The Complete Guide to Building and Remodeling in Hawaii

Designing and Building Your New Home in Hawaii

Building and remodeling in Hawaii come with a different set of rules than building a home anywhere on the mainland. So, if you’re planning to build a house here, there are a few things you need to know before you get started. Hawaii’s housing market prices continue to increase and existing homes, in many areas, are not available.

Oahu Mayor Kirk Caldwell emphasizes that affordable housing options exist, such as multigenerational housing and the ubiquitous Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that dot the islands. He also encourages builders to explore issues like sustainability, longevity, flexible designs, and tax-relief plans.

Requirements and Responsibilities for Building a Hawaiian Home

It’s no wonder that individuals and families want to have a home on the islands. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. So, when you begin your journey toward home-building in Hawaii, you need to know there will be different guidelines in place which will necessitate the assistance of and partnering with innovative designers, contractors, builders, and architects. The processes can be somewhat tedious and complicated, but with the help of professionally trained Hawaiian builders and designers, your dream home can become a reality.

Building Permits

The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) have a history of building permit delays.

Although some progress towards improving this ongoing problem has been made, having a qualified and experienced local designer/builder on your side can make the permit process go even smoother.


Although sustainability is beginning to get more traction around the world as populations see the sad consequences of not taking care of our planet, Hawaii is even more focused on keeping its environment as pristine as possible.

Green construction enhances and protects the land but is also cost-effective. Building includes:

  • The use of reclaimed stone, wood, and many recycled materials
  • Using solar power
  • Installing energy-efficient and water conscious systems


The cost of building a home in Hawaii can be formidable. But home designs typically provide the possibility for evolution over the years such as:

  • Open-air living using the Lanai template for a comprehensive and open space that is covered, outdoor, or enclosed
  • The use of sliding glass doors for your Lanai or deck to direct airflow
  • Folding shutter walls around family gathering portions of the home
  • Inviting family members to live in your home in added ADUs and ohana units (a separate building to accommodate extended family) both of which are permitted to improve the affordable housing market and allow family members to have a home.

New designs that allow for expansion include:

  • Loft bedrooms
  • Playroom conversions
  • Indoor/outdoor dining areas
  • Common areas
  • Land choices that facilitate future additions

Owner Built Design

We can offer:

  • An erosion and sediment control plan coordinator
  • Guidance in creating an ADU for your property
  • New home or addition design
  • Engineer coordination (structural design with a licensed engineer, if necessary)
  • Drafting – accurate drawings of home design or additions using plans, sections, and elevations acquired directly from the 3D model
  • Permit processing
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