Land Development Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: 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.

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035

Bill Hicks,

New Commercial Buildings

New Commercial Buildings

This information is the most common for how to obtain the necessary permits for a new commercial building or an addition to an existing building and is not representative of all the conditions you may encounter.


You must obtain permits for a new commercial building. Listed below are the types of permits required depending on the complexity of your project.

  • Building permit
  • Electrical permit including fire alarm systems
  • Plumbing permit including fuel-gas installations
  • Mechanical permit
  • VDOT permit for construction on or access from a state-maintained road or right-of-way
  • Health permit for septic, well, food service, private schools and daycare facilities


Permit fees vary depending on the scope of your project; use the online fee estimator to help determine your costs. Access the estimator by visiting our website and clicking on "fees."

  • The building permit fee is based on the building size and type of construction.
  • 35 percent of the building permit fee is required to be paid at permit application (filing fee).
  • While the initial building plan reviews are free, subsequent re-reviews carry additional fees.
  • Fixture unit fees must be paid prior to permit issuance.
  • Fire Marshal reviews, trade permits and health permits carry separate fees.

Required Documents

Upload the following documents when applying for your building permit: building plans, Building Plan Review Cover Sheet, site plan and proffers (if applicable), geotechnical report, Statement of Special Inspections.

Permit Process

Click on the steps below for a brief description of the permit process.

  • Step 1) Permit Application

    Permit Application

    Begin your permit application process online using FIDO. Follow the prompts to create your account, apply for your new commercial building permit and pay the filing fee. Once complete, you will be invited by email to upload your required documents to ProjectDox for submission to the county.

  • Step 2) County Review

    County Review

    County staff from the Permit Application Center, Building Plan Review, Zoning, Health Department, Site/Bonds and Wastewater 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 3) Permit Issuance

    Permit Issuance

    Once all county reviews are approved and outstanding fees have been paid, you can access your approved plans in ProjectDox and permit in FIDO. The permit must be printed and posted at the job site, and the approved plans must be printed in full-size and available to the inspector.

  • Step 4) Trade Permits

    Trade Permits

    Mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits can be obtained online after the building permit has been issued. Plans are not required. When applying online, input the building permit number issued in Step 3) when prompted for the "associated building permit number" in FIDO.


Building Plans Checklist

Plans must clearly illustrate the nature of the work to be performed and must show the information or meet the requirements listed for each discipline or project-type shown below.

General | Architectural | Structural | Fire Protection | Electrical
Mechanical | Plumbing | Food Service | Hotels | Private Schools/Daycare


  • Minimum scale of ⅛ inch = 1 foot
  • Minimum sheet size: 21 x 30 inches
  • Code year used for the design; see list of current codes
  • Name, address and occupation of the building designer or signature and seal of the designers.
  • Project name, address of the building and tax-map reference number
  • Key plans indicating location of work when multiple spaces are involved (e.g., malls, office buildings, etc.)
  • Certification by designer of compliance with applicable building-related proffers

Is a seal required?

If prepared by a Virginia registered architect or professional engineer, plans must bear the electronic signature, seal and date. However, some drawings, based on specific thresholds, are required to be signed and sealed.


  • Group(s) and type of construction
  • Architectural plan(s) showing the dimensions and use of all rooms
  • Occupant load analysis
  • Building height and area analysis
  • Exits and means of egress analysis
  • Building elevations (all sides)
  • Fire resistance design numbers when fire-rated assemblies are required
  • R-values of building insulation components
  • U-factor of fenestration
  • Dimensions of corridors and aisles
  • Door and hardware schedule, including special locking devices
  • Partition schedule
  • Floor to ceiling height and height from floor to underside of lowest structural member
  • Any additional details or sections necessary to accurately depict intended construction

Accessibility Fundaments

Your new building must be carefully designed to meet the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and the Virginia Construction Code. However, Fairfax County only enforces state code.


