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Initial results of the Building Division’s customer service survey


The Building Division of the County of Hawai’i Department of Public Works initiated a customer service survey in September 2009, to solicit input from local contractors, architects, and other building industry professionals on ways to streamline and improve the County’s building permitting process.

During the first two months, 106 customers completed either an online or a printed version of the survey. Another 34 individuals started but did not complete the survey.

Based on the initial responses to the survey, the following items received the highest level of interest:

Providing a higher priority for revisions to an approved building permit drawing;
Posting of administrative rules online;
Reducing the time-consuming permitting process;
Implementing an online tracking system;
Making available more information about changes to the County Building codes; and
Filing permits and paying fees electronically
“We plan to continue the customer service survey for the next several months. We are very appreciative of the public’s time and effort in completing the survey and for their constructive input in improving the permitting process,” said Brian Kajikawa, Building Division Chief.

The Building Division is responsible for administering building, electrical and plumbing permit applications. The permitting process for these types of applications requires a sequence of approvals from up to six government agencies:

The Planning Department determines whether a project is compliant with applicable land use laws, such as the Zoning Code.
The Engineering Division approves permits for drainage, County rights-of-way, grading or grubbing, and verifies a property’s flood zone designation.
The State Department of Health, Sanitation Branch reviews commercial and residential plans for individual septic and cesspool systems. Commercial plans require additional approvals or permits to meet regulatory requirements from other branches including Waste Water, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Safe Drinking Water.
The Fire Department reviews plans for adequate fire protection systems and compliance with fire codes.
The Department of Environmental Management Wastewater Division reviews plans to connect with the County sewer system. The Solid Waste Division reviews recycling efforts and the amount of waste anticipated at the landfill primarily for commercial alterations and demolition projects.
The Building Division reviews construction plans to determine compliance with applicable building codes and ensures that required approvals have been obtained from the appropriate government agencies before issuing building permits.
The Building Division has four primary plan reviewers along with supporting clerical and administrative staff that handle the review of building, electrical and plumbing plans. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, the Building Division approved 10,843 commercial and residential permits:

3,929 for buildings;
3,869 electrical;
2,983 plumbing; and
62 for signs
The highest number of commercial and residential permits issued was 18,056 during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005.

“It is in this process the Building Division will lead efforts to streamline the permitting process, improve lines of communication for applicants, and commit to providing excellent customer service” said Warren Lee, Director of Public Works.

To participate in the survey or preview the results go to the County website at and click on the petroglyph icon.

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