Building Process Overview

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

While every project will have its own timeline and requirements, here’s an outline of the basic workflow that guides planning, permitting, inspecting, occupation and maintenance.

Planning

Determine the zoning district in which your project is located. The Zoning Division can help with this determination. If you come to the Zoning office, bring a scaled plat of your property.

Check the Zoning to determine if your project is allowed by-right or requires additional approval.

In addition to the Zoning Ordinance, the County Code, and requirements set by the Department of Environmental Services (DES), all new projects must follow the current Building Code. If you have questions about the Building Code, you may wish to request a free Code Consultation.

Permits

Most projects require permits. The Permit Library lists permits issued by Arlington County and allows you to search by permit name or by a keyword or key phrase.

Homeowners may wish to check the permitting requirements for various common residential projects.

Apply for permits online. All permits have fees and guidelines – see Fee Schedules to determine which fees apply to your permits. Stay updated on the status of your permits.

Leave time for the review process(es) associated with your permits, which are critical to ensure that proposed construction projects meet safety and code requirements. Also, leave time for correction and resubmission of your permit applications.

Once your permits are approved, you can begin construction.

To find the permit history of a property,

Inspections

Most projects require inspections at certain milestones in the building process. You have the responsibility to schedule inspections.

A project can fail the same inspection more than once but for a different reason each time. A re-inspection fee is applied after the third rejection for the same reason.

Occupancy

Many projects require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), which ensures that a building or proposed use of a building/land complies with all Arlington laws and regulations. Obtaining the CO is crucial; no occupancy can take place until its issuance.

The CO requires an application and an inspection.

Maintenance

Completing a project is cause for celebration. When the excitement dies down, it’s time to turn your attention to maintenance.

Learn more about Code Enforcement, including what Code Enforcement inspections address and what to do if you receive a notice of violation.

Some completed projects may require regular inspections by Arlington County entities such as the Department of Environmental Services (DES), the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Fire Marshal’s Office.