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                                                                                                    Fairfax County
Land Development Services
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services

Hours of Operation:         Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
                            Friday: 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location:     Herrity Building
              12055 Government Center Parkway
              Fairfax, VA 22035-5504
              Telephone: 703-222-0801
              TTY: 711

Visit us on the web at:

This publication provides guidelines for obtaining a permit to build a residential deck. More information is
available in the Fairfax County Typical Deck Details.

                                                      in this publication:
            PERMITS REQUIRED ........................................................................................... 1
            BEFORE OBTAINING A PERMIT ........................................................................... 1
            OBTAINING A PERMIT ........................................................................................ 3
            AFTER OBTAINING A PERMIT.............................................................................. 4

You must obtain permits for the construction of a deck. Listed below are the types of permits required,
depending on the complexity of the project. Apply for your permits at the Permit Application Center
located at the Herrity Building, 2nd floor, 703-222-0801, TTY 711.
    •   Building permit for all decks that are supported by footings regardless of the height above grade.
    •   Electrical and/or plumbing permit for hot tub, spa and similar installations.

              HELPFUL HINT: You may obtain permits in your own name; however, if a contractor is
              to perform the work, it is strongly recommended that the contractor secure the permit
              and be listed as the responsible party. In this way, the county will be in a better
              position to assist you in gaining compliance with codes if the work is defective. A
              contractor must be properly licensed in order to obtain a permit.


Covenants and Deed Restrictions are regulations set forth by many homeowner or civic associations.
While not enforced by Fairfax County, some regulations may restrict construction. For more information,
contact your association or the Land Records office in the Jennings Building (Judicial Center), 3rd Floor,
4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, 703-691-7320, TTY 711.

All submissions for a deck must include the following:
        Two sets of building plans or the Fairfax County Typical Deck Details.
        Two copies of the house location plat (see page 3 for requirements).

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There are three options for a plan submission; the requirements for each are listed below.                When
submitting plans, two complete sets are required for review.


   A comprehensive set of construction plans must meet the following requirements.

        Minimum scale of 1/4 inch = 1 foot; all dimensions must be shown.
        Minimum sheet size: 81/2 x 11 inches, no pencil.
        Name, address and occupation of the building designer and project address.
        Footing details (minimum footing depth is 24 inches).
        Size, spacing and length of all posts, joists, and beams shown on a framing plan ("bird's eye
        Handrail and guard details.
        Stair details (if applicable) with a note relative to stairway illumination (e.g., "all stairs shall be
        provided with an artificial light source which will illuminate the stair including all treads and
        Attachment details, such as attachment to house, joist to beam connections, rail to post
        connections, post to footing, etc.
        Hot tub manufacturer's information showing structural loading requirements (if applicable).
        Some home center stores have deck design services available to the public.           These plans are
        generally not acceptable for submission to the county during permit application.


   A copy of the Fairfax County Typical Deck Details or American Wood Council’s Publication DCA6 is
   available at the Permit Application Center. For residential use only, these details may be used in
   lieu of submitted drawings. Decks which do not meet the minimum conditions listed below may not
   use the typical details in lieu of plans (see Options 1 or 3).

        Deck joists must be single span with a maximum span length of 18 feet.
        Decks must be single level.
        The existing exterior wall of the house must meet one of the conditions listed in the Fairfax County
        Typical Deck Details for all attached decks.
        Decks may not be constructed with roofs, screened porches, hot tubs or any other additional loads.


   The Fairfax County Typical Deck Details may be used to supplement submitted framing plans. All
   conditions which deviate from or are not covered in the Fairfax County Typical Deck Details must be
   thoroughly detailed as required in Option 1.


   •    If your deck is to be attached to the existing exterior wall of your house and you are using the
        Fairfax County Typical Deck Details or Publication DCA6 for the attachment conditions, you must
        complete an Attachment Certification Form before the permit can be issued. This form is available
        online and at the Permit Application Center.

