The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, Part I, Construction, may be cited as the Virginia Construction Code or as the VCC. The term "USBC" shall mean the VCC unless the context in which the term is used clearly indicates it to be an abbreviation for the entire Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code or for a different part of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
This section establishes the scope of the USBC in accordance with Section 36-98 of the Code of Virginia. The USBC shall supersede the building codes and regulations of the counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions and state agencies. This code also shall supersede the provisions of local ordinances applicable to single-family residential construction that (i) regulate dwelling foundations or crawl spaces, (ii) require the use of specific building materials or finishes in construction, or (iii) require minimum surface area or numbers of windows; however, this code shall not supersede proffered conditions accepted as a part of a rezoning application, conditions imposed upon the grant of special exceptions, special or conditional use permits or variances, conditions imposed upon a clustering of single-family homes and preservation of open space development through standards, conditions, and criteria established by a locality pursuant to subdivision 8 of Section 15.2-2242 of the Code of Virginia or subdivision A 12 of Section 15.2-2286 of the Code of Virginia, or land use requirements in airport or highway overlay districts, or historic districts created pursuant to Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia, or local flood plain regulations adopted as a condition of participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Note: Requirements relating to functional design are contained in Section 103.10 of this code.
No change of occupancy shall be made in any structure when the current USBC requires a greater degree of accessibility, structural strength, fire protection, means of egress, ventilation or sanitation. When such a greater degree is required, the owner or the owner's agent shall comply with the following:
- In other than Group I-2 or I-3, the provisions of the VRC for change of occupancy shall be met.
Additions to buildings and structures shall comply with the requirements of this code for new construction or shall comply with the VRC. An existing building or structure plus additions shall comply with the height and area provisions of Chapter 5 and the applicable provisions of Chapter 9. Further, this code shall not require changes to the design or construction of any portions of the building or structure not altered or affected by an addition, unless the addition has the effect of lowering the current level of safety.
- This section shall not be construed to permit noncompliance with any applicable flood load or flood-resistant construction requirements of this code.
- When this code is used for compliance, existing structural elements carrying gravity loads shall be permitted to comply with Section 1103 of the International Existing Building Code.
The following criteria is applicable to reconstruction, alteration or repair of Group R-5 buildings or structures:
- Any reconstruction, alteration or repair shall not adversely affect the performance of the building or structure, or cause the building or structure to become unsafe or lower existing levels of health and safety.
- Parts of the building or structure not being reconstructed, altered or repaired shall not be required to comply with the requirements of this code applicable to newly constructed buildings or structures.
- The installation of material or equipment, or both, that is neither required nor prohibited shall only be required to comply with the provisions of this code relating to the safe installation of such material or equipment.
- Material or equipment, or both, may be replaced in the same location with material or equipment of a similar kind or capacity.
- This section shall not be construed to permit noncompliance with any applicable flood load or flood-resistant construction requirements of this code.
- Reconstructed decks, balconies, porches and similar structures located 30 inches (762 mm) or more above grade shall meet the current code provisions for structural loading capacity, connections and structural attachment. This requirement excludes the configuration and height of handrails and guardrails.
- Compliance with the VRC shall be an acceptable alternative to compliance with this section at the discretion of the owner or owner's agent.
Upon the replacement or new installation of any fuel-burning appliances or equipment in existing Group R-5 occupancies, an inspection or inspections shall be conducted to ensure that the connected vent or chimney systems comply with the following:
- Vent or chimney systems are sized in accordance with the International Residential Code.
- Vent or chimney systems are clean, free of any obstruction or blockages, defects, or deterioration, and are in operable condition. Where not inspected by the local building department, persons performing such changes or installations shall certify to the building official that the requirements of Items 1 and 2 of this section are met.
The following criteria for functional design is in accordance with Section 36-98 of the Code of Virginia. The USBC shall not supersede the regulations of other state agencies that require and govern the functional design and operation of building related activities not covered by the USBC, including but not limited to (i) public water supply systems, (ii) waste water treatment and disposal systems, and (iii) solid waste facilities. Nor shall state agencies be prohibited from requiring, pursuant to other state law, that buildings and equipment be maintained in accordance with provisions of this code. In addition, as established by this code, the building official may refuse to issue a permit until the applicant has supplied certificates of functional design approval from the appropriate state agency or agencies. For purposes of coordination, the locality may require reports to the building official by other departments or agencies indicating compliance with their regulations applicable to the functional design of a building or structure as a condition for issuance of a building permit or certificate of occupancy. Such reports shall be based upon review of the plans or inspection of the project as determined by the locality. All enforcement of these conditions shall not be the responsibility of the building official, but rather the agency imposing the condition.
