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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.
You will be required to obtain a residential addition 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?
Homeowners may obtain permits in their own name. However, it is strongly recommended a properly licensed contractor pull the permits as the responsible party so the county can better assist in gaining compliance for defective work.
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.
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. Once the application is complete, you will be invited by email to upload your required documents to ProjectDox for submission to the county.
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.
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.
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.
When applying for a permit the plans must meet or show the following, if applicable:
Minimum scale of ¼ inch = 1 foot; fully dimensioned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Footing holes are dug and ledger board is attached.
Posts, beams and joists are installed. (Not required if the deck is 48 inches or more above the ground.)