Kauai Building Codes: non-conforming versus illegal.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with KAUAI DREAMS REALTY Kauai Real Property Specialist RB-14203

Non Conforming vs. Illegal, What’s the difference?

 Kauai Kitchen 1Kauai kitchen 2

Upon inspection I found 2 kitchens in this single famly zoned house. 

At a Kauai broker caravan a couple years ago I toured a house in Wailua Homesteads where the listing broker explained that the apartments located in the backyard “sheds” were non-conforming. “Excuse me” I said “there is nothing nonconforming about these units, they are illegal”.


The term non-conforming tends to be over used in Kauai real estate. (Probably because it sounds better then illegal). Non-conforming generally refers to structures that do not conform to current zoning laws but were built prior to the Kauai Comprehensive Zoning Ordinances that went into effect in the early 1970s. For example a property that is zoned for one house but had two houses built on the property in 1963 is non-conforming but legal. A house that is built in 2010 may have legal permitted sheds, but when you add kitchens with stoves to the sheds and change the use to residential you have an illegal use by County of Kauai Planning Department standards and possibly Department of Health violations.


Although prosecution for illegal improvements or illegal use of improvements is not common, but it can happen.Tthe County of Kauai usually tries to work with the violating homeowner first. Your bigger concern when it comes to buying a property with illegal improvements should be the health & safety of its occupants and the general public. After all this is the main reason we have building codes.


So if you are planning on buying a Kauai house besure to check the legalities of the structures. This can be done by going on line to Kauai.gov and checking out the building permits on line or by going to the Planning Department at the civic center in Lihue. It's not a crime to buy property that don't have the proper permits. But you should know what you are buying.


Call or email me if you have a question about buying  property on Kauai. Juie Black Realtor RB-14203, 808 652-6174 julie@hisemail.net.



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CLMHS CRS GRI Realtor/Broker/Owner Kauai Dreams Realty 


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Patricia Kennedy
Redfin - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hmmm.  Is it possible that the owners kept kosher?  That's the excuse people use here for homes with two kitchens.

Apr 05, 2016 12:10 PM #1
Julie A. Black
KAUAI DREAMS REALTY Kauai Real Property Specialist - Kapaa, HI
CLHMS, CRS, GRI, Realtor, Broker

Patricia Kennedy That's funny. I never heard that excuse before. It's usally for the extra rental income. Housing is tight on Kauai.

Apr 05, 2016 12:22 PM #2
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

As you have said there is a big difference, unfortunately this stuff shows up, usually during the appraisal process.

Apr 06, 2016 08:22 AM #3
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Julie A. Black

CLHMS, CRS, GRI, Realtor, Broker
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