Note: Identified state agencies with functional design approval are listed in the "Related Laws Package," which is available from DHCD.
This section establishes the application of the USBC to state-owned buildings and structures in accordance with Section 36-98.1 of the Code of Virginia. The USBC shall be applicable to all state-owned buildings and structures, with the exception that Sections 2.2-1159 through 2.2-1161 of the Code of Virginia shall provide the standards for ready access to and use of state-owned buildings by the physically handicapped.
Any state-owned building or structure for which preliminary plans were prepared or on which construction commenced after the initial effective date of the USBC, shall remain subject to the provisions of the USBC that were in effect at the time such plans were completed or such construction commenced. Subsequent reconstruction, renovation or demolition of such building or structure shall be subject to the pertinent provisions of this code.
Acting through the Division of Engineering and Buildings, the Virginia Department of General Services shall function as the building official for state-owned buildings. The department shall review and approve plans and specifications, grant modifications, and establish such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement this section. It shall provide for the inspection of state-owned buildings and enforcement of the USBC and standards for access by the physically handicapped by delegating inspection and USBC enforcement duties to the State Fire Marshal's Office, to other appropriate state agencies having needed expertise, and to local building departments, all of which shall provide such assistance within a reasonable time and in the manner requested. State agencies and institutions occupying buildings shall pay to the local building department the same fees as would be paid by a private citizen for the services rendered when such services are requested by the department. The department may alter or overrule any decision of the local building department after having first considered the local building department's report or other rationale given for its decision. When altering or overruling any decision of a local building department, the department shall provide the local building department with a written summary of its reasons for doing so.
Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, roadway tunnels and bridges owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation shall be exempt from this code. The Virginia Department of General Services shall not have jurisdiction over such roadway tunnels, bridges and other limited access highways; provided, however, that the Department of General Services shall have jurisdiction over any occupied buildings within any Department of Transportation rights-of-way that are subject to this code.
Except as provided in subsection D of Section 23-38.109 of the Code of Virginia, and notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, at the request of a public institution of higher education, the Virginia Department of General Services, as further set forth in this provision, shall authorize that institution of higher education to contract with a building official of the locality in which the construction is taking place to perform any inspection and certifications required for the purpose of complying with this code. The department shall publish administrative procedures that shall be followed in contracting with a building official of the locality. The authority granted to a public institution of higher education under this provision to contract with a building official of the locality shall be subject to the institution meeting the conditions prescribed in subsection B of Section 23-38.88 of the Code of Virginia.
Note: In accordance with Section 36-98.1 of the Code of Virginia, roadway tunnels and bridges shall be designed, constructed and operated to comply with fire safety standards based on nationally recognized model codes and standards to be developed by the Virginia Department of Transportation in consultation with the State Fire Marshal and approved by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board. Emergency response planning and activities related to the standards approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall be developed by the Department of Transportation and coordinated with the appropriate local officials and emergency service providers. On an annual basis, the Department of Transportation shall provide a report on the maintenance and operability of installed fire protection and detection systems in roadway tunnels and bridges to the State Fire Marshal.
This section establishes the requirements for enforcement of the USBC in accordance with Section 36-105 of the Code of Virginia. Enforcement of the provisions of the USBC for construction and rehabilitation shall be the responsibility of the local building department. Whenever a county or municipality does not have such a building department, the local governing body shall enter into an agreement with the local governing body of another county or municipality or with some other agency, or a state agency approved by DHCD for such enforcement. For the purposes of this section, towns with a population of less than 3,500 may elect to administer and enforce the USBC; however, where the town does not elect to administer and enforce the code, the county in which the town is situated shall administer and enforce the code for the town. In the event such town is situated in two or more counties, those counties shall administer and enforce the USBC for that portion of the town situated within their respective boundaries.
However, upon a finding by the local building department, following a complaint by a tenant of a residential dwelling unit that is the subject of such complaint, that there may be a violation of the unsafe structures provisions of Part III of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, also known as the "Virginia Maintenance Code," or the "VMC," the local building department shall enforce such provisions.
