building permit delays in Hawaii

Latest Actions on Building Permit Delays in Hawaii

What Now? Updates on Building Permit Delays in Hawaii

At Owner Built Design, our primary focus is providing permit-ready drawings for our clients. Yet, the permit delay proceedings have made it more difficult to get our jobs and clients’ homes completed. We’re hoping the press release of November 28, 2018, will be the beginning of a new start where the Department of Planning and Permitting is concerned.

First Steps

Mayor Kirk Caldwell led a press conference at the One Stop Permit Center last week, where he discussed Bill 64 (2018) CD1 becoming a law, but without his signature. The new law covers permit applications for one- and two-family homes that are subject to a one-time review processed by the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) within 60 days.


Some of the fine print in the legislation will likely flummox and irritate some residents and contractors. One spot-on example is that the bill requires a permit revocation if a violation, discovered by the DPP, is not corrected within 30 days of the permit issuance. The mayor did explain some of the DPP actions that will speed up the permit process.

Third Party Review

All third party review applications will receive acceptance without spot-checking or rechecking. Suitable plans mean inspectors can spend more time on projects, while third-party reviewers assist in moving the clients’ ideas through the process faster. The third-party reviewer, who receives compensation for his contribution, will also bear full responsibility.

Incomplete Plans Rejection

Any applications submitted in an incomplete form will face rejection. If a plan contains poor drawings or lack of relevant information, the time it takes to either correct it or send it back for corrections impacts the review process. Quality plans make for faster reviews.

Limited Review Cycle

A set of plans will cycle through the process no more than three times. After that, the DPP rejects the application. High-quality plans and drawings and quick responses to any deficiencies noted by the DPP staff reduce the time spent on each request. Again, thorough and well-prepared applications are paramount.

Online Permitting

Before this bill, the DPP’s online permit processing was handling approximately 30 percent of all building permits. Upon completion, the online license included applications, payments, and issuance. The hope is that, shortly, the use of this option will increase to 40 percent as the DPP continues to expand and publicize the site.

Mālama Mondays

For the next three months at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale, DPP employees will use every Monday solely to work on backlogged permit applications. The only exception is those wishing to pay building permit fees and receive permit applications may work with cashiers. No over-the-counter appointments or services will take place on Mondays. Any meetings previously made for an upcoming Monday, however, will be honored.

New Staff Acquisition

During December, four new plan reviewers will join the staff. Also during this month, two new residential plan reviewers come on board. Two more residential reviewers will begin their training soon.  The DPP plans to hire a minimum of two plan checkers for 89 days to assist in tackling the backlog. These experienced checkers will also train new staff members.

Retrofitting Fire Sprinkler Permits

Authorization for retrofitting fire sprinklers are to be approved immediately. The time limit of 120 days is set for applications only having to do with fire sprinklers.

What Still Remains?

We still have some questions seeking answers:

  • Will online permitting be improved? Also, will the site become more intuitive and easy to see, understand and use?
  • Is 30 days enough time to fix a violation before revocation of a permit?
  • Won’t dedicating every Monday for three months work toward slowing permit processing even more?

Serving our clients is our top priority. Many of the new actions created by the DPP are encouraging, but it behooves us all to keep our eye on the DPP processes and to raise our collective voices if and when necessary.

Contact us today for more information.

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