Proposed Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance

This is the working language so far:

Hawaii County Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance

Limited-density owner-built rural dwelling and associated structures

Key provisions

The purpose and Intent of the ordinance will be to:

Provide minimum requirements for the protection of life, limb, health, property, safety, and welfare of the general public and the owners and occupants of limited density rural dwellings and appurtenant structures;

Permit the use of the ingenuity and preferences of individual builders of dwellings on agricultural parcels in Hawaii County for occupancy by the builder; and

Allow the use of substitute materials and procedures and alternatives to the specifications prescribed by the international technical codes to the extent that a reasonable degree of health and safety is provided by such substitutes and alternatives.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to the construction, enlargement, conversion, alteration, repair, use, maintenance, and occupancy of limited density owner-built rural dwellings and appurtenant structures.
Specifically, the ordinance will:

1. Serve as an alternative to, and not a replacement for nor modification of, existing regulations based on the International Building Code.

2. Be added to existing County Code, Chapter 5  in the same fashion as Article 3. relating to Indigenous Architecture.

Section 5-3.5. Housing code exclusion.

All indigenous Hawaiian architecture structures constructed in accordance with this chapter are not required to comply with requirements in chapter 11, Hawai‘i County Code, pertaining to the housing code (2009, Ord. No. 09-48, sec. 4.

3. Apply only to ‘owner-builders’ and will include a provision that prohibits selling, renting, or leasing the structure for a period of at least 3 years.

4. Provide for issuance of permits for structures only on parcels zoned agricultural and larger than one (1) acre in size.

5. Provide full disclosure to future owners of the property by requiring the issuance of a permit to be recorded on the deed of the property where a structure is located

6. Allow for occupancy prior to finishing construction provided approved sanitation exists.

7. Allow materials which are: owner-produced, previously used/salvaged, local, and minimally processed; as well as non-conventional materials and methods that have been proven to be structurally sound

8. Allow within setback detached structures for habitation (e.g., sleeping, cooking, eating, social gathering, etc.).

9. Provide indemnification to the County as in County Code Section 5-3.6. Indemnification and responsibility.

The property owner shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the County, its officers and agents, from all claims, demands, suits, actions or proceedings of every name, character and description which may be brought against the County for or on account of any injuries or damages to any person or property as a consequence of any work done under a permit issued for an indigenous Hawaiian architecture structure.

(2009, Ord. No. 09-48, sec. 4.)

Definitions

Owner-Built

“Owner-Built” shall mean constructed by any person or family who acts as the general contractor for or the provider of, part or all of the labor necessary to build housing to be occupied as the principal residence of that person or family, and not intended for sale, lease, or rent “Owner-Built” shall also mean constructed by a licensed contractor for occupancy by the person or persons owning the property at the time construction is commenced.

Detached Bedroom.

A “detached bedroom” is a separate accessory structure without kitchen or sanitation facilities, designed for and intended to be used as a sleeping or living facility for  one or more members of the owner-builder family, to be employed in conjunction with a main structure(s) which include kitchen and sanitation facilities.

Greywater.

“Greywater” shall include all domestic waste water obtained from the drainage of showers, bathtubs, kitchen sinks, lavatories, and laundry facilities, exclusive of water utilized for the transport and disposal of body eliminations.

Limited Density Rural Dwelling.

A “limited density rural dwelling” is any structure consisting of one or more habitable rooms, and not exceeding two and one-half stories, intended or designed to be occupied by one family with facilities for living and sleeping, with use restricted to rural areas that fulfills the requirements of this chapter.

Sound Structural Condition.

A structure shall be considered to be in sound structural condition when it is constructed and maintained in substantial conformance with accepted construction principles, technical codes, or performance criteria which provide minimum standards for the stressing of structural members; footing sizes when related to major load-bearing points; proper support of load-bearing members; nailing schedules where essential to general structural integrity; and provisions for adequate egress, ventilation, sanitation, and fire safety. Conditions which would not render a structure unsound are the minor deflections or elasticity of structural members, ceiling heights; size or arrangement of rooms; heating, plumbing, and electrification requirements; alternative materials, appliances or facilities; or methods of construction.

Substandard Building.

A substandard building is a structure or portion thereof in which there exists any condition to an extent that endangers the life, limb, health, or safety of the occupants. Except as amended by the provisions of this chapter,  ?????   Chapter 10 of the Uniform Housing Code, 1976 Edition, as published by ICBO ?????, shall be the determining criteria for compliance with the standards of this Chapter and the defining of a substandard building.

Application

Application to Buildings Existing on or after January 1, 2012.

Abatement of Substandard Buildings.

