Portion of deck built without permit, could fines be issued while filing a permit?

Winny

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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Stumbled upon an interesting question on Reddit and wanted to share it with you all. This one is about someone living in Hawaii. They built a wooden platform on their property that was never permitted to begin with, a neighbor sent a complaint that resulted in a notice of violation for the homeowner. The wooden platform was deemed a "Deck", which requires a permit. The homeowner halted production soon after receiving the notice and are in the process of getting it permitted.

They are worried that the unpermitted work will be fined by Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting all the while waiting for the permit to be approved. You can view the post on reddit here. Do you think there is a chance the homeowner won't receive any fines for the unpermitted work as long as they are going through the permitting process now?
 
Location
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
It's good the reddit user is in the process of applying for a permit. That's a good start to bringing the work to order. If you ever receive a NOV (notice of violation), it is suggested that you move fast to stop all construction where it stands. Inform the inspector you're making the required steps to address any violations, which includes filing the necessary permits. Doing so could possibly put a hold on any fines coming in, so you hopefully could work towards compliance.

Make sure the building inspectors are updated on any changes with your permit application. Being proactive, and engaging them with transparency on the situation is ideal and it may lead to more lenient treatment from local permitting authorities while your permit is being processed.

This of course does not mean the homeowner is free from fines. There is still a risk of accruing daily fines if your project continues without required permits. The good news is that the homeowner hasn't continued the build yet, so there's a chance they won't issue fines, but just fines on the work not done. To help with this, make sure you're always verifying with your local Department of Planning and Permitting on the status of your permit and any ask if there is anything you can do that won't result in further violations.
 
I think most jurisdictions would agree that first time "offenders" get one freebie, especially if they follow the appropriate steps and stop work until things are approved. Mistakes happen, some people simply don't know the rules.
 
I think most jurisdictions would agree that first time "offenders" get one freebie, especially if they follow the appropriate steps and stop work until things are approved. Mistakes happen, some people simply don't know the rules.
I think that's fair. I imagine lots of people aren't aware of the rules, and I think springing a fine on them for their first offense could be a bit harsh. Unless it happens to be a massive build/project, then there may be issue there. But I think most people know to file permits for any major construction or renovation work.
 
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