Support owner-builder exemption in HB1633 to add more housing

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection on March 27, 2024.

March 27, 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Hawaii State Capitol
Conference Room 229 and Videoconference

To: Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection
      Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, Chair
      Sen. Carol Fukunaga, Vice-Chair

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
           Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns


Aloha Chair Keohokalole, Vice-Chair Fukunaga and other members of the Committee,

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its support for the portions of HB1633 HD1 SD1 that would let property owners more easily convert their single-family homes into multifamily dwellings or build new detached dwellings that could be made available for rent.

Specifically, the bill would “remove the leasing restriction on owner-builders who obtain owner-builder exemption to act as their own contractor and who build or improve residential or farm buildings or structures on their own property and do not offer the buildings or structures for sale.”

Owner-builders currently can build a home for themselves or their families on their own lands, but they cannot either sell or lease the house within a year of its construction. This bill would remove the prohibition on leasing.

The state of California allows owner-builders to lease their homes under their owner-builder exemption,[1] so there is already some precedent for this type of change.

Removing this bit of red tape would help Hawaii homeowners seeking to build an extra unit on their land, and would complement many of the strategies being now used to ease the state’s housing shortage.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Ted Kefalas
Director of Strategic Campaigns
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 7044. Building or improvement by owner, accessed March 25, 2024.

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