Portable, Window-Mounted Residential Air-Conditioning Units Exempt From Permit Requirements

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An amendment is coming to legislation that will develop the framework for Hawai‘i County’s updated construction code.

According to a press release from the office of Council Member Sue Lee Loy, the amendment will clarify that portable and window-mounted air conditioners in residential buildings will be exempt from the requirement to get a permit. Bill No. 179 will be heard on first reading before the County Council on July 22.

The amendment is being developed in collaboration with the Building Division of the Department of Public Works and will be introduced by Lee Loy. The amendment will make clear that such permit requirements apply only to permanent air-conditioning systems, more commonly known as central or split air-conditioner systems.

A social media post on July 7 stating that the Building Division requires building permits for all air conditioning systems, including plug-in window-mounted and portable units, and penalties of up to $1,000 per day, caused significant alarm but also provided a timely opportunity for correction, the release said.

The Building Division explains this has been in place since the 2009 implementation of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. Furthermore, the permit process allows the Building Division the opportunity to evaluate the impact of larger concerns related to obstructions of emergency egress.

The amendment, which is yet to be numbered, does the following:

  • Exempts permit requirements from window-mounted AC units in residential units where emergency egress is not impaired
  • Exempts portable AC systems
  • Exempts maintenance and repair that do not cost more than $7,500 (previous limit $4,000)


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