Land Development Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our offices are open to the public by appointment only from 9 a.m. - noon. Regular hours for calls and emails are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:15 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Friday.

703-324-1780
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035

Bill Hicks,
Director

Decks

Deck on back of home

Try out our new permit guide for specific information on your address!

Note: This guide provides address-specific information on the permitting process; however, this guide is not definitive and there may be other factors needed to complete your permit.

La Voz del Condado de Fairfax

Liliana Rios discusses building a deck in Fairfax County on WUST Radio (1120 AM).

 

This information is the most common for how to obtain the necessary permits for your project and is not representative of all the conditions you may encounter.

PERMITS

You will be required to obtain a deck building permit to construct a deck or to make alterations to an existing deck. If you are installing new outlets or lighting other than low voltage lighting, you will be required to obtain an electrical permit. Wood patios constructed directly on the ground (no post and beam construction) do not require a building permit.

Fees vary depending on the scope of your project; use the online fee estimator to help determine your costs.

Who should apply for the permit?

If you are performing the work yourself, property owners may obtain permits in their own name. If you are hiring a contractor, however, the building code requires the contractor to be listed on your permit as the responsible party. By listing your contractor on the permit, county staff can verify that they are properly licensed for the work being performed. Additionally, when a licensed contractor is listed on the permit the county is better able to assist in gaining compliance for defective work.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED

When applying for a permit online, you must upload building plans, site-related plans, Property Ownership Form (when property ownership must be verified), and Permit Authorization Form (when the applicant is neither the owner nor a contractor).

TYPICAL DECK DETAILS

Typical deck construction plans are available from Fairfax County and the American Wood Council that can be used in lieu of a plan submission during permit application if your deck qualifies as noted below.

  • Residential, single level.
  • 18 feet maximum joist span.
  • No hot tub, sunroom, screen porch or roof.

Permit Process

Follow the steps below to obtain the necessary approvals and permits for your project. Vienna and Clifton residents require additional approvals from their respective towns. If you are submitting using the Typical Deck Details, you may check the status of your permit application through the FIDO web services portal.  If you are submitting plans for the nonstandard ePlans review process, you may check the status of your permit through ProjectDox.

  • Step 1) Permit Application

    Permit Application

    Obtain permits online using FIDO. If you are a first-time user, you must first follow the prompts to create an account. Once you are logged into FIDO, apply for a deck building permit. Additional steps are required for your ePlan upload process; learn more about non-standard ePlan submissions. Once the application is complete, you will be invited by email to upload your required documents to ProjectDox for submission to the county.

     
  • Step 2) Fees

    Fees

    Fees vary depending on the scope of your project; use the online fee estimator to help determine your costs.

     
  • Step 3) County Review

    County Review

    County staff from the Permit Application Center, Health Department (if on septic or well), Building Plan Review and Zoning will review your package for completeness and compliance with the building code and county ordinances. You will be notified of any deficiencies. Plan corrections, resubmission fees and additional supporting documents may be required.

     
  • Step 4) Permit Issuance

    Permit Issuance

    Once all county reviews are approved and outstanding fees have been paid, you access your approved plans in ProjectDox and approved permit in FIDO. The permit for the construction of the deck (not the review only permit) must be printed and posted at the job site, and the approved plans must be printed in full-size and available on the job site for the duration of the project.

  • Step 5) Electrical Permit

    Electrical Permits

    Electrical permits can be obtained online after the building permit has been issued without the need to submit additional trade-related plans. Input the building permit number issued in Step 3 when prompted for the "associated building permit number" in FIDO.

     

Building Plans

When applying for a permit the plans must meet or show the following, if applicable:

  • Minimum scale of ¼ inch = 1 foot; fully dimensioned.
  • Minimum sheet size: 8 ½ x 11 inches.
  • Code year and local design criteria used for the design.
  • Name, address and occupation of the designer.
  • Footing details including depth below grade (footing depth is 24 inches).
  • Framing plan (bird’s eye view) of the size, spacing and length of all posts, joists and beams.
  • Guard details.
  • Stair and handrail details.
  • Details of all connections.
  • Hot tub weight requirements, if applicable.
  • Decking or guards composed of foreign lumber or plastic must be evaluated by an authorized listing agency.
  • See the Code Official’s blog about Alternative Methods and Materials for more information.

Most plan requirements listed are not necessary if you agree to use typical deck drawings. You may also draw your own framing plan and supplement your design with elements from the typical drawings.

USING A UNIQUE MATERIAL OR PRODUCT?

You must reference its evaluation report from a nationally recognized listing agency, such as ICC-ES, certifying it meets the requirements of the building code. This is required for products such as composite decking materials or engineered guardrail systems.

House Location Plat

House location surveys, or plats, are required for the construction of additions and accessory structures. The proposed construction must be drawn on a plat to-scale with the dimension from the lot lines to ensure compliance with minimum yard requirements (setbacks). To learn more, see our Site-Related Plans publication.

Why do plats have to be “to-scale”? What exactly does that mean?

A “to-scale” plat is an exact copy of the original plat, with all lines being identical to that of the original. Lines on the original plat are to-scale to reflect, for example, that one-inch on the plat equals 30 feet, rather than one-inch on the plat equaling three feet when it is taken out of scale. A to-scale copy must be on the same sheet size as the original (for instance, if an original plat is printed on an 11” x 17” sheet, then only a copy on that same sheet size is acceptable). Plats that have been photographed, scanned on a phone app, faxed, reduced, enlarged or otherwise altered are not to-scale and cannot be accepted due to poor resolution and lack of detail (loss of accurate measurement).

Where’s my plat?

Search your residential loan closing documents or contact the lending institution from which your mortgage was obtained. If you do not have a copy, submit a request to determine if your plat is located in existing county files. If all these efforts have been exhausted, you will have to hire a private land surveyor to have a new plat prepared.

Miss Utility

Before you begin excavating for your project, you must first call Miss Utility at 811, TTY 711. Miss Utility is a free service that marks underground utilities.

Inspections

You must notify the county when construction on your project reaches a stage that requires inspection. See the Inspections Timing Checklist below. The county approved site-related plan and building plans must be available on the jobsite. Any special equipment necessary to perform the inspection, such as ladders, scaffolding, or testing equipment, must be on site. For more information on inspection procedures, visit the inspections operational status page. Schedule, cancel or modify an inspection through FIDO or use the Fairfax County smartphone app.

Inspection

Permit

Requirements

Footing

Building

  • Footing holes are dug and ledger board is attached.

Framing  

Building

  • Posts, beams and joists are installed. (Not required if the deck is 48 inches or more above the ground.)

Final

Building

  • All remaining items are installed.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant