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Whenever you construct, reconstruct, enlarge, alter, or demolish a structure, a permit is required prior to starting the work. If you are unsure if your project requires a permit, please contact the Building Division at (540) 658-8650.
The following are examples of work that require a building permit (see USBC 108.1):
Alteration of any required means of egress
Building a new house
Building an addition onto an existing house or attached garage
Converting an existing deck or screened porch into a sunroom
Building an attached or detached garage or carport
Converting a garage to a habitable space or enclosing a carport
Building a porch, screened porch, deck, associated steps, ramp, pergola, portico, or gazebo
Building or installing a tool shed over 256 square feet in area- Please note that a zoning permit is required for all sheds.
Finishing off an unfinished attic, basement, or room over the garage
Installing a flag pole over 30’ in height, please note that a Zoning permit is required for all flag poles
Moving or removing a load bearing wall or partition
Retaining wall which support 3 or more feet of unbalanced fill
Bulkheads, piers, and docks
Repairing, altering, enlarging or modifying any structural element of the house, including any damaged structural element, such as load bearing stud walls, columns, piers, footings, foundations, floor joists, rafters, beams or girders
Replacing/adding fuel fired equipment
Enlarging or adding a door opening or window opening
Changing the use of the structure (example: change from residential use to business use)
Installing a pool, hot tub or spa greater than 150 square feet, 5000 gallons, OR 24" deep
Re-roofing commercial buildings
New electrical wiring or circuits
Movement of lot line that increases hazard or safety of existing structure
Removal or disturbance of any material containing asbestos for demolition or alteration of a building
Demolition of an existing structure The building code allows some work to be done without obtaining a permit. While a permit is not required, the work must be in compliance with the code.
Some examples of work that does not require a permit include (see USBC 108.2):
Making ordinary repairs and improvements, including, but not limited to:
Painting the inside or outside of the house or detached structures
Repairing drywall, plaster, exterior siding, etc.
Installing new floor coverings, such as vinyl, carpet, or hardwood
Installing or refurbishing cabinetry
Repairing or replacing porch or deck flooring boards Please note a permit is required to repair or replace the joists or girders.
Repairing or replacing handrails on a porch
Installing or replacing doors and windows, including storm windows, where no structural changes are performed
Installing or replacing exterior siding
Residential re-roofing: Old shingle roof can be left in place provided that there are not more than two previous layers of shingles and that the existing shingles are not water saturated.
Installing or replacing gutters and downspouts
Repairing or replacing siding
Installing driveways or sidewalks
Constructing or installing a storage shed, playhouse, etc, 256 square feet or less in area Zoning permit required.
Adding a fence (which is not part of a swimming pool enclosure) and which is 6’ or less in height Refer to subdivision covenants (if applicable)
Building recreational equipment, such as swings, skateboard ramps, jungle gyms, etc.
Adding roof insulation
Installing any wiring or equipment which operates at less than 50 volts
Installing a security alarm system
Replacing existing electrical water heater with a new electric water heater
Replacing electrical fixtures, such as switches and receptacles •Installing or replacing a ceiling fan to a pre-wired switch
Replacing plumbing fixtures, such as sinks
Replacing or repairing existing mechanical appliances (of equal size and type) This exception is not applicable to gas and oil-fired appliances.
Temporary ADA ramps with less than 30” rise for residential properties
Construction plans are a critical aspect of the construction process. The complete construction drawings serve many capacities including but not limited to: •Outlining materials and methods of construction •Clarifying the scope of work for the understanding of all parties involved (contractor, owner/occupant, inspector, etc.) •Serve as an archived record of the proposed work (as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia) •Serve as a means of confirmation of structural adequacy by the plan reviewer correcting a deficiency after installation is often difficult and costly; a detailed set of plans greatly reduces the potential for this to occur. A good set of construction plans benefits everyone involved in the construction process.
There are several reviews your application must go through before it can be approved, each of which are completed by a different department or division:
• Environmental• Grading, Erosion and Sediment Control and Drainage• Zoning• Utilities or Health Department• Application Review
Economic and seasonal influences can effect review times significantly. It is our priority to review your plan quickly and efficiently.
2015 USBC, however applicants have the option of using the 2012 USBC until September 4, 2019.
The Building Inspectors are able to give estimated arrival times. The inspector makes many stops at different job sites during the day; often problems occur where the inspector cannot leave the job site due to the permit holder having other questions, or there could be emergencies where an inspector must abandon the route set in the morning to attend to the emergency call. Rather than commit to an exact time when the inspector will be at your job site, and not be able to meet the commitment due to unforeseen circumstances, the Building Division will supply a two hour window of arrival. You can find your estimated arrival time on the IWR or by calling the inspections office at (540) 658-8950 after 7:30am the morning of your inspection.
• Holdovers from the previous day• Homeowners (as many take time from work to meet the inspector)• Concrete pours as the concrete delivery is scheduled and anticipated• Final inspections for new homes (as this affects closing dates and moving plans)• Ditches/ trenches that pose a hazard• Electrical service inspections that require power interruptions
As you can see there are many circumstances that require a sense of urgency. We appreciate your patience as we make every effort to provide efficient service to Stafford County residents and contractors.