All posts by Jim K.

How to Optimize Space In Your New ADU

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This entry is part of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

Anyone who’s been looking into ADU designs recently has probably had to face a very stark truth: ADU’s are small. Unlike normal single-family homes, they are each limited to a certain maximum floor space size based on the total size of your lot. Unfortunately, floor space means that even if you decided to build up (to safe ground space), you would still only be able to build so much area worth of rooms. The vast majority of ADUs will be limited to a maximum of 400 sq feet of floor space. This is about enough room for one fairly tight bedroom, a full or 3/4 bath, and an open kitchen and living area. With traditional furniture and storage methods, this can get cramped pretty fast but with a few creative storage and design techniques, you can maximize the living space while remaining within regulation size.

Turning The Walls into Storage

The limitations on ADU size is based on floor space, meaning the area between the walls. But what about the walls themselves? rather than using up a hundred of your square feet for dressers, shelves, and cabinets, why not install them directly into the walls so the floor can be used for comfortable human activity? All you need is a little innovative carpentry to embed stacks of drawers, fold-out shelves, and hidden cupboards to store everything from tools to clothes to kitchenware.

Murphy Beds

The Murphey bed is a simple but effective engineering marvel already well-loved by apartment-dwellers. This design involves a bedframe with what appears to be a tall, recessed headboard. The bed can be folded vertically, with the footboard folding toward the ceiling, to embed itself into the wall, creating floor space for daily activities. With this method, you might be able to comfortably turn the master bedroom into a convertible study and/or fit one or two children’s beds into the living area to better accommodate a young family.

Roll-Away and Platform Beds

Roll-away beds are another innovation that can help you double bed space for floor space. A simple platform, perhaps made into a play area, can hide a full-sized children’s bed that is only rolled out for sleeping time. Platform beds, on the other hand, are out all the time but have either another roll-away bed or large drawers worth of storage underneath.

Ceiling Storage

While lofts will count against your floor space, simply choosing to store things hanging from the ceiling will not. By designing a vaulted ceiling, ladders, and hooks or brackets for hanging storage, you can give your ADU residents a lot more room for their things so the floor space is only occupied by daily activities. These can hold bicycles, potted plants, hanging cleaning supplies, even cabinets that lower themselves on electric rails if you want to go all-out.

Embed the Tech

How much floor space do you want to be taken up by standing lamps, entertainment centers, or computer desks? You can plan for these features as well by embedding them into the walls. An entertainment center can fold out or you can leave a handy recess in the wall with convenient outlets and cable hookups for your resident’s media needs, maybe even with matching recesses for surround-sound speakers. Mount the lights on the walls and ceilings, and take the time to design a corner desk that doesn’t take up much room, once again near convenient outlets.

Most ADUs will be using their limited floor space for traditional furniture, storage, and beds but you can set the trend of optimized comfort and efficiency. Give yourself, your relatives, or your rental tenants the gift of elbow room with a creatively designed ADU, embedded storage, and beds that can be put away. For more advice on building perfect custom ADU, contact us today!

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Just How Big is a 400 sq ft ADU?

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This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

Building an ADU on your property is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your neighborhood. It can provide cozy independent housing for retirees, extra housing space for family living with you, or provide a rental home for another family in need of affordable housing. However, building an ADU also comes with some specific limitations, one of which is how big your ADU can be in comparison to the size of your lot. Specifically, if your land is 3,500 square feet to 4,999 sq ft, the largest ADU you can build is 400 sq ft of internal floor space, including lofts. For larger lots, the upper limit caps at 800 square feet. But just how big is this in practical terms? How much walking space, how comfortable is the kitchen, and how many people can share the space without stepping on toes? 400 sq ft is small and 800 isn’t actually that much bigger.

Designing the Floor Plan

The key to building an enjoyable ADU is to understand exactly how much room you have to work with, then choose a floor plan that optimizes a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, the decision of floor plan is incredibly important to this process as you’ll need a design that fits well in your open yard space, is pleasant to live in inside, and suits the intended purposes. For a family, you’ll want to plan for private sleeping and clothing storage areas. For one or two retired elderly, a simple layout with plenty of wide spaces to move around in would be more convenient.