If the local building department receives a complaint that a violation of the VMC exists that is an immediate and imminent threat to the health or safety of the owner, tenant, or occupants of any building or structure, or the owner, occupant, or tenant of any nearby building or structure, and the owner, occupant, or tenant of the building or structure that is the subject of the complaint has refused to allow the local building official or his agent to have access to the subject building or structure, the local building official or his agent may present sworn testimony to a magistrate or a court of competent jurisdiction and request that the magistrate or court grant the local building official or his agent an inspection warrant to enable the building official or his agent to enter the subject building or structure for the purpose of determining whether violations of the VMC exist. The local building official or his agent shall make a reasonable effort to obtain consent from the owner, occupant, or tenant of the subject building or structure prior to seeking the issuance of an inspection warrant under this section.
The local governing body shall, however, inspect and enforce the provisions of the VMC for elevators, escalators and related conveyances, except for elevators in single-family and two-family homes and townhouses. Such inspection and enforcement shall be carried out by an agency or department designated by the local governing body.
Every local building department shall have a building official as the executive official in charge of the department. The building official shall be appointed in a manner selected by the local governing body. After permanent appointment, the building official shall not be removed from office except for cause after having been afforded a full opportunity to be heard on specific and relevant charges by and before the appointing authority. DHCD shall be notified by the appointing authority within 30 days of the appointment or release of a permanent or acting building official.
Note: Building officials are subject to sanctions in accordance with the VCS.
An acting or permanent building official shall be certified as a building official in accordance with the VCS within 1 year after being appointed as acting or permanent building official.
Exception: A building official in place prior to April 1, 1983, shall not be required to meet the certification requirements in this section while continuing to serve in the same capacity in the same locality.
The building official, subject to any limitations imposed by the locality, shall be permitted to utilize technical assistants to assist the building official in the enforcement of the USBC. DHCD shall be notified by the building official within 60 days of the employment of, contracting with or termination of all technical assistants.
Note: Technical assistants are subject to sanctions in accordance with the VCS.
A technical assistant shall be certified in the appropriate subject area within 18 months after becoming a technical assistant. When required by local policy to have two or more certifications, a technical assistant shall obtain the additional certifications within 3 years from the date of such requirement.
Exception: A technical assistant in place prior to March 1, 1988, shall not be required to meet the certification requirements in this section while continuing to serve in the same capacity in the same locality.
Upon written application by an owner or an owner's agent, the building official may approve a modification of any provision of the USBC provided the spirit and functional intent of the code are observed and public health, welfare and safety are assured. The decision of the building official concerning a modification shall be made in writing and the application for a modification and the decision of the building official concerning such modification shall be retained in the permanent records of the local building department.
Note: The USBC references nationally recognized model codes and standards. Future amendments to such codes and standards are not automatically included in the USBC; however the building official should give them due consideration in deciding whether to approve a modification.
Application for a permit shall be made to the building official and a permit shall be obtained prior to the commencement of any of the following activities, except that applications for emergency construction, alterations or equipment replacement shall be submitted by the end of the first working day that follows the day such work commences. In addition, the building official may authorize work to commence pending the receipt of an application or the issuance of a permit.
- Construction or demolition of a building or structure. Installations or alterations involving (i) the removal or addition of any wall, partition or portion thereof, (ii) any structural component, (iii) the repair or replacement of any required component of a fire or smoke rated assembly, (iv) the alteration of any required means of egress system, (v) water supply and distribution system, sanitary drainage system or vent system, (vi) electric wiring, (vii) fire protection system, mechanical systems, or fuel supply systems, or (viii) any equipment regulated by the USBC.
- For change of occupancy, application for a permit shall be made when a new certificate of occupancy is required under Section 103.3.
- Movement of a lot line that increases the hazard to or decreases the level of safety of an existing building or structure in comparison to the building code under which such building or structure was constructed.
- Removal or disturbing of any asbestos-containing materials during the construction or demolition of a building or structure, including additions.
- Installation of wiring and equipment that (i) operates at less than 50 volts, (ii) is for network powered broadband communications systems, or (iii) is exempt under Section 102.3(1), except when any such installations are located in a plenum, penetrate fire rated or smoke protected construction or are a component of any of the following:
- Fire alarm system.
- Fire detection system.
- Fire suppression system.
- Smoke control system.
- Fire protection supervisory system.
- Elevator fire safety control system.
- Access or egress control system or delayed egress locking or latching system.
- Fire damper.
- Door control system.
- One story detached structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses, provided the building area does not exceed 256 square feet (23.78 m2) and the structures are not classified as a Group F-1 or H occupancy.
