All but the simplest of jobs will require the submission of plans in order to obtain a permit. The quality of these plans can have a substantial effect on how long it takes to get a permit. Professionally-drawn, to-scale, and complete plans have a better chance of being approved on their first review.
All plans submitted must have the following, if it is part of the work being done:
Plans for commercial work should include the following additional information:
For some jobs, the plans must have a Virginia licensed architect or professional engineer, also known as a Registered Design Professional (RDP), sign and seal the plans. Residential plans are not required to be drawn by an RDP, but if they are, they must be signed and sealed.
Commercial plans are more complicated. Generally, work in any building over three (3) floors or over 5,000 s.f. requires signed and sealed plans. For details, please see this handout and the "Virginia Related Laws Package".
The City has no specific requirements for the size of plans. Plans must be sufficiently large to be easily legible. Nothing should be less than 8 1/2" by 11". Plans for all but the simplest of jobs should be drawn to scale, 1/4" to the foot being the preferred scale, which may dictate the size of paper used. In no case should plans labeled with a scale be submitted in any size other than that scale.
Plan sets are to be neatly stapled on the left-hand side. For plan sets on large-format paper, a binding strip is to be used.
All submissions require at least two plan copies, and some require more. Visit the Requirements for Applications for a Permit page for details on how many copies to submit.
All copies must be identical. If plans are signed and sealed, at least two copies must bear original ("wet") seals. Additional copies may have photocopied seals.
Often, plans will need to be revised after submission, or even after issuance. Typically only two sets ("Office" and "Builder") sets are revised. Revisions may be made at the counter or by signing out the plans to make revisions elsewhere.
The following rules apply to plan revisions:
Certain project types arise frequently enough to have detailed requirements.
Any work with gas requires a Fuel-Gas Permit Application, even a direct replacement of a furnace or stove. Any project that involves changing or adding piping must submit a gas riser diagram for review.
Deck plans must show:
The American Wood Council has an excellent Residential Deck Construction Guide, which can be downloaded from their website.
Unless a fence protects a swimming pool, no permit for a fence is required. Instead, use the Building Permit Wavier for Fences and Sheds form. Complete the form and submit it along with a plat highlighting the location and height(s) of the fence.
Fences that protect a swimming pool require a Building Permit Application and would need three complete sets of plans showing complete construction details.
Fences have limitations on height. Please contact the Zoning Division for more information.
Sheds under 256 s.f. and used for storage, playhouse or similar uses, do not require a building permit. Submit a Building Permit Wavier for Fences and Sheds, a plat showing the location of the shed, and a description including type, size and height. Larger sheds, or those with more elaborate uses, must follow the full building-permit process.
Sheds must be 5' from the property line and 10' from the house. They can be no taller than 12' to the midpoint of the roof.
If your house is in the resource protection area (RPA) or floodplain, or your proposed location encroaches on an easement, additional requirements may apply.
Backup electric generators for residences have very specific requirements. In order to process and review a generator, all of the following must be submitted:
Until all these have been submitted, no reviews will begin.
This information can be downloaded as a PDF brochure.