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Navigating Residential Construction During COVID-19

Like the rest of the United States, Honolulu recently adopted new policies and regulations designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. On March 26, Governor David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced stay-at-home and work-from-home restrictions through April 30, allowing only “essential” services to continue working on-site.

For the time being, construction work is still considered an essential service, and remains one of the few industries experiencing growth as businesses and homeowners try and finish projects as quickly and safely as possible, and local governments boost public works projects to offset economic losses in other sectors.

If you’re currently in the process of building or renovating your home, work on your project is most likely still feasible and safe to continue, especially for smaller projects requiring a limited number of people and on sites where workers are able to work at a safe distance apart. However, adaptations are sometimes necessary— especially when it comes to the permitting process or meetings with contractors or designers.

To help you navigate these unique scenarios, here’s what to be aware of as you begin or continue your construction projects in the immediate future:

  • The Department of Planning and Permitting will still allow residents to pick-up, drop-off, and pay for permits, but documents must be paid for via check or credit card only. Since interaction with the staff will be limited, it’s important to remember that many of the necessary documents for obtaining a building permit are available online, and can be submitted online as well.
  • Meetings and appointments through the DPP will be conducted via email, teleconference, and telephone. However, site inspections will continue and building permits will still be issued during this time.
  • If you are hoping to expedite the permitting process, consider hiring a third-party reviewer to make sure your building plans adhere to state codes. Third-party reviewers also oversee the acquisition and processing of all necessary permits for your project, and can negotiate on your behalf regarding any proposed changes or corrections to your plans. While it’s always a good idea to have an expert on your side when applying for a building permit, it’s especially wise during this time of limited communication and longer waiting periods.
  • For homeowners caught in the middle of your construction project, it’s still important to communicate regularly with your contractor and architect. Ask for video-tours of your site regularly and request routine photo updates to document progress.
  • Now is a great time to start working with an architect or designer on future projects. Architects and designers can often work remotely so you can start the design process from home while securing any necessary financial loans while interest rates are low.
  • If the current recommendations to stay at home and limit interactions with others has you considering multigenerational living, an ADU might be the perfect addition to your existing home. Start the application process now since ADU permitting fees will be re-instated as of July 1, 2020.

We hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe during this difficult time. We know that many companies and small businesses are struggling and we want to support local industries as much as possible. That’s why we’re proud to offer the most comprehensive resource available for finding Honolulu’s best contractors, designers, architects, or third-party review agencies.  Contact us today and let us know how we can keep your current and future construction projects on schedule and stress-free.