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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA

Code Administration Daily Update

General Announcements


The Department of Code Administration welcomes you to our Daily Updates page.  On this page, you will find the most up-to-date information regarding any issues that are occurring relative to the various codes and standards regulated by the Department of Code Administration.  If you have any questions regarding the information posted on this page, please give us a call at 703.746.HELP (4357).

Director's Notes

Description: Description:

From the Director of Code Administration

Thank you for visiting our Daily Updates page.  We are aligning our work with the City Council's Strategic Plan, the City Manager's Guiding Principles, and the Code Administration Guiding Principles.  As a part of the process to make align our workplans, we are in the process of replacing our antiquated land use, permit, and inspection software.  Over the next two years, we will bring in a state of the art system that allows the greatest customer access, electronic plan submission and review, and up to date technology.  Our team is cross training and cross certifying to provide better services to our customers.  A new Small Business and Residential Project Facilitation Team has been formed to assist customers through various construction processes and get construction projects started sooner than ever before.  More importantly, we want to join you in the "Safe Building Team" approach to code compliance.  We will continue stepping up our efforts to offer training, access to services, and consistency, accuracy  and expedience in processes.  We are committed to providing the best  services in the metro Washington, D. C. area.

John Catlett, MCP, CBO, CPCA - Director 

Permit Center

Staffing Levels: The Permit Center is staffed with seven Permit Technicians, a Transportation & Environmental Services Engineer, an Urban Planner from Planning & Zoning, an Account Clerk from Finance for Business Tax Services, and two Small Business and Residential Facilitators.  Please visit for current estimated customer wait times. 

Submit Your Permit Applications Online:  You can now submit Building, Sign, Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical, Demolition, and Fire Protection Systems applications electronically. Many applications such as small residential alterations as well as any supporting documents that are no larger than 11" x 17" may be submitted online once Permit Center Staff have reviewed and accepted the permit application.  In addition, permtis can be paid for and issued electronically without physically coming into the Alexandria Permit Center. To register, login, and/or start your online permit application click here.  

New Online Service offered by Virginia Department of Taxation: The Department of Taxation has implemented a new online service to assist businesses with identifying the correct FIPS code associated with a specific address in the State of Virginia. FIPS codes are used to identify where a City or County business is physically located, in order to accurately distribute sales tax to the correct locality. Check out the FIPS Code Lookup to determine yours, or using the kiosks located in the Permit Center during your next office visit.   

New Construction

For Friday , August 22, 2014 : Inspection requests are @ 104, field staffing levels are at 90% We anticipate having all inspections completed by the end of the business day (3:30PM). If you are interested in calling your assigned inspector to determine an estimated time of arrival on site, field inspectors are available for phone calls between 7:45 - 8:00 a.m. Should you need to contact your inspector, visit for contact information.

If you need an unscheduled inspection, we may be able to accommodate your request depending on workload and number of inspectors working. To inquire, please call:

Supervisor Ray Dietzel, Plm/Mec /Sprinkler Systems (ON DUTY) 703.258.5276

Supervisor Chris Evans, Electrical/Fire Alarm (ON  DUTY) 703.282.8401

Supervisor Mike  Christesen , Building (ON DUTY ) 202.497.7140

or the Code Administration Office at 703.746.4200. 

Fax, email, and phone inspection results with inspector notes are now available! You will need to request this option (submit your fax number) when scheduling inspections using the automated IVR system (ACCESS) at 703.838.4900 

Plan Review

  •  Plan Review Services Division is reviewing submitted permit applications within or before the published plan review time frames with an accuracy better than 97%.
  • For the month of December, Plan Review Services Division complete just over 850 plan reviews.

New Service Times for Same-Day Permits (formerly known as Walk-through Permits) 

 As of November 1, 2013, qualifying Same-Day Permit Center plan review services will be available between 8:00am and 4:15pm.  The change is an effort to enhance our permit center plan review services for our customers by insuring qualifying permits can be reviewed by the close of the business day.  All qualifying same-day permit projects can still be submitted after 4:15pm, but will be processed and reviewed by the next business day.  

NEW! Gas Permit Policy for Residential Additions & Alterations 

Code Administration conducted a survey of the surrounding jurisdictions’ plan review requirements for residential fuel gas permits.  The results found that a majority of localities did not require a fuel gas plan reviews (including fuel-gas riser diagrams) prior to permit issuance for residential gas pressures less than 2 psi.   

Therefore, to stay consistent across the region, the City of Alexandria Code Administration will no longer require fuel-gas plan reviews for 1 & 2 family dwelling building (single family, townhomes and duplexes) additions and alterations to an existing residential fuel gas system with gas pressure less than 2 psi.    

Please note - a fuel-gas plan review (including a fuel-gas riser diagram) is still required for new residential homes and accessory structures.  Furthermore, there is no change in the plan review requirements for commercial fuel gas projects – a fuel gas plan review is always required. 