What 400 sq ft Looks Like on a Floor Plan

400 sq feet can be done in a lot of different ways depending on how you design it. The best way to think about a 400 sq ft is that it’s about the size of a two-car garage if square, and is usually about enough space for an open kitchen-living area, a full bathroom, and a one bedroom. The most important decision is how many walls to have. The fewer walls, the more open space you have, and most designs include an open kitchen and living room.

Designed long, you can put the bedroom and bathroom on the ‘private’ end and the kitchen and living room together on the other. This is better for narrow yard space and separating privacy space from visitor space. Square designs can provide more open space, especially if you’re willing to put the bed in the living area. Then, of course, there are all your non-regular options. L-shaped houses and other odd variations may provide for the exact distribution of space and yard use you’re looking for as well.

What About 800 st ft?

Okay, now let’s say you have quite a large plot of land and double that amount of ADU floor space. Now you have room for a separate kitchen and dining area if you want it, but in most cases, you’re better off investing in an extra bedroom or two to accommodate families with children. With creative storage, fold-away beds, and maybe another 3/4 bath, you could now comfortably fit a family of four or five in your ADU as long as they don’t mind small closets. For fewer tenants, you might add a study, guest bathroom, and a larger master suite instead.

Building a welcoming, family-friendly ADU is more complicated than it seems. You want to think carefully about who will be using the ADU and how you can make optimal use of the space available. If you’d like more ideas on how to design and build the perfect ADU plan for your property, please contact us today!

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5 Decisions to Make Before Starting Your ADU Construction

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This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

If you want a source of passive income and to do a community service at the same time, a rare opportunity to be sure, there’s no better option than constructing an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on your property. This is Honolulu’s best answer to the increasingly pressing crunch for affordable housing and while there are some very specific rules, it’s a great chance for current homeowners to significantly increase the value of their property, provide a new home to family or renters in need, and enjoy the excitement of a new project literally in your backyard. However, before you start putting up timbers, there are a few important decisions you need to make.

1) Is the ADU for You, Family, or Renters?

The reason you’re building an ADU will shape every other decision you make, so you might as well start at square one. ADUs can serve a number of interesting, helpful, and profitable purposes depending on how they are used. If you (the homeowner) plan to move into the ADU and leave the main house for the family or high-dollar renters, the design should be fit to your personal needs. If the ADU is to house an overflow of family, consider their preferences and look into ohana housing instead, which has fewer regulations but isn’t as versatile if the family moves out. Finally, if you’re planning for renters, you’ll want the ADU to be as welcoming as possible for anyone who might move in.

2) Would it be better Attached or Detached from the Main House?

You may not have realized it, but ADUs can absolutely be built as an attachment to your main house. In some cases, this may be the only way to achieve the required number of parking spots or fit the second dwelling onto an oddly shaped lot. That said, attached ADUs are more ideal for the family as you’ll be living in close proximity, along with sharing a wall and possibly a door to the main house. For ADUs you plan to rent or plan to eventually be able to rent, later on, it would be better to build a detached dwelling for added privacy and personal space.

3) Are You Prepared for a Very Small Dwelling?

ADUs come with a maximum size restriction depending on the square footage of your lot, and these can be pretty darn small. If your lot is between 3,500 and 5,000 sq ft, your ADU could have a maximum size of 400 to 800 sq ft. That may be smaller than you’re imagining. With 400 sq ft, there’s usually enough room for one bedroom with a full to queen sized bed, a compact kitchen/living/dining area, and a small bathroom. Once you know how big an ADU you can build, take a walk through a few models and existing homes around the same size to really get a feel for the functional size of the home. That said, people have reported living comfortably in less than 200 sq ft.

4) Can You Convert an Existing Accessory Structure?

If you have a large shed or well-built workshop already on your property, there’s a chance that you might be able to convert this into all or part of your new ADU. For this to be a viable option, the accessory structure needs to be sturdy and capable of being upgraded to good quality living conditions. You’ll need insulation, real walls and floors, a kitchen, and a bathroom along with the necessary power, water, and possibly gas connections. It may just be easier to build a new structure, perhaps even making room by knocking down the old shed rather than repurposing it.

5) Do You Want to Go “Off-Grid”?

