Residential Building Permit Plan Review Process

The following steps provide an overview of the online residential building permit submission and review process.

Be aware that some residential properties are considered commercial per the Building Code and require commercial permits. If you’re unsure, determine whether your project is Residential or Commercial.

Step 1: Apply Online

Visit Permit Arlington, register / log in and  follow the directions to submit an application and upload plans. Review the submission requirements page before submitting.

  • Unless the permit holder is the contractor licensed in Virginia for the scope of work on the permit OR the permit holder is the property owner and the applicant, the party that applies the permit will need to have a Permit Authorization Affidavit.
Step 2: Completeness Check

Your application, construction documents and required forms will be reviewed for completeness (approximately two business days). If incomplete, the applicant and all email contacts provided on the application will be contacted by email with an attached letter explaining what is required.

If the application is complete, then the system will send an email about a filing fee, if required. To pay the fee, the person must be added as a contact on the permit. See the help guidelines for adding contacts to a permit The fee will not be refunded, even if a permit is not issued. For more information, view Fee Schedules. If a filing fee is not required, your application and supporting documents will be sent to the necessary departments for review.

Step 3: Review and Revisions

The necessary departments will review your application, supporting documents and required forms for compliance with the applicable regulations. Review times begin after a permit is processed and any fees are paid.

Checking Status During Plan Review

  1. Log in to the Permit Arlington customer portal.
  2. Search for the permit number in the upper right corner
  3. Click on the permit number
  4. Click on "Plan Review"
  5. Click on "Review Results & Mark Ups"
  6. Click on "Review Status & History"
  7. The due date for the current step, the assigned reviewers, and the results will be visible here.

Note: There are multiple steps in the process (completeness check, plan review, and final review), and the due dates and assigned reviewers will change as the permit goes through each step. 

Permit Arlington Review

The following tables describe approximate processing / review times for each type of residential building permits.

Permit Type  Approximate Review Times 
Residential New Construction (RNEW)  10 business days 
Residential Addition Route Through (RADD)  10 business days 
Residential Alteration Route Through (RALT)  5 business days 
Residential Addition Express (RADD) Express  2 business days 
Residential Alteration Express (RALT Express)  2 business days 

Disclaimer: Approximate review times do not include process in / out time, typically 2 business days. 

Express Criteria

Disclaimer: Residential express reviews are intended to be accomplished in a short amount of time. If the nature or complexity of the proposed work precludes a quick review, the project may be classified as a route-through review even though it meets the following criteria:

  • The area of work must be less than 750 sq. ft.
  • Work is limited to one story only
  • Additions must be located on the ground floor or basement of the house
  • Basements must have the minimum code required ceiling height for a basement
  • The project does not include the replacement of all floor joists at any one story
  • The project does not include the removal of load-bearing walls on a nonconforming building
  • The dwelling will be habitable during the period of construction
  • The house does not have more than a maximum of three toilets; including any new toilets in the proposed work; or the house must have an existing 1 in. water service line
  • Must be less than 2,500 sq. ft. of land disturbance
  • This project does not include a retaining wall that is retaining 3 ft. or more of soil

Once all of the reviews are completed, an email with an attached comment letter will be sent to the applicant and all email contacts provided on the application.

View Permit Revisions to learn how to respond to comments as well as revise your plans to address comments. Be aware that revisions to the building permit may also require revisions to other permits and approvals to ensure coordination.

If the building permit is approved while the LDA is still pending, the building permit will not move on to the next step until the LDA is approved.

Step 4: Final Processing

After required reviews and revisions are completed, contractor information will be verified and permit fees will be calculated within two business days.

The applicant and all email contacts provided on the application will be contacted by email with any required changes or with fee information.

To pay the fee, enter the permit number into Permit Arlington Online Payment. See help guidelines for adding contacts to a permit.  

Step 5: Approvals and Printing

Once payment is received, the applicant will be provided with a digital copy of the permit and placard in the Permit Arlington system.

Accessing the Permit and Placard

  1. Log in to the Permit Arlington customer portal and search for the permit number in the upper right corner. 
  2. Click on the permit number.
  3. Click on "Record Info"
  4. Click on "Attachments"
  5. The applicant should see a file named "permit"

Once the permit has been obtained and posted, construction work can begin.

The placard and permit must be posted at the project site, in adherence with the following guidelines:

  • The approved plan set and supporting documentation must also be available on-site prior to any scheduled inspections
  • Minimum sheet size of 11 in. x 17 in.
    • Supporting documentation (ex: project specifications, structural calculations, etc.) may be printed on 8.5 in. x 11 in. pages.
  • Plans should be legible and of an easily-readable scale
  • Other than site plan drawings, no drawing should be printed at a scale smaller than 1/8 in. = 1 ft.

The applicant will receive access to the approved plan set (approximately two business days). This set will be available in the Permit Arlington system.

Accessing the Approved Plan

  1. Log in to the Permit Arlington customer portal and search for the permit number in the upper right corner. 
  2. Click on the permit number.
  3. Click on "Plan Review"
  4. Click on "Approved Documents"
  5. The applicant should seethe approved plan set.
Step 6: Associated Permits

Most building permits require additional Trade Permits (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc.) in order to complete the project. Applications for mechanical, plumbing, and electrical permits are submitted separately and issued based on the work shown on building permit construction documents.

If the scope of work includes Fire Protection Systems, separate permits and plans will be required.

Step 7: Inspections

Construction work cannot begin until permits have been approved and posted. Once your permits have been approved, you must schedule inspections to ensure the safety and proper progress of the project.

Throughout the project, the applicant or contractor must schedule required Building and Trade Inspections. Be aware that other permits or approvals may require additional inspections specific to those permits.

The individual that 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, use this guide to contact your inspector.

If there are changes to the plans after the permit has been issued, this will require revisions to the approved plan set.

A wall check must be submitted upon completion of foundation walls – but before the framing inspection takes place. For new single-family dwellings, the established first floor elevation must be shown on the wall check plat. Wall checks must be submitted as a revision through the Permit Arlington system.

A final survey is required for new single-family dwellings prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy. A final survey for additions may be requested by the plan reviewer. As-built main building footprint/lot coverage certification and height certification may be requested by the reviewer as well.

Submit the final surveys to contactzoning@arlingtonva.us, including the address and permit number. 

Step 8: Certificate of Occupancy

Depending on your project, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) will be required prior to occupancy and use of a new house or an accessory dwelling unit. A CO requires a separate application, process and fees. The application process for a CO must begin at least two weeks before occupancy begins, and the process can take longer depending on the scope of work.

See Also
Fees

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