New Residential Building Code Effective Oct. 1


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 19, 2004

 

New Residential Building Code Effective Oct. 1

 

On Oct. 1, 2004, a new residential building code will go into effect throughout Virginia. The new 2000 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code will have a significant impact on homeowners who plan to finish a basement to create additional living space.

The plans for all finished basement projects in non-sprinklered homes submitted on or after Oct. 1, 2004, must identify an emergency escape window or door to the outside from the basement. This new requirement will save lives during fire emergencies when the main means of exit from a basement cannot be used.

With affordable housing at a minimum, and with the population of Fairfax County continuing to grow, fire safety in finished basements is a priority. In the spring of 2002, inadequate emergency exits from a townhouse basement in Fairfax County caused a fatality during a fire emergency. In the same year, an entire family perished in a basement in Montgomery County due to a similar problem.

There are a number of options that can be used to meet the new building code requirement for an alternative exit from a finished basement:

  • Escape window or door opening directly to the outside, such as in a walk-out basement.
  • Escape window or door opening into a window well or areaway.
  • Door opening to a bulkhead enclosure (swing-open steel basement doors).

In addition to requiring the alternate exit, the building code also requires that escape windows and doors and window wells meet specific size requirements to facilitate a person's escape during a fire emergency.

Many unfinished basements may already have an emergency escape window or door. However, if a basement lacks any of these options, one must be provided by cutting a new opening into an existing foundation wall and by constructing a window well or areaway.

Specific requirements and additional information can be found in the publication, "Finished Basements and the Fairfax County Typical Finished Basement Details," which can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/basements.

For more information or to request a printed copy of the publication, contact Brian Foley with the Building Plan Review and Permits Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Service, at 703-222-0114, TTY 711 or via e-mail at bprmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.

 

FAIRFAX COUNTY IS COMMITTED TO A POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION IN ALL COUNTY PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AND WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS UPON REQUEST. TO REQUEST SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS, CALL 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. PLEASE ALLOW FIVE WORKING DAYS IN ADVANCE OF EVENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2013

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version