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Latest Updates for Faster Permitting

Honolulu officials continue to implement new legislation and processes for residential construction, all with the goal of expediting permitting for new builds and renovations. From allowing permit applicants to send their plans to outside agencies for approval to expanding the range of home repairs that don’t require a permit, Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting hopes  that the recent changes will make the permit process more efficient.

Here’s how the most recent updates impact residential construction:

Bill 48, CD1: This ordinance increases the cost threshold for home repairs. As a result, most home repair projects no longer require a building permit. Previously, homeowners were required to obtain a permit for any repair with a projected cost over $1,000. Now that cost is $5,000. According to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, “simple renovation work, such as making bathrooms ADA-compliant by adding grab bars, better lighting and wider doorways, can be done quickly…

and frees DPP staff to concentrate on more complex projects.” 

In addition to the projects mentioned by Mayor Caldwell, these common repairs and renovation projects no longer require a permit:

  • Reroofing work that does not “adversely affect” the structural integrity of the home.
  • Installation of siding to exterior walls that does not change the structural integrity of the home or create a fire hazard.
  • Disconnecting and reconnecting gas piping for repair, service, or replacement. 
  • The construction of retaining walls and planter boxes no larger than 30 inches high.
  • Painting, flooring, cabinet, or countertop installation.
  • Building a shed, storage structure, or playhouse or structure with similar uses. (Note, the structure cannot be more than 120 square feet  and is not allowed to have plumbing work, meaning no bathrooms or stand- alone sinks.)
  • Plumbing work that does not require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures.

New Approval Process: The Department of Planning and Permitting allows contractors, homeowners, and agents to send  permit applications to other city and state agencies for approval. It is now the applicant’s responsibility, not the DPP’s, to gather approvals from other construction-related agencies, including the Fire Department, Board of Water Supply, Department of Health, and Department of Environmental Services.

While this change does place added responsibility on individual applicants, said applicants no longer need to wait for their application to be moved internally through each department— a process that often took over four months. Now, the Department of Planning and Permitting will complete the building code and zoning code review upon receiving the plans similar to the outside agencies. The assigned plan reviewer will issue the permit after the applicant has returned the plans with approvals from the outside departments/agencies. 

Although these changes will hopefully allow for a faster permit approval process, homeowners can still benefit from third-party reviewers to ensure that their building plans meet the remaining requirements. And for larger projects that do require a permit, an experienced contractor or architect is a must. Let us make the process simple by connecting you with the right professionals for the job. Contact us today with your permitting questions, or use our free online estimator to get started on the budget for your next project.