Permits are often required to build, clear land or dump dirt. This is intended to protect residents and neighborhoods from unsafe construction, as well as safeguard our environment.
Even if a building permit is not required, you must comply with Zoning regulations. Please call 703-222-1082, TTY 711, to speak to a Zoning technician.
Contact the Department of Code Compliance if you see building or land clearing without a permit or if you have a complaint about an unlicensed contractor.
To make a complaint about a potentially unlicensed contractor:
- Call the Department of Code Compliance, 703-324-1300, TTY 711; or
- Call the Virginia State Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 804-367-8500, TTY 711.
Before hiring a contractor, check to make sure they are licensed:
- Call the Permit Application Center, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, 703-222-0801, TTY 711; or
- Review a contractor's status on the state's online database.
Also consider checking out contractors in the county’s consumer complaints database.
Fairfax County requires a building permit for most new residential and commercial construction. Typical home improvement projects that require a permit include:
- Attic pull-down stairs
- Attics, finish existing
- Basements, build or enlarge
- Carports, new or enclose existing
- Decks, new (on footings or posts) or enclose existing
- Fences and privacy walls, exceeding 6 feet in height
- Masonry chimneys
- Porches and sunrooms, new and enclose existing
- Retaining walls, supporting more than 2 feet of earth
- Sheds, attached to house
- Sheds or playhouses, detached greater than 200 square feet or more than one story.
- Swimming pools, spas, hot tubs
Unpermitted Land Disturbance
To clear land, dig up dirt or dump fill dirt, a county permit may be needed. A site permit, grading plan and conservation deposit are required for any project that will disturb 2,500 square feet or more of land.
When is a permit needed?
Most projects do not need permits and plans, including:
- Gardening or landscaping at home.
- Installing a fence, post or sign (a building permit may be required).
- Digging for individual sewer or water connections.
Typical projects that may disturb 2,500 square feet of land include:
- Building an addition to your home.
- Building a large garage or carport.
- Installing a paved driveway or in-ground swimming pool.
Clues to possible illegal land disturbance:
- The activity takes place before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. or on weekends.
- There is no company name on the construction vehicles or equipment.
- There is no advertising sign for the construction company doing the work at the site.
- The land is being cleared without surveyor’s flags on trees.
- There is no construction entrance next to the road (eg. an area of stone and gravel placed to keep mud off of streets).