Building Process Overview
We’ve streamlined the process for anyone who wants to build in Arlington County — from planning to project completion and maintenance.
While every project will have its own details and timeline, we’ve outlined the basic workflow that guides planning, permitting, inspecting, occupation and maintenance. Some things you can do yourself, while others may require our assistance or approval.
Plan Your Project
Many building projects revolve around adding, finishing, or renovating. Regardless of your project, get started with the steps below.
STEP 1: What's your zoning district?
All property in Arlington is assigned to a particular zoning district, and each zoning district has specific regulations that apply to it. Check the Zoning Map to determine what district your project falls in. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, give us a call or come to our office. If you decide to come to the office, bring a scaled plat with you. This will help us determine what you can do on your property.
STEP 2: What's allowed in your zoning district?
Once you've determined your zoning district, check the Zoning Ordinance to determine if your project is allowed by-right or if your project requires additional approval or “special exception” from the County Board or Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Most projects will require one or a series of permits and inspections, outlined below. If your project qualifies as a special exception, you will need to apply for approval and a public hearing as an initial step.
STEP 3: What permits are required?
Most construction projects require permits. Determine if your project requires permits. All permits require an application and some applications require construction drawings and a plat. We refer to these as construction documents. To ensure that staff has sufficient information, and to reduce delays in reviewing your project, minimum submittal requirements have been established to facilitate this process. Use the Residential Permit Submission Requirements and the Commercial Permit Submission Requirements to get started.
All new projects must follow the current Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSC). We understand that these building codes and regulations are complex and we’re here to help. We offer a free Code Consultation to help you understand what your construction drawings need to include.
If your project disturbs more than 2,500 square feet of land during construction, you will need a Land Disturbing Activity (LDA) permit. Some projects may have additional requirements or permits.
STEP 4: How much will the permits cost?
All permits have fees associated with them. View Fee Schedules to help you budget.