- Detached prefabricated buildings housing the equipment of a publicly regulated utility service, provided the floor area does not exceed 150 square feet (14 m2).
- Tents or air-supported structures, or both, that cover an area of 900 square feet (84 m2) or less, including within that area all connecting areas or spaces with a common means of egress or entrance, provided such tents or structures have an occupant load of 50 or less persons.
- Fences of any height unless required for pedestrian safety as provided for by Section 3306, or used for the barrier for a swimming pool.
- Concrete or masonry walls, provided such walls do not exceed 6 feet (1828 mm) in height above the finished grade. Ornamental column caps shall not be considered to contribute to the height of the wall and shall be permitted to extend above the 6 feet (1828 mm) height measurement.
- Retaining walls supporting less than 3 feet (914 mm) of unbalanced fill that are not constructed for the purpose of impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids or supporting a surcharge other than ordinary unbalanced fill.
- Swimming pools that have a surface area not greater than 150 square feet (13.95 m2), do not exceed 5,000 gallons (19 000 L) and are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
- Signs under the conditions in Section H101.2 of Appendix H.
- 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.
- Flagpoles 30 feet (9144 mm) or less in height.
- Temporary ramps serving dwelling units in Group R-3 and R-5 occupancies where the height of the entrance served by the ramp is no more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade.
- Construction work deemed by the building official to be minor and ordinary and which does not adversely affect public health or general safety.
- Ordinary repairs that include the following:
- Replacement of windows and doors with windows and doors of similar operation and opening dimensions that do not require changes to the existing framed opening and that are not required to be fire rated in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of plumbing fixtures and well pumps in all groups without alteration of the water supply and distribution systems, sanitary drainage systems or vent systems.
- Replacement of general-use snap switches, dimmer and control switches, 125 volt-15 or 20 ampere receptacles, luminaires (lighting fixtures) and ceiling (paddle) fans in Group R-2 where serving a single dwelling unit and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of mechanical appliances provided such equipment is not fueled by gas or oil in Group R-2 where serving a single family dwelling and in Groups R-3, R-4 and R-5.
- Replacement of an unlimited amount of roof covering or siding in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 provided the building or structure is not in an area where the design (3 second gust) wind speed is greater than 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr) and replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof covering in all groups and all wind zones.
- Replacement of 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or less of roof decking in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 unless the decking to be replaced was required at the time of original construction to be fire-retardant-treated or protected in some other way to form a fire-rated wall termination.
- Installation or replacement of floor finishes in all occupancies.
- Replacement of Class C interior wall or ceiling finishes installed in Groups A, E and I and replacement of all classes of interior wall or ceiling finishes in other groups.
- Installation or replacement of cabinetry or trim.
- Application of paint or wallpaper.
- Other repair work deemed by the building official to be minor and ordinary which does not adversely affect public health or general safety.
- Crypts, mausoleums, and columbaria structures not exceeding 1500 square feet (139.35 m2) in area if the building or structure is not for occupancy and used solely for the interment of human or animal remains and is not subject to special inspections.
Application for a permit shall be made by the owner or lessee of the relevant property or the agent of either or by the RDP, contractor or subcontractor associated with the work or any of their agents. The full name and address of the owner, lessee and applicant shall be provided in the application. If the owner or lessee is a corporate body, when and to the extent determined necessary by the building official, the full name and address of the responsible officers shall also be provided.
A permit application may be submitted by mail and such permit applications shall be processed by mail, unless the permit applicant voluntarily chooses otherwise. In no case shall an applicant be required to appear in person.
The building official may accept applications for a permit through electronic submissions provided the information required by this section is obtained.
In accordance with Section 36-98.01 of the Code of Virginia, a building permit issued for any one-family or two-family residential dwelling shall at the time of issuance contain, at the request of the applicant, the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the mechanics' lien agent as defined in Section 43-1 of the Code of Virginia. If the designation of a mechanics' lien agent is not so requested by the applicant, the building permit shall at the time of issuance state that none has been designated with the words "None Designated."
Note: In accordance with Section 43-4.01A of the Code of Virginia, a permit may be amended after it has been initially issued to name a mechanics' lien agent or a new mechanics' lien agent.
Construction documents shall be submitted with the application for a permit. The number of sets of such documents to be submitted shall be determined by the locality. Construction documents for one- and two-family dwellings may have floor plans reversed provided an accompanying site plan is approved.
