specific work that is exempted from the Code entirely; this exemption
means that the work does not have to comply with the USBC, usually
because other governmental agencies regulate the work. This includes
work by a publicly regulated utility, for example sewer and water pipes
and power lines.
Factory Machinery & Playgrounds
machinery is also exempt but not the electrical, plumbing or mechanical
systems connected to the machine. Playground equipment is exempt, but
this does not include inflatable kiddie rides or the rides you see at an
buildings are another exemption and possibly the most confusing; farm
buildings are defined by the Code of Virginia as buildings on land where
farming operations take place. The law gives a list of farming
operations that seems to cover all the possible types of farming.
the tricky part; the exemption does not apply if any portion of the
building is used for a purpose that is not farming. Remember, it is not
the style of construction that determines if the building is a farm
structure but the actual use of the building.
A pole barn used to
store a Recreational Vehicle (RV) is not a farm building. Farm
buildings are typically animal barns, run-ins, chicken coops and the
like. Even though a building permit is not required for a farm building,
you will still need a Zoning Compliance permit. The Zoning Compliance
permit is for verifying that the new building’s location and proposed
occupancy is allowed by the Zoning Code.
Additional Exemption Requirements
As confusing as that sounds, this next category covers work where the
need for permits and inspections is waived but the work is not exempt
from the requirements of the USBC. You do not need a permit, but you
must still do the work just as the building code requires and the
Building Department will pursue violations of the code even though a
permit was not first obtained. These are the exemptions from needing a
Wiring or equipment that operates at less than 50 volts, or for network powered broadband communications systems will
not require a permit. However, there are exceptions to the exemption
(you gotta love Virginia law). A permit is still needed for the
following: fire alarm, detection and suppression systems, work in a
plenum ceiling, systems that affect door locking arrangements and any
wiring penetrating a fire rated wall, floor or ceiling. This seems to
make sense because these are all the most important life-safety issues.
Detached 1-story accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds when the floor area does not exceed 256 square feet
will not require a permit. We see this 1 abused a lot. An accessory
building is the term given to a structure whose use and occupancy are
directly related to and a part of the principle occupancy of the main
building of the land. This exception is allowed in all but Factory and
High Hazard occupancy conditions.
Basically, you don’t need a
permit if the land already has a primary building on it, if your use is
for storage or tools and closely related to the occupancy of the main
building, and if it is 256 square feet or less in area. An example is
backyard sheds for lawn care equipment, including the type delivered to
your property already constructed.
Detached prefabricated buildings
housing the equipment of a publicly regulated utility service, provided
the floor area does not exceed 150 square feet will not require a
Tents with 900 square feet or less of area and an occupant load of 50 persons or less will
not require a permit. This covers all tent structures regardless of
what type of property it’s erected on. However, large tents or tents
that will have more than 50 people inside would still need a permit.
Fences and privacy walls less than 6-feet high unless the fence is a barrier for a swimming pool will
not require a permit. Tall fences create potential hazards from wind
loads. The barrier for a swimming pool is typically only 4-feet tall but
it’s designed to defeat an unsupervised toddler from gaining access - a
self-closing and self-latching gate is required here.
Retaining walls, if supporting less than 36-inches of ordinary unbalanced fill, will
not need a permit. This applies dirt where the differences of the
height of the ground from 1 side of the wall to the other are 36-inches
Swimming pools that are less than 24-inches deep
with a volume of less than 5000 gallons and a surface area of less than
150 square feet will not need a permit. This allows for kiddie pools to be utilized.
Signs with conditions as described in Appendix H will not need a permit.
replacement of above-ground existing LP-gas containers of the same
capacity in the same location when installed by the serving gas supplier
will not require a permit.
Ordinary repairs will not require a permit. Ordinary repairs do not include:
The removal or cutting away of any wall or partition
The removal or cutting of any structural beam or load bearing support
The removal or change of any required means-of-egress (exits), changing or adding any wiring or piping or duct work.
Ordinary repairs are not to include anything that affects public
health, safety and welfare but reasonable work needed to maintain
buildings. “Ordinary repairs” include the following:
Floor coverings or porch flooring
Replacing windows and doors
Same-for-same replacement of mechanical and plumbing appliances or equipment (unless fueled by gas or oil)
Electrical fixtures, outlets, switches, lights or ceiling fans
Roof coverings or siding (for most residential building types)
Repair of flooring, interior wall coverings/plaster or tile
Cabinets and painting
We hope this makes sense of what is a convoluted set of regulations. We
would like you to know that permitting brings with it the experience of
the Building Department at minor cost to you.
Our processes are fast
and we try to be as user-friendly as possible. Should you have any
questions regarding our policies or the code, feel free to contact us
directly at 804-556-5815.