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Back to Building Permits and Inspections Page 

The City of Charlottesville requires a permit prior to the commencement of any construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, demolition or change the use or occupancy of a building or structure.

Emergency repairs                                                                                                                         

Where equipment replacements and repairs must be performed in an emergency situation, the permit application shall be submitted within the next five business days to the Department of Neighborhood and Development Services. 

Required Permits

There are several types of permits that might be necessary for any residential or commercial project depending on the scope of work being done, such as Building Permit, Electrical Permit, Mechanical Permit, Plumbing Permit, Fire Protection Permit, Demolition Permit,


     • For sprinkler systems being installed or upgraded, a licensed sprinkler contractor must apply for the permit and submit detailed specifications for the installation. The Charlottesville Fire Marshal reviews sprinkler plans and performs field inspections. In the Fire Marshal’s absence, Neighborhood Development Services Building Inspectors will perform these inspections.
    • The installation and/or upgrading of an elevator requires a separate building permit to be obtained by a licensed elevator contractor. Please refer to our Elevator Inspection Policy for detailed information.

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Work exempt from Permits

Certain work is exempt from requirement for permits.  However, such work needs to be performed in compliance with the adopted codes, City Zoning Ordinance and possible historic property requirements. Contact Zoning and the Preservation Planner for these requirements before building or making changes. Some examples of work exempt from permit include:
    1. One story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 256 square feet. Building must meet the required Zoning Setbacks.  
    2. Detached prefabricated buildings housing the equipment of a publicly regulated utility service, provided the floor area does not exceed 150 square feet
    3. Tents or air-supported structures, or both, that cover an area of 900 square feet or less and with an occupant load of 50 or less persons
    4. Fences of any height, except if they are part of a barrier for a swimming pool
    5. Retaining walls  less than 4 feet in height. Guardrails are required at the top of retaining wall if located next to walking surfaces and the wall is 30" or more in height.
    6. Swimming pools that have a surface area of 150 square feet or less, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are less than 24 inches deep
    7. Replacement of above-ground existing LP gas containers of the same capacity in the same location and associated regulators when installed by the serving gas supplier (special requirements apply if located in flood zone)
    8. Painting, wallpapering, flooring, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work. (Except for exterior modifications in historic districts)
    9. Replacement of windows and doors that do not require changes to the original framing opening
    10. Replacement of plumbing fixtures without alteration of the water supply and distribution system, sanitary drainage systems or vent systems.
    11. Installing any wiring or equipment which operates at less than 50 volts, except if part of: Fire Alarm System, Fire Detection System, Fire Suppression System, Smoke Control System, Fire protection Supervisory system, Elevator fire safety control system, Access or ecgress control system or delayed egress locking or latching system, Fire Damper, Door Control System; or if passes through fire rated construction or installed within plenums.
    12. Replacing existing electrical water heater with a new electric water heater
    13. Replacing electrical fixtures, such as switches and receptacles,
    14. Replacing or repairing existing mechanical appliances including gas dryers, gas stove or gas range (All other gas appliances need permit).

NOTE: Some areas of the City are designated Historic Districts. Altering the exterior of a building in a Historic District requires the prior approval of the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) . Changes to roofs, siding, windows and doors requires approval even if a building permit is not required. Contact the Preservation and Design Planner at 434-970-3182 for more information (back to top)

Required Documents

    1. Four sets of plans for new buildings and building footprint changes to existing buildings, as follows:
a. Two full sets including dimension site plan for Building Code review.
b. Two partial sets with existing and proposed utilities including storm drains and curbs, sidewalks, entrances, elevations and dimension site plan for engineering and zoning/planning. 
    2. A survey, plat or clearly drawn site plan showing the location of the finished structure with distances from each property line must be submitted for any new construction involving a footprint change to the structure. The site plan must also show new additions and/or enclosures of existing porches or decks as well as any easements within your property borders.
    3. Asbestos Certification Form PDF (for commercial and Multifamily buildings built prior to 1985)- Any renovation, demolition or roofing of a nonresidential building, a residential building with more than four units, or a residential building being renovated or demolished for commercial or public purposes must have an asbestos certification form signed and filed with the permit.
    4. Health Department approval for any new restaurant and/or remodeling of an existing restaurant is necessary prior to issuance of a building permit. The Health Department also regulates hotel/motel swimming pools.
    5. When determined necessary by the building official, construction documents shall include adequate detail of the structural, mechanical, plumbing, mechanical and electrical components. All engineered documents, including relevant computations, shall be sealed by the RDP responsible for the design.
    6. A completed

a) Building Permit Application


b) Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing Permit Application 

Permit Fees

The permit fee is determined by the total cost estimate of the new construction. There is a minimum permit fee of $50.00.                                                                                                                    

All fees are subject to a 2% state surcharge and an additional Permit System Maintenance Fee, as follows:
Permits under $200_________$10
Permits $200-$499.99_______$20
Permits $500-$1000_________$35
Permits over $1000__________$50

    • Building Permit Fees 
    • Plumbing Permit Fees 
    • Mechanical Permit Fees 
    • Electrical Permit Fees 
    • Fire Protection Permit Fees 
    • Demolition Permit Fees  



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