Permits Required

Please contact staff at 757-393-8531 for any questions
*Attention: Building Fee Schedule Changes*
As of July 1st, 2017, an ordinance amending Appendix A of the Code of the City of Portsmouth, Virginia (Building Fee Schedule) shall take effect.

Permit Required

      A Permit is required for the following: 

    *  Construction or alteration of a structure.
  • Construction of an addition.
  • Demolition or relocation of a structure.
  • Making a change of occupancy.
  • Installing or altering any equipment which is regulated by this code.
  • Moving a lot line which affects an existing structure.
  • Converting a duplex or multifamily Residence to a single-family residence.
  • Most exterior alterations including, but not limited to, installation or replacement of siding, roofing, windows, or doors in a historic district.
  • All construction, demolition, repairs, and/or alterations in a flood hazard area.
  • Converting a single family house to a duplex or multifamily residence.
  • Replacement windows in any historic district as determined by the City.
  • The installation of any pool, hot tub, or spa. An electrical permit is required for any electrical circuits or electrical work added for the pool, and a mechanical permit is required for pool heaters or other mechanical equipment attached to the pool.
  • Additionally, a permit is required for any swimming pool that has a surface area greater than 150 square feet, exceeds 5,000 gallons and is more than 24 inches deep regardless of whether the pool is an inflatable, above ground or in-ground pool.                                                                                                                                              

        Note that permits from other departments such as Engineering and Planning may also be required.

There are design review districts in Olde Towne, Port Norfolk, Truxtun, Cradock, Park View and the Downtown area that require review and approval of ALL exterior modifications by the appropriate reviewing authority. Please contact the Planning Department at 757-393-8836 for further information.


(Note, these exceptions do not apply in regulated flood zones. All construction, repairs, and alterations in regulated flood zones require a permit.)


Wiring / 50 Volts

Installation of wiring or equipment which operates at less than 50 volts provided the installation is not located in a noncombustible plenum or penetrating an assembly required to have a fire-resistance rating.

Small Structure

Construction of a one story detached utility shed, playhouse, or similar use provided the floor area does not exceed 256 square feet does not require a permit unless classified as an F-1 or H occupancy. Tents and air-supported structures that cover an area of 900 square feet or less, including all connecting areas of spaces with a common means of egress or entrance and with an occupant load of 50 or less persons. Please note: Even if a building permit is not required, compliance with the Building Code and a zoning permit is required! In addition, if located in a "Historic District" a permit will be required for most exterior alterations including, but not limited to, roofs, fences, sheds, siding, and windows. Please contact the Planning Department at 393-8836 for more information.

Plumbing & Electrical Fixtures

Replacement of plumbing and electrical fixtures, fixture fittings, plumbing and electrical appliances including electric water heaters, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air cleaners and similar mechanical equipment, windows and doors with similar capacity and in the same location in Use Groups R-2 (four stories or less), R-3, R-4 and R-5. Changes to duct systems, plumbing supply, drain, waste and vent piping, electrical circuits, appliance vent systems (other than re-connection to replacement equipment, appliances and fixtures) require a permit.

Ordinary Repairs

Application is not required for ordinary repairs. Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load bearing 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 soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety. Replacement of roofing or siding does not require a permit provided the structure is not located in a historic district.

Authorized Work

*Attention: Building Fee Schedule Changes*
As of July 1st, 2017, an ordinance amending Appendix A of the Code of the City of Portsmouth, Virginia (Building Fee Schedule) shall take effect.