Building permits are required for most construction activity. USBC Section 108 requires a permit to be issued by the building official when:
Constructing, enlarging, altering, repairing, or demolishing a building or structure.
Changing the use of a building either within the same use group or to a different use group when the new use requires greater degrees of structural strength, fire protection, exit facilities or sanitary provisions.
Installing or altering any equipment which is regulated by this code.
Removing any asbestos containing material.
When erecting a tent greater than 900 square feet in size and intended to be used by ten or more persons.
When installing or extending any plumbing, electrical, or mechanical systems.
When moving a lot line which affects an existing structure's continued compliance with the building regulation under which it was built.
You do not need a permit for ordinary repairs and specific exceptions to the code.
Ordinary repairs and Exceptions are:
Installation of wiring and equipment which operates at less than 50 volts, except when the installation is located in a noncombustible plenum or penetrates a fire-resistance rated assembly.
One story detached accessory structures not exceeding 256 square feet (23.78 m2)of building area, except when accessory to Use Group F or H structures. Approval by the Williamsburg Architectural Review Board may be required
Tents and air-supported structures that cover an area of 900 square feet (84 m2) or less, including all connecting areas or spaces with a common means of egress or entrance and with an occupant load of 50 or less persons.
Work which the code official has authorized pending receipt of an application.
Ordinary repairs which include, but are not to be limited to, the following:
Replacement of mechanical or plumbing equipment and appliances, except those fueled by gas or oil, within the dwelling unit in occupancies of Use Group R-2 which are four stories or less in height and in occupancies of Use Groups R-3 and R-4.
Replacement of roof coverings or siding in Groups R-3, R-4 or R-5 structures, provided the structure is not in an area where the design wind speed is great than 100 miles per hour and replacement of 100 square fee or less of roof covering in all groups and all wind zones.
Installation of cabinets in all occupancies.
Installation or replacement of floor finishes in all occupancies.
Painting any portion of a structure, repair of plaster, interior tile and other wall coverings in all occupancies.
Replacement of windows and doors and electrical switches, outlets, light fixtures, and ceiling fans, within the dwelling unit in occupancies of Use Group R-2 which are four stories or less in height and in occupancies of Use Groups R-3 and R-4.
Ordinary repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or loadbearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas or oil, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.
When a permit is required, it must be obtained before work begins. Only in emergency situations will work be allowed to start before obtaining a permit. These situations would include needs for emergency heat, hot water or replacement safety glass. Permits, notification and inspections must be obtained the next working day.
Who reviews building plans?
All plans, once application is made, are reviewed by the building official after the zoning administrator has reviewed and approved the plans, and before the permit is issued. In addition to the Building Inspections Division, many projects will require review by the Planning, Public Works and Utilities, and Fire Departments. Plan reviews insure that the project can be built within the code requirements. This cuts down on field inspection delays that cost you time and money.
The Planning Department will review all building permits for new work, additions, change of use, and remodeling. This department will check for compliance with the city zoning ordinance, review erosion and sedimentation control plans, insure compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, Architectural Review Board, and review other state and local land use laws. Planning can be reached at (757)220-6130.
PUBLIC WORKS AND UTILITIES
The Public Works and Utilities Department reviews storm drainage, street, road, and utilities construction. They also assist the Planning Department in evaluating environmental and traffic impacts. This department is responsible for inspections of utilities placed in any city right of way. They can be reached at (757) 220-6140.
The Fire Department reviews plans with the building official for fire alarms, commercial kitchen range hoods, and sprinkler systems. The Fire Department does not issue building permits. Plans should be submitted to the Codes Compliance Office and they will be forwarded to the Fire Department for review. The Fire Department can be reached at (757) 220- 6220 or 220-6226.
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD / PLANNING COMMISSION
In certain areas of the city, approvals may be needed from the Architectural Review Board if the work can be seen from the exterior. Certain projects require approval by the Planning Commission and City Council before the building permit process begins. For information on required Planning Commission or the Architectural Review Board requirements, contact the Planning Department at 220-6130.
In many cases, the above reviews are not required or may be completed in a short time. The larger the project and the greater the impact, the more reviews and approvals are required. As you can see, it is best on large projects to plan ahead. Approvals by the departments and boards, and an approved site plan, if applicable, are required before issuance of building permits.
As part of non-residential site and building review, the building official will check for compliance of the applicable provisions, as adopted in the USBC, of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Portions of this document were adopted into the building code in 1992. This standard is to insure accessibility to persons with physical disabilities to any building.
This code has retrofit provisions in existing facilities and requires documentation at the time of permit application. A copy of renovation/addition compliance worksheet is available in the Codes Compliance Office.
When demolishing or renovating a non-residential building, there are requirements to document proper asbestos inspection and removal. Ask the Codes Compliance Office for a copy of the law to see if it applies to you.
Local and Hampton Roads utility connection fees must be paid before obtaining permits. Standard fees may be obtained and are paid through the Codes Compliance Office
What is a Building Permit?
As a part of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (or USBC), criteria were established for building permits. In addition to permits for new construction, there are permits for renovation, demolition, plumbing, gas, mechanical, electrical, fire protection and asbestos removal. Code Section 109 deals with permit applications and building permits. USBC Section 110.7 states, "The approved permit shall be a license to proceed with the work in accordance with the USBC, the application for permit and any approved amendments thereto. The approved permit shall not be construed as authority to omit or amend any of the provisions of the USBC, except when modification is granted in accordance with this chapter.
How do I get directions to the City buildings and parks?
Check out the directions page listed on the top of each web page.
How do I contact the City after hours?
Contact 911 for Police and Fire emergencies.
Contact (757) 220-2331 for Water & Sewer emergencies and for Police non-emergencies. For other non-emergency information and requests, use our staff directory to email or leave a phone message to the appropriate person or department. A drop box for payments is available at the main entrance to the Municipal Building to the left of the door.
What are the City's business hours?
The City's business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday excluding holidays. City offices will be closed for the following holidays:
New Year's Day (January 1)
Lee/Jackson/King Day (third Monday in January)
President's Day (third Monday in February)
Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
Independence Day (July 4)
Labor Day (first Monday in September)
Veterans' Day (November 11)
Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November)
Day after Thanksgiving
Christmas Eve (December 24)
Christmas (December 25).
How do I determine if I am a City of Williamsburg Resident ?
The Williamsburg mailing address contains 3 localities: Williamsburg City Limits, James City County & York County. Check the Williamsburg Street Listing to determine if you reside in the City. If there are questions regarding the crossings of James City County , York County , and the City of Williamsburg , please contact one of our departments and we will assist you in determining your locality.
How do find information regarding vacations and area attractions?
"Visit Williamsburg" is a comprehensive website with information on area hotels, bed and breakfasts, tickets, attractions, vacation packages, restaurants, shopping and golf.