 at the 5th Circuit Courthouse in Līhu‘e at 1 p.m.

The suit, filed Aug. 24 in the state circuit court, accuses ORBT LLC, a company affiliated with Zuckerberg’s Pilaʻa Land LLC., of nonpayment

In the contract between ORBT and Williams Construction, ORBT was to pay a $170,000 retainer for the jungle house & cabin and a $375,000 retainer for the tree houses. The contract states Williams Construction will submit applications for payment and invoices to the owner on a bi-monthly basis, and ORBT is required to pay them within 15 days of receipt.

Williams Construction specializes in ground-up construction and high-end residential renovations.

In a Williams Construction email to Zuckerberg’s affiliates, which was included in the court filing, the rough estimate for the jungle house (cabin) was $500,000. The email said: “Completely dependent on which route is taken, but this estimate would be based on tearing down the cabin down and constructing a new 500-sq ft cabin.”

In the same email, the rough estimate for the tree houses was $1,000 to $1,500 per square foot. The email said: “These tree houses are going to be considerably timely, especially with everything having to be permitted and up to code, building scaffolding around the tree houses, intricate rope bridges, no protection from the weather and so on.”

There also were rough estimates for a waterfall house at $1.28 million, excluding a swimming pool and fire pit, and the main jungle house at $2.9 million.

At the end of the email, it said: “We truly love working with you guys and look forward to any opportunity to do so, but we are extremely busy.”

Williams Construction and its attorney Ryan Engle, a partner with Honolulu-based Lung Rose Voss & Wagnild, did not return requests for comment.  A spokesperson for the Chan-Zuckerberg family said last week it stands by its previous quote: “To our knowledge, we have paid all invoices submitted by Williams Construction in full.”

Williams Construction LLC v. ORBT LLC by Tiffany De Masters on Scribd

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Amanda Kurth
Amanda lives in Hanapēpē. She has had a love for newspapers and journalism since she was 12 years old. She attended the University of Oregon where she obtained a journalism degree. She interned at the Hermiston Herald. She has been a Kauai Now contributor since June 2022.
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