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.
Almost a decade ago, Fairfax County began developing a new permitting system that replaces our outdated plan processing and permitting software systems. PLUS (the Planning and Land Use System) provides one comprehensive system where all permits and submittals related to entitlement cases, site plans, building permits, construction bonds, fire protection permits, health permits and more can be tracked and processed. The first and second phases of PLUS have already launched with more to come over the next two years. (Release 2 launched on July 1, 2021.)
The PLUS system leverages modern technology to process plans and permits online, rather than processing paper plans and forms in person. With the full launch of PLUS right around the corner, the transition to all-digital processing is well underway.
Land Development Services (LDS) began transitioning to digital submissions several years ago with the implementation of a few permit types in ProjectDox. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the pace of conversion beginning in early 2020. To allow LDS to continue processing plans and permits with minimal human contact we implemented an all-digital plan and permit process nearly overnight. We are pleased that now 99% of submittals and permits are processed entirely digitally. Several benefits include: limited waste associated with plan sheets; the added convenience of submitting applications remotely at any time of day or night; and, plan reviews occur concurrently, reducing review time.
This transition has been successful thanks to a partnership between LDS and its customers working together to usher in a new wave of environmentally sensitive, modern business practices.
The Land Development Services (LDS) agency has promoted Jay Riat to be Fairfax County’s new Building Official and LDS Building Division Director. He began his new position on Monday, July 19. Riat has been with the county for the last nine years, almost all of it with LDS as a commercial plan reviewer and project manager in the Building Division. Prior to coming to the county, he spent six years as a project engineer in the design and construction industry. Riat is a certified building official (C.B.O.), registered engineer (P.E.) and a Project Management Professional (P.M.P.).
The agency has promoted Matthew Hansen to be the Director of the LDS Site Development and Inspections Division (SDID). Hansen spent nearly seven years with the City of Falls Church with responsibilities ranging from site inspection and site plan review to management of capital projects and administration of the city’s floodplain management and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) illicit discharge programs. Since coming to Fairfax County in 2017, Hansen has worked in multiple capacities in SDID (Stormwater Reviewer and Branch Chief). Hansen is a registered engineer (P.E.), certified floodplain manager, Stormwater and Erosion & Sediment Control Dual Combined Administrator and holds a master’s in business administration. Hansen begins his new role within LDS on Monday, Aug 2. 2021.
“I look forward to continuing to work with both Jay and Matthew in their new capacities,” said LDS Director William D. Hicks, P.E. “The building and site divisions are in capable hands and will thrive under their leadership. Many thanks to Hiba Aziz and Bijan Sistani for their roles in maintaining momentum for the building and site divisions over the last few months,” said Hicks.
In an effort to improve our customer service, Land Development Services (LDS) has updated its Building Permits Checklist. This checklist serves as a reference to assist you in meeting minimum requirements for all building permit applications (e.g., commercial, residential, elevator). Please use this checklist to confirm you are providing necessary documents before submitting your application.
In addition to this updated checklist to help you navigate through the permit application process, please visit the LDS operational status webpage for additional resources.
If you have questions about the checklist or building applications, call 703-222-0801, TTY 711 or email.
Click on image for full checklist online.
On Aug. 2, 2021, Land Development Services (LDS) will transition to a new third party vendor, NIC Virginia, for credit card and Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions for most permitting and site-related fees.
Customers will continue to initiate credit card transactions using the Fairfax Inspections Database Online (FIDO) or the Plans and Waivers System (PAWS). The payment page you link to may look different, but it functions similarly to the previous online payment page.
Customers should find the new credit card processing screen easier to navigate. The biggest change you will see on August 2 is a reduction in credit card processing fees. The new fee is 2.35% on all transactions. (Credit card processing fees are third party transaction fees and are non-refundable.) Customers can continue to use their bank’s routing number to pay online with an ACH payment to avoid any credit card processing fees.
Find additional information about LDS permitting fees on the Pay Fees web page. If you have any questions about this change, call 703-222-0801, TTY 711.
Effective July 1, 2021, the countywide Stormwater Pro Rata Share Assessment rate will change from $23,254.22 to $23,825.20 per increase in impervious acre; the maximum water quality credit will increase from 38.2% to 38.4%; and the maximum water quantity credit will decrease from 61.8% to 61.6%.
As a reminder, the payments collected via this assessment make a valuable contribution to the environment. These funds, aggregated countywide and collected during the development process, pay for needed drainage facilities that minimize damage to receiving waters within Fairfax County as well as the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. They also alleviate flood damage and arrest deterioration of existing drainageways.
The county determines the Pro Rata Share assessment for an individual development project as a proportion of the total estimated cost of the drainage improvement program. The assessment is based on the stormwater impact of the project measured by its increase in impervious cover discounted by any applicable credit for on-site stormwater management facilities and best management practices provided as part of the new construction.
Once collected, the assessment fees will be allocated to the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services for the program. Visit the Stormwater Management page to learn more about typical community improvement projects supported by funding from the Pro Rata Assessment fee and other funding sources.
For more information on Pro Rata Share Assessment, refer to Public Facilities Manual (PFM) § 6-0600.
If you have any questions, please contact the Customer and Technical Support Center at 703‑222-0801, TTY 711.
Planning and Land Use System (PLUS), the county’s planned, multi-agency platform for completing zoning, building, permitting and other land development and environmental health processes online will incorporate the records below as of July 1, 2021.
Department of Planning and Development
Rezoning, Special Exceptions, Special Permit and Variances Applications
Accessory Living Units
Interpretations of the Zoning Ordinance
Zoning Compliance Letter Requests
Vested Rights Determinations
Wetlands (Tidal) Permits
Intergovernmental Review Requests
Agricultural and Forestal Districts
Telecommunications (2232 Review and Administrative Review-Eligible Projects)
Public School Expansions or Modifications
Public Facility 2232 Review applications
Land Development Services
Home Improvement Contractor Licenses and Payments
Building Code Modifications and Code Appeals
Temporary Food Events and Permits
Health Sanitation Inspections/CORE
Summer Food Service
Safety Through Actively Managing Practices (STAMP)
To use the new services on the PLUS platform, applicants must first register for a free account at PLUS Citizen Access. Others can browse and search the site without logging in. More details about PLUS, including previous releases, as well as helpful tutorial videos to walk users through the registration process are available on the PLUS Support Center page.
Fairfax County’s Public Facilities Manual (PFM) has transitioned to a new platform to provide an enhanced user experience: https://online.encodeplus.com/regs/fairfaxcounty-va-pfm/index.aspx.
The new location and layout of the PFM provides a more user-friendly approach to the PFM with enhanced search capabilities and links to outside web pages and documents as well as direct links to PFM tables and plates.
From the Land Development Services web page, you can still access the PFM, and PFM amendments, from two locations:
Codes and Standards page (under Site Development Codes)
Public Facilities Manual and County Codes Amendments page
Please make any adjustments needed and update bookmarks to the PFM you have previously saved. We hope you like the new layout for accessing design details and site development guidelines for public facilities in Fairfax County.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed May as Building Safety Month, which is set aside nationally each year to recognize the people involved in ensuring safe and resilient buildings.
Professionals working in construction and local government follow and enforce safety protocols, in the form of building codes, to ensure Fairfax County buildings are safe for occupancy. And not just the buildings — office buildings, homes or small businesses but other places or items within or connected to buildings that can cause harm if not properly safeguarded like pools, gas appliances, HVAC systems, elevators and escalators and so much more.
“Building Safety Month recognizes the critical role so many dedicated professionals play in ensuring Fairfax County buildings are safe for occupancy,” says Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith, the proclamation’s sponsor. “We need buildings that are resilient in the face of violent weather events such as the derecho or the earthquake as well as safe for everyday use. When we can gather with family and friends again on our decks and porches – and kitchens if your family is like mine - we know the structure and equipment within is safe because of building codes. When buildings are safe, the people within them are safe.”
The following podcasts and video highlight some of the ways staff at Land Development Services works to keep Fairfax County safe.
Code Specialist II Dennis Hart Discusses Building Safety. (podcast)
Master Combination Inspector Kevin Talbot walks you through a virtual building inspection in this 16 Around Fairfax segment. (video)
Code Specialist Paul Hickman discusses the collaborative Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention program which plays a vital role in ensuring safe drinking water supply in Fairfax. (podcast)
When the coronavirus pandemic reached Northern Virginia, county facilities were insufficient to meet the ongoing and future demands of a virus for a county with a population of more than 1,100,000 spread across 406 square miles. Staff at the Fairfax County Health Department knew a quick, reliable community-wide testing strategy would be critical. Attempting to “box in the virus” to prevent its spread would require more resources. Health Department staffing, equipment and space would need to be augmented – at least for the duration of COVID.
In March 2020 Health Department capacity was limited to testing 500 COVID samples daily using approved diagnostic testing methods. But staff projections showed a need to test twice that amount, or 1,000 samples per day, going into the fall 2020.
Thanks to federal CARE funding distributed by the Virginia Health Department the county had the funding to expand its resources. Health Department human resources staff put together plans to recruit and train new staff, and the Health Department Lab Director Deb Severson met with the county’s Capital Facilities staff (a division of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, DPWES) to put together criteria for a new medical laboratory (Lab). Every lab requires standard microbiological practices but testing for coronavirus required a Biosafety Laboratory Level 2 (BSL–2). This level of biosafety required certain specifications such as ensuring the flooring, walls and ceiling would be impermeable and seamless, have self-closing, lockable doors, have a sink and eyewash station, a dedicated supply/exhaust, 100% air exchange every 12 minutes; passthrough autoclave; self-closing doors; HEPA Air filtration, ducted air ventilation system that must sustain directional air flow, and the ability to restrict entry among other safety specifications for benchtops, cabinetry and other add ins. The new building would be 1,550 square feet and have an accessioning laboratory, restroom, administrative office and exam room.
The need was urgent, but normally locating an appropriate site or building, putting contracts together and retrofitting or renovating a space takes many months, even years, including applying for and obtaining appropriate permits. In this case, time was of the essence and the county had less than six months to spend the funding from the state.
After consultation with various county departments, including Land Development Services (LDS), it was determined a prefabricated structure could meet the requirements for a BSL-2 lab, meet additional building codes and would be the most economical and time-efficient structure to use. This would be the first structure of this kind – cargo containers – used in Fairfax County. Once the requirements were documented, the Department of Procurement and Material Management sent out a request for proposal in August.
Synergy Med Global Design Solutions, LLC, (Synergy Med) won the competitive bid to be the supplier of the new lab. (Watch a Synergy Med video about the project.)
County staff from LDS and DPWES worked closely with the designers – architects and electrical, plumbing and mechanical engineers at Synergy Med -- from the first meeting on November 13, 2020, through issuance of the building permit on December 8. The deadline for installation was December 30 due to the funding restrictions. Scott Bishop, a project manager for Building Design & Construction Division in DPWES, oversaw the entire project from start to finish including all the on-site work in Fairfax County, and Jennifer Josiah, of LDS, was the project manager, coordinating with divisions within LDS, the Department of Planning and Development, the Fire Marshal’s office and Wastewater Planning (also in DPWES) for plan review, permit issuance and inspections. It took countless virtual meetings, emails and phone calls with people across the U.S., Colorado, Minnesota and Hawaii to finalize the details and make sure every aspect of the structure was completed according to code.
Modular facilities follow a separate section of building codes than typical commercial structures such as restaurants, retail stores and office buildings. The prefabricated (or “prefab”) building Synergy Med constructed for the county started with cargo containers. But, because the containers were going to be modified and the exterior would be pierced, they had to be reviewed under the 2015 Virginia Construction Code, just like any other commercial building. This type of building is often used by the U.S. military overseas to help triage medical patients in the field.
Synergy Med built the structure in Minnesota where they are located. Inspectors from Land Development Services in Fairfax County were able to see the building being put together remotely using FaceTime and other virtual tools including a 3d video. This was important as some of the components county inspectors needed to see would be concealed behind walls before the building was delivered to Fairfax County.
The Lab consisted of five cargo containers, so inspections had to occur on each container. The containers were transported individually and then locked together on site in Fairfax County.
The Lab was loaded onto trucks in Minnesota on December 23 and arrived in Fairfax County on December 28.
After delivery, the Lab was placed on concrete piers using bolts and put together like a puzzle. Once it was deemed structurally sound and safe to enter, it was wired for the Health Department’s DIT specifications and the furniture was placed while utilities were connected, and final inspections were performed. The Non-Residential Use Permit (Non-RUP) and Certificate of Occupancy were issued for the facility on January 25, 2021, and the Health Department moved in shortly thereafter.
“This project was the result of an incredibly collaborative effort on the part of multiple agencies throughout the county. Everyone understood the urgency of the need and worked to get the lab in place as quickly and safely as possible, meeting the tight deadline for the necessary funding,” said Project Manager Jennifer Josiah.
So, a project that could take more than a year to complete was operational in under 100 days. The team met the December 30, 2020, deadline for making the Lab fully functional, and occupancy was certified by January 25, 2021. The final cost of the facility was $4,000,000.
Fairfax County has expanded by one facility, temporary maybe, but fully operational, certified safe by staff at Land Development Services and meets the state-of-the-art standards for sanitization and medical testing.
More photos of the health Lab in this slideshow.
April is National Safe Digging Month, what a great opportunity to thank every homeowner and contractor this past year for following safety procedures by entering tickets to VA811 (formerly Miss Utility).
At Fairfax County’s Land Development Services (LDS), safety is our primary mission. Thousands of construction projects are ongoing every day in Fairfax County, from small home improvement projects to large, multi-year redevelopment projects. And every time a person or business “disturbs the land” a ticket is submitted to VA811 to have all underground utilities marked. (Learn what each of the different markings indicate.)
Whether digging trenches to lay pipes or excavating tons of dirt for new buildings or swimming pools, safe digging is paramount. Keep in mind most issues occur when people and businesses use equipment to dig although hand digging can also get gardeners into trouble!
Following the four steps outlined by VA811 could save someone from serious injury and could also save time and prevent damage and potential repair costs.
Learn more about entering your ticket online at the VA811.com website.
Four-step process to dig safely.
Drainage basins, or watersheds, are areas of land that drain streams and rainfall to a common outlet. This new interactive Geographic Information System (GIS) tool allows users to drop a point on a map and delineate the drainage basin anywhere in the county.
This is valuable data used by engineers to ensure the county’s stormwater management infrastructure is adequately sized. The data is also used by ecologists when evaluating relationships between land use and hydrology, their influence on stream condition, water quality and aquatic life.
To find the drainage basin nearest you, check out the newest GIS app: Drainage Basin Delineation Tool, which uses LiDAR data (the most accurate elevation surface available), to delineate drainage basins. To learn more about watersheds, visit Watersheds | Public Works and Environmental Services.
This is only one of many GIS applications developed by Land Development Services (LDS). To explore more LDS GIS applications please visit our LDS Mapping Applications homepage.
Did you know permits are required for new and replacement gas appliances and HVAC equipment? Fairfax County building inspectors help ensure these appliances and equipment have been properly installed in your home.
Applying for building permits and HVAC equipment permits is easy! Start your permit application from the Plan2Build web page and select the “Apply for a Permit” icon. From the drop-down menu, select “household appliance.” You will need to create an account to apply for a permit. Follow the instructions provided.
If you are having problems with your permit application or processing, please reach out to LDS customer support at 703-222-0801 #2, TTY 711 or email ldsbuildingpermits.gov.
Other household projects (residential) that require a permit include the following:
New plumbing lines
New major electric appliances (like ovens and refrigerators)
Interior alterations – An interior alteration in your home would include finishing a basement; remodeling a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom; repairing your foundation or roof. (Permits are not needed for new floors, carpet, painting and trim work.)
Residential additions – A residential addition might be attached to your house or detached and would include a adding a new deck, sunroom, screened porch, gazebo, chimney (new or reline), bay window, barn, shed, garage or adding a second story over your existing home.
Chemical dispensers connected to a water supply or plumbing line
To learn more about building permits and the county’s land development process, visit the Plan2Build web page and become a well-educated homeowner.