Common Residential Projects

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

This page compiles information about several projects commonly undertaken by homeowners. Each requires, or may require, a residential building permit. Some may require another permit as well. Because expiration criteria vary among permit types, be sure to know when your permit(s) expire. Also check to see if the person obtaining the permit(s) needs a Permit Authorization Affidavit.


PermitResidential Building 

Submission RequirementsSee requirements for a residential deck.

Inspections: Once a building permit is approved, construction can proceed. You must schedule an inspection to ensure the safety and proper progress of the project.

Decks require three inspections that differ from those required for other residential projects.

Deck Inspections

  • Footing inspection: footing holes are inspected prior to concrete placement. At the time of the footing inspection, you must have the ledger board attached to the existing house.
  • Framing inspection: joists, beams, connections and mechanical attachments are inspected prior to placement of decking. In this inspection, lag screws, thru bolts and expansion anchors at the ledger board are inspected and turned to insure proper installation and tightening. Access to the inside of the house may be required.
  • Final inspection: all remaining items are inspected.

FeesSee Fee Schedules

Fence/Retaining Wall or Wall

PermitFence/Retaining Wall or Wall.

A permit is required for any new or replacement fence, retaining wall, or outdoor wall that is not part of a larger project.

If the fence, retaining wall, or outdoor wall is part of a larger project (such as a new house, addition, or pool) then all information about it should be submitted with the building permit for that project.

Note about fence placement disputes: The Zoning Division does not enforce property lines. You should work with a Virginia-licensed land surveyor to verify them. 

Submission Requirements:

You must complete a fence/retaining wall or wall permit application in Permit Arlington. Click “Create” and select “Zoning Application.”

  • All Departments
    • Minimum page size 11 in. x 17 in. and minimum scale of 1/8 in. = 1 sq. ft.; all dimensions must be shown.
    • Provide:
      • Address for the project.
      • Code year used for the design.
      • Name, address, and occupation of the building designer. If the plans are prepared by a Virginia-registered design professional, they must bear the original signature, seal, and date.
    • Identify the type of property in your application. Some residential properties are considered commercial per the Building Code and therefore require a commercial permit. Determine whether your project is considered residential or commercial.
    • The following are optional supporting documents that can help staff with their review:
      • Any prior approvals from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), County Board, or Zoning Administrator;
      • Any code modifications; and
      • Copies of the stamped, approved Certificate of Appropriateness plans from the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, if applicable.
  • Department of Environmental Services (DES)
    • See Environmental Permits Overview.
    • All Arlington County easements must be shown on a certified plan and plat. For questions, call the Department of Environmental Services at 703-228-3629.
    • See Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. If the property is within a Resource Protection Area (RPA), the Water Quality Impact Assessment Data Sheet is required.
    • A Floodplain Development Permit is required if the property is partly or entirely within the 100-year floodplain or County-required Flood Buffer Zone. Check the RPA map for more details.
    • A certified house location plat (to scale), showing the limits of disturbance, decks, patios, landscaping, the floodplain, the RPA, and all Arlington easements.
  • Zoning Division
  • Inspection Services Division (ISD)
    • Provide footing details.
    • List material specifications, including, but not limited to, grade and species of lumber as well as concrete and steel strength.
    • Provide structural details of wall construction. Walls over four (4) ft. tall must be sealed by a structural engineer.

Application Process:

  • Apply online
  • Completeness check
    • Applications will be checked for completeness within 2 business days.
    • You will receive an email with further instruction if your application is incomplete.
  • Review –  estimated times dependent on whether the project requires review by the building department or not
    • Projects that do not require building review:
      • Commercial projects take up to 3 business days to review.
      • Residential projects take up to 2 business days to review.
    • Projects that do require building review:
      • Commercial projects take up to 15 business days to review.
      • Residential projects take up to 10 business days to review.
    • Review times do not include completeness check or final processing windows.
  • Revisions
    • Applicants will receive an email with any review comments.
    • View the Permit Revisions webpage to learn how to respond to comments and revise plans or documents.
    • Once revisions are submitted, the plans will be sent back to the review process.
  • Changes to applications previously submitted in paper or by email
    • If an application was submitted and not issued prior to July 1, 2020, you must re-apply in the Permit Arlington system.
    • If an application was submitted and not issued after July 1, 2020, please create a Permit Arlington account and contact the technical support team to have the appropriate record moved to your account.
    • To ensure the continued processing of permit applications submitted before Aug. 27, 2021, please email or call (703-228-3883) the Zoning Division.
  • Final processing
    • After required reviews and revisions are completed, contractor information will be verified and permit fees will be calculated.
    • You will receive an email with final processing information within 2 business days that includes a permit fee balance to pay online.
  • Approvals and printing
    • Once payment is received, you will receive a digital copy of the permit through your Permit Arlington account.
    • An approved plan set will be available within two (2)  business days, also accessible through your Permit Arlington account.
    • The applicant is responsible for printing the permit and, if there is one, the approved plan set. Construction may not begin until permits have been approved and posted.
    • View printed plan set requirements.



If your fence, retaining wall, or wall permit requires an inspection, you must schedule one using the Permit Arlington system.

The following always require an inspection:

  • A fence that serves as a barrier for a swimming pool or for pedestrian safety.
  • A retaining wall that retains three (3) ft. or more of soil at any point along the wall.
  • A masonry or concrete wall that exceeds six (6) ft. in height above grade at any point along the wall.

The individual who will be onsite the day of the inspection must contact the assigned inspector the morning of the inspection. If the inspector is not contacted, the inspection will be cancelled. After 7 a.m. on the day of your scheduled inspection, the contacts listed on the fence, retaining wall, or wall permit application will receive an email with the inspector’s contact information. 


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 Division, and Department of Environmental Services (DES). Some permits involve fees from more than one schedule.  


PermitsResidential Building and Trade. Note: installing a communal pool (e.g., for a condominium complex) or water feature is a commercial project and requires Department of Human Services (DHS) review and inspections.

Submission RequirementsSee requirements for a residential addition. If the pool project includes an accessory structure, such as a pool house/cabana, see requirements for a new house.

InspectionsSee Building and Trade Inspections. Note that communal (commercial) pools also require health inspections, plan review and a license (see Water Recreation Facility Licenses).

FeesSee Fee Schedules.

Waterproofing a Basement

There are several ways to waterproof a basement, such as adding interior sealants and drainage systems or installing a sump pump. No one method is considered standard.

PermitsResidential Building and—if adding a new sump pump, replacing a sump pump, or relocating the discharge of an existing sump pump—Plumbing & Gas.

Submission RequirementsSee requirements for waterproofing a basement.

InspectionsSee Building and Trade Inspections.

FeesSee Fee Schedules.