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   •    Any wood guard system purchased from a home center store, lumber company, or similar, requires
        detailed drawings and a complete plan review.
   •    Foreign lumber, plastic, composite or manufactured decking and guard systems may be substituted
        with an approved evaluation report from an authorized listing agency, such as ICC-ES which has
        listed the product. For a list of approved products go to the website below.
If you have further questions, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions for deck construction or
contact Building Plan Review at 703-222-0114, TTY 711 or via e-mail at

If you do not have a copy of your house location plat, review your loan closing documents or contact your
mortgage lending institution to obtain one. You may also contact the Zoning Permit Review Branch on the
2nd floor of the Herrity Building, 703-222-1082, TTY 711; please note, plats are not available for all
properties. If you are unable to locate a copy of your plat through these sources you will be required to
hire a certified land surveyor or civil engineer to have one prepared.

House location plats must meet the following requirements:
        No reduced, enlarged and faxed copies.
        The area of the deck drawn to scale.
        Note the actual square footage or overall dimensions of the deck.


Bring the construction documents described herein to the Permit Application Center on the 2nd floor of the
Herrity Building where your permit process will begin. Here you will complete a building permit
application. Permit technicians will direct you to the appropriate agencies necessary for permit approval.
The applicable departments for a deck are:
   •    Zoning ensures setback requirements, as set forth by the County Zoning Ordinance, are
        maintained. The Zoning Permit Review Branch is located at the Herrity Building, 2nd floor, 703-
        222-1082, TTY 711.
   •    Site Permits will review the plat for site-related issues, soils and conformance to the Chesapeake
        Bay Preservation Ordinance. Site Permits is located at the Herrity Building, 2nd floor, 703-324-
        1510, TTY 711.
   •    Health Department, located at 10777 Main Street, Fairfax, 703-246-2444, TTY 711, will review
        for clearances to existing septic systems and/or wells if they exist on the property.
   •    Building Plan Review, located on the 2nd floor of the Herrity Building, 703-222-0114, TTY 711,
        will review for compliance to the applicable building codes. This review is not required if the Fairfax
        County Typical Deck Details are used in lieu of submitted drawings.
The building permit is issued when all required approvals have been obtained and applicable fees have
been paid. Once your permits are issued, you must post a copy on the job site until the project has
received final approval. Most decks are eligible for the Walk-Thru Program which allows you in most cases
to apply for and obtain your permit in the same day.
For information on the related fees for a deck contact the following:
   •    Permit Application Center for building, electrical, and plumbing permits at 703-222-0801, TTY
        711 or visit
   •    Health Department for fees related to septic systems and wells at 703-246-2444, TTY 711.

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You must call "Miss Utility," a free service, at 811, TTY 711, before excavating to ensure that the
construction does not interfere with underground utility lines. If you fail to contact Miss Utility and
damage occurs, you will be liable for all costs of repair.

A copy of the approved permit, plat and building plans must be on the job site and must be available to
the inspector during each inspection. Three inspections are required for a deck:
   1. Footing Inspection: footing holes are inspected prior to concrete placement. At the time of the
      footing inspection, you must have the ledger board attached to the existing house.
   2. Framing Inspection: joists, beams, connections and mechanical attachments are inspected prior to
      placement of decking. In this inspection, lag screws, thru bolts and expansion anchors at the ledger
      board are inspected and turned to insure proper installation and tightening. Access to the inside of
      the house may be required.
   3. Final Inspection: all remaining items are inspected.
The framing and final inspections may be combined if all portions of the deck framing and mechanical
attachments are at least 48 inches above grade.

It is the responsibility of the permit holder or the permit holder's representative to notify the county when
the stages of construction are reached that require an inspection. Ladders, scaffolds and testing
equipment required to complete an inspection must be provided. Inspection requests may be made using
one of the three methods listed below; please have your permit number available when scheduling an
inspection. Requests made prior to 11:59 p.m. on automated systems will be scheduled for the next
   •    Inspection Request Center: 703-222-0455, TTY 711, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Thursday,
        and 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.
   •    Fairfax Inspections Database Online (FIDO): or call 703-222-2474,
        24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fairfax County is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities
and will provide this document in alternative formats and in different languages upon request. Please call
703-324-5033, TTY 711 or write Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Suite 659,
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035-5506. Please allow at least seven working days
for preparation of material.

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