Enclosed Lanai’s – Common Problem In Hawaii

In Hawaii it is very common to enclose a lanai.   During the Permit-Check process we carefully check the lanai’s that are on the property. Why is this important? This is often a source for major problems.  Here is a case that shows many common problems with enclosed Lanais:

More outlets are required which are often not installed.   If they were, and before 2008,   it is likely that they may not have the correct wire size and it will need to be replaced.   These wires are now required to be yellow, which is the at a glance way to know they are 12 gauge wire and suitable for outlets.



Another common thing is for electrical panels to be obstructed.   This washer and dryer are not allowed to be in front of the circuit breaker panel.


After inspecting the records and the structure we found  problems.  Walls and roof assemblies now need to have insulation installed in them if the now enclosed lanai is considered interior living space.


If the lanai is a bedroom, the windows must meet egress requirements for a fire situation and the bedroom must have a smoke detector near the door and just outside the door.

This basement room was illegally enclosed and made into a bedroom.  This is a code violation for several reasons:

  • the downstairs is now capable of being a second dwelling because there is no interior connecting staircase and the lot isn’t zoned for two residences
  • the “bedroom” would not have had the proper windows for someone to escape a fire.
  • All bedrooms must have windows in single family homes that meet egress requirements.


How it had to be fixed

The wall had to be removed in order to pass inspection and have the permits closed.  The structural load path may be inadequate and need additional hardware or shear walls installed to bring up to code.   The glass wall on the right was built with a permit.

The glass wall to the left with the larger spacing was inadequate and had to be totally rebuilt at significant cost.


This hold down strap is not the correct type and is not being used per the manufacturer’s specifications.  Beam sizes and footings may be inadequate and need to be rebuilt with larger members to meet today’s code



This beam is not properly supported for the load it is supposed to be holding up.    Clearance between the ground and the siding/framing is required to be a certain distance. This un-permitted studio has only two inches of clearance and will require installing sidewalks to meet code.DSC_0109


These footings are inadequate—Not because they won’t hold the small lanai up, but because they are not build correctly to hold the lanai down and in place if the winds blow at hurricane strength.   The posts are bolted to a small block which is just sitting on the larger anchored footing.



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