Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: Get a Contractor and Get the Permits!

Get a Contractor and Get the Permits!


Far too many homes on Oahu are missing building permits. 


WhenHome Picture I inspect properties that are being prepared for sale,  I find that the home is missing it's building permits or work has been done by someone not properly licensed to do the work.


Here are some of the problems created:


  • The tax department does not know of the improvements and they do not appear in public records.
  • Your insurance company may not cover parts or all of your home if the case of fire or flood.  Especially if the cause was illegal wiring or plumbing.
  • Appraisers may not count the square footage of the improvements, lowering the valuation of your home.
  • Depending on the type of mortgage, the lender may either reduce the value or refuse to loan at all.
  • Potential buyers of your home may not wish to inherit the problem.
  • Even if the work was done correctly at the time.  It may not meet today's code, making it hard to impossible to get an after-the-fact permit.  In some cases the improvements will need to be torn down. 
  • Your home will be harder to sell and will most likely sell for less.  You may also have a lasting liability, if the buyer runs into issues after the sale.


When making improvements to your home be sure to get a licensed contractor where required.  Have them file for all necessary permits.  It may cost a little more upfront, but will save you money in the long run.  For more information on building permits: visit the Honolulu Building Department website.   www.HonoluluDPP.org


If you are thinking about selling your home, contact me and I would be happy to pull public records and do an evaluation of your home.



Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

eXp Realty

Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"

Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers.  His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area.  His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.

Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors.  To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations

Comment balloon 29 commentsRandy Prothero • August 12 2013 08:31AM




It may cost more up front, but the benefits are definitely worth it!


Thanks for the good counsel here.



Posted by Kevin A. Guttman-Author, Reverse Mortgage Advisor, 877-251-9709 (NMLS#384936) over 5 years ago

Kevin - That is a fact.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

I agree, you need a permit for just about anything these days.  Why not just do it right.

Posted by Ron Gardinski II, MrMillennium (SharkeyRE, LLC) over 5 years ago

I agree. I use to build fireplaces, and many people wanted to install fireplaces and woodstove chimneys without a permit. When I told them the story of a homeowner who had their fire insurance canceled because they didn't get a permit, they would usually decide to get the permit. Many people don't realize that building a fireplace requires 3-4 inspections. ( Foundation, hearth, throat, and final to confirm chimney is high enough) And if you happen to have a fire that originated from an improperly built chimney without a permit, you can bet your fire insurance company will avoid paying for any fire damages to you house).

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 5 years ago

City should start a task force of inspections.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) over 5 years ago

Permits are just not the expensive to do major work without them. No permits will comeback and haunt you.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 5 years ago

Must get all permits that are needed..


Thanks for sharing..

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage) over 5 years ago

Great advice, Randy.  This can definitely catch-up with homeowners later when it's time to sell and other instances.  Safety and paperwork is important!  Congrats on the Feature,


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) over 5 years ago

Randy, I see a lot of people here do things without a permit when they are supposed to be getting them (like finishing basements). I ALWAYS comes back on them when they get ready to sell.

Posted by Mitch Muller - Charlotte NC Real Estate, Certified Residential Specialist (ProStead Realty Charlotte, NC CRS SRES mitch@prostead.com) over 5 years ago

Hey great to see a face I recognize featured on here!!  

Great topic Randy!! I have run into similar problems myself.  Matter of fact the house I live in has a problem cause by a DIY (unqualified) electrical job.  


People don't understand they have to take an action to correct the tax records before they can sell as they are.  Additionaly - at least in Utah - they have to sign the property condition disclosures that they either did or did not do work that required a permit, and that a permit was indeed obtained. 

The cost savings of doing the work without a permit might be a liability at sale time.



Posted by Jim Beitz (Keller Williams Success Realty) over 5 years ago

Many people do repairs with  no permits and it can come back to bite you.

Posted by David Opoka over 5 years ago

I am working on a deal right now where the contractor didn't pull permits like he said he would in the contract.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 5 years ago

Ron – Not everyone gets that.

Jeff – Not many as many fireplaces in Hawaii, but we have a few.

Jay & Michelle – With cutbacks the City has their hands full processing the permits for the legal folks.

Bill – The cost later will be much greater.

Ginger – Your welcome.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

Gene - Thank you

Mitch – When you are trying to sell is too late to get it fixed.

Jim – No one seem to care here until the last couple of years when the mortgages and insurance became affected.

David – Absolutely

William – That is a great way for a contractor to lose their license here.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

Many homes are missing permits.  I think you did a great job of setting forth why it does pay to get the permits necessary.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 5 years ago

Hi Randy. This applied to my Grandma's house on O'ahu. Fortunately my grandfather pulled and closed permits on O'ahu in 1964! We were able to find the permit. Thanks to my Grandpa :)

Posted by Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker, Licensed in Florida and Washington (Aloha Kai Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Do it the right way and you will not carry the burden of selling the home, insurance claims, and buyers coming back on you later. It is just the smart thing to do.  Great Blog.  Thanks

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 5 years ago

This is such a true statement: "Even if the work was done correctly at the time, It may not meet today's code, making it hard to impossible to get an after-the-fact permit."

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) over 5 years ago

Randy, pulling the permit for any additional work is a right thing to do for all the reasons you have stated. Thanks.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 5 years ago
As we see time and again on ActiveRain, taking short-cuts with real estate just doesn't pay off; yes, absolutely hire a contractor and get the proper permits.
Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (800) 591-6121 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) over 5 years ago

Randy, this is so important for homeowners to understand. Sometimes they think the city is just trying to get more of their money and don't realize that there is good reason to obtain a permit.

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 5 years ago

Interestingly enough in our area even permits don't always trigger a change in the tax records.  I'm not sure why but I've checked our on-line permit department to check on finished basements, see permits and final sign off from years ago but the tax records still show unfinished basement.  

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 5 years ago

I've had several homes where I have asked if permits were issued for obvious work done.  When I hear no or not sure I go to the town and check for my buyer.  It will come back to haunt you and then be potentially more costly to obtain after the fact.  SO yes, please do it right.

Posted by John F Muscarella, Broker/Owner, Venice, FL, Florida's Suncoast (RIVER FARM PROPERTIES, LLC) over 5 years ago

Joan - Thank you

Lana - In 1964 many people did not bother with permits.  Fortunately he did it right.

Jimmy - Thank you

Michelle - We run into it all the time.  Also when they try to get a permit, the building inspector comes out and many times finds more issues.

Praful - Thank you

Ralph - That is for sure.

Maria - They are trying to get their money.  LOL  All kidding aside, there are so many reasons to wnat the permits.

Cindy - Most of the time the permit triggers the tax department to update their records in Honolulu County.  They want more money also.  At times the homeowner still has to contact the tax department to get them updated.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

I am dealing with this very nightmare. My seller enclosed a carport himself and now he is mad at me because I told him this was going to be an issue with the sale.Wish me luck!

Posted by Kelly Taylor (Keller Williams) over 5 years ago

In my little corner of Los Angeles, many of the home are pre-1960 .... and it was such a different time, with such a different outlook on life ...... people would say "Oh, the Johnsons are having a baby, let's grab a hammer and go help them add a room....."

Posted by Cheryl Johnson over 5 years ago

Kelly - I run into that one frequently.  Most carports in our area need work other than just closing in to be safe and permitted and those who do it themselves rarely do it right.

Cheryl - We see the same thing here.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

This is not a problem just at your end of the world. Here too in North Carolina. This is such an excellent write up on why you want to have all your permits, I'm going to reblog!

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) over 5 years ago

Nina - Thank you for the re-blog.


Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

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