One of the really nifty options for a brand new ADU is the ability to go ‘off-grid’. What this means for most is solar panels. Big ones, with enough battery power to ensure that the lights and water heater work at night as well. You can even install a rainwater collection and filtering system but we suggest keeping the water pipes even if your ADU is power independent. An off-grid ADU will cost a little more to make but for the rest of its life will add nothing to the power bill. If you’ve got the money to invest and love the idea of renewable energy, this could be a great ADU choice that will, incidentally, also raise its value as a rental property. While you’re at it, throw some solar on the main house, too.

Here at Owner Built Designs, we specialize in making your Honolulu ADU dream a reality. For more helpful tips on designing the perfect ADU for you, your family, and your property contact us today!

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Are You Starting a Major DIY Home Renovation Project?

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This entry is part of 4 in the series Pinterest

 

Are you considering adding a new room or a new feature to your Hawaii home? If you are, there are various things you will need to consider. One of the first things you will need to consider is what type of addition to your home you will actually like to make.

There are various resources homeowners can use to prepare themselves for what’s ahead when they are considering a home improvement project. With the right tools and resources, you will be able to find everything you need to know about planning, budgeting your project, zoning, etc.

There are some things you can do ahead of time to make sure your home renovation or home addition process runs as smooth as possible. Before you begin work on your home, you should keep these things in mind:

Don’t Leave Anything Out

Before you make the big home remodeling project, it is very important that you consider every aspect of the project. if you are going to remodel a bedroom, bathroom, or the kitchen, you should know what type of changes you want to make. If you plan to spend a significant time in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc., you should make sure you are going to love the changes. When you have a clear idea of what you want the remodel to look like, you will be closer to getting the area you want.

Clear The Construction Area

If you want to have a smooth home remodeling project, you should make sure the construction area is cleared. You do not want any times to be in the way of the home renovation project. You should make sure you clear your area of any anything that may be in the way, such as tables, furniture, lighting fixtures, etc.

Let People Know

Before you start the home remodeling project, you should let everyone who lives inside the house what your plans are. Everyone who lives in the house should know when you will start this big project, and everyone should also know where the work will take place inside the house.

Do Not Forget About The Animals Or The Little Ones

When you are planning a home renovation project, you will certainly want to keep children out of the area you will be working on. Children inside the house may be fascinated when they see what is taking place inside your home; however, it is important that they are protected at all times. You should also make sure that your animals will not interfere with the home remodeling project.

How Much Will It Cost?

One of the important things you will need to consider when you are taking on a home remodeling project is if you can afford to actually take on the project. After you have thought about everything and you have a full understanding of the project and what it will take to complete it, you should take some time to go over all the costs that you expect to incur. Doing this now will prepare you for everything that is ahead.

Ask Questions

Regardless of the type of remodeling project you are going to take on, you should not be afraid to ask questions when you have them. There are numerous people that are trained to help you create the perfect room you want, and they will make sure you understand every aspect. If you want your remodeling project dream to come to life, you should not hesitate to ask questions.

Are you getting ready to take on a home renovation or home addition project at your Hawaii home? Contact me today for more information.

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Questions to Ask Before Starting a Major DIY Home Renovation or Addition in Hawaii

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This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Pinterest

If you watch very many home renovation shows, you have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to adding to or renovating a house. Some of those shows may have fueled your interest in tackling a major home renovation or addition on your own home in Hawaii. Before you follow through with any grand plans you might have, here are some questions to ask yourself about how ready you are.

Questions to ask about your knowledge and skills

Do you understand everything that needs to be done to complete the renovation/addition?

Renovations and additions are more than just tearing things out and putting other things up. Depending on your project’s scope of work, there may be some work that requires the skills and knowledge of a contractor who has been trained to do the work – like electricians and plumbers. Brainstorming all the possible work will help you get a better understanding of what needs to happen to make your project successful.

Does the project require extensive knowledge and skills?

Some parts of a DIY project are simpler than others, like painting a room or installing new doors. Others, like structural changes, new wiring or plumbing, can get complicated and require more knowledge and skills than you currently have. Be honest with yourself about what you are capable of taking on versus what needs to be done.

What zoning restrictions or local building codes do you need to be aware of? What work can you do without a permit?

