City & County of Honolulu Railing Building Code

An updated Building Code means Honolulu's high rises are safer than ever.
An updated Building Code means Honolulu's high rises are safer than ever. (Image: Diamonhead View image by Rick Chesler from

Whether you're on vacation or building a new home, it's always a good idea to read up on building safety. In 2007, the the City and County of Honolulu established regulations regarding balcony, stairwell and ramp safety railings.


Railings should measure between 30 and 36 inches in height. They may have no more than two horizontal rails. Decorative cut-outs or indentations should measure 1 3/4 of an inch or less.


Stairways must be equipped with at least one handrail that connects to the floor, wall or guardrail. Handrails must extend 12 inches horizontally at the top and incline downward for the height of one step, then extend horizontally for 12 inches plus the length of one step at the bottom. Individual steps may be a maximum height of 8 inches and a minimum length of 9 inches.


All ramps in excess of 6 inches tall or 72 inches long must include handrails. Handrails must be located exactly 1 1/2 inches from the closest wall and measure between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Ramp handrails should extend at least 12 inches horizontally at the top and bottom of the ramp.


Although structures built prior to 2007 are exempt from the new code, building owners are required to eliminate safety hazards to occupants and the public.

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