One of the unique parts of Hawaiian culture is the reverence for embracing both the past and the present and making them work together. On Maui, Ohanas are one such concept.
The word literally means “family.” However, the concept of “ohana” isn’t limited to blood relatives. Ohana embraces and includes one’s larger circle of associates, including friends, neighbors, and others that are important in one’s life. Over time, “ohana” has also come to mean a structural addition to one’s homestead for the same reason.
An Ohana On Your Property
Mainland folks are familiar with the “mother-in-law house,” the smaller home or cottage built on a homeowner’s property for the benefit of a widowed mother or other relative. You can also build a cottage on your property (in some areas) for a disabled individual, or for a relative to age in place while under the supervision of a family member in the main home.
In Maui, this kind of structure is called an ohana. Originally built for much the same reason, ohanas are a place for visitors, older relatives, or even adult children and their families may live on the original homeowner’s land.
Because more and more non-Hawaiians have moved into the state in recent years, housing for everyone has become more difficult and expensive throughout all the islands. Ohanas have become an ideal solution to this housing crisis.
Ohanas On Your Property
Legally, these secondary structures are called “accessory dwelling units.”
Ohanas are now seen as alternatives to the tight housing market on the Islands, both for renters and for homeowners. These secondary structures can increase the stock of available rental units to those who need them and provide an additional stream of income for homeowners to help pay for the mortgage. Building an ohana can cost significantly less than a new construction of a standard single-family dwelling, and renovating an existing one can cost even less.
Recently implemented laws change the requirements for ohanas, allowing lots up to 7500 square feet to build a 500 square-foot ohana. Lots above 7500 square feet can have two ohanas, and the size increases on larger lots as well.
Under the new law, short-term vacation rentals are now prohibited. This is intended to encourage long-term rentals and ease the shortage of available and affordable housing in Maui.
Requirements for accessory farm dwellings, located on agricultural land, have not been changed. However, renovating structures on agricultural land to become an ohana dwelling will still need permission and permits.
And The “Nohana?”
We’ve discussed “after the fact” building permits that you may find yourself facing if you buy a property that has unpermitted work on it. This can apply to ohanas as well, coining the term “nohana.” They can be:
- A structure that was previously built with a permit but was later renovated without proper permits
- A hidden building that nobody can see and was built without permission or a building permit
- Structures that were previously permitted and approved for another use but is now being used as a dwelling
- A structure built on agricultural land that doesn’t need a permit, but have since had unpermitted upgrades like plumbing and kitchen fixtures added to turn it into living quarters
Like any unpermitted improvements, it may not make a difference until the county of Maui discovers its existence. The county’s website has important information regarding ohanas, including permits sizes, and other frequently asked questions.
Let Pro Draft Help With Your New Or Existing Ohana
If you have an ohana you’re thinking of renovating, are considering adding one to your property, call us. The new, relaxed rules allow more ohana than before, but you must still follow the rules.
Pro Draft is ready to help with architecture, drawings, blueprints, permits, and to answer all of your questions before the first day of construction. We’re happy to help and will work to ensure your ohana is done correctly.