Exception: Construction documents do not need to be submitted when the building official determines the proposed work is of a minor nature.
Note: Information on the types of construction required to be designed by an RDP is included in the "Related Laws Package" available from DHCD.
When determined necessary by the building official, a site plan shall be submitted with the application for a permit. The site plan shall show to scale the size and location of all proposed construction, including any associated wells, septic tanks or drain fields. The site plan shall also show to scale the size and location of all existing structures on the site, the distances from lot lines to all proposed construction, the established street grades and the proposed finished grades. When determined necessary by the building official, the site plan shall contain the elevation of the lowest floor of any proposed buildings. The site plan shall also be drawn in accordance with an accurate boundary line survey. When the application for a permit is for demolition, the site plan shall show all construction to be demolished and the location and size of all existing structures that are to remain on the site.
Note: Site plans are generally not necessary for alterations, renovations, repairs or the installation of equipment.
In accordance with Section 36-99.7 of the Code of Virginia, the local building department shall not issue a building permit allowing a building for which an initial building permit was issued before January 1, 1985, to be renovated or demolished until the local building department receives certification from the owner or his agent that the affected portions of the building have been inspected for the presence of asbestos by an individual licensed to perform such inspections pursuant to Section 54.1-503 of the Code of Virginia and that no asbestos-containing materials were found or that appropriate response actions will be undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act National Emission Standard for the Hazardous Air Pollutant (NESHAPS) (40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M), and the asbestos worker protection requirements established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for construction workers (29 CFR 1926.1101). Local educational agencies that are subject to the requirements established by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) shall also certify compliance with 40 CFR Part 763 and subsequent amendments thereto.
To meet the inspection requirements above, except with respect to schools, asbestos inspection of renovation projects consisting only of repair or replacement of roofing, floorcovering, or siding materials may be satisfied by a statement that the materials to be repaired or replaced are assumed to contain friable asbestos and that asbestos installation, removal, or encapsulation will be accomplished by a licensed asbestos contractor.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to single-family dwellings or residential housing with four or fewer units unless the renovation or demolition of such buildings is for commercial or public development purposes. The provisions of this section shall not apply if the combined amount of regulated asbestos-containing material involved in the renovation or demolition is less than 260 linear feet (79248 mm) on pipes or less than 160 square feet (15 m2) on other facility components or less than 35 cubic feet (0.99 m3) off facility components where the length or area could not be measured previously.
An abatement area shall not be reoccupied until the building official receives certification from the owner that the response actions have been completed and final clearances have been measured. The final clearance levels for reoccupancy of the abatement area shall be 0.01 or fewer asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter if determined by Phase Contrast Microscopy analysis (PCM) or 70 or fewer structures per square millimeter if determined by Transmission Electron Microscopy analysis (TEM).
The signature of the building official or authorized representative shall be on or affixed to every permit. A copy of the permit shall be posted on the construction site for public inspection until the work is completed. Such posting shall include the street or lot number, if one has been assigned, to be readable from a public way. In addition, each building or structure to which a street number has been assigned shall, upon completion, have the number displayed so as to be readable from the public way.
A permit shall be considered authority to proceed with construction in accordance with this code, the approved construction documents, the permit application and any approved amendments or modifications. The permit shall not be construed to otherwise authorize the omission or amendment of any provision of this code.
In accordance with Section 54.1-410 of the Code of Virginia and under the general authority of this code, the local building department shall establish a procedure to ensure that construction documents under Section 109 are prepared by an RDP in any case in which the exemptions contained in Sections 54.1-401, 54.1-402 or 54.1-402.1 of the Code of Virginia are not applicable or in any case where the building official determines it necessary. When required under Section 54.1-402 of the Code of Virginia or when required by the building official, or both, construction documents shall bear the name and address of the author and his occupation.
Note: Information on the types of construction required to be designed by an RDP is included in the "Related Laws Package" available from DHCD.
Where conflicts between this code and conditions of the listing or the manufacturer's installation instructions occur, the provisions of this code shall apply.
Exception: Where a code provision is less restrictive than the conditions of the listing of the equipment or appliance or the manufacturer's installation instructions, the conditions of the listing and the manufacturer's installation instructions shall apply.
The following minimum inspections shall be conducted by the building official when applicable to the construction or permit:
- Inspection of footing excavations and reinforcement material for concrete footings prior to the placement of concrete.