All structures or portions thereof which are determined by the enforcing agency to constitute a substandard building shall be declared to be a public nuisance and shall be abated by repair. rehabilitation, or removal in accordance with Health and Safety Code (insert section number of code)    In cases of extreme hardship to owner-occupants of the dwellings, the appropriate local body should provide for deferral of the effective date of orders of abatement.

Recording.

Each time a permit is issued pursuant to this chapter, the Building Department shall record with the County a notice that a permit has been issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

A deed restriction disclosing the nature of the dwelling and appurtenant structures shall be recorded. The disclosure shall state that the structures constructed on this property has/have been permitted under the Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance and that the structures is/are not in full compliance with the provisions of the technical codes; and that occupancy is limited to the owner and owner’s family.

Violations.

The critical concern in the promulgation of this chapter is to provide for health and safety while maintaining respect for the law and voluntary compliance with the provisions of this Chapter, and therefore, in the event that an order to correct a substandard condition is ignored, it is the intent of this section that civil abatement procedures should be the first remedy pursued by the enforcement agency.

Permits.

Permits shall be required for the construction of rural dwellings and appurtenant structures.

Issuance.

The application, plans, and other data filed by an applicant for a permit shall be reviewed by the appropriate enforcement agency to verify compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Where the enforcement agency determines that the permit application and other data indicate that the structure(s) will comply with the provisions of this chapter, the agency shall issue a permit therefore to the applicant.

Application.

To obtain a permit, the applicant shall first file an application with the designated enforcement agency. Permit applications shall contain the following information:

(1) name and mailing address of the applicant;

(2) address and location of the proposed structures;

(3) a general description of the structure(s) which shall include mechanical installations with all clearances and venting procedures detailed, electrical installations, foundation, structural, and construction details;

(4) a plot plan indicating the location of the dwelling in relation to property lines, other structures, sanitation and bathing facilities, water resources and power source.

(5) approval for the installation of a private sewage disposal system or alternate waste disposal means from the local health enforcement agency;

(6) the signature of the owner or authorized agent;

(7) the use or occupancy for which the work is intended;

(8) and any other data or information as may be required by statute or regulation;

(9) a stipulation by the applicant that the building or structure is to be owner-built, or built for the occupancy of the owner by a licensed contractor.

Plans.

Plans shall consist of a general description of the structure(s), including all necessary information to facilitate a reasonable judgment of conformance by the enforcing agency. This may include a simplified diagram of the floor plan and site elevation in order to determine the appropriate dimensions of structural members. Architectural drawings and structural analyses shall not be required except for structures of complex design or unusual conditions for which the enforcement agency cannot make a reasonable judgment of conformance to this chapter based upon the general description and simplified plan(s).

Waiver of Plans.

The enforcement agency may waive the submission of any plans if the agency finds that the nature of the work applied for is such that the reviewing of plans is not necessary to obtain compliance with this chapter or, when the regulation option of No Construction Plan Review with No Building Code Inspection is selected at the time of permit application.

Modifications.

With the Full Construction Plan Review with Limited Building Code Inspection option modifications to the design, materials, and methods of construction are permitted, provided that the structural integrity of the building or structure is maintained, the building continues to conform to the provisions of this chapter, and the enforcement agency is notified in writing of the intended modification and approves the modification prior to construction.

Permit Validity.

Any building permit issued under this amendment shall be valid, without renewal, for a maximum period of 36 months; however, the County Zoning Inspector may, upon written request of the permittee, extend the time limit for the permit once for an additional 12 months.

Inspections.

All construction or work for which a permit is required may be subject to inspection by the designated enforcement agency unless permitee opted for the No Construction Plan Review with No Building Code Inspection option in the permit issuance process.

Issuance of Inspections.

Option 1: Full Construction Plan Review with Limited Building Code Inspection: This option when selected by the applicant during the permit issuance process requires (in addition to Zoning and other County Departments inspection requirements) that only Limited Building Code inspections dealing with the trade areas of Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Prevention be completed by County Building Inspectors. Full Construction Plan Review and the required limited Inspections for this option will be completed in accordance with the adopted Hawaii County Building Code.

Option 2: No Construction Plan Review with No Building Code Inspection: This option, when selected by the applicant during the permit issuance process requires (in addition to Zoning and other County Departments inspection requirements) that No Building Code inspections be completed by County Building Inspectors. In addition, by selecting this option, No construction plans are required to be submitted or reviewed by the County Planning Department.

Special Inspections.

Additional inspections may be conducted under the following circumstances:

An inspection may be conducted where there is a reasonable expectation that the footing will be subjected to serious vertical or lateral movement due to unstable ground conditions. If ground conditions constitute a potential structural problem, foundation and structure shall have engineering provided by a Hawaii licensed civil or structural engineer.

