An Overview of the Building Permitting Process in Hawaii

When you undertake the process to construct dwelling units or remodel your residential unit on Oahu, it’s crucial to ensure you cover all steps. Getting a building permit ensures you’re in line with the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) and relevant construction agencies in Hawaii. Let’s take a look at the Honolulu DPP permitting process and what you should know.

Applying For a Building Permit

First, all building permit application processes must be done online. To apply for the permit, visit the DPP online at  On the site, you can access Honolulu building permit requirements and how to use ePlans. This means that you can submit your plans electronically to the department for review.

The site automatically invites you to submit your drawings via email, eliminating the need for paperwork. You can also check the status of your application online. If it’s your first time submitting plans, you can follow the checklist provided by the DPP. This list of instructions has all requirements for your plans. It covers all aspects of ePlans, such as the plot plan, address, color, stamp space, file naming, title, scale, index, and numbering.

The format follows the regular requirement for paper plans, only now submitted electronically. Fortunately, if you work with a knowledgeable Hawaii drafting service provider, you can ensure that all your plans are ready for review and save time.

Once you’ve reviewed the checklist and completed all items, submit your permit application, to receive an internet building permit application number (IBP). Continue to login to ePlans, where the site prompts you to complete your user profile if you’re a first-time user. It’s important to remember that the email address you submit during the application process is used for communication for the whole project.

On the ePlans site, you can upload your drawings, and check the progress of your projects. It’s critical to remember to upload all documents according to the checklist. Your documents should meet the DPP’s standard format because all plans go through a pre-screening process. If they don’t pass the first screening, the DPP returns the documents with comments. However, if the documents have the correct format, they move on to the review process.

The Review Process

After the plans go through the review, the DPP either issues comments if there are errors or approves and stamps the plans. Usually, you submit different drawings for architectural, structural, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and landscaping plans. Different agencies review your plans and approve them or send comments.

You can check the status of your review process on the “Workflow” section of ePlan. The plans may either be “pending,” “accepted,” or completed.” Once all the reviews are “completed,” the Review Coordinator makes a final assessment and checks for errors. If there are mistakes, you receive comments for correction.

Approval of Plans

Once all our plans are approved, the DPP communicates the news via email. All your plans receive an electronic stamp. The DPP also shares instructions for obtaining your building permit. The next step requires you to appear at the Building Permit Center with the printed approved plans and your IBP number.

Is There a Fee?

Yes. While ePlans is free, you pay for the plan review and building permit. The fees vary depending on your project. You can calculate your building permit fees on the DPP site.

Is the Entire Process Paperless?

Any agency that uses ePlans operates paperless for submitting and reviewing plans. These agencies are the DPP, the Board of Water Supply, the Fire Department, the Waste Water Branch, and the community development agency.

However, external agencies require you to submit hardcopy documents for review and approval. Once they approve your plans, you need to upload their approval letter or signatures on the ‘External Agency Approvals’ section on ePlan.

Do I Need Building Permits for All Projects?

permitting process building home hawaii

Not all projects in Oahu require building permits. For example, finishing works such as painting, floor coverings, and cabinetry, and landscaping projects such as curbs, planters, and retaining walls below 30 inches, don’t require permits.

If you’re doing maintenance on your home, you don’t need a permit as long as the project does not exceed $1,000. However, if the maintenance affects electrical and plumbing works in your home, you may need a permit.

Any projects that include demolishing, constructing and altering structures, making changes to public spaces, electrical works over $500, and plumbing works above $1000 require building permits.

How Can We Help?

Owner Built Design helps you create designs and drawings that meet building permit requirements. We ensure that you sail through the design and permit process for smoothly for a quick transition into construction. Contact us today for assistance with your building permit.

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4 thoughts on “An Overview of the Building Permitting Process in Hawaii

  1. Aloha! I am trying (in vain) to obtain a building permit for a deck in my backyard. Nothing to large about 12feet wide by 22 feet long. I have architectural drawings for the deck but have been turned away by DPP for the second time for prescreen corrections. I cant even get past the first screen. Do you guys do any services that help homeowners through this process? Thanks for any of your help.

  2. I have an existing exterior wood stairs that needs to be repaired. Both stringers and 12 steps need to be replaced. Do I need a permit if costs go above $5000?

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