Men working on collapsed home in Wahiawa had no permits - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Men working on collapsed home in Wahiawa had no permits

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Art Challacombe (Image: Hawaii News Now) Art Challacombe (Image: Hawaii News Now)
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

New information about the home in Wahiawa that collapsed on a construction worker Tuesday afternoon show the men that were renovating the home did not have permits to do so.

Police sources said the home was up on jacks while five men were underneath doing renovations around 1:30 p.m. They say the men heard the house cracking and saw it shifting and ran out from underneath, but one man didn't make it out in time. The 30-year-old was trapped for about 40 minutes before firefighters cut him out with chainsaws.

Both the city and the state have launched investigations.

The city's Department of Planning and Permitting Deputy Director said this could have been prevented if the crew had applied for a permit.

"If the inspector would have gone out and seen an unsafe condition, or work that was done that wasn't in accordance with approved plans, yes, the inspector would have stopped the work immediately," Art Challacombe said.

Challacombe said no building permit application was filed before work began. Instead, about six hours after the home collapsed, the city received an online permit application for the property. 

When Challacombe was asked if that was odd, he responded, "Yes it is."

Public records show the home was built in 1938, almost 80 years ago. The home was sold less than three weeks ago for $359,000. The real estate agent said it was listed in writing that the house was in “very poor condition” and he said he thought the new owners would demolish it anyway. He said he was shocked when he heard they were renovating it.

It is unclear if the workers were licensed contractors. Challacombe said a licensed contractor should have been present.

"By Hawaii state law and our building codes, a licensed contractor must be on site and supervising the work," said Challacombe.

DPP ordered the owners to remove the debris from the property within 30 days. The owners were also ordered to obtain a demolition permit.

“We understand that renovation work was being done and we have no building permit on file for this work. However, we did not cite the owner for this because the remedy for building without a permit would be to stop the work, and remove the illegal construction or obtain a permit for the work. Since the home was destroyed, it was deemed that the renovation was not possible,” said Curtis Lum, Public Information Officer for DPP.

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