Applications for Building permits and Land Disturbing Activity permits may be submitted online using the ePlan Review portal. These include commercial new construction, additions and renovations, residential new construction, additions and renovations, and land disturbing.
A Residential Building Permit is required for the construction or demolition of a building or structure, installations or alterations involving:
- The removal or addition of any wall, partition or portion thereof
- Any structural component (certain exemptions apply – see below)
- The repair or replacement of any required component of a fire- or smoke-rated assembly
- The alteration of any required means of egress system
- Water supply and distribution system, sanitary drainage system or vent system
- Electric wiring
- Fire protection system, mechanical systems or fuel supply systems or
- Any equipment regulated by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC)
Depending on the project, additional permits and approvals may be required.
Additional circumstances that require a building permit include:
- Movement of a lot line that either raises the level of hazard or lowers the level of safety of an existing building or structure compared to the building code under which it was constructed.
- Removal or disturbing of any asbestos-containing materials during the construction or demolition of a building or structure, including additions. (From the 2006 Virginia Construction Code, Part I of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code)
The 2012 Virginia Residential Code references the following permit exemptions:
- Installation of wiring and equipment that 1) operates at less than 50 volts; 2) is for network powered broadband communications systems, or 3) is exempt under Section 102.3(1), except when any such installations are located in a plenum, penetrate fire rated or smoke protected construction or are a component of any of the following: fire alarm system, fire detection system, fire suppression system, smoke control system, fire protection supervisory system, elevator fire safety control system, access or egress control system or delayed egress locking or latching system, fire damper or door control system.
- One story detached structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses, provided the building area does not exceed 256 square feet (23.78 m2) and the structures are not classified as a Group F-1 or H occupancy.
- Detached prefabricated buildings housing the equipment of a publicly regulated utility service, provided the floor area does not exceed 150 square feet (14 m2).
- Tents or air-supported structures, or both, that cover an area of 900 square feet (84 m2) or less, including within that area all connecting areas or spaces with a common means of egress or entrance, provided such tents or structures have an occupant load of 50 or less persons.
- Fences of any height unless required for pedestrian safety as provided for by Section 3306, or used for the barrier for a swimming pool.
- Concrete or masonry walls, provided such walls do not exceed 6 feet (1829 mm) in height above the finished grade. Ornamental column caps shall not be considered to contribute to the height of the wall and shall be permitted to extend above the 6 feet (1829 mm) height measurement.
- Retaining walls supporting less than 3 feet (914 mm) of unbalanced fill that are not constructed for the purpose of impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids or supporting a surcharge other than ordinary unbalanced fill.
- Swimming pools that have a surface area not greater than 150 square feet (13.95 m2), do not exceed 5,000 gallons (19 000 L) and are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
- Signs under the conditions in Section H101.2 of Appendix H.
- Replacement of above-ground existing LP-gas containers of the same capacity in the same location and associated regulators when installed by the serving gas supplier.
- Flagpoles 30 feet (9144 mm) or less in height.
- Temporary ramps serving dwelling units in Group R-3 and R-5 occupancies where the height of the entrance served by the ramp is no more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade.
- Construction work deemed by the building official to be minor and ordinary and which does not adversely affect public health or general safety.
- Ordinary repairs that include the following:
- Replacement of windows and doors with windows and doors of similar operation and opening dimensions that do not require changes to the existing framed opening and that are not required to be fire rated in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of plumbing fixtures and well pumps in all groups without alteration of the water supply and distribution systems, sanitary drainage systems or vent systems.
- Replacement of general use snap switches, dimmer and control switches, 125 volt-15 or 20 ampere receptacles, luminaires (lighting fixtures) and ceiling (paddle) fans in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of mechanical appliances provided such equipment is not fueled by gas or oil in Group R-2 where serving a single-family dwelling and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of an unlimited amount of roof covering or siding in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 provided the building or structure is not in an area where the design (3 second gust) wind speed is greater than 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr) and replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof covering in all groups and all wind zones.
- Replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof decking in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 unless the decking to be replaced was required at the time of original construction to be fire-retardant-treated or protected in some other way to form a fire-rated wall termination.
- Installation or replacement of floor finishes in all occupancies.
- Replacement of Class C interior wall or ceiling finishes installed in Groups A, E and I and replacement of all classes of interior wall or ceiling finishes in other groups.
- Installation or replacement of cabinetry or trim.
- Application of paint or wallpaper.
- Other repair work deemed by the building official to be minor and ordinary which does not adversely affect public health or general safety.
- Crypts, mausoleums, and columbaria structures not exceeding 1,500 square feet (139.35 m2) in area if the building or structure is not for occupancy and used solely for the interment of human or animal remains and is not subject to special inspections.
- Exception: Application for a permit may be required by the building official for the installation of replacement siding, roofing and windows in buildings within a historic district designated by a locality pursuant to Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia.
The Department of Environmental Services (DES), per section 57-4, chapter 48 & 61 of the Arlington County Code, requires that the property owner or contractor verify that any of the proposed work listed in this section will not be executed within a Resource Protection Area (RPA), 100 year flood plain, or a County required Flood Buffer Zone, and the limits of land disturbance is demonstrated on a certified plat, to scale, will be less than 2500 square feet.
DES may require additional permits related to residential building projects:
- A Land Disturbing Activity Permit Application is required for any activities that disturb more than 2,500 square feet of land. See Residential Permit Submission Requirements for guidelines on how to calculate total area of disturbance.
- A Flood Plain permit is required if purposed construction is within the 100-year flood plain or County-required Flood Buffer Zone. Contact DES for the permit.
- Right-of-Way permits for installation, connection, repairs of utilities and/or any work performed within the county right-of-way (sidewalk, curb and gutter, driveway apron, gas, electric, etc.).
- Transportation Right-of-Way permits for any proposed work that may block or substantially limit the use of the roadway, sidewalks and/or parking meters, including the use of construction equipment, cranes, dumpster, PODs, trailers, trucks, lane closures, over weight and oversized vehicles, parking meter closures, and sidewalk closures in the public right of way.
DES fees vary depending on the type of permit, situation and time duration needed. Contact DES for more information.