Fire Prevention

Fire Protection Systems

For Friday August  22, 2014 :  Inspections requests are @ 3, field staffing levels are at 77%. Fire alarm and sprinkler inspections are anticpated to be complete by close of business. Notice: If you are interested in calling your assigned inspector to determine an estimated time of arrival on site, field inspectors are available for phone calls between 7:45 - 8:00 am, and after 10am. Should you need to determine/contact your inspector, visit for contact information.

If you need an unscheduled inspection on site today, we may be able to accommodate your request. To inquire, please call;

Supervisor Ray Dietzel, Plm/Mec/Sprinkler Systems (ON DUTY) 703.258.5276,

Supervisor Chris Evans, Electrical/Fire Alarm (ON  DUTY) 703-282-8401 

or the Code Administration Office at 703.746.4200. 

Environmental Industrial Unit

Nuisance & Property Maintenance


Send an email to the Permit Center staff regarding tall grass and weeds, improper appliance disposal, improper trash/debris removal, building maintenance concerns, rodents, hoarding and other property maintenance issues.


Heating and Cooling in Residential Units

City of Alexandria, Virginia


DATE:                        April 12, 2011 

TO:                             All Code Administration Staff and Customers

FROM:                       John Catlett, Department of Code Administration Director

 RE:                             Application of Heating and Cooling Requirements in Residential Structures

 The Virginia Maintenance Code has two provisions dealing with the conditioning of residential spaces. These requirements are difficult to understand in regards to their application in R2 occupancies.  This interpretation is intended to provide guidance regarding how these requirements are to be applied.

 VMC heat requirements:

 602.2 Heat supply. Every owner and operator of any building who rents, leases or lets one or more dwelling unit, rooming unit, dormitory or guestroom on terms, either expressed or implied, to furnish heat to the occupants thereof shall supply heat during the period from October 15 to May 1 to maintain a temperature of not less than 65°F (18°C) in all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet rooms.

 Exception: When the outdoor temperature is below the winter outdoor design temperature for the locality, maintenance of the minimum room temperature shall not be required provided that the heating system is operating at its full design capacity. The winter outdoor design temperature for the locality shall be as indicated in Appendix D of the International Plumbing Code.

 This section requires owners and operators of any building, not individual unit, to provide heat from October 15 to May 1.  In the collective opinion of the supervisory team, this would apply to leased single family dwellings, townhouses, duplexes, group homes, and apartment buildings.  It is clear that the code intends that when the owner and/or operator of a particular building have control, they are to provide the capabilities to maintain the temperature of 65 degrees.

VMC R2 cooling requirements:

 602.4 Cooling supply. Every owner and operator of a Group R-2 apartment building who rents, leases or lets one or more dwelling units, rooming units or guestrooms on terms, either expressed or implied, to furnish cooling to the occupants thereof shall supply cooling during the period from May 15 to October 1 to maintain a temperature of not more than 80°F (27°C) in all habitable rooms.

Exception: When the outdoor temperature is higher than the summer design temperature for the locality, maintenance of the room temperature shall not be required provided that the cooling system is operating at its full design capacity. The summer outdoor design temperature for the locality shall be as indicated in the International Energy Conservation Code. 

 The code does not clearly define an apartment.  However, there are clear distinctions in other sections of the Virginia Construction Code that identify a condominium differently than a leased apartment. The USBC intends that when there is not a code definition provided the common definition of a word or term applies.  Webster defines an apartment as follows:

  1. A room or set of rooms fitted especially with housekeeping facilities and usually leased as a dwelling.
  2. A building containing several individual apartments.

Webster’s provides how the word apartment is used.

  1. We lived in an apartment for several years before buying a house.

Webster’s defines an apartment house in the following way:

  1.  A building containing separate residential Apartments —called also apartment house 

Given the code provisions and the common definitions provided in an English language dictionary, it is my interpretation that the provisions of VMC 602.2 and 602.4 would not apply to a condominium building.  In the case of a condominium, the decision as to when to convert from heating to cooling and vice versus would be controlled by the collective owners of the facility.

 The VMC requires heating and cooling in certain residential applications.  However, the code also establishes a minimum temperature of sixty five degrees that must be achieved.  Even if a building is not providing heat, but the minimum temperature is being maintained, it would not be a violation of the VMC.  A temperature reading is required (three foot from the wall; three foot from the floor) to verify if the building is out of compliance.

 The minimum heat of sixty-five degrees is again intended to provide a minimum temperature where those most susceptible to the effects of cold, such as young children and the elderly, must be provided with a minimum temperature.  When that is not provided, the occupant will many times turn to unsafe portable space heating equipment that can be a fire safety or carbon monoxide risk.  The alternative should heat not be provided, may be temperatures that may cause risk of hypothermia in groups susceptible to that condition.

 The eighty degree air temperature required for R2 apartments would not be what most of us consider comfortable.  However, it does provide an environment in which those most susceptible to the effects of heat can live although it may require supplementing with electric fans to be more “comfortable”.

 The VMC is not intended to beautify, provide for individualized comfort, etc.  It is intended to provide for safe buildings that are maintained to prevent deterioration, be maintained clean and sanitary, and provide the minimums necessary for a healthy environment. 


301 King St., Suite 4200
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.838.3880

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.