When a Permit is Required


A permit is required for most new residential and commercial construction. Use the list below to help you determine if your project requires a building permit. If your project is not listed or you need help determining if a permit is required, please contact the Permit Application Center by email or telephone at 703-222-0801, TTY 711.

If a permit is not required, setbacks and other zoning requirements may still apply.  Contact Zoning at 703-222-1082, TTY 711 for more information.

Watch the video! When Do I Need a Building Permit?

A permit IS required for...

  • New buildings, additions and structures
  • Interior alterations (including finished basements) except new floors, carpet, paint, trim work
  • Porches and decks (including alterations to existing)
  • Fences over 6 feet
  • New and replacement gas appliances
  • New and replacement HVAC equipment
  • New plumbing fixtures
  • New electric appliances
  • Sheds and playhouses over 200 square feet
  • Swimming pools except those meeting all of the following:
    • 150 square feet area or less
    • 5,000 gallons capacity or less
    • 24 inches deep or less
  • Retaining walls over 2 feet
  • Roof sheathing replacements over 100 square feet
  • New exterior stairs or stoops
  • Demolition of buildings and structures
  • Sump pumps
  • Tents over 900 square feet
  • Electric car charging equipment
  • Changes of occupancy or use group of a commercial space
  • Movement of a lot line

A permit IS NOT required for...

  • Residential window or door replacements
  • Residential reroofs
  • Residential roof sheathing replacements of 100 square feet or less
  • Residential residings
  • Low voltage (50 volts maximum) wiring systems and equipment
  • Gutters
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Playground equipment
  • On-grade patios (including wood patios)
  • Driveways
    • A land disturbance permit may be required. Email or call 703-222-0801, TTY 711 for more information.
    • A VDOT permit may be required. Call 703-383-2888, TTY 711 for more information.

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