- Inspection of foundation systems during phases of construction necessary to assure compliance with this code.
- Inspection of preparatory work prior to the placement of concrete.
- Inspection of structural members and fasteners prior to concealment.
- Inspection of electrical, mechanical and plumbing materials, equipment and systems prior to concealment.
- Inspection of energy conservation material prior to concealment.
- Final inspection.
The building official may accept reports of inspections and tests from individuals or inspection agencies approved in accordance with the building official's written policy required by Section 113.7.1. The individual or inspection agency shall meet the qualifications and reliability requirements established by the written policy. Under circumstances where the building official is unable to make the inspection or test required by Section 113.3 or 113.4 within 2 working days of a request or an agreed upon date or if authorized for other circumstances in the building official's written policy, the building official shall accept reports for review. The building official shall approve the report from such approved individuals or agencies unless there is cause to reject it. Failure to approve a report shall be in writing within 2 working days of receiving it stating the reason for the rejection. Reports of inspections conducted by approved third-party inspectors or agencies shall be in writing, shall indicate if compliance with the applicable provisions of the USBC have been met and shall be certified by the individual inspector or by the responsible officer when the report is from an agency.
Note: Photographs, videotapes or other sources of pertinent data or information may be considered as constituting such reports and tests.
In accordance with Section 36-106 of the Code of Virginia, it shall be unlawful for any owner or any other person, firm or corporation, on or after the effective date of any code provisions, to violate any such provisions. Any locality may adopt an ordinance that establishes a uniform schedule of civil penalties for violations of specified provisions of the code that are not abated or remedied promptly after receipt of a notice of violation from the local enforcement officer.
Note: See the full text of Section 36-106 of the Code of Virginia for additional requirements and criteria pertaining to legal action relative to violations of the code.
If the responsible party has not complied with the notice of violation, the building official shall submit a written request to the legal counsel of the locality to institute the appropriate legal proceedings to restrain, correct or abate the violation or to require the removal or termination of the use of the building or structure involved. In cases where the locality so authorizes, the building official may issue or obtain a summons or warrant. Compliance with a notice of violation notwithstanding, the building official may request legal proceedings be instituted for prosecution when a person, firm or corporation is served with three or more notices of violation within one calendar year for failure to obtain a required construction permit prior to commencement of work subject to this code.
Note: See Section 19.2-8 of the Code of Virginia concerning the statute of limitations for building code prosecutions.
A certificate of occupancy indicating completion of the work for which a permit was issued shall be obtained prior to the occupancy of any building or structure, except as provided for in this section generally and as specifically provided for in Section 113.8 for additions or alterations. The certificate shall be issued after completion of the final inspection and when the building or structure is in compliance with this code and any pertinent laws or ordinances, or when otherwise entitled. The building official shall, however, issue a certificate of occupancy within 5 working days after being requested to do so, provided the building or structure meets all of the requirements for a certificate.
Exception: A certificate of occupancy is not required for an accessory structure as defined in the IRC.
When a building or structure was constructed prior to being subject to the initial edition of the USBC and the local building department does not have a certificate of occupancy for the building or structure, the owner or owner's agent may submit a written request for a certificate to be created. The building official, after receipt of the request, shall issue a certificate provided a determination is made that there are no current violations of the VMC or the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (13VAC5-51) and the occupancy classification of the building or structure has not changed. Such buildings and structures shall not be prevented from continued use.
Exception: When no certificate exists, but the local building department has records indicating that a certificate did exist, then the building official may either verify in writing that a certificate did exist or issue a certificate based upon the records.
Any building or structure moved into a locality or moved to a new location within a locality shall not be occupied or used until a certification of occupancy is issued for the new location. Such moved buildings or structures shall be required to comply with the requirements of this code for a newly constructed building or structure unless meeting all of the following requirements relative to the new location:
- There is no change in the occupancy classification from its previous location.
- The building or structure was in compliance with all state and local requirements applicable to it in its previous location and is in compliance with all state and local requirements applicable if originally constructed in the new location.
- The building or structure did not become unsafe during the moving process due to structural damage or for other reasons.
- Any alterations, reconstruction, renovations or repairs made pursuant to the move are in compliance with applicable requirements of the VRC.
This section applies to unsafe buildings or structures.
Note: Existing buildings and structures other than those under construction or subject to this section are subject to the VMC, which also has requirements for unsafe conditions.
