One of the areas that can really impact a property’s highest and best use is ZONING. There are zoning guidelines for all types of property like Agriculture, Preservation, Apartment and more. Zoning rules are in place to control the “use” of each property and the “physical limits” that our City & County allows when “improving” the property.  Kay Mukaigawa of Engel and Volkers shares information on residential zoning.

“When you see a property zoned R-5, the “R” refers to Residential and the “5” indicates 5000 sf as the minimum land within the category. Each home may have 1 kitchen and a kitchen is defined as a refrigerator, sink and a stove.  If the land is 7500 sf, you might be able to build a duplex which is an attached property, but has 2 legal kitchens. If the land is 10,000 sf, you might be able to build 2 detached homes on the property.  There are many variables that need to be addressed before beginning. Important factors like the specific neighborhood, the sewer capacity and utilities are all concerns that you would need to discuss with a licensed architect.  There are some areas that you think are residential and you may see a commercial property and could even be zoned for an apartment. I sold a home in the Makiki area and the owner put up a legal studio above their garage because the A-1 Apartment zoning allowed for it.”

Kay’s brother owns a fish market in Kalihi that was once a small house, but zoned IMX-1 industrial use.
“This is the broadest zoning which allows for business or residential to be built on the same property. He tore down the small home on the property and was able to build a structure that included his fish market and even a 2 bedroom apartment above it.”

If you’re curious about the zoning on your property and understanding what the potential could be, give Engel and Volkers  a call at 725-2000. Or visit them online at