Getting A Building Permit In Hawaii

The Ten Steps of the Building Permit Process

Building a new home can be much easier than you think if you just follow some important tips, and take it one step at a time. The key is to follow all of the proper steps so that things go smoothly, and you end up with a quality home that suits your needs, for a cost that is within your predetermined Budget.

  • Application-Fill out paperwork required by the Building Division at the Department of Public Works on your island. You will need to include a Contractor’s Statement. An Architect can facilitate the Building Permit process.
  • Hiring An Architect-An Architect will prepare the Technical Drawings required including all of the Specifications for the construction project, and then will provide you with the number of sets of Blueprints that are required to be submitted with the permit application. Often five sets of Blueprints are required, but this may vary depending upon whether it is a residential or commercial structure, and other factors.
  • The Blueprints will include all aspects of the house plan including a plot plan, floor plan, foundation details, a framing plan, plumbing and electrical plans, structural details, and elevations of the house. The Blueprints must be Certified by a Licensed Architect or a structural engineer.
  • To ensure a smooth process make sure an Architect designs and certifies your home plans rather than trying to draft them yourself or through a non-licensed drafter. A local Architect will be aware of the numerous details that are required for the house plans to receive approval. The various agencies that must approve the plans will likely be familiar with the Architect’s work, and this often provides an added level of trust, saves money, and speeds up the process.
  • Approvals-Your home plans have to be approved by a series of County Departments including the Departments of Water, Health, Engineering, Wastewater Management, and the Fire Department as well as the Planning and Building Departments. Properties located in specially regulated areas, and properties used for certain purposes (e.g., commercial) may require additional approvals from other agencies.
  • Zoning Requirements for your particular area will also apply. Some properties are subject to special Shoreline Setback rules, Special Management Area requirments, or other applicable rules. An Architect will have an understanding of any special requirements that may apply in your area.
  • Grubbing and Grading-If you are moving large amounts of dirt or clearing land of large trees you may need a grubbing and grading permit. An Architect will also advise you on these requirements.
  • The Building Permit-Once all of the proper forms have been submitted to the local Building Department the process varies, and if there are no problems it typically takes from two to six months before the Building Permit is granted.
  • Avoiding Delays-To avoid lengthy delays, keep track of your permit application online where you can see it moving through the various agencies. If your application seems to be held up in any particular department you may want to call and see if some additional information is needed.
  • Approving Agencies will typically inform an applicant of any significant problems that may cause a delay, but sometimes they are too busy or your plans get lost in the shuffle amongst all of the other people applying for permits. You may save a lot of time by being proactive and calling or visiting the Building Department and other reviewing agencies to check on the status of your permit. Using a facilitator such as an Architect may help this process go faster.
  • The Next Step-Once your home plans are approved and your are granted a Building Permit, then will be free to begin construction.

For more information see County Building Permit Information, and also the Information Sheet for Residential Construction.