Additionally, inspections may be conducted where the application indicates that interior wall coverings or construction elements will conceal underlying construction, electrical or mechanical systems; or where an unconventional construction method is indicated which would preclude examination at a single inspection.

Inspection Waivers.

Inspections may be waived by the enforcement agency for structures which do not contain electrical or mechanical installations or for alterations, additions, modifications, or repairs that do not involve electrical or mechanical installations; or where the applicant stipulates in writing that the work has been conducted in compliance with the permit application and the provisions of this chapter.

Inspection Requests and Notice.

It shall be the duty of the applicant to notify the enforcement agency that the construction is ready for inspection and to provide access to the premises. Inspections shall be requested by the applicant at least (48) hours in advance of the intended inspection. It shall be the duty of the enforcement agency to notify or inform the applicant of the day during which the Inspection is to be conducted.

Certificate of Occupancy.

After the structure(s) is completed for occupancy and any inspections which have been required by the enforcing agency have been conducted, and work approved, the enforcement agency shall issue a Certificate of Occupancy for such dwelling(s) and appurtenant structure(s) which comply with the provisions of this Chapter.

Temporary Occupancy.

The use and occupancy of a portion or portions of a dwelling or appurtenant structure prior to the completion of the entire structure shall be allowed, provided that approved sanitary facilities are available at the site and that the work completed does not create any condition to an extent that endangers life, health, or safety of the public or occupants. The occupants of any such uncompleted structure shall assume sole responsibility for the occupancy of the structure or portion thereof.

Fees.

Fees shall be required and collected by the Planning Department to provide for the cost of administering the provisions of this chapter.

General Requirements.

Each structure shall be constructed and maintained in a sound structural condition to be safe, sanitary, and to shelter the occupants from the elements.

Intent of General Requirements.

It shall be the purpose and intent of this Chapter to permit the use of ingenuity and preferences of the builder, and to allow and facilitate the use of alternatives to the specifications prescribed by the uniform technical codes to the extent that a reasonable degree of health and safety is provided by such alternatives, and that the materials, methods of construction, and structural integrity of the structure shall perform in application for the purpose intended. To provide for the application of this Chapter, it shall be necessary for the enforcement agency to exercise reasonable judgment in determining the compliance of appropriate structures with the general and specific requirements of this chapter.

Technical Codes to be a Basis of Approval.

Except as otherwise required by this chapter, dwellings and appurtenant structures constructed pursuant to this part need not conform with the construction requirements prescribed by the latest applicable editions of the Uniform Building, Plumbing, and Mechanical Codes, the National Electric Code, or other applicable technical codes; however, it is not the intent of this section to disregard nationally accepted technical and scientific principles relating to design, materials, methods of construction, and structural requirements for the erection and construction of dwelling and appurtenant structures as are contained in the uniform technical codes. Such codes shall be a basis for approval.

Structural Requirements.

Buildings or structures constructed pursuant to this chapter may be of any type of construction which will provide for a sound structural condition. Structural hazards which result in an unsound condition and which may constitute a substandard building are delineated by  ????? Section 1001(c), Uniform Housing Code (1976 Edition). ?????

Foundations.

Pier Foundations, stone masonry footings and concrete slab foundations, pressure treated lumber, poles, or equivalent foundation materials or designs may be used, provided that the bearing is sufficient for the purpose intended.

Materials.

Owner-produced or used materials and appliances may be utilized unless found not to be of sufficient strength or durability to perform the intended function; owner-produced or used lumber may be utilized unless found to contain dry rot, excessive splitting, or other defects obviously rendering the material unfit in strength or durability for the intended purpose.

Mechanical Requirements.

Fireplaces, heating and cooking appliances, and gas piping installed in buildings constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be installed and vented in accordance with the requirements of  ??????Chapter 37 of the Uniform Building Code (1976 Edition), Chapter 9 of the Uniform Mechanical Code (1976 Edition), and Chapter 12 of the Uniform Plumbing Code (1976 Edition).????????? Alternate materials and methods of venting shall be permitted if substantially equivalent in safety and durability.

Electrical Requirements.

No dwelling or appurtenant structure constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be required to be connected to a source of electrical power, or wired, or otherwise fitted for electrification, except as set forth in Section ???? Installation Requirements

Installation Requirements.

Where electrical wiring or appliances are installed, the installation shall be in accordance with the provisions of the National Electrical Code adopted by ???????  for single family dwellings.

Exceptions to Installation Requirements. In structures where electrical usage is confined to one or more rooms of a structure, the remainder of the structure shall not be required to be wired or otherwise fitted for electrification unless the enforcement agency determines that electrical demands are expected to exceed the confinement and capacity of that room(s). In such instances, the enforcement agency may require further electrification of the structure.