No one city or state in the United States has exactly the same zoning restrictions, building codes, or permitting process. Hawaii, in particular, has specific codes, restrictions, and processes for obtaining permits that are designed to preserve as much of each island’s natural beauty as possible for those who live on and visit them. Some places may differ on what work needs a permit, but in Hawaii, most major home renovation or addition projects will require them because of regulations that require any project with more than $1,000 worth of work to be permitted.

Do you have enough time to complete this project?

One of the biggest reasons why some major DIY projects fail to be completed is because the homeowner underestimates the amount of time and effort it will take on their part to finish. Having the skills to take on a project accomplishes nothing if you do not have the time to devote to making sure the project is done right.

What is your budget and do you have room for it to absorb the cost of something happening on the project that you were not expecting?

Before you attempt any kind of DIY project, you should know how much money you have to devote to completing it, as well as how much room there is in your budget in case it takes more time or issues come up.

Will the savings be worth not having it done professionally?

Sure, you can do the work on your own and probably save money doing it, but what will the work be worth in the end? If the project is not done well, it may have to be redone in a few months or a few years and could cost you more, in the long run, to get it done correctly.

Questions to ask about your personal situation

Do you enjoy performing physical labor?

Construction work requires a lot of physical labor. Think about how you feel about doing it before you commit to a major renovation or addition to your home.

Are you a patient person?

A lot of situations come up over the course of a major project like a renovation or addition, with some creating more stress than others. When you are considering an extensive DIY project on your home, look carefully at how patient you are in stressful situations.

Do you finish what you start?

Are you the kind of person who starts things and never finishes them? Major home renovation and addition projects require a high level of commitment in order to complete, so take that into consideration.

How does your family feel about the project?

Before you get started on a DIY project, check in with your family to see what they want and how they feel about it. They are going to be your biggest support system, and you need them on board with you.

What is your conclusion?

Maybe your answers to these questions were an encouraging sign. Maybe they made the prospect of adding to or renovating seem too daunting. Either way, we are here to help you make your home the perfect fit for you and your lifestyle. Our expertise is in designing the spaces you need and creating easy-to-follow, permit ready plans so you can take on a project like this by yourself.

Contact us today for more information.

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The 9 Basic Requirements for Building an ADU in Hawaii

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This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

Since the dawn of property ownership, people have been building smaller dwellings near their pre-existing homes. In Australia, they call them Granny Flats, in certain parts of the continental US, they’re called Mother-in-Law houses and here in Hawaii, the official term is ADU, short for Accessory Dwelling Unit. Like the acronym says, these are little homes that act as complete residential unit accessories to a main house on a shared property. Theoretically, anyone can build an ADU simply by making a nice addition or building with a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom but officially there are certain legal guidelines for an approved ADU construction. Before you break out your carpentry tools or call a contractor, make sure your home and plans conform to the 9 basic requirements for building an ADU.

1) Proper Zoning

Zoning in Hawaii and knowing your exact zone can be a little tricky and ADUs can only be built in six specific zones. Before even thinking about building one of these tiny separate houses, make sure to check your lot’s zone by address and ensure that it matches one of the following:

  • R-3.5
  • R-5
  • R-7.5
  • R10
  • R20
  • Country District

2) Lot is At Least 3,5000 Square Feet

To ensure that there is plenty of room for your ADU, anyone who wants to build one needs to have a house lot that reaches at least 3,500 square feet of space. Fortunately, your original house is allowed to sit on some of it. Rather than breaking out the incredibly long measuring tape, you can check your lot’s size online to figure out if you qualify. Bigger is always better, and you’ll find out why with point nine.

3) Lot is Not Landlocked

To build an ADU, your lot will need to actually make contact with the road. Due to certain access requirements, a landlocked lot cannot hold an ADU. However, you can have an ADU if your lot is connected via driveway to the road by way of an easement through another closer lot. Flat lots are also perfectly fine.

4) Lot Has One Current Dwelling

You cannot build an ADU unless there is only one complete dwelling on your lot. This means that duplexes, apartment buildings, and lots that already have two or more homes on them cannot build an ADU. However, renovated apartments above the garage or in the basement are just fine as long as they’re not legally a second dwelling.

