Can You Build a Barndominium in Hawaii?

The Barndominium was conceptualized and terminologically coined by Norwegian artist Karl Nilsen in 1989, but today, this unique combination of a barn and a condominium can now be found all over the United States. 

There are so many benefits to ditching conventional home construction and opting for a Barndominium instead. 

Barndominiums are less time-consuming to build as well as more cost-effective. They’re also aesthetically pleasing and, most importantly, an eco-friendly alternative to traditional housing. 

Given the environmental and aesthetic benefits of the Barndominium, what better place to build one than Hawaii? 

Hawaii has a relatively strict environmental policy, including the banning of certain sunscreens to protect marine ecosystems. Moreover, the importance of preserving Hawaii’s natural landscapes cannot be overstated.

So, while building any new structure in Hawaii requires careful consideration, a Barndominium is certainly one of the better choices. 

Before you go laying out the blueprints for your new Barndominium though, Hawaii has a few construction legislations that you need to understand. 

Can You Build a Barndominium in Hawaii? 

In short, yes, you can build a Barndominium in Hawaii.

There is a significant precedent for building a Barndominium in Hawaii, with more and more people being drawn to the idea of building a natural-looking home in such an idyllic location. 

Companies such as Country Wide Barns have started to offer customizable construction plans for Barndominiums across the United States, including Hawaii. 

However, just because you can build a Barndominium in Hawaii does not mean that there aren’t regulations surrounding the construction process. 

Let’s take a look at Hawaii’s construction legislation to get a better picture.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Barndominium in Hawaii?

We mentioned earlier that a Barndominium offers an advantage over conventional buildings in terms of cost. 

Of course, the cost of building a Barndominium anywhere will vary depending on the square footage of your build and the materials you choose to incorporate into the structure. 

However, thanks to the introduction of Bill 7, which was passed in 2019 with the aim of addressing the lack of affordable housing in Hawaii, building your Barndominium might be even less expensive than you anticipated! 

Under Bill 7, residents who build property on lots smaller than 20,000 square feet will be eligible for financial incentives. This can vary from property to property, but incentives can take the form of a reduction or waiving or building permit fees, or exemption from property taxes. 

Building a Barndominium in Hawaii: Other Legislation 

The other legislation that was introduced in 2019 is Bill 79, which sets out some restrictions regarding the maximum percentage of a plot of land that a property can take up.

This legislation specifically targets large dwellings, or ‘Monster Homes,’ which the average Barndominium probably wouldn’t classify as. However, some Barndominiums can surpass 4,000 square feet, so if you are planning on building a large-scale Barndominium, it’s worth knowing about these regulations, too. 

According to Bill 79, new buildings cannot take up more than 70% of the plot on which they are built.

Additionally, the bill outlaws constructions that could have the effect of raising the ambient temperature in the surrounding area. This includes any building with more than 75% asphalt or concrete coverage, which would be very atypical for Barndominiums in any case, but is still worth bearing in mind. 

Any building over 15 feet in height must be positioned further than 8 feet from the property boundaries.

Restricted Materials 

What we can deduce from the regulations outlined in these bills is that Hawaii’s property legislation is mostly Barndominium-friendly. 

You will, however, need to ensure that all of the materials you are using in the construction of your new Barndominium are compliant with Hawaii’s environmental policies.

In order to preserve Hawaii’s environment and ecosystems, Hawaii has a list of restricted plant materials. Most plant materials brought into Hawaii from the mainland U.S. are subject to inspection before they can officially be imported onto the Islands. This is a standard procedure designed to check for the presence of any pests, soil, or signs of disease. 

Non-restricted materials usually do not need a permit or a period of quarantine, as long as they are soil and insect-free and do not display any indications of disease.

However, plant materials on the restricted list require a pre-arranged permit prior to importation. 

Before you and/or your plant materials arrive in Hawaii, you will be issued with a form on which you should declare any agricultural materials, including non-restricted and restricted items. 

Upon arrival, plant materials must be declared at the Agricultural Inspection Counter. At this point, any untreated, restricted materials may be taken in for a period of quarantine. 

The reason we mention this is that there are a couple of materials on Hawaii’s list of restricted plant matter that could factor into the construction of your Barndominium. 

Any plant material that is classified as a type of grass will need to be declared and potentially quarantined in the absence of a certificate of treatment. Bamboo comes under this category, which could have implications for Barndominium construction since people who opt for a Barndominium dwelling are also likely to opt for eco-friendly, sustainable materials such as bamboo. 

Parts of pine plants are also on the restricted list, which means that untreated pine wood may also need to be quarantined before it can be brought into Hawaii. 

To avoid your building materials being quarantined or denied entry on arrival, you should make sure that you have completed the requisite forms and labeled your materials correctly. You must also ensure that any materials on the restricted list are shipped with their certificate of treatment. 

Final Thoughts 

If you’ve been thinking about building a Barndominium in Hawaii, the good news is, you can go ahead and make your plans! 

Building a Barndominium in Hawaii is completely legal as long as you comply with the legislation surrounding new property development, updated in 2019. 

Moreover, you will need to ensure that any imported materials from the mainland U.S. are permitted in Hawaii. If a material is on the restricted list, you will need to obtain a permit prior to its arrival and, if available, provide the certificate of treatment.