This page compiles information about several projects commonly undertaken by homeowners. Each requires, or may require, a residential building permit. Some may require another permit as well. Because expiration criteria vary among permit types, be sure to know when your permit(s) expire. Also check to see if the person obtaining the permit(s) needs a Permit Authorization Affidavit.
- Accessory Dwelling—Refer to Accessory Dwelling Permit for information about the permitting requirements and review process
- Fence/Retaining Wall
- Finishing a Basement—Refer to Residential Building Permit for information about the permitting requirements and review process. Refer to Residential Interior Alteration for submission requirements
- Waterproofing a Basement
Permit: A deck more than eight (8) inches in height above the adjacent grade at any point requires a Residential Building Permit.
Wood decks, concrete pads or patios that are not attached to the foundation of the house or are not more than eight (8) inches in height above the adjacent grade at any point do not require a building permit. However, the land disturbance may require a permit from the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Contact DES at 703-228-3629.
Submission Requirements: See requirements for a residential deck.
Inspections: Once a building permit is approved, construction can proceed. You must schedule an inspection to ensure the safety and proper progress of the project.
- Deck Inspections
- Footing inspection: footing holes are inspected prior to concrete placement. At the time of the footing inspection, you must have the ledger board attached to the existing house.
- Framing inspection: joists, beams, connections and mechanical attachments are inspected prior to placement of decking. In this inspection, lag screws, thru bolts and expansion anchors at the ledger board are inspected and turned to insure proper installation and tightening. Access to the inside of the house may be required.
- Final inspection: all remaining items are inspected.
Fees: See Fee Schedules
Fence or Retaining Wall
Permits: Residential Building or Fence Permit
You must apply for a Residential Building Permit if:
- The fence serves as a barrier for a swimming pool or for pedestrian safety
- The retaining wall retains three (3) ft. or more of soil at any point along the wall, or
- The masonry or concrete wall exceeds six (6) ft. in height above grade at any point along the wall
Note about fence placement disputes: The Zoning Division does not enforce property lines. You should work with a Virginia-licensed land surveyor to verify them.
Generally, Arlington County does not stipulate which side of a fence is exposed to neighbors or public rights-of-way. The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, however, may dictate otherwise for properties that are registered as historic or located within a local historic district (LHD).
Note: In-person applications are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 health crisis and Permit Office closure.
- You must complete a Fence Permit Application only if you do not not need a building permit
- See requirements for a residential addition. Refer to submission requirements for a residential fence or retaining wall for more information
- To apply online:
- Submit application via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Include one permit application per email
- If applicable, include plans and supporting documents for each application. The maximum attachment(s) size is 25MB
- If multiple emails are required due to file size limitations, please use the same Subject line and indicate there are multiple emails (i.e., 1 of 3)
- To apply on paper:
- Submit application in person at the Arlington County Permit Office
Inspections: If your fence or retaining wall requires a residential building permit, it also requires an inspection. If your fence or retaining wall does not require a residential building permit—that is, if it requires a fence permit—it does not require inspections.
- View Fee Schedules and Payment Methods.
- This permit, and ongoing certifications, can be paid for online. Access the online payment portal.
Permits: Residential Building and Trade. Note: installing a communal pool (e.g., for a condominium complex) or water feature is a commercial project and requires Department of Human Services (DHS) review and inspections.
Inspections: See Building and Trade Inspections. Note that communal (commercial) pools also require health inspections, plan review and a license (see Water Recreation Facility Licenses).
Fees: See Fee Schedules
Waterproofing a Basement
There are several ways to waterproof a basement, such as adding interior sealants and drainage systems or installing a sump pump. No one method is considered standard.
Submission Requirements: See requirements for waterproofing a basement.
Inspections: See Building and Trade Inspections.
Fees: See Fee Schedules