5) Owner or Family Lives On the Lot

To qualify for ADU construction, the homeowner or at least one member of their family needs to live on the lot when the ADU is complete. This means they can either live in the main house or the ADU based on preference, as long as the owner or a family member is in residence. You are allowed to rent out whichever building you’re not going to live in.

6) Record Your Covenants

When you do build an ADU, you are required to record covenants with the land with either the Bureau of Conveyances or the Land Court of the State of Hawaii or both. This ensures that you will never sell the ADU separately from the rest of the property and the lot cannot be subdivided into two separate properties. There are also other related rules in the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants.

7) No ADU Covenant Restrictions

Check any private covenant signed for your land to ensure that it doesn’t prohibit an ADU. If you have already agreed not to build one, starting construction now would be both illegal and quite silly. However, you may not be aware that the prohibition exists to make sure to check with your HOA to be sure.

8) Room For One More Parking Space

An ADU is officially an entirely separate second dwelling and because of this, it’s expected that the resident is likely to have their own car. Therefore to build a legal ADU, you’ll need room within the lot’s parking areas for one more parking space than your lot’s minimum spaces unless the edge of your property is within a half mile of a rail station.

9) ADU Plans Meet Maximum Size

The maximum square foot size of your ADU is limited by the square footage of the lot itself. For a lot at the minimum size of 3,500, your ADU can only be 400 square feet. For just under 5K, it can be up to 800 sq-ft, and for lots above 5K, you can have a much larger ADU.

By the end of this list, you should have a fairly good idea of whether or not you’re legally allowed to build an ADU on your property in addition to your single-family home. If you do decide that an ADU is right for you, your lot, and your family contact us today! We’ll be happy to help you figure out the next steps.

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How to Calculate the Slope of Your Property for the ESCP

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This entry is part of 4 in the series Erosion & Sediment Control Plan (ESCP)

 

Lately, on our blog, we have been discussing the new Erosion and Sediment Control Plan requirement. The Department of Permitting and Planning recently handed down the new requirement, which directly affects all construction jobs. If you’ve been following our blog, you will recall that we discussed who all needs to have a plan and what needs to be in the plan. In case you’re new and just joining us or you need a review, let’s go over the basics.

As stated in our previous blog, anyone who plans to do a construction job that will disturb the property must submit an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. The type of plan you submit will depend on the answers to these two questions: How much ground will you disturb? What is the slope of your property? Plans will fall in either Category 1A or 1B for our purposes.

  • Category 1A plans are for residential jobs of less than 1,000 square feet and a slope of 15% or less.
  • Category 1B plans are for residential jobs that are larger than 1,000 square feet but less than an acre or they are less than 1,000 square feet but the slope is more than 15 %.

The slope of the land is one important calculation you will need to have before you submit your Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. Without this information, you may fill out the wrong form.

Calculating the slope of your construction project

If you notice your property has a slight grade to it, then you will need to measure it to determine the slope. Unless it is completely flat, measuring is the only way to make sure you are accurate about the degree of slope. If your disturbed area covers quite a distance, you may need to measure the slope area in sections and then add up the parts. However, if a regular tape measure will reach the area, then follow these steps to find the slope:

Step 1:

Measure how high the slope is. This is called the rise and will be a vertical measurement. You will likely need someone to assist you with this. You may need to use a string or another tape measure to extend out from the top of the slope so you can measure straight up to the appropriate height. When done, mark this number as the “rise.”

Step 2:

Next, measure the distance from the top of the slope straight across to the end of the slope. This is the horizontal run of the slope. However, do not measure along the slope itself or it won’t be accurate. The tape measure should be held straight out at the top of the slope and extend over to where the end of the slope is. Use a level if necessary to make sure the tape measure is straight. This number represents the “run.”

Step 3:

Finally, divide the rise by the run and multiply that total by 100. For example, if your rise is 20 feet and the run is 60 feet then your slope would be 33%.

Now that you have the slope measurement, you will be one step closer to finalizing your Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. If your slope exceeds the 15 % then you will need to fill out the appropriate plan templates for Category 1B. However, if your slope falls below 15 %, then fill out the paperwork for Category 1A.

Keep updated about the regulations for your construction job by checking our blog regularly. We will continue to post about the guidelines set forth by the Department of Permitting and Planning. Connect with Owner Built Design, LLC today for more information about all your home design plans.

