County Building Code Update Deadline Extended

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The Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works on Thursday, Nov. 12, granted an administrative grace period to a state-mandated deadline to upgrade its building codes, a move members of the County Council says will reduce confusion and allow for more public outreach before aligning Hawaiʻi County’s building codes with state standards.

The grace period leaves the current standards in place through Aug. 31, 2021.

“COVID-19 created high hurdles to meet the state-imposed deadline,” said Robyn Matsumoto, Acting Building Division Chief. “We believe this is the (fairest) and equitable approach for the construction industry.”

Hawai‘i County Council Chair Aaron Chung and Public Works and Mass Transit Committee Chair Sue Lee Loy on Oct. 20, 2020, sent a letter to Governor David Ige asking for an emergency suspension of HRS 107-28 due to COVID-19-related delays.


While the governor did not grant an exception, the state took the position that an emergency suspension was not necessary — instead, the individual counties were responsible for enforcement of the law.

“Waiting for the right time to implement these new requirements was the right thing to do. It provides some certainty in uncertain times,” said Councilmember Sue Lee Loy. “I am happy the state and county have an understanding that advances this important work while preserving public health and safety, ensuring community engagement in the process, holding space for economic recovery, and protecting the hard-working men and women of our construction industry.”

The Building Division of the Department of Public Works sent a message to professionals, contractors, agents, and drafters who utilize the Building Permit System, announcing the administrative grace period that will be applied to the enforcement of the 2012 IBC and IRC. The grace period will extend until Aug. 31, 2021, by which date the County of Hawai‘i is required to adopt the 2018 IBC and IRC codes.


The Building Division advised that projects may continue to be designed to the 2006 IBC as amended in our code or the design professional may choose to submit a design based on the State amended 2012 IBC/IRC. However, projects being constructed for the State of Hawaiʻi will need to comply with the 2018 IBC.

“With that deadline and the uncertainty looming over our work, this is welcome news. I feel like I can breathe now,” said Shane Kuwahara, a draftsman who works on plans and permits for affordable homes for local families. “It’s good news in the midst of tough times.”

For more information about the administrative grace period and its implications to the building permit process, contact the Department of Public Works Building Division by phone at (808) 961-8331 or email [email protected].


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