Building Permit Delays Continue in Hawaii
The delays involved in receiving a Honolulu DPP building permit continue to slow down building and remodeling projects in Hawaii.
The Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) issues approximately 20,000 building permits, annually, but contractors complain the department takes such a long time to review and release many permissions. In fact, contractors often have to wait as long as a year to get permits for even small remodeling jobs.
What’s Going On?
The lengthy slow-down in permit approvals is causing dire repercussions for Hawaiians. Some examples of the problems resulting from the delays include:
- Contractors, designers, architects, and engineers who have months of their potential work locked up at the DPP. A backlog of the work they’re ready to complete is in possession of the DPP. Unfortunately, they’re unable to access it.
- Contractors are losing current jobs which means workers are also being laid off in large numbers.
- The Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA) states that for homeowners and industry workers, a crisis has occurred.
- Long delays in processing building permits in Hawaii are not a new story. Builders say this situation has been around for decades. However, DPP shares they continue to have a lack of staffing and past attempts to solve the dilemma have not worked.
- About 100 members of the Oahu Home Builders Coalition and the BIA held a rally on October 18, 2018. The goal: to impress upon the City Council how important it is to pass a bill imposing a 60-day deadline for processing permits, as long as contractors meet all required conditions.
- For two years, efforts to work with the DPP have not improved the lag time, according to industry members.
Is Anything Changing?
There are some who’re stepping up to the plate to find new ways to alleviate this backup.
- Oahu Mayor Kirk Caldwell met with those who rallied and assured members his administration was working to improve the process of permit approval and dissemination.
- Ernie Martine, Council Chairman, has authored a bill that would speed up permit processing, which he says will pass. The measure is named Bill 64. The law sets a 60-day limit on the permit process by the DPP when issuing permits for one- and two-building residences.
- DPP Deputy Director Timothy Hiu said his department is working diligently on ways to recover from the backlog. He says DPP is hiring additional plan checkers and is preparing to use other DPP personnel to review plans as well.
- Marshall Hickox, president of Homeworks Construction, Inc., believes one of the most significant weaknesses in the process is the DPP flags drawings could be corrected after a specific project begins. For example, a particular job was put off for three months due to the location of one smoke detector in the initial drawings. He said:
Let us [contractors] be responsible for meeting the code and safety issues, and those types of items that can be done in the field…
- Hui, however, shares the city must “abide by regulations,” along with Honolulu building permit requirements. This includes drawings requiring a thorough inspection. In fact, he shared this statement with contractors:
If they [contractors] produce the drawings and product that is very well presented, yes, they can get a permit much quicker,
- According to Hui, the department is currently reorganizing and will, in time, become more efficient. The slight caveat: If contractors cooperate with the department.
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