Virginia
Virginia
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Building Codes Followed in Virginia

The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) is a state regulation circulated by the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development which is a Governor-appointed board. This board establishes minimum regulations to govern the construction and maintenance of buildings and structures. As per Section 36-99 of the Code of Virginia, the USBC must prescribe building regulations to meet the construction and rehabilitation of buildings and structures, and the equipment therein.

 

The provisions of the USBC are based on nationally recognized model building and fire codes published by the International Code Council, Inc. The model codes are implemented in the USBC through a regulatory process known as incorporation by reference. The USBC also includes administrative provisions governing the use of the model codes and establishing requirements for the enforcement of the code by the local building departments and other code enforcement agencies.

 

 

As the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code uses the scoping provision of the international Residential Code in determining which buildings can be constructed under it, Section R101.2 of the International Residential Code is used with the Virginia Residential Code.

 

As per the R101.2 Scope, the provisions of the international Residential Code for One- and Two- family Dwellings apply to the construction, repair, alteration, enlargement, replacement, movement, equipment, use and occupancy, location, removal and demolition of detached one- and two- family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories above grade plane in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures.

 

 

As for exception, work units complying with the requirements of Section 419 of the International Building Code shall be permitted to be built as one-and two-family dwellings. Fire suppression required by Section 419.5 of the International Building Code when constructed under the International Residential Code for one-and two-family dwellings alsol conform to Section 903.3.1.3 of the International Building Code.

 

The USBC is part of the Virginia Administrative Code (VAC), the official compilation of state regulations published under the authority and guidance of the Virginia Code Commission. Due to the difference in the section numbering system between the VAC and the model codes integrated by reference into the USBC, the UBSC utilizes a dual section numbering system. In the USBC, the VAC section numbers are listed first, followed by a section number matching the model code system. In this printing of the USBC, the VAC section numbers are omitted and only the model code numbering system is utilized. The version of the USBC containing both the VAC section numbers and the model code numbering is available from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and may also be accessed through the website of the Virginia Code Commission or by subscription to the VAC.

 

The USBC is divided into three separate parts which are:

 

  • Part I : Part I consists regulations specific to the construction of new buildings and structures and alterations, additions and change of occupancy in existing buildings and structures and is known as the Virginia Construction Code
  • Part II : Part II consists of optional directives specific to the rehabilitation of existing buildings that may be used as an acceptable alternative to the Virginia Construction Code. Part II is known as the Virginia Rehabilitation Code
  • Part III : Part III, known as the Virginia Maintenance Code, consists of the rules for the maintenance of existing structures which is enforced at the option of the local governments.

 

The code types adopted in Virginia are as follows:

 


Code Type Code Model
Building/Dwelling Code Virginia 2009 USBC (2009 IBC)
Structural Code Virginia 2009 USBC (2009 IBC)
Plumbing Code Virginia 2009 USBC (2009 IPC)
Mechanical Code Virginia 2009 USBC (2009 IMC)
Electrical Code Virginia USBC (2008 NFPA 70)
Fire/Life Safety Code 2009 IFC (2009 Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code)
Accessibility Code Virginia 2009 USBC (2009 IBC)
Energy Code Virginia 2009 USBC (IECC 2009)
Gas Code Virginia 2009 USBC (IFGC 2009)

 

It important to note that the IBC references the entire group of International Codes including the following major codes:

  • 2006 International Plumbing Code
  • 2006 International Mechanical Code
  • 2005 National Electrical Code
  • 2006 International Fuel Gas Code
  • 2006 International Energy Conservation Code
  • 2006 International Residential Code

 

Building Codes followed in Virginia

 

Construction for which a permit application is submitted to the local building department should comply with the provisions of the code. This provision shall also apply to subsequent amendments to the code based on the effective date of such amendments. In addition, when a permit has been properly issued under a previous edition of this code, this code shall not require changes to the approved construction documents, design or construction of such a building or structure, provided the permit has not been suspended or revoked.

 

No change shall be made in the existing occupancy classification of any structure when the current USBC requires a greater degree of structural strength, fire protection, means of egress, ventilation or sanitation. If required, the owner or the owner's agent should make written application to the local building department for a new certificate of occupancy and shall obtain the new certificate of occupancy prior to the use of the structure under the new occupancy classification. Modifications upon application can be considered by the building official if impractical to achieve compliance with this code for the new occupancy classification.

 

Additions to buildings and structures does not require changes to the design or construction of any portions of the building or structure not altered or affected by an addition, unless the addition has the effect of lowering the current level of safety. For reconstruction, alteration or repair of buildings or structures, following criteria are applicable:

  • Any reconstruction, alteration or repair should not affect the performance of the building adversely, or cause the building to become unsafe
  • Parts of the building not being reconstructed, altered or repaired shall not be required to comply with the requirements of this code applicable to newly constructed buildings or structures
  • The installation of material and equipment is neither required nor prohibited should only be required to conform to the provisions of this code relating to the safe installation of such material or equipment
  • Material as well as equipment can be replaced in the same location with material or equipment of a similar kind or capacity.

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