The Permit Process
A permit, when required, is a document, required by state law, granting legal permission to start construction.
The information below is the most common process for obtaining a permit; it does not reflect all the conditions you may encounter. Refer to project specific information for further details.
Step 1: The Permit Application Center
Staff at the Permit Application Center will provide you with the resources and information necessary to make your project a success and to avoid potential problems which could cost you time and money. Be prepared to discuss your project with permit staff who will ask you questions such as “What are you planning to do?” and “Where are you planning to do it?” The permit staff will discuss the specific process for your project with you.
Fairfax County issues separate building permits and trade (electrical, mechanical and plumbing) permits. Therefore, depending on your project, you may need multiple permits.
- View a chart of the Building Permits and Inspections process.
- Building Permits - From Start to Finish (Video).
- Learn more about when a permit is required.
Permit Application Center
The Herrity Building
12055 Government Center Parkway, 2nd Floor
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
Step 2: Permit Application
A completed permit application is required prior to beginning the administrative process. You may pick up a permit application at the Permit Application Center or online. You’ll be asked to document “who” will perform the work and “what,” “where,” and “how” the work will be completed. Drawings, plans or other documentation of the proposed work may be required. You may be asked to pay for all or part of your permit fee at the time of application.
Step 3: The Review Process
During the review process, county staff will determine if your project is in compliance with the building code, the zoning ordinance, and other county or state ordinances and statutes. The length of the review process will depend on the type and complexity of the project. Many small residential applications can be processed in one day. Posted plan review timeframes are kept online.
Step 4: Permit Approval
When compliance with the code, zoning ordinances and other applicable statutes are determined, the permit application is approved. Once all final permit fees are paid, the permit is issued.
However, if the permit application is not approved or a review has failed, your permit application as submitted will be denied. When a permit application is denied, you must make the necessary corrections and resubmit the application. Staff will post deficiencies online for your convenience.
Step 5: Construction
During the entire construction phase, all permits must be placed in a window or other prominent place at the project site and a copy of the county-approved building plans and related documents must be maintained at the site.
Step 6: Inspections
Each major phase of construction must be inspected by a county inspector to make certain the work conforms to the code, the permit and the approved plans.
Inspection requests for each permit may be made via the website or in person. Normally, the response is one business day after the request is made.
If an inspector finds that work does not conform to the approved plans, the inspector will fail the inspection and provide comments. Another inspection will be necessary before work is resumed.
Step 7: Field Changes
Most changes will require a review and approval in the same manner as the original application. Please bring any proposed revisions or alterations to the attention of the permit staff before making changes in the field.
Step 8: Project Completion
When the project is completed and code compliance is determined, the inspector issues a final inspection. The final inspection marks the completion of your project and grants permission to occupy a building with the knowledge that it has met the minimum safety standards as required by code.