Honolulu after the fact permits

9 Replies

Hello,

I have an Aiea townhouse. A few years back we enclosed the two car garage. We added a bathroom shower and kitchenette (no stove).  The contractor is gone. I live out of state and do not have blueprints. 

I want to get permits to turn the added units into an ADU (accessory dwelling unit). If I try to get a permit will the government of Honolulu make my life hell? I have heard urban legends of people who have had to move their tenants out and tear down the repairs and start over, and pay for demolition permits and all sorts of craziness. But the stories are all from 'someone who knew someone' or 'someone heard once'. In a sane world, the government would say thanks for helping to relieve the housing shortage that we caused with our terrible policies.

Has anyone gotten an 'after the fact' permit? If so, how horrible was it?   

I was applying for a refinance for my house and the appraiser suggested I do a after-the-fact permit.  A building contractor helped me with my after-the-fact permit. Because I was on a timeline for the refinance, the BC suggested I pay extra to "rush" the architects plans so it can be submitted to dept of plans & permitting.  He mentioned that it would take few weeks to get the permit approved.  I followed up with the BC after 2 weeks and he says the plans are its still in their queue for review.  I followed again in another 2 weeks for the status and I get the same reply, still in their queue for review.  The initial process for the permit started Jan 2017 and my  permit was issued Apr 2017.  From time to time there are stories in the Hawaii Star-Advertiser of backlogs and not enough people to review the plans.  Hope you have better luck.

How else do you pay for government shortfalls?

Jerry. Have you resolved this already? I thought I read somewhere that Honolulu city was giving a Grace Period for unpermitted work to be brought up to code. City website and few calls is a good place to start.

@Gary F. I have not done anything with it.  I basically heard enough stories of the city and county screwing people over when they try to do after the fact permits so I just left it. I have tenants in there who have been there for 8 years and pay on time.

At some point I am going to have to either sell this place or fix it up and get more rental income from it. But for now I do not want to attract unwanted attention from the city. Also, it is a condo and the condo association might be really difficult if they officially found out that I fixed the place up.  Plenty of neighbors have done so without permission but the condo association might just decide to say no this time. They can be whimsical. 

Aloha  @Jerry Murphy ,  I've done a few after the fact permits.  It can be messy and a pandora's box in some cases.   What was the extent of your plumbing and electrical work?  To mitigate risks, its good to know DPP inspectors that service AIEA and find a licensed plumbing and electrical contractor that can inspect and sign off on the work.  The electrical stuff should not be that bad, however, the plumbing might be an issue (drain, vent, and supply lines) since inspections are done before the walls go up.  Please PM me if you need help.  Blessings, Joel

Thanks @Joel Bongco I will keep you in mind if I decide to come clean with the building permit folks. My wife and I are talking more and more about selling it and I would prefer to sell with legit upgrades. 

@Jerry Murphy I think that if you want to top dollar when you sell, you should get the back permits. The reason is that VA buyers have strict VA inspections, and they usually want all permits closed. I just sold a listing that had this same issue and it took a while, but it ended up closing.

Originally posted by @Jerry Murphy :

@Gary F. I have not done anything with it.  I basically heard enough stories of the city and county screwing people over when they try to do after the fact permits so I just left it. I have tenants in there who have been there for 8 years and pay on time.

At some point I am going to have to either sell this place or fix it up and get more rental income from it. But for now I do not want to attract unwanted attention from the city. Also, it is a condo and the condo association might be really difficult if they officially found out that I fixed the place up.  Plenty of neighbors have done so without permission but the condo association might just decide to say no this time. They can be whimsical. 

Oh, its a condo. If there's anything that violates the HOA bylaws then it may come up at time of sale or if some tenant complains about something. But being a condo, depending on what you did out of code or not within the bylaws I would think shouldn't be that bad, i.e. nothing structural or behind the walls like electrical or plumbing or removing load bearing walls?. Maybe more cosmetic?

@Gary F. I added electrical and plumbing. We asked around and a few of the neighbors showed us what they did to convert the indoor garage into a separate apartment or extra bedroom.  Of the six neighbors that share our building three had already converted the garages without permission.  We were the fourth to do so. We've owned the place for about 17 years and the condo association has an unofficial 'don't ask, don't tell' policy for remodeling. They say no if you ask and do not care if you just do it without asking. Mainly the condo association is preoccupied with listening to old retired ladies complain about noise at the swimming pool, people who walk their dogs, children who are not on a leash and suspicious cars that park in places the old folks don't like. 

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