  • Foundation plan and footing schedule
  • Framing plan, cross sections and details showing all structural elements for each level and roof
  • Connection details
  • Material specifications
  • Occupancy category
  • Live load and live load reduction
  • Roof live load
  • Roof snow load and applicable factors:
  • Wind load and all applicable factors
    • Ultimate wind speed
    • Wind importance factor
    • Building category
    • Wind exposure
    • Internal pressure coefficient
    • Wind design pressure
    • Components and cladding wind pressure
  • Earthquake design data:

Structural Shop Drawings

Shop drawings for the main structural reinforcing system as part of the Special Inspections Program can be submitted to Critical Structures electronically as directed during the Critical Structures Meeting. Call 703-631-5101, TTY 711 for details.

Fire Protection

  • Fire sprinkler and system monitoring information
  • Standpipes, fire hose valve location
  • Fire alarm locations and candela ratings
  • Card reader location for equipped doors
  • Push button and control sensor for access control doors
  • Elevator recall
  • For smoke removal/control systems include:
    • A sequence of operation
    • A description of the system’s function under various fire conditions
    • Details of the interrelationship with fire alarm systems, suppression systems and emergency power
  • Show fill and vent pipes, valves and provide buoyancy calculations for underground tanks of 1,000 gallons (use 1.5 safety factor) or more
  • Stairwell and elevator shaft pressurization
  • Emergency generator information, to include:
    • Tank capacity
    • Type of fuel
    • Associated Underwriters Laboratory design number
  • Range hood fire protection information to include location of manual pull (10 to 20 feet from hood along path of egress)
  • Other specialized detection and suppression system(s)
  • Medical gas
  • Petroleum and liquefied petroleum gas storage tank and distribution systems
  • Fixture details, e.g., shelving, racks, stock/storage
  • Schedule of hazardous chemicals used or handled in the space to include:
    • Quantity
    • Storage method

Fire Systems Shop Drawings

Shop drawings and manufacturer’s data for fire alarm systems, flammable/combustible liquid tanks, sprinkler systems, range hoods or other fire protection systems require a review from the Fire and Rescue Department after permit issuance. Submit your drawings at the Fire Marshal’s Office, 12099 Government Center Parkway, 3rd floor, in Fairfax. Call 703-246-4800, TTY 711 for more information.


  • Floor plans showing luminaires, receptacles, branch circuits (and home-runs), panels, equipment and battery packs
  • Symbol legend
  • Panel schedule to include:
    • Panel size, phases and voltage.
    • Breaker/fuse and conductor sizes
    • Indicating if MCB (main circuit breaker) or MLO (main lug only)
    • If MLO, indicate the size of the overcurrent protection
    • If MCB, indicate sizes. Feeder conductor sizes and insulation types. 9 Clear, evident and specific circuit identification directory
    • If rated at 100 amps or less, verify the temperature rating of the termination, conductor or device
  • Load calculations broken into total connected and demand loads, and continuous and non-continuous load
  • Equipment schedules
  • Riser diagrams to include:
    • Size of feeder conductors and insulation types, conduits and overcurrent protection
    • Connections and sizes of emergency/stand-by generator
    • Fire and jockey pumps
    • Ratings of transformers, conductor sizes, voltage levels, grounding conductor sizes and overcurrent protection sizes
    • Size of motors
    • Main service grounding detail to include:
      • The available electrodes used
      • The size of the grounding electrode conductor
      • Equipment ground conductor
      • Method of connection
  • For transformer installations, include the size of the grounding electrode conductor and the rating and location of the in-sight disconnecting means for the primary
  • Exit, emergency and battery pack luminaire locations and branch circuits


