Hawaii’s policy for owner-managed construction may change with the 2013 legislative session, according to a story in the Hawaii Reporter (“Owner-Builder License Exemption Part of the Legislation for 2013 Session,” by Anna H. Oshiro). “Under current licensing laws, building owners are exempt from having to have a valid contractors' license if they are performing construction on their own property,” the Reporter explains. But two bills moving through the legislature may sharply curtail the exemption’s scope. “Under both the House and Senate bills, the exemption is limited to only residential and agricultural structures, eliminating the exemption for commercial and industrial buildings,” the paper reports. “Also, the exemption requires owners to comply with certain quasi-licensure requirements, such as mandatory workers compensation insurance for construction workers directly employed by the owner, compliance with the building code, and record-keeping requirements for work completed.”

Karen Nakamura, CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, weighed in for her organization in a February piece posted at the Star Advertiser’s “Hawaii Renovation” page (“Owner Builder Facts,” by Karen Nakamura). “Owners, please educate yourself before signing the Owner Builder building permit application,” urges Nakamura. “When you sign this permit application, you are the contractor on record and you are liable for the safety of all workers as well as compliance to the environmental (EPA) and (OSHA) regulations... The buck stops with you. The owner takes on all the responsibilities and the liabilities of the general contractor.” Asks Nakamura: “Is the risk worth taking when your net worth and lives are impacted?”