It is the intent of this subsection to apply to buildings in which there exists a workshop, kitchen, or other single room which may require electrification, and where there is no expectation of further electrical demand. The enforcement agency shall, at the time of a permit application or other appropriate point, advise the applicant of the potential hazards of violating this section.

Room Requirements.

There shall be no requirements for room dimensions provided that there is adequate light and ventilation and adequate means of egress. In single family dwellings not exceeding two stories in height where, due to the location or to the surrounding terrain, emergency rescue from the exterior is not feasible, egress windows from sleeping spaces may be omitted when an additional doorway or an approved exit escape is provided for egress from such rooms. The doorways provided shall open directly to the exterior of the building or shall open onto corridors or passageways which lead to individual exterior exits. The corridors or passageways provided shall not cross nor shall they follow the same route in whole or in part to the building exterior.

Sanitation Requirements.

Sanitation facilities, including the type, design, and number of facilities, as required and approved by the local health official, shall be provided to the dwelling sites. It shall not be required that such facilities be located within the dwelling.

Plumbing Specifications.

With the Full Construction Plan Review with Limited Building Code Inspection Option only where conventional plumbing, in all or in part, is installed within the structure, it shall be installed in accordance with the Uniform Plumbing Code (???? Edition). Alternative materials and methods shall be permitted provided that the design complies with the intent of the Code, and that such alternatives shall perform to protect health and safety for the intended purpose.

Sanitation Facilities.

A water closet shall not be required when an alternate system is provided and has been approved by the local health official. Where an alternative to the water closet is installed, a system for the disposal or treatment of greywater shall be provided to the dwelling. Greywater systems shall be designed according to water availability, use and discharge. The design, use, and maintenance standards of such systems shall be the prerogative of the local health official. A bathtub or shower and a lavatory, or alternate bathing and washing facility approved by the local health official, shall be provided to the dwelling site.

Water Supply.

Potable water shall be available to the dwelling site, although such water need not be pressurized. Where water is not piped from a well, spring, cistern, or other source, there shall be a minimum reserve of 200 gallons of potable water available. Where water delivery is pressurized. piping shall be installed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Fire Prevention.

Residential Smoke Detectors shall be provided in accordance with the requirements contained in the Hawaii County Building Code.

Severability

If any portion of this Chapter is held to be invalid for any reason, or unconstitutional by a decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, it shall not affect the remaining portions of this Chapter, including any other section, subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase therein, or the regulations supplementing those portions. Any invalid part of this Article shall be segregated from the remainder of the Article by the court holding such part invalid, and the remainder shall remain effective.

Indemnification

These regulations  provide indemnification to the County as in County Code Section 5-3.6. Indemnification and responsibility.  Permit applicants will sign the following indemnification to the County:

The property owner shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the County, its officers and agents, from all claims, demands, suits, actions or proceedings of every name, character and description which may be brought against the County for or on account of any injuries or damages to any person or property as a consequence of any work done under a permit issued for a Hawaii County Sustainable Rural Habitat  as in (2009, Ord. No. 09-48, sec. 4.)

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1 comment to Proposed Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance

  • December 28, 2011

    Letter to Dominic Yagong, Chairperson
    Hawai’i County Council
    RE: Hawai’i County Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance

    Aloha Dominic,

    I am writing in support of the above draft initiative. As a Hilo-based architect with an understanding of the economic hardships faced by families here on the Big Island, and with experience in the use of indigenous and alternative building materials, I agree with the issues outlined in the draft and its proposed resolutions.

    I know that it is cost-prohibitive for many homeowners with unpermitted dwellings to get a retroactive (or “as-built”) permit. My experience is that though they were given amnesty by the County in terms of reduced permit fees, the professional fees were still too high. I have experienced my own financial hardship trying to help these homeowners myself.

    Many folks come here from elsewhere because the land values are lower in such an economically depressed area, or they are stuck here because, due to the latter, they don’t have the means to move elsewhere. Further, as a result of the island’s many blessings in terms of climate and natural resources, many resourceful families have found that they can carve a niche for themselves here by maintaining a sustainable and low-impact lifestyle.

    Also due to our economic standing here, the County has inadequate resources for signing off on “Alternate Materials and Methods of Construction,” as allowed for in our current code. One problem is our officials are not necessarily licensed to perform structural or mechanical analyses, and their inspectors are not necessarily equipped to determine structural stability in the field. Up to now these responsibilities have been passed on to the licensed professional. But as I’ve said, these services are expensive for the average property owner. However, given the resourcefulness of the more hands-on homeowners, we now know that there are many locally, if not on-site, available materials that have strong track records, such as ohi’a, which has been grandfathered into the code for quite some time.

    Sincerely,

    Valerie C. Simpson, Architect

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