  • Duct, piping layout for the HVAC system to include:
    • Main trunk and branch sizes
    • Size and CFM of all registers
    • Location of all equipment and outside air intake and exhaust air opening locations
    • Symbol and abbreviation list
    • Calculations demonstrating compliance with the Virginia Energy Conservation Code
    • Details demonstrating compliance with the UL design numbers of the required fire-rated floor, roof assemblies
  • Details for boilers and safety devices
  • Fire and smoke dampers and fire/ smoke detection devices
  • Fuel oil piping in building
  • Equipment data schedule for the HVAC system to include:
    • Make and model number, BTU rating for heating and cooling
    • Total supply and outdoor air capacities of each air handling unit
  • Identify economizer cycle when required by code; provide sequence of operation
  • Cooling tower details
  • Combustion air calculations where fuel-fire appliances are installed
  • Air balance calculations for kitchens
  • Ventilation calculations per the Virginia Mechanical Code
  • Detailed shop drawings for commercial hoods which to include:
    • Hood dimensions
    • Construction material
    • Size, number and type of filters
    • Output of exhaust
    • Size and number of ducts
    • Method of providing make-up air and amount.
    • Evidence of compliance with Chapter 5 of the Virginia Mechanical Code or a report by an approved testing agency indicating compliance with UL 710 for factory-built hoods.


  • Minimum required plumbing facilities
  • Floor plans and two-dimensional (not isometric) riser diagrams showing the location of all plumbing fixtures, sanitary, water, storm and gas piping
  • Identify size, slope and type of piping material and location of all required valves
  • Fixture connection schedule including waste, vent, gas, hot and cold water connection sizes
  • Fixture symbols key
  • Backflow preventers and other water control equipment
  • Water heater details including temperatures for hot water and tempering devices
  • Water pipe calculations
  • Drainage fixture units calculation

What are Drainage Fixture Units?

A drainage fixture unit or DFU is a value assigned to a plumbing fixture that measures its probable discharge into the county sanitary sewer. For instance, a lavatory is 1 DFU and a water closet is 4 DFUs. Fairfax County’s Wastewater Management Program charges $425 for each new DFU to help maintain and expand the county’s treatment facilities.

Food Service

  • Food service menu
  • Layout of food service equipment and plumbing fixtures for dishwashing, food preparation, food storage, service and bar areas
  • Seating capacity and type of food service, i.e., carry-out, delivery or sit down
  • Details of equipment, i.e., water heater, to include:
    • Manufacturer, model number
    • Output and recovery rate for producing 140 degrees F water. Note: all equipment must be commercial standard and NSF or UL listed
  • Finish schedule of floors, walls and ceilings, including type of material and color


  • Typical guest room plan
  • Room equipment schedule
  • Baths/washroom toilets
  • Food service plans (continental breakfast), submitted separately
  • Laundry room and equipment schedule
  • Water heating equipment: manufacturer, model number and recovery rate

Private School and Daycare Facility (excluding religious facility)

  • Child-size toilets
  • Area of playground
  • Water supply system
  • Sewage disposal system
  • Staff restroom

Need More Information or Assistance?

  • For permit questions, contact the Permit Application Center at 703-222-0801, TTY 711.
  • For questions related to a health permit, contact the Health Department at 703-246-1773, TTY 711.
  • For building code or inspection questions, contact the Building Division at 703-631-5101, TTY 711.
  • If you need a code consultation to discuss your project with reviewers, your design team can request a meeting with staff online.
  • Avoid the mistakes made by others by viewing common errors for life-safety/structural, fire, mechanical, electrical or plumbing.


You are required to obtain inspections from the county during the course of construction; please review the following when requesting an inspection.

  • The county must be notified when the stages of construction are reached that require an inspection.
  • The county approved site plan, building plans and shop drawings must be available on the jobsite.
  • Ladders, scaffolds and other equipment necessary to access construction must be provided to the inspector.
  • Schedule your building and trade inspections online. Call 703-246-4821, TTY 711 to schedule fire alarm and sprinkler inspections and 703-246-2510, TTY 711 to schedule a health-related inspection.

    To submit your application to the Health Department for a permit to operate a food establishment or mobile food unit please visit the Planning and Land Use System (PLUS).
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