Building Code – All jurisdictions in Virginia are required to use and enforce the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (V.U.S.B.C) View the 2009 VUSBC at the Virginia Dept. of Housing & Community Developments website. The state adopts the national model codes, (International Code Council) with amendments, for use statewide so that everyone in the Commonwealth is subject to the same regulations.

The code that is referenced by The VUSBC for residential home improvements or new construction is the "International Code Council, International Residential Code – 2000 Edition.  View the International Code Council Website

Permit(s) will be required for any of the following work or improvements:

  • Additions      
  • Garages or carports    
  • Finishing your basement
  • Residential accessory buildings (sheds) greater than 150 square feet in area.
  • All retaining walls greater than 24" in height 
  • Any retaining walls of any height that support a surge from a structure above (walls, roads, driveways, sidewalks, etc.)       
  • Removing or altering any structural or non structural members and any work involving alterations to the houses' plumbing, electrical, or heating and air conditioning (mechanical) systems     
  • Installing a lawn irrigation system (permit required for the backflow device)
  • Installing prefabricated fireplace or woodstove inserts
  • Installation or replacement of doors and/or windows when structural alterations are made or required
  • Replacing gas or oil furnaces, or gas logs     
  • Installing a new electrical circuit, fixture or receptacle (see low voltage exception below)   
  • New appliances in a new location and upgraded appliances requiring electrical, plumbing or mechanical systems upgrades.

Permits Not Required – although the work is not subject to permit requirements, the work still must be performed in a manner meeting code requirements as well as meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance.

The following work does not require permits, or is classified by the code as "ordinary repair" and not subject to permit requirements:

  • Roof shingle replacement, replacement of roof sheathing or decking does require a permit.      
  • Accessory structures used as storage sheds except in use groups F & H 150 square feet or less in area.
  • Swimming pools which are 150 squre foot or less in surface area, 5000 gallons or less water capacity or or 24" or less in depth.               
  • Painting (interior or exterior) and wallpapering       
  • Replacing gutters or downspouts        
  • Re-glazing (glass replacement in existing windows)     
  • Replacing kitchen cabinets
  • replacing floor coverings      
  • Replacing existing plumbing fixtures (water closets, tubs, sinks, garbage disposals, etc.) where no alteration to the supply or drain/waste/vent systems are involved  
  • Replacing existing light fixtures      
  • Replacing existing appliances when replaced in same location with units of a similar capacity  
  • Concrete (patio) slabs on grade or pavers that are not designed to support a future building addition
  • Replacing any electrical water heater with the same size heater in the same location   
  • Replacing electric furnace, heat pump, or air-conditioning condensing unit with the same size unit in the same location
  • Repairing air-conditioners or furnaces by installing replacement parts 
  • Installation of low-voltage wiring (under 50 volts/door bell or security system)       
  • Retaining walls used for landscaping purposes that are less than 24 inches in height and do not support a surge from any structures above. (Note: Retaining wall systems composed of several tiers of individual retaining walls will require a permit if the total height of the retaining wall system exceeds 24 inches.)