What Is Needed for Commercial Projects

The City of Roanoke issues Combination Permits (PDF) when there is building work and at least one other type trade work to be performed (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.) on any one project. Separate permits will not be issued and the general contractor is required to obtain the permit and list all subcontractors working on the project.

Building Plans

All plans must include the following on a cover sheet:
  • Address or location
  • All design professionals involved with proper professional seals on all pages
  • Asbestos survey is required for buildings constructed prior to January 1, 1985
  • Building code edition to which the project is designed
  • Code compliance summary
  • Developer or contractor’s name
  • Flood zone
  • Owner’s name
  • Parcel identification number (PIN)
  • Project description
  • Zoning information
Such drawings and specifications shall contain information, in the form of notes or otherwise, as to the quality of materials, where the quality of materials is essential to the conformity with the technical codes. Such information shall be specific, and the technical codes shall not be cited as a whole or in part, nor shall the term legal or its equivalent be used as a substitute for specific information. All information, drawings, specifications, and accompanying data shall bear the name and signature of the person responsible for the design.

The Plan Review Checklist (PDF) may be used as a guide for preparing plans. It is a general guide only and your plans may require preparation by a registered design professional.

Design Professional Requirement
Certain projects may require a design prepared by a registered design professional. The design professional shall be an architect or engineer legally registered under the laws of Virginia regulating the practice of architecture or engineering. When a design professional is required, please refer to the attached chart.
  • Owner/Builder Affidavit (PDF): If the applicant is eligible for exemption from Virginia’s contractor licensing laws, an Owner/Builder Affidavit is required to be completed and presented at the time of application for a permit.
  • Contractor/Subcontractor Listing (PDF): A listing of all contractors and subcontractors to be used on the project is required to be completed and presented at the time of application for a permit. If all are not known at the time of application, the Contractor/Subcontractor Listing must be updated in writing prior to any contractor or subcontractor performing their portion of work on the project. The inspector will not inspect the work of contractors or subcontractors who are not properly listed and commencing work prior to being properly listed may result in penalties for starting work without permits being imposed.
  • Basic Development Plan (PDF): A Basic Development Plan is a site drawing, drawn to scale, that shall show the location of the proposed building or structure and of every existing building or structure on the site or lot. The Building Official may require a boundary line survey prepared by a qualified surveyor. A Comprehensive Development Plan may be required in place of a Basic Development Plan, your Permit Technician will be able to advise you concerning this requirement.
Additional Data
The Building Official may require details, computations, stress diagrams, and other data necessary to describe the construction or installation and the basis of calculations for special construction within the structure. If required, it must be sealed by a registered design professional.

Total Cost of Construction
For purposes of obtaining a building permit, total cost of construction means the actual cost incurred by the owner, all contractors, subcontractors, and other parties for labor, material, equipment, profit, and incidental expenses for the entire project. This does not include the cost of design services unless those services are included in a construction contract. It is unlawful for an owner, a construction manager, a prime contractor, or another entity with contracting or hiring authority on a construction project to divide work into portions so as to avoid the financial or other requirements of this chapter as it relates to license classifications or sub-classifications or license groups, or both. The total cost of construction must be used to determine the appropriate license group for a project.

Plan Review Fee
A plan-checking fee (PDF) shall be paid to the Building Official at the time of submitting plans and specifications. The plan-checking fee shall be equal to 10% of the building permit fee as shown above. Such plan-checking fee is in addition to the building permit fee.

Obtaining the Permit
Building permits, when required by law, must be obtained by the general contractor in the name appearing on that entity's contractor's license. When there is more than one prime contractor working with a construction manager, the building permit must be obtained by the construction manager in the name appearing on that entity's professional license, and the construction manager must list on the building permit application the names and license numbers of all known licensed contractors performing work on the project. The construction manager must also be identified as such on the permit application by name, license number, and type of license he holds.

A property owner may qualify to obtain a permit under certain conditions. Any person applying to the Building Inspections Division for the construction, removal or improvement of any structure shall furnish prior to the issuance of the permit, either satisfactory proof to the building official that he is duly licensed as a contractor in the Commonwealth of Virginia or file an Owner Builder Affidavit with the permit application indicating that he is exempt from the licensing requirement. It shall be unlawful for the building inspector or other authority to issue or allow the issuance of such permits unless the applicant has furnished his license or certificate number issued pursuant to this chapter or evidence of being exempt from the provisions of this chapter.

Any person who commences any work for which a permit is required, prior to obtaining the permit, shall pay a sum equal to twice the normal permit fee up to a maximum of $250 and payment thereof shall not relieve such person from prosecution as described in Title 36, Chapter 6, Section 106 of the Code of Virginia for violating the building code by commencing work without the permit (emergency repairs excluded if guidelines in the USBC are followed).

All contractors and subcontractors are required to have a current business license for the City of Roanoke prior to the start of their portion of the work. When required by state law, they must also be in possession of the proper state licensing. Any business or individual working on a project without a license is subject to the penalties as prescribed by law in addition to the possibility of suspension of the building permit. The work of unlicensed businesses and individuals will not be inspected and a certificate of occupancy will not be issued until all are licensed.