Building Safety


The Building Safety Division enforces codes and regulations established by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Falls Church governing the construction, alteration, and maintenance of buildings and structures within the City for the protection of residents and property. 

The Division's staff reviews applications and issues building permits for the construction of new buildings and structures and for the alteration of existing ones.  The staff performs inspections as construction progresses to verify compliance with the applicable construction codes and regulations. The Division also investigates complaints, enforces the correction of building code violations, and enforces local regulations related to unsafe structures.

The primary customers of the Building Safety Division are homeowners, small-business owners, developers, other City departments and the building construction industry at large.

Building in a home

Blocked Sewer Line?

It might be a cross-bored natural gas line. Call 811 before using a mechanical cutting device to clear a sewer-line blockage

Tornado Safety

A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Go to your safe place immediately. Always assume fallen power lines are live. Stay clear and keep children and pets away. Use these guidelines from, the American Red Cross, and the Falls Church Police Department to prepare your home and family.

Flood Safety

Never go into a flood-damaged basement or a basement filled with water until the utility company, fire department, or a licensed electrician has removed the home's electrical meter from its socket. See the Falls Church Department of Public Works website for additional Flood Safety Tips..

Permit Turn-Around Times

Building Safety is committed to providing timely plan review turn-around. See the table below for recent turn-around times and projections.

 Projected Number of Workdays to Review Plan Submissions
New Homes,
Additions &
Gas Risers,
Solar Panels,
Decks, Generators
Jul 2018
10 workdays 5 workdays 19 workdays

 Recent Actual Number of Workdays to Review Plan Submissions
 Month in
New Homes,
Additions &
Gas Risers,
Solar Panels,
Decks, Generators
 Jun 2018
1 - 15 days
1 - 11 days
3 -12 days
 May 2018
3 -11 days
1 - 6 days
2 -22 days
 Apr 2018
2 -10 days
1 -4 days
2 - 11 days
 Mar 2018
2 - 8 days
1 - 8 days
1 - 19 days
 Feb 2018
2 - 11 days
1 - 8 days
2 - 14 days
 Jan 2018
2 -16 days
1 - 3 days
7 - 21 days
 Dec 2017
2 - 9 days
3 - 11 days
3 - 9 days
 Nov 2017
2 - 9 days
2 - 5 days
4 - 20 days
Oct 2017
4 - 12 days
1 - 3 days
2 - 11 days
 Sep 2017
2 - 11 days
2 - 17 days
4 - 21 days
 Aug 2017
2 - 7 days
2 - 4 days
3 - 15 days
 July 2017
2 - 6 days
2 - 3 days
1 - 17 days

  • Reported plan-review times are for Development Services (Zoning and Building Safety). Grading-plan review times are not included.
  • Reported plan-review times and projections are based on 90th percentiles. Extreme outliers due to unusual circumstances are statistically removed from the results. Projections are based on past performance and current-month staffing expectations.
  • Simple commercial tenant fit-outs in existing established locations are eligible for expedited review. Projects involving building shell alterations, significant structural work, or site plan review are not eligible for expedited review.

Online Inspection Request

Inspections for issued building and trade permits may be requested online using the following link:
Please note when you do this you are only requesting an inspection. Your inspection is only confirmed when you receive a return e-mail giving you the date and time of the inspection. You should receive an e-mail within a few hours during normal business hours.

Building Codes and Policies

Credit Card Fees

Effective immediately, the Development Services Counter will charge a 2.95% fee for the use of a credit or debit card for any payment. This includes payments for all types of permits, bonds and fees. This is to offset the actual cost to the City of accepting credit / debit cards as a form of payment.


If you are contemplating any work on your house, you need to know if you should obtain a building permit. While a full, detailed breakdown of when a permit is needed can be quite involved, here are a few guidelines. If you have any questions, please call 703-248-5080 (TTY 711), or email us.

What Can Be Done Without a Permit

On a single-family house, most routine work does not require a permit. You can:
  • Paint, add or replace carpet, tile or hardwood floors, replace cabinets, and even replace paneling and drywall without a permit.
  • Replace your windows and doors, as long as you don't change the size of the opening in the wall.
  • Replace your roof, as long as you are not replacing rafters or a major portion of the decking.
  • Replace plumbing fixtures, such as a sink, disposal, or toilet, as long as the new fixture remains in the same place so you do not need to run any pipe.
  • Replace electrical fixtures, such as an outlet, switch or ceiling light fixture.

When a Permit is Needed

  • Any time you change a wall, you need a permit. It does not matter if the wall is load-bearing or not.
    • If you add walls, remove walls or even change the height of a wall, you need a permit.
    • The same is true if you want to add an opening, or change the size of an existing opening, such as to put in a larger window.
    • Anything involving the framing or other structure of a wall requires a permit. This also goes for floors, ceilings, and rafters.
  • If you plan to move any plumbing fixture, or add one, you need a permit.
  • If you plan to add electrical fixtures, you need a permit.
  • Any work involving gas, even just replacing a stove or fireplace insert, requires a permit.
  • Replacing mechanical units, such as a furnace or air conditioner, requires a permit.
Please note that the permit requirements for multifamily and commercial construction differ from the above. Contact the Building Safety Division if you have any questions.