Permitting Process Overview

Step 1: Determine if the Work is in the City of Falls Church

The mailing address "Falls Church, VA" extends far outside the City limits. It's a good idea to check if the work site is in the City before going any further.

Step 2: Determine if a Permit is Required

When do you need a permit, and when do you not? You don't need a permit to paint, patch, carpet, or replace drywall. In single-family dwellings, you can replace an A/C or heat pump, plumbing fixture, roof or windows without a permit.

Any work on a gas appliance needs a permit. Anything which involves framing needs a permit. 

For more details, click here.

Step 3: Application and Related Forms

All permits require a signed application form. Many types of permits also require other forms.

Step 4: Plan Requirements

Most building permits require plans to be submitted for review. Two sets of plans are required for all projects, with a third set for any project with exterior work. For small jobs and some trade permits, everything can be submitted as a PDF. Any larger job will require paper plans; a PEF is still appreciated. Plans for work on larger buildings must be signed and sealed by a registered design professional (RDP), either an architect or an engineer.

Step 5: Plan Review

Plans are reviewed by Zoning first, then by Building Safety. If there is exterior work, the Department of Public Works will also review the plans. If any of the reviewers reject the plans, or have questions, they will contact the applicant directly. When all reviews are approved, someone from the permit counter will contact the applicant.

Step 6: Permit Fees

The fees for permits are set by City Council action. A formal schedule of fees is adopted, but estimating a permit fee from the schedule is not easy. There are a few resources available to help estimate permit fees.

These guides are helpful, but do not use them to make out checks for permit fees. Wait until the permit counter has provided a final fee.

Step 7: Inspections

All work covered by a permit must be inspected. The permit holder is legally responsible for requesting these inspections. Inspections can be requested through the website, by phone or in-person. Inspections can typically be scheduled for the next business day.

For More Information

This information can be downloaded as a PDF brochure.