Can You Afford to Build Without a Permit?

Despite previous attempts to regulate and maintain key safety regulations found in Honolulu’s residential building codes, recent findings from Honolulu’s City Council revealed a steady increase in permit violations by homeowner’s utilizing owner-builder exemptions to avoid increased regulation from the Department of Planning and Permitting.Since owner-builders do not need a contractor’s license in order to receive a permit for residential structures, unlicensed contractors often construct new homes in direct violation of residential building codes—including the construction of large-scale “monster homes” intended as illegal rental properties, while simultaneously disregarding safety, wage, and tax standards designed to protect their workers.As a result, the Honolulu City Council adopted Bill 53, which created Building Ordinance 18-33 and orders the demolition of non-permitted construction projects and increases the non-negotiable fees for companies that disregard building codes and regulations. The Bill was approved by Mayor Caldwell on September 27th, and is considered effective immediately.

Key items in the new ordinance include:

  • Requirements that owner-builders be provided with instructions on complying with all employment, safety, tax, and environmental regulations in order to prevent the construction of homes and buildings under the claim that owner-builders were unaware of existing permit requirements.
  • Individuals or companies served with a notice of violation must correct their violations before resuming work and pay a $2,000 fine by the specified date. Failure to comply and/or pay the fine will result in an additional fine of $2,000 per day for each day in which the violations continue.
  • If a building is constructed without a permit, a fine of $10,000 or fine of ten-times the cost of a building permit will be issued daily until work on an illegal construction project is halted. This fine is non-negotiable and must be paid. Furthermore, an additional $10,000 fine will be issued each day in which a permit is not acquired by the individual or company responsible.
  • Buildings constructed without a permit and without payment of the fine will be demolished.

Finding a licensed, credible, and safe contractor is a key part of building a long-lasting home. And with new building ordinances and fines in effect, it is no longer less expensive to risk hiring an unlicensed contractor to build your home. Let us help you find an honest, experienced, and skilled building team and rest assured that your budget won’t be impacted by unnecessary fines and building violations.

Phone Number

(808) 222-4069

Opening Hours

Mon - Sat 8:00 - 5:30,
Sunday - Closed


200 N Vineyard Blvd.
Ste A325 - 5145
Honolulu, HI 96817

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