Thursday, November 26, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, July 12, 2019
A Step in the Right Direction
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 4:06 PM :: 1562 Views :: Small Business

A Step in the Right Direction

From Grassroot Institute, July 12, 2019

Imagine that you have a small repair job to do on your house, something that you’re not quite comfortable doing yourself, but which shouldn’t require calling in a contractor.

Maybe the most recent tropical storm managed to damage two separate screen doors and the mosquitos are enjoying unrestricted access to your living room.

Perhaps you misjudged the size of the new bookcase you were moving into the bedroom and you punched a hole in the drywall — the same wall you just painted that perfect shade of blue.

Or maybe you finally saved enough to replace the kitchen cabinet doors that your spouse hates.

None of these are big home-improvement projects, but they could each end up costing more than expected because of an obscure state law that requires property owners and managers to hire licensed contractors for any work requiring building permits or the value of which exceeds a threshold known as the “handyman exemption.”

For almost three decades, the handyman exemption in Hawaii was capped at $1,000, a limit that includes the cost of labor and materials. But in a state where the cost of everything is notoriously high, it was very easy to reach that limit even on small jobs. The result was frustration and added expense for homeowners or property managers who had to find contractors available and willing to take on such work. 

It also hurt the small business handyman, who wasn’t trying to compete with the scope of work a licensed contractor can perform, but found handyman opportunities strangled by government regulation.

This year, the Hawaii Legislature revisited the handyman exemption and raised the cap to $1,500. As Mauloa Akina, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s newest intern, explained in a recent Honolulu Civil Beat commentary, that’s a step in the right direction. But the modest increase doesn’t solve the problem at the heart of this needless regulation.

Fixing a broken fence or repairing a few windows isn’t a profitable use of time for many contracting companies. But the handyman exemption is capped so low that property owners can’t legally go to the "right man for the job." And the stakes are even higher if it's an emergency and the work needs to be done quickly. 

The rationale for the handyman exemption is that it protects consumers against work from unlicensed contractors. But there undoubtedly are ways to safeguard consumers without overregulating minor home repairs.

At a minimum, the handyman exemption should be raised to better reflect the real costs of labor and materials, if not at least the rate of inflation. A homeowner shouldn’t have to hire a contractor just to fix a fence or match the paint on a drywall patch.

The Legislature also could explore the possibility of removing spending caps completely. Instead, regulations could focus on the types of work that should be performed by only licensed professionals.

There is room to protect consumers, contractors and homeowners who need to get a few windows fixed after a storm. As in so many things, this is a place where the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii motto, “E hana kakou” (“Let’s work together”), shows us the way. 

Contractors, homeowners, legislators, unions and property managers represent different interests in this issue. We simply have to work together on a reasonable compromise.

E hana kakou! (Let's work together!),  

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii


Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii