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,

Commercial Interior Alterations

New Commercial Buildings

This information is the most common for how to obtain the necessary permits for interior alterations and is not representative of all the conditions you may encounter.  Alterations to existing buildings must follow the Virginia Existing Building Code (VEBC). Learn more about navigating the VEBC.

The type of building permits available was updated November 16, 2020. Please review the LDS commercial permit type  guide before accessing FIDO, so you know exactly what permit type you are applying for.


At a minimum, you will be required to obtain an interior alteration commercial building permit for your tenant work; when dividing an existing space into two or more, a separate permit for each space is required. A mechanical, electrical and plumbing/gas permit may be required depending on your project’s scope of work. A health permit is required for food service tenants, daycare centers, private schools and buildings served by septic or well. 


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 estimated cost 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.

Documents Required

Upload the following documents when applying for your building permit: construction cost breakdown (to include materials and labor), Asbestos Inspection Certification (for buildings constructed before 1985), building plans and the Building Plan Review Cover Sheet.

Permit Process

Follow the steps below to obtain the necessary approvals and permits for your project. You may obtain the status of your permit application at any time online.

  • 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 an interior alterations commercial building permit and pay the filing fee. 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.

  • Step 2) County Review

    County Review

    County staff from the Permit Application Center, Building Plan Review, Zoning, Health Department 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 also printed in full-size and available to the inspector.

  • Step 4) Trade Permits

    Trade Permits

    Mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits can be pulled only 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.



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. Contact the Office of the Fire Marshal by calling 703-246-4821, TTY 711, to schedule fire protection system inspections and 703-246-4849, TTY 711, for occupancy inspections.  Schedule health-related inspections by calling 703-246-2510, TTY 711.

    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).

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 | Health - Food Service | Health - Religiously Exempt Childcare Facilities


  • Minimum scale of ⅛ inch = 1 foot; fully dimensioned.
  • Minimum printable size of 21 x 30 inches.
  • Code year used for the design.
  • Name, address and occupation of the designer.
  • Tenant name, building address, floor, suite number.
  • Key plans indicating location of work when multiple spaces are involved, e.g., malls, office floors.

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 electronically signed and sealed.


  • Completed Building Plan Review Cover Sheet.
  • Code summary listing Group(s), occupant load and exits.
  • Type of construction designation per the building code; to assist in finding this information use the following tools:
  • Architectural plan(s) showing room use.
  • Fire-resistance design numbers for fire-rated assemblies.
  • Dimensions of all corridors, aisles.
  • Door, hardware schedule to include special locking devices for both new and existing.
  • Partition schedule.
  • Floor-to-ceiling height and height from floor to underside of lowest structural member.
  • Fire sprinkler and system monitoring information.

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.


  • Design loads
  • Building material Specification
  • Structural Plan(s) with existing and proposed framing plans
  • Connection and reinforcement details of RTUs or hoods.

Fire Protection

  • Fire sprinkler information.
  • Standpipes, fire hose valve location.
  • Fire alarm locations and candela ratings.
  • Push button and control sensor for access control doors.
  • Information of emergency generator, tank capacity, fuel type and UL design number.
  • Range hood fire protection information to include location of manual pull.
  • Other specialized detection and suppression system(s).
  • Medical gas.
  • Petroleum and liquefied petroleum gas storage tank and distribution systems.
  • Schedule of hazardous chemicals to include quantity and storage method.
  • Fixture details, e.g., shelving, racks, stock/storage.

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.


  • A summary of the scope of work related to electrical power.
  • Symbol legend, abbreviations list.
  • New construction shown in bold and construction to be removed shown in dashed line types.
  • Panel and equipment schedules.
  • Electrical floor plan that includes new and existing home runs that feed devices and equipment within the project scope.
  • Panel schedules that include:
    • √ Electrical ratings such as voltage, bus bar current rating, number of phases, type (MCB, MLO), rating of MCB, IC rating.
    • √ Description of circuit slots, i.e., new, existing, spares, blanks.
  • Riser diagrams denoting new or modified feeders and the associated overcurrent protection device (OCPD).
  • If panelboards are fed from a service, include rating and location of the service disconnect, location and size of grounding electrode conductor and the maximum available fault current at service disconnect.
  • For partial power riser diagrams, include size and number of feeder conductors, grounding conductors, rating and location of the OCPD and associated conduit sizes.
  • Load calculations as follows:
    • √ If loads are added or removed from panel, calculate revised connect and demand loads.
    • √ If panels are fed from another panelboard, include calculations for the source panel.
  • Schedule for transformers to include number of phases; and primary and secondary voltages, KVA ratings, OCPDs, conductors and grounding conductors.

Electrical Tip

If the existing load is unavailable and cannot be calculated, use the exact connected load of the existing panel from the utility company. You may also use the actual amperes connected to the highest loaded phase of the feeder or service over a minimum 30-day period.


  • Location of new and existing equipment.
  • Connection of new work to existing systems.
  • Equipment data for the HVAC system to include:
    • √ Make, model number, energy consumption.
    • √ Total supply and outdoor air capacities of air handling units.
  • Duct, piping layout for the HVAC system to include:
    • √ Main trunk and branch sizes.
    • √ Size and CFM of all registers.
    • √ Locations of exhaust air openings and outside air intake.
  • Boiler details and safety devices.
  • Commercial hood information to include dimensions, materials, size, filters, exhaust, ducts, make-up air and evidence of compliance with Chapter 5 of the Virginia Mechanical Code or UL 710 for factory-built hoods.
  • Air balance and ventilation calculations 
  • per ASHRAE 62.1. Use the county-developed worksheets to assist your design:
  • Heating and cooling load calculations summary sheet for new equipment and existing equipment when reused in a change of occupancy.
  • Location of fire and smoke dampers and smoke detection devices.
  • Mechanical smoke control system details.
  • Cooling tower details.


  • Demolition plan showing removed or relocated fixtures and location of capped piping.
  • Floor plans indicating new and existing fixtures and connections to new and existing piping.
  • Complete non-isometric riser diagrams.
  • Fixture schedule to include type, quantity and whether new, removed or relocated. Schedule must also include waste, vent, gas, water connection sizes, backflow preventers, other water control equipment.
  • Gas piping riser diagram to include new and existing equipment and pipe sizes.
  • Gas piping size information to include inlet pressure, pressure drop, specific gravity, fully developed length and energy rating for equipment.

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 $405 for each new DFU to help maintain and expand the county’s treatment facilities.

Health - Food Service

  • Architectural plans showing layout of kitchen, food preparation areas, storage areas and bar.
  • Equipment schedule and specification sheets showing NSF or equivalent.
  • Water heater specifications.
  • Finish schedule of floors, walls and ceilings.
  • Menu.

Health - Religiously Exempt Childcare Facilities

  • Application to operate childcare.
  • Affidavit of exemption
  • Zoning approval noting maximum number of children.
  • Layout of facility showing size of each classroom and number of child-size toilets and hand sinks.
  • Size of outdoor play area and fencing.


If you are thinking about opening a business in Fairfax County, watch this video to learn of important considerations you need to know when choosing the best space. In this video, county agencies will discuss zoning considerations, permit and inspections processes, and common pitfalls to avoid when choosing a space.


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.
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