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Virginia USBC

The edition of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) was adopted on March 1, 2011, by order of the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD), and became effective on March 1, 2011. The adoption was made in accordance with the regulatory authority granted the BHCD by Chapter 6 (36-97 et seq.) of Title 36 of the Code of Virginia. The adoption order was prepared according to the requirements of the Administrative Process Act.

The USBC prescribes building regulations to be complied with when constructing, repairing, maintaining and changing the use of buildings and structures. Where practical the code provisions have been stated in terms of required level of performance, so as to facilitate the prompt acceptance of new building materials and methods. Also, the code provisions allow construction at the least possible cost consistent with nationally recognized standards for health, safety, welfare, accessibility, energy and water conservation.

Enforcement of the USBC is the responsibility of each local government's building department and the local governing body may charge a fee to defray the cost of enforcement and appeals arising from application of the code.

The USBC provides optional enforcement regulations to protect occupants of existing buildings and structures from health and safety hazards arising from the improper maintenance or use of building and structures. Any local government may enforce the maintenance provisions of the USBC and may assign the responsibility to a local agency of its choice.

Contained in the USBC are enforcement procedures that must be used by the enforcing agency. An administrative appeals system has been established to resolve disagreements that may occur between the enforcing agency and an aggrieved party. Any provision of the USBC which is in conflict with the applicable laws of this Commonwealth, is invalid.

The BHCD bases the technical requirements of the USBC on nationally accepted model codes and standards and makes a few amendments as possible. Local government has not been given authority to amend the provisions of the USBC. The purpose is to benefit the citizens of Virginia by promoting efficiency in the construction industry, many aspects of which are interstate in nature.

For this reason, the BHCD encourages anyone who believes that a technical amendment is needed to submit their proposal
directly to the model code or standard writing organization. Amendments made by such organizations will then be considered for inclusion in future editions of the USBC. State law requires the BHCD to properly maintain the USBC. The BHCD plans to do this by updating the USBC when new editions of the model codes become publicly available. Suggestions for improvements are invited at any time. Information on how to present proposals to model code or standard organizations may be obtained from the State
Building Code Office.

Section 108 - Application for Permit


When applications are required. Application for a permit shall be made to the building official and a permit shall be obtained prior to the commencement of any of the following activities, except that applications for emergency construction, alterations or equipment replacement shall be submitted by the end of the first working day that follows the day such work commences. In addition, the building official may authorize work to commence pending the receipt of an application or the issuance of a permit.

1. Construction or demolition of a building or structure. Installations or alterations involving (i) the removal or addition of any wall, partition or portion thereof, (ii) any structural component, (iii) the repair or replacement of any required component of a fire or smoke rated assembly, (iv) the alteration of any required means of egress system, (v) water supply and distribution system, sanitary drainage system or vent system, (vi) electric wiring, (vii) fire protection system, mechanical systems, or fuel supply systems, or (viii) any equipment regulated by the USBC.
2. For change of occupancy, application for a permit shall be made when a new certificate of occupancy is required under Section 103.3.
3. Movement of a lot line that increases the hazard to or decreases the level of safety of an existing building or structure in comparison to the building code under which such building or structure was constructed.
4. Removal or disturbing of any asbestos containing materials during the construction or demolition of a building or structure, including additions.