When a building or structure is determined by the building official to be an unsafe building or structure, a written notice of unsafe building or structure shall be issued by personal service to the owner, the owner's agent, or the person in control of such building or structure. The notice shall specify the corrections necessary to comply with this code and specify the time period within which the repairs must occur, or if the notice specifies that the unsafe building or structure is required to be demolished, the notice shall specify the time period within which demolition must occur.
Note: Whenever possible, the notice should also be given to any tenants or occupants of the unsafe building or structure.
If the building official determines there is actual and immediate danger to the occupants or public, or when life is endangered by the occupancy of an unsafe building or structure, the building official shall be authorized to order the occupants to immediately vacate the unsafe building or structure. When an unsafe building or structure is ordered to be vacated, the building official shall post a notice at each entrance that reads as follows:
"This Building (or Structure) is Unsafe
and its Occupancy (or Use) is Prohibited
by the Building Official."
After posting, occupancy or use of the unsafe building or structure shall be prohibited except when authorized to enter to conduct inspections, make required repairs, or as necessary to demolish the building or structure.
In the case of an unsafe building or structure, if the notice is not complied with, a placard with the following wording shall be posted at the entrance to the building or structure:
"This Building (or Structure) is Unfit
for Habitation and its Use or occupancy
has been prohibited by the building official."
After an unsafe building or structure is placarded, entering the unsafe building or structure shall be prohibited except as authorized by the building official to make inspections, to perform required repairs, or to demolish the unsafe building or structure. In addition, the placard shall not be removed until the unsafe building or structure is determined by the building official to be safe to occupy. The placard shall not be defaced.
To the extent permitted by the locality, the building official may authorize emergency repairs to unsafe buildings or structures when it is determined that there is an immediate danger of any portion of the unsafe building or structure collapsing or falling and when life is endangered. Emergency repairs may also be authorized when there is a code violation resulting in a serious and imminent threat to the life and safety of the occupants or public. The building official shall be permitted to authorize the necessary work to make the unsafe building or structure temporarily safe whether or not legal action to compel compliance has been instituted.
In addition, whenever an owner of an unsafe building or structure fails to comply with a notice to demolish issued under Section 118.4 in the time period stipulated, the building official shall be permitted to cause the unsafe building or structure to be demolished. In accordance with Sections 15.2-906 and 15.2-1115 of the Code of Virginia, the legal counsel of the locality may be requested to institute appropriate action against the property owner to recover the costs associated with any such emergency repairs or demolition and every such charge that remains unpaid shall constitute a lien against the property on which the emergency repairs or demolition were made and shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided in Articles 3 (Section 58.1-3940 et seq.) and 4 (Section 58.1-3965 et seq.) of Chapter 39 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia.
Note: Building officials and local governing bodies should be aware that other statutes and court decisions may impact on matters relating to demolition, in particular whether newspaper publication is required if the owner cannot be located and whether the demolition order must be delayed until the owner has been given the opportunity for a hearing.
Any person aggrieved by the local building department's application of the USBC or the refusal to grant a modification to the provisions of the USBC may appeal to the LBBCA. The applicant shall submit a written request for appeal to the LBBCA within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the decision being appealed. The application shall contain the name and address of the owner of the building or structure and in addition, the name and address of the person appealing, when the applicant is not the owner. A copy of the building official's decision shall be submitted along with the application for appeal and maintained as part of the record. The application shall be marked by the LBBCA to indicate the date received. Failure to submit an application for appeal within the time limit established by this section shall constitute acceptance of a building official's decision.
Note: To the extent that a decision of a building official pertains to amusement devices there may be a right of appeal under the VADR.
All hearings before the LBBCA shall be open meetings and the appellant, the appellant's representative, the locality's representative and any person whose interests are affected by the building official's decision in question shall be given an opportunity to be heard. The chairman shall have the power and duty to direct the hearing, rule upon the acceptance of evidence and oversee the record of all proceedings. The LBBCA shall have the power to uphold, reverse or modify the decision of the official by a concurring vote of a majority of those present. Decisions of the LBBCA shall be final if no further appeal is made. The decision of the LBBCA shall be by resolution signed by the chairman and retained as part of the record of the appeal. Copies of the resolution shall be sent to all parties by certified mail. In addition, the resolution shall contain the following wording:
"Any person who was a party to the appeal may appeal to the State Review Board by submitting an application to such Board within 21 calendar days upon receipt by certified mail of this resolution. Application forms are available from the Office of the State Review Board, 600 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 371-7150."