The Virginia Construction Code (Sections 112 and 1703) allows the use of a product or material not recognized by the code provided designers submit research and evaluation data during the permit application phase to support the product or material's use.
Such data must include an evaluation report from an accredited evaluation service such as the International Code Council - Evaluation Service (ICC-ES). Evaluation reports are a technical review of a product or material's compliance to code requirements. The evaluation service will publish an evaluation report after reviewing technical information and testing data from the manufacturer and assessing the product or material's equivalency to the provisions of the current building code.
Evaluation reports give direction to designers, code officials and contractors on design, installation, plan review and inspection requirements for a product or material. Therefore, when using an unrecognized product or material, you must ensure the following when submitting plans during permit application.
- Thoroughly read the evaluation report; pay particular attention to plan submission requirements.
- Ensure plan submission requirements are followed. Some may include specific notes or details to be incorporated into the construction documents and/or structural calculations to be submitted with the plans.
- Look for conditions of use and ensure your use of the product or material falls within the specified limitations.
- Be certain that the evaluation report references the current building code or, at a minimum, the previous code.
- Attach a copy of the evaluation report to each set of the building plans submitted to the county.
Fairfax County provides direct access to evaluation reports for plastic decking and rail and fiberglass columns. However, you may search the Web sites of evaluation services such as ICC-ES for approved evaluation reports.