Accessibility is an important component of the building permit process, with a goal of providing equal access to all people, regardless of their physical ability. As you begin a renovation or addition project to a commercial building (one- and two-family buildings are exempt), determine the accessibility needs and requirements early, and budget appropriately.
Arlington follows the International International Building Code (IBC) standards as part of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC) – Building Code. The IBC is the most widely-adopted code in the United States, and it meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Every community that uses the IBC in its legislation can adapt the code to its specific needs. In this case, the Arlington can only enforce parts of the law that deal with the built environment within a given site. These provisions do not address Excavation Right-of-Way.
Note: In-person applications are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 health crisis and Permit Office closure. Mailed applications for this permit will be accepted.
- You must complete an Accessibility Compliance Form
- Submit all construction documents for alteration and addition to all buildings
- With the exception of one- and two-family dwellings
- Submit a cost-disproportionality statement signed and sealed by a Virginia-registered design professional and/or the building owner
- The statement must specify the improvements to be made to the path of travel within the 20 percent prescription
- To apply online:
- You must submit the form along with a building or trades permit application
- To apply on paper:
- Submit application in person at the Arlington County Permit Office along with a building or trades permit application
Requirements and Budget
The Building Code requires that when an alteration or addition is made to an area containing a primary function, additional funds must be spent to make an accessible path of travel, as long as the cost of making an accessible path of travel is not disproportionate to the cost of construction.
- Primary function: areas that include (but are not limited to) spaces such as lobbies, dining areas, meeting rooms and other areas in which public / private activities are carried out.
- Path of travel is the route that one would take from the building entrance to the altered area, as well as the route to all bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area. Path of travel also includes the areas containing these services and the fixtures and elements therein.
- Disproportionality is defined as 20% of the cost of adding to or altering a primary function area.
- Example: if someone were to spend $1,000 to alter a primary function area, they would have to spend up to an additional $200 towards creating an accessible path of travel. The VUSBC also lists items in order of priority, to which the 20% additional cost figure applies.
Fee Schedules provide the range of fees charged for each type of application or activity related to land development in Arlington. Fees cover permitting, plan review, enforcement, inspection, service delivery, performance agreements and conditions. There are separate fee schedules for Inspection Services Division (ISD), Zoning and the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Some permits involve fees from more than one schedule.