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Department of Permits & Inspections
City Hall Building
801 Crawford St, 4th floor
Portsmouth, VA. 23704
(757) 393-8531
Emergency after hours assistance please call
(757) 393-5300


Deck Safety Inspections

Have questions about deck or balcony safety?  Call the Department of Permits and Inspections to get answers or request a courtesy inspection at 393-8531.

We’ll be happy to inspect your deck or balcony for safety and make recommendations as needed to increase structural safety or the integrity of the guard system.

Design Information:

Exterior Residential Deck and
Balcony Live Load: 
40 lbs per sq. ft, live load
Commercial Deck and Balcony Live Load: Same as occupancy served
Guard and Handrails:
• Guard Infill System
• Guardrail Infill Spacing 

50 lbs per sq. ft, live load
4 inches max*

Guard Height:
• Commercial
• Single Family Residential

42 inches min.
36 inches min.

Stair Tread and Riser dimensions:
• Residential

9 inches min./ 8 ¼ inches max. respectively
Stair Tread and Riser dimensions:
• Commercial
11 inches min. / 7 inches max. respectively
Residential Stair tread and riser dimensions   

*Guardrail infill spacing has changed over the years:                                         

  • Residential prior to 1995: 6 inches
  • Residential prior to 1980: 9 inches
  • Commercial prior to 1991: 6 inches

Contact Permits and Inspections for further information or refer to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.


City of Portsmouth, Virginia · All Rights Reserved · Portsmouth City Hall · 801 Crawford Street · Portsmouth, VA 23704 · 757-393-8000