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What are the Risks & Responsibilities of Being an Owner-Builder in Hawaii?

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Construction costs are soaring across the country, but Hawaii remains one of the most expensive places to build or add to an existing home. Becoming an owner-builder is a cost-saving solution some homeowners are actively considering in order to make their dream home a reality.

If you are thinking about going that route, you may want to know what an owner-builder is and what will be required of you if you become one.

What is an Owner-Builder?

According to the State of Hawaii, an owner-builder “is a property owner [or lessee] who has an owner-builder permit from the county to build or improve residential or farm structures for use either by the owner or his/her grandparents, parents, siblings or children.” This just means you can (with the right permits) build or make improvements on a residential property you own or rent for yourself and your family to use.

Why You Would Consider Becoming an Owner-Builder

The biggest reason people consider taking on the role of an owner-builder is financial. Getting a general contractor (or GC) to do the work can be an expensive proposition when construction costs are only climbing higher. If doing the work can save money, they want to do that instead.

Another thing you will need to consider is how much control you want over the construction process. If you think you can handle all the work that being an owner-builder entails, it might be worthwhile for you.

What You Are Responsible for as an Owner-Builder

When you become an owner-builder, you are taking on the role a GC would normally play in building or adding to your home. This means you are responsible for everything a GC would be responsible for if they did the work. That includes:

  • making sure you comply with all of the laws and rules licensed contractors are required to comply with;
  • supervising the construction work yourself;
  • hiring all of the subcontractors who will be completing the work and making sure the subs are licensed (especially important for electrical and plumbing contractors because they cannot perform a job without being licensed in Hawaii);
  • purchasing materials for the project and coordinating deliveries so they arrive in time for your contractors to do their work;
  • ensuring all of the work done on your home is up to code and passes inspection; and
  • keeping accurate records of everything that happens on the construction site

There is (Much) Risk Involved with Becoming an Owner-Builder

An Owner-Builder who is knowledgeable about construction in Hawaii is the exception, not the rule. When you decide to take on this responsibility on, you are accepting certain risks (some much greater than others), like:

  • Additional expenses that can blow your budget and significant delays because of things you do not know;
  • Not being able to hire the best subcontractors because some will only work with general contractors;
  • Subcontractors and suppliers putting a lien on your property if you do not pay them in a timely fashion;
  • Paying out of your pocket to replace materials that have been damaged because of fires/accidents/vandalism/etc. or for medical care for workers who have been injured in these types incidents because you have not taken out the right insurance policies;
  • (in Hawaii) Not being able to sell or lease what you have added or built for at least a year after you’ve finished the work;
  • (also in Hawaii) Not having access to the Contractors Recovery Fund if something goes wrong while the structure is under construction because the Contractors Recovery Fund is not available to owner-builders; and
  • having to pay penalties and fines for not complying with the requirements for an owner-builder.

How Owner Built Makes Being an Owner-Builder Easier for You

We’ve been doing residential design and engineering work on the island of Oahu for nearly thirty years. Our focus is on creating permit-application ready drawings that are easy for you to understand. You want to build spaces for your home that your family will use for years to come, and we want to help you do it well.

If you have any questions or are ready to start building, contact us today.

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A Guide to Calculate Your Project’s Land Disruption for the ESCP

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This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Erosion & Sediment Control Plan (ESCP)

 

As part of our series of blogs regarding the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, we are bringing you information about how to proceed with the project. Today, we want to focus on one aspect of the plan, land disruption. If you recall from our previous blogs, one of the first steps in creating the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is determining whether you need to file under Category 1A or 1B. Let’s review briefly what the requirements are for each category.

Category 1A is for residential construction jobs that disrupt less than 1,000 square feet with a slope of 15 % or less.

Category 1B is for residential construction jobs that exceed 1,000 square foot but are under one acre or ones that stay within the 1,000 square foot limit but the slope exceeds 15 %. The final scenario for a category 1B classification is if you are working on a commercial construction project that is less than one acre.

Determining what category your project falls within means you need to find out the amount of disturbed land as well as the slope. We’re going to show you how to calculate the amount of disturbed land you’re working with so that you’ll know what category you’re working with. Once these numbers are calculated, you can begin the process of completing your plan.

