As prices are increasing to a point where a person may label them as “skyrocketing,” many have turned to rebuilds and remodeling to keep up with these changes. In areas such as Falls Church, a permit must be received by a homeowner before starting to remodel or rebuild their home.
In the City, the permitting process for remodeling/rebuilding one’s home starts with determining if the work being done is in the City of Falls Church. According to The City of Falls Church website, the mailing address “Falls Church, VA” extends far outside the City limits. For example, homeowners living in Bailey’s Crossroads, Columbia Pike and Seven Corners are technically not in the City of Falls Church. This will allow a homeowner inside or outside the City to determine where to receive a permit.
The next step is to determine if a permit is required based on what a homeowner wants to do with their home. A homeowner does not need a permit for things such as painting or replacing windows in one’s house. A permit is required if a homeowner decides to add/remove/change the height of the walls, adding an opening or changing the size of an opening and anything “involving the framing or other structure of a wall.”
All permits require a signed application form. Maggie Redden, the senior communications specialist and marketing specialist for the City of Falls Church, said it is rare for a homeowner to apply for a permit or inspection themselves; rather a licensed contractor will “lead the permitting process” of rebuilding/remodeling a house.
Redden said there are two types of plans required: grading plans and building plans. Grading plans cover the “site layout, water run-off and landscaping,” while building plans are “for the design of the home itself.” In most cases, the plans are submitted together, with the Department of Public Works overseeing grading plans while the Building Safety Division reviews building plans. The Zoning Division reviews both sets of plans while the City and the contractor will notify neighbors of the impending work.
Before a permit can be issued, Redden said there are several things required. These include the grading plans being approved, utilities must be cut off, the site must be prepared for the work and bonds must be posted covering the demolition clean-up, site maintenance and landscaping.
Once those requirements are met, the demolition permit is issued and the house can be remodeled/demolished. If the building plans are ready, the building permit can be issued with the demolition permit, so construction work can begin as soon as possible if the house is being demolished. Redden said the process typically takes “10 to 15 weeks” from application to permit issuance.
Permit fees vary with the size of the house remodeled/constructed, Redden said, with “typical fees” ranging from $12,000 to $16,000. She stated The City will inspect the work throughout the process to ensure “it is safe and correct.” When the work is completed, the City will issue a Certificate of Occupancy which will allow move-in and use of the new home.
Rob Zimmermann, the owner of Zimmermann Homes, said the rebuilding of homes in the Falls Church has become “very common” as a lot of the original homes in the City are “too small for the modern family.” He said the process of building a new home has “increased to as much as 16 months from start to finish” so he recommends homeowners to “plan ahead.”
If a homeowner wants more information or has questions about the process or anything to do with permitting, visit fallschurchva.gov/Building or email email@example.com.