When to Use a Consultant or Contractor
While starting a business, going through a zoning or construction process, it may be advisable – or required by Code – that licensed designers/consultants and contractors be involved. This can include engineers, architects, landscape architects, land planners, attorneys, contractors and others. While the County cannot recommend specific individuals or firms, there are some resources which can help you make an informed choice.
Some plans and permits are required by Code to be prepared by a registered design professional (RDP) licensed in Virginia. For Zoning applications and permits, submission requirements and will identify those instances in which a licensed professional must prepare the submission. If you have questions about a specific application, permit or plan, please ask your staff contact.
Selecting a Consultant or Contractor
The following should be kept in mind when hiring a professional:
- Before you enter into a contract, be sure that you are choosing a professional with the skills that match your needed service. Just as healthcare professionals have specialties, so do land development professionals.
- The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) is a state agency which licenses and regulates certain professional occupations including, but not limited to, architects, tradesmen, landscape architects, contractors, land surveyors, engineers, and real estate professionals. At the DPOR website you can search professionals by name to ensure that they are licensed by DPOR and see any disciplinary action taken against a professional since 2002.
- Check for complaints filed against companies/individuals in the County’s consumer complaints database.
- See the hiring a contractor page if you need to hire a contractor.
- The Fairfax Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service on their webpage which will identify attorneys by specialty.
- As you research other similar applications, take note of the names of professionals who prepare the application materials. For zoning applications, this can be found at the County Land Use Data Website (see the affidavits in the Staff Reports section).
- Ask for recommendations from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
- Ask for recommendations from the consultants you already trust.
- Using a Fairfax County-based professional or one who has extensive experience in the County can result in a smoother process, particularly if they have familiarity with the property in question.
- For residential projects, you may find this information on your house location plat which you received in closing documents.
- For commercial projects, you might find useful information in the County’s site-specific historic files. You can search by address for plan and permit information on the web at the County Land Use Data Website.
- You may also obtain copies of approved plans from the County’s Records and Information Management on the fifth floor of the Herrity Building. See this information about Public Records.
Expediting the Review Process
The County has established programs with certain disciplines including architects, engineers and fire protection engineers. In most cases, this means that there is a partnership in place by which some design professionals have completed additional training and are subsequently entitled to participate in a modified, typically expedited, review process. Some examples include:
- Designated Plans Examiner: Fairfax County Land Development Services, in partnership with the Engineers & Surveyors Institute has a program by which professionals can be certified as “Designated Plans Examiners” (“DPE”) and through this partnership, are entitled to participate in an expedited review process for qualifying site-related plans. As you contact engineers and surveyors you may wish to ask whether they are DPE certified.
- Fire Protection Engineering Consultant: The Fire Marshal’s office strongly recommends that a certified fire protection engineer be included on architectural design teams for all building projects.
- Expedited Building Plan Review Program: Building plans reviewed and recommended for submission by county‐designated “peer reviewers” qualify for expedited processing.