Calculating Land Disruption

How much land do you plan on disrupting in your construction efforts? You may think that measuring around the perimeter of your entire work area will be sufficient but that probably will not be quite accurate enough. You need to break down each area individually and then add them together. This includes the area for your construction access as well as your materials’ storage. Chances are these three things won’t fall within a perfect rectangle or square shape. For example, you may be building a house and several yards away constructing a separate shed. The house will likely be longer than the shed so you don’t want to simply measure the perimeter of both because that would give a higher number than you actually have. To get the most accurate measurement, measure accordingly:

  • Measure the square footage of each separate area of land that will be a part of your project. To find the square footage, measure the length and the width. Next, multiply the two. For example, if the length is 60 feet and the width is 30 feet, you multiply 60 x 30 for a total of 1,800 square feet.
  • When measuring your work area, be sure to include the access area for the construction as well the storage area for your materials. For example, if your construction access area is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, then you have a total of 200 square feet for that area. Next, measure the storage area in the same manner.
  • Once you’ve determined the area of all three sections, add them all together. Using our example above, if the storage area was also 200 square feet, then the entire disturbed area would be 2,200 square feet. That means your project would fall within the category 1B guidelines (assuming the slope was 15 % or less).

After you complete measuring your work area, your next step is to determine the slope of your land. Remember the slope determines the category of your project. We will have more on how to measure the slope in one of the future blogs, so check back.

At Owner Built Design, we are keeping on top of the new rules handed down by the Department of Permitting and planning. As you develop your Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, check our blog regularly. We will be posting articles to guide you through the process. For more information, please contact us today and we’ll be glad to give you a hand.

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Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Build an ADU in Hawaii

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This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

It has been awhile since we discussed the benefits of having an accessory dwelling unit (or ADU) – including their potential for bringing more affordable housing options into the Hawaiian housing market and how ADUs can provide a new source of income. If you need to refresh your memory or read it for the first time, you can find that post here.

While the benefits of an ADU are numerous, there is a lot to think about when it comes to building an accessory dwelling unit. We have compiled a list of six questions you should ask yourself before you commit.

1. Why do you want an ADU on your property?

The reasons for having an ADU can vary greatly. Some are looking to generate extra income by renting it out. Others want to keep multiple generations of their family together on the same property while having separate spaces at the same time. Knowing why you want it and being able to articulate your reasons will be helpful as you get further into the process.

2. Are you or a relative willing to live on the property once the ADU is completed?

In Hawaii, as in many other areas, the owner (or a close relative) of an ADU is required to live on the property. This can be in the primary residence or in the ADU, but you or someone closely related to you will need to live on the property. If you are not willing to do this and cannot find a family member interested in doing so, consider investing in updates to the house that is already there and rent it out instead of creating an accessory dwelling unit.

3. Do you know the rules and regulations for ADUs?

Different residential properties on the Hawaiian Islands have different zoning regulations, as well as homeowners’ association rules, which may or may not allow ADUs to be built on your property. There are also regulations regarding owner-builders you need to be aware of if you intend to take on that responsibility for the ADU. Do your research and find out if your property is eligible for an ADU before you invest much money into the process of building it.

4. Are you prepared for the initial and ongoing costs of creating an ADU?

The cost of creating an ADU is not just a one-time, lump-sum payment. Often, there are multiple costs involved and multiple professionals you will need to pay in order to make sure that the work done to create your ADU is up to date and up to code. You need to be prepared for additional costs to surface as construction goes along.

5. Are you planning to convert space that already exists into an ADU, or will the ADU be a new building?

Many of the specifics of the accessory dwelling unit will depend on the answer to this question, so know your answer before you start designing it.

6. When it is finished, are you prepared to take on the role and responsibilities of a landlord?

Once you become a landlord, you are responsible for many things related to the ADU – including the maintenance and upkeep. Not sure what all of the obligations and responsibilities are? Spend some time researching what that means from a legal standpoint as well as what will be expected of you beyond what the law states, and honestly assess your ability to be a good landlord.

If you are considering building an ADU and looking for someone who can create accessory dwelling unit designs that are easy to read and permit-ready, contact us today. We have decades of experience and would love to work with you to create an ADU that fits your specific needs.

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