Exemptions from application for permit. Notwithstanding the requirements of Section 108.1, application for a permit and any related inspections shall not be required for the following; however, this section shall not be construed to exempt such activities from other applicable requirements of this code. In addition, when an owner or an owner’s agent requests that a permit be issued for any of the following, then a permit shall be issued and any related inspections shall be required. feet (18 m2) and the structures are not classified as a Group F-1 or H occupancy.
1. Installation of wiring and equipment that (i) operates at less than 50 volts, (ii) is for network powered broadband communications systems, or (iii) is exempt under Section 102.3(1), except when any such installations are located in a plenum, penetrate fire rated or smoke protected construction or are a component of any of the following:
1.1. Fire alarm system.
1.2. Fire detection system.
1.3. Fire suppression system.
1.4. Smoke control system.
1.5. Fire protection supervisory system.
1.6. Elevator fire safety control system.
1.7. Access or egress control system or delayed egress locking or latching system.
1.8. Fire damper.
1.9. Door control system.
2. One story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18 m2) and the structures are not classified as a Group F-1 or H occupancy.
3. Detached prefabricated buildings housing the equipment of a publicly regulated utility service, provided the floor area does not exceed 150 square feet (14 m2).
4. Tents or air-supported structures, or both, that cover an area of 900 square feet (84 m2) or less, including within that area all connecting areas or spaces with a common means of egress or entrance, provided such tents or structures have an occupant load of 50 or less persons.
5. Fences and privacy walls not part of a building, structure or of the barrier for a swimming pool, provided such fences and privacy walls do not exceed six feet in height above the finished grade. Ornamental post caps shall not be considered to contribute to the height of the fence or privacy wall and shall be permitted to extend above the six feet height measurement.
6. Retaining walls supporting less than two feet of unbalanced fill. This exemption shall not apply to any wall impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids or supporting a surcharge other than ordinary unbalanced fill.
7. Swimming pools that have a surface area not greater than 150 square feet (13.95 m2), do not exceed 5,000 gallons (19 000 L) and are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
8. Signs under the conditions in Section H101.2 of Appendix H.
9. Replacement of above-ground existing LP-gas containers of the same capacity in the same location and associated regulators when installed by the serving gas supplier.
10. Ordinary repairs that include the following:
10.1. Replacement of windows and doors with windows and doors of similar operation and opening dimensions that do not require changes to the existing framed opening and that are not required to be fire rated in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
10.2. Replacement of plumbing fixtures in all groups without alteration of the water supply and distribution systems, sanitary drainage systems or vent systems.
10.3. Replacement of general use snap switches, dimmer and control switches, 125 volt-15 or 20 ampere receptacles, luminaries (lighting fixtures) and ceiling (paddle) fans in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
10.4. Replacement of mechanical appliances provided such equipment is not fueled by gas or oil in Group R-2 where serving a single family dwelling and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
10.5. Replacement of an unlimited amount of roof covering or siding in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 provided the building or structure is not in an area where the design (3 second gust) wind speed is greater than 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr) and replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof covering in all groups and all wind zones.
10.6. Replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof decking in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 unless the decking to be replaced was required at the time or original construction to be fire-retardant-treated or protected in some other way to form a fire-rated wall termination.
10.7. Installation or replacement of floor finishes in all occupancies.
10.8. Replacement of Class C interior wall or ceiling finishes installed in Groups A, E and I and replacement of all classes of interior wall or ceiling finishes in other groups.
10.9. Installation of replacement cabinetry or trim.
10.10. Application of paint or wallpaper.
10.11. Other repair work deemed by the building official to be minor and ordinary which does not adversely affect public health or general safety.
Exception: Application for a permit may be required by the building official for the installation of replacement siding, roofing and windows in buildings within a historic district designated by a locality pursuant to Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia.


Applicant information, processing by mail. Application for a permit shall be made by the owner or lessee of the relevant property or the agent of either or by the RDP, contractor or subcontractor associated with the work or any of their agents. The full name and address of the owner, lessee and applicant shall be provided in the application. If the owner or lessee is a corporate body, when and to the extent determined necessary by the building official, the full name and address of the responsible officers
shall also be provided. A permit application may be submitted by mail and such permit applications shall be processed by mail, unless the permit applicant voluntarily chooses otherwise. In no case shall an applicant be required to appear in person. The building official may accept applications for a permit through electronic submissions provided the information required by this section is obtained.


Prerequisites to obtaining permit. In accordance with Section 54.1-1111 of the Code of Virginia, any person applying to the building department for the construction, removal or improvement of any structure shall furnish prior to the issuance of the permit either (i) satisfactory proof to the building official that he is duly licensed or certified under the terms or Chapter 11 (Section 54.1-1000 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia to carry out or superintend the same or (ii) file a written statement, supported by an affidavit, that he is not subject to licensure or certification as a contractor or subcontractor pursuant to Chapter 11 of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia. The applicant shall also furnish satisfactory proof that the taxes or license fees required by any county, city, or town have been paid so as to be qualified to bid upon or contract for the work for which the permit has been applied.


Mechanics’ lien agent designation. In accordance with Section 36-98.01 of the Code of Virginia, a building permit issued for any one- or two-family residential dwelling shall at the time of issuance contain, at the request of the applicant, the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the mechanics’ lien agent as defined in Section 43-1 of the Code of Virginia. If the designation of a mechanics’ lien agent is not so requested by the applicant, the building permit shall at the time of issuance state that none has been designated with the words “None Designated.”

Note: In accordance with Section 43-4.01A of the Code of Virginia, a permit may be amended after it has been initially issued to name a mechanics’ lien agent or a new mechanics’ lien agent.


Application form, description of work. The application for a permit shall be submitted on a form or forms supplied by the local building department. The application shall contain a general description and location of the proposed work and such other information as determined necessary by the building official.


Amendments to application. An application for a permit may be amended at any time prior to the completion of the work governed by the permit. Additional construction documents or other records may also be submitted in a like manner.

All such submittals shall have the same effect as if filed with the original application for a permit and shall be retained in a like manner as the original filings.


Time limitation of application. An application for a permit for any proposed work shall be deemed to have been abandoned six months after the date of filing unless such application has been pursued in good faith or a permit has been issued, except that the building official is authorized to grant one or more extensions of time if a justifiable cause is demonstrated.