FAQs: Basements


I am finishing my basement; what inspections are required and when?

A close in inspection is required for all trades, such as building-framing, electrical-concealment and plumbing-concealment. If you are installing any gas appliances, a first-gas inspection will also be required. Additionally, if you are required to move your plumbing ground works by breaking up the concrete slab, a plumbing ground works inspection will be required.

NOTE: There are usually three permits required when finishing a basement: building, plumbing and electrical. When scheduling an inspection of your basement, you must request a concealment inspection and then final inspection for each permit on the same day. Go to Finished Basements for more information.


Am I required to have an emergency exit directly to the outside?

Yes, a window or door is required to provide an emergency egress route from the basement to outside of the house. For more information, please refer to the Fairfax County Typical Finished Basement Detail


If I am making alterations to an existing finished basement, what changes will force me to add emergency egress?

See below to determine if your changes will require emergency egress.

Alterations which require egress

  • Finishing existing unfinished areas into habitable spaces such as a hobby room, computer room, recreation room or bedroom1.
  • Converting an existing finished area into a bedroom1.

Alterations which do not require egress

  • Changing or adding finishes such as paint, wallpaper, chair-rail or paneling.
  • Adding a non-habitable space such as a laundry room, closet or bathroom.
  • Adding a wet bar.

1In this case, the emergency egress must serve the bedroom.


More Questions?

Please contact Building Plan Review via e-mail or by telephone at 703-222-0114, TTY 711.


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