Permits Required

Permit Application Required

 
 
Building permit applications are required for the following scopes of work: 

  • Construction of structures.
  • Addition to structures.
  • Alteration of structures.
  • Change of occupancy classification and/or use/purpose of structures.
  • Relocation of structures.
  • Demolition of structures.
  • Relocation of property lines affecting structures, including structures located on adjacent parcels.
  • Conversion of single family residences to duplex or multi-family structures.
  • Conversion of duplex or multi-family structures to single family residences.
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, or demolition of walls, partitions, or portions thereof.
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, demolition, replacement, or repair of structural components and elements, including girders, beams, lintels, columns, jack studs, rafters, joists, and load-bearing supports.
  • Construction, demolition, replacement, or repair of required fire-resistance rated and smoke-protected construction assemblies.
  • Alteration of required exists and means of egress systems.
  • Construction or installation or alteration of systems, equipment, and components regulated by this code.
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, replacement, or repair of mechanical systems and equipment, including exhaust, ventilation, and duct systems; and appliance vent systems, excepting reconnection of existing or replacement equipment, appliances, and fixtures;
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, replacement, or repair of fuel gas systems and equipment; fuel supply systems and equipment; and appliance vent systems, excepting reconnection of existing or replacement equipment, appliances, and fixtures.
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, replacement, or repair of plumbing water supply and distribution systems; and plumbing sanitation systems and equipment, including drain, vent, and pipe systems. 
  • Construction, installation, addition, alteration, replacement, or repair of electrical systems and equipment, including electrical circuits and wiring systems and equipment.
  • Installation, alteration, replacement, or repair of required fire and smoke  protection systems and equipment, including fire/smoke detection, notification/alarm, and suppression/sprinkler systems and equipment.
  • Installation, alteration, replacement, or repair of exterior building facades, components, or elements, including but not limited to roofing and siding finish materials, and doors and windows located in historic districts.
  • Construction, addition, alteration, demolition, replacement, or repair located in flood hazard zones.
  • Replacement doors and windows located in any historic district as determined by the City.
  • Demolition, removal, or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials.
  • Construction or installation of signs, including associated electrical permits for illuminated signs.
  • Construction or installation of retaining walls supporting 3 feet or more of ordinary unbalanced fill and not impounding other liquids or surcharges.
  • Construction or installation of fences required for pedestrian safety or serving as required swimming pool, hot tub, or spa barriers.
  • Construction or installation of swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas, including associated electrical permits required for electrical circuits, wiring, and fixtures for swimming pools and mechanical permits required for swimming pool heaters or other equipment for swimming pools.
  • Construction or installation of swimming pools exceeding surface areas of 150 square feet, water containment of 5,000 gallons, and depth of 24 inches, regardless of swimming pool type or style, including permanent or temporary, above-ground or in-ground, and inflatable swimming pools.   

Approvals and permits from other departments may be required, including Engineering Department, Planning Department, and Zoning Division.

Design review districts located in Olde Towne, Downtown, Port Norfolk, Park View, Cradock, and Truxtun require review and approval of exterior alterations by appropriate reviewing authorities. Please contact the Planning Department at 757.393.8836 for further information.

Historic districts require review and approval of exterior alterations by appropriate reviewing authorities. Please contact the Zoning Division, including but not limited to roofing and siding finish materials, doors and windows, accessory structures, and fences. Please contact the Zoning Division at 757.393.8836 for further information

Exemption from Permit Application



Exemptions do not apply in regulated flood hazard zones. All construction, addition, alteration, demolition, repair, or replacement located in regulated flood hazard zones require permits.

Exceptions do not apply in regulated historic districts. All construction, addition alteration, demolition, repair, or replacement located in regulated historic districts require permits.

  • Installation of wiring or equipment operated at not exceeding 49 volts and not located in plenums or penetrating required fire-resistance rated or smoke-protected construction assemblies.
  • Construction or installation of detached single-story accessory structures not having trades systems or equipment installed and not classified as F-1 or H occupancy classifications, including storage sheds, utility sheds, playhouses, or similar uses or purposes, and not exceeding building areas of 256 square feet.
  • Tents and air-supported structures including all connected areas and spaces with common entrances and means of egress, and not exceeding total occupant load of 50 persons and coverage area of 900 square feet. 
  • Installation or replacement of mechanical, plumbing, and electrical equipment, appliances, and fixtures; fixture fittings; including electric ranges, water heaters, space heaters, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air cleaners, and air purifiers, or similar equipment. 
  • Installation of replacement doors and windows of similar size and operation and located in same opening without frame alteration or removal in R-2 (4 stories maximum), R-3, R-4, or R-5 occupancy classifications, and not of required fire-resistance rating.
  • Minor and ordinary repair, excluding work defined below.
  • Other authorized work identified by the building official.

Minor and Ordinary Repair


  • Ordinary repairs exclude construction, addition, alteration, relocation, demolition, or removal of exterior or interior walls, partitions, or portions thereof; construction, installation, addition, alteration, demolition, or removal of structural components, elements, girders, beams, columns, jack studs, or any load bearing supports; alteration, rearrangement, demolition, removal of required exits or means of egress; or rearrangement of portions of structures affecting egress requirements.
  • Ordinary repairs exclude construction, installation, addition, alteration, relocation, demolition, or replacement of mechanical, plumbing, or electrical systems or equipment or other work affecting general safety or public health.
  • Ordinary repairs exclude construction, installation, addition, alteration, relocation, demolition, or replacement of required fire and smoke protection systems and equipment, including fire/smoke detection, notification/alarm, and suppression/sprinkler systems or equipment.

Authorized Work


Regardless if/when building permits are not required or exempted, code compliance with the VUSBC is required.

Please contact the Building Division at 757.393.8531 for further information.

*Fee Schedule Amendments and Revisions*

Effective July 01, 2017, the ordinance amends Appendix A of the Code of the City of Portsmouth, Virginia (Building Fee Schedule).

Effective July 01, 2020, plan examination fees due shall be remitted to the Department of Permits and Inspections prior to plan examination associated with permit application.