Longer waits reported for new building permits, costs balloon as projects sit idle

From new homes to new commercial projects, construction is popping up almost everywhere you turn.

While that’s good for the economy, KHON2 has heard from those in the industry that some are waiting even longer than usual to get their projects started.

They say it’s taking double the amount of time to get their building permit applications approved, despite a new program meant to help the process.

Donald Corbin has an empty lot in Waipahu where he’s created blueprint drawings for a new two-story house. His work is complete, but now it’s up to the city. “Currently, they’re not that good,” he said.

Corbin’s company, Blue Hawaii Drafting Services, has been playing the waiting game with the city.

“How does long it take you to get a permit reviewed?” KHON2 asked.

“It depends. There’s a new electronic filing process that’s really slowing it down immensely from maybe three months to six to seven months for a permit,” he said.

He said the longer waits started last year when the city Department of Planning and Permitting changed its system.

Before, applicants could either submit plans for review electronically through what’s called ePlans or with traditional hard copy paper plans. But since October, applicants can only submit plans online.

When the change took place in October, George Atta, DPP director, said “ePlans simplifies and improves the plan review process.”

But others in the industry, who did not want to go on camera, say they’ve had longer waits as well.

Corbin says each day the lot sits empty, when no action’s being taken, is one more day that money’s being wasted.

“The homeowners have to pay their mortgage, their interest fees on their loans and it accrues and accrues every month, and after six months, they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

KHON2 called the city to get answers. A DPP spokesperson said the number of building permits issued increased by nearly 9,000 in one year and, because of the rebounding economy, he expects numbers to continue to rise for the next fiscal year.

The city says there were some kinks in the ePlan process which led to some delays.

DPP also said in the past month, it has taken steps to improve this process by increasing staff, making procedural changes and software changes.

The city believes the changes will improve the ePlans submittal process.

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