Code Modification Request

The Arlington County Permit Office is  CLOSED for in-person customer service. Many services are available online. Learn more.

The Code Modification process should be your last resort. You should always attempt to work with the code official and other professional consultants to find code-conforming alternatives. 

That said, you may formally request a Code Modification if any of the following criteria apply and you have exhausted other means of recourse: 

  • Your building design plan has been denied by a plan reviewer. 
  • Your building construction plan has been denied by an inspector. 
  • A construction code violation has been identified by the County. 
  • You’d like to request alternative methods and materials that would provide an equivalent level of safety and protection prior to submitting a permit application.

Submission Requirements

You must complete a Code Modification application in Permit Arlington. Click “Create” and select “Building Application.” 

Review Permit Arlington online submission guidelines

  • These include document sizing and layout, recommended file naming conventions, and file type requirements.

The online application requests the following: 

  • The specific standards (including the relevant code(s), edition, section, and subsection of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC) for which you seek the modification. 
  • The difficulty in complying with the specified standards (short answer and written narrative required). 
  • The proposed alternative methods and materials that would provide an equivalent level of safety and protection and/or what compensatory protection or equivalent safety you would provide to offset deficiencies (short answer and written narrative required). NOTE: A self-imposed hardship or financial limitation will generally not be accepted as a basis for a modification.  

With your application you are required to upload: 

  • Written narratives about the difficulty in complying with the Building Code and the proposed alternative method of compliance or compensatory protection. (In the online application, label these with the Discipline “Application Document” and the Sheet Type “Written Narrative.”) 
  • At least one supporting documentation item. Supporting documentation can include any details, photographs, sketches, diagrams, plans, manufacturer specifications/product cut sheets, technical data, etc. that illustrate the nature and extent of the code deficiency. (In the online application, label these with the Discipline “Code Modification” and the appropriate Sheet Type.)  

Pay the fee with the application. 

Application Process 

Completeness check

  • Applications will be checked for completeness within two (2) business days. 
  • You will receive an email with further instruction if your application is incomplete or not compliant with requirements. 


  • A member of the Inspection Services Division will contact the applicant within two (2) weeks of acceptance from the completeness check. 
  • Review times do not include completeness check or final processing windows. 


  • Depending on the scope, some projects may require additional documents or an inspection. Applicants may receive an email with review comments or requests for additional documents. 

Final processing

  • Once a decision is made, an email copy of the decision will be provided within five (5) business days (depending on caseloads and request completion). If your request is denied, you may submit a separate Building Code Appeal


Fee schedules provide the range of fees charged for each type of application or activity related to land development in Arlington. Fees cover permitting, plan review, enforcement, inspection, service delivery, performance agreements, and conditions. There are separate fee schedules for the Inspection Services Division (ISD), Zoning, and the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Some permits involve fees from more than one schedule.