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Office of the University Building Official


1. When do I need a project permit and when do I need a building permit?

Work requiring a Building Permit, Project Permit, or no permit is defined in our Building & Project Permits Policy

  • In general, a Building Permit is required for any site work; alterations or relocations to the means of egress, interior walls, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire protection and sprinkler systems; repair or replacement of more than 25% of the roof; or a change in occupancy.
  • A Project Permit is required for asbestos and/or lead based paint work; repairs to mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire protection and sprinkler systems; and repair or replacement of more than 100 square feet of the roof but less than 25% of the total roof area.
  • A permit is not required for maintenance work, repairs or replacement in kind with like materials of the same capacity, installation or repair of door hardware, painting, landscaping including sidewalks and decorative hardscaping, grounds maintenance and other work which is not regulated by the Code.

For other types of work not noted above, please contact the Office of the University Building Official (OUBO) Staff.

2. When do I need inspections? How do I schedule inspections? Is a reinspection required?

The building code stipulates the “Minimum Inspections Required” in section 113.3 of the VUSBC. These include inspections related to the building’s structure (items 1-4) as well as the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other systems (item 5). The final inspection also includes an accessibility inspection and verification of the fire safety, fire alarm, and sprinkler systems.

Structural inspections are performed by the project’s special inspector. Other inspections should be coordinated with the appropriate OUBO staff.

Guidelines for many types of inspections can be found here. We encourage project managers to invite OUBO to the project’s preconstruction meeting to discuss inspections that will be required based on the nature of each individual project.

Reinspections are often required to verify compliance.

3. How do I submit plans and to whom?

Submit plans, specifications, and calculations (when required) for OUBO review using the Print and Review Transmittal. If you have any questions, you may contact Betty Bowman, Molly Shifflett or Kim Breeden in Facilities Management.

4. How do I know plans have been received and logged in? When will my plans be reviewed?

Status of project reviews and building permits can be found at: Alternately, the same link is available on the home page of OUBO. Plans are reviewed based on the target date, which is at the link above. Target dates are as follows:

  • Schematics – 5 business days
  • Preliminary – 10 business days
  • Contract Documents – 15 business days
  • Responses to above – 5 business days
  • Yellow Out – 5 business days
  • Shop (fire alarm, sprinkler etc.) drawings – 15 business days (first submittal; 5 business days subsequent submittals)
  • Bulletins, RFIs, and all others – 5 business days

If you did not receive review comments by the target date or if the drawings need to be reviewed earlier, contact Review Unit Managing Architect, Bob Waite.

5. When do I need to submit structural calculations?

Structural calculations are required for any new work at the University that affects the structural components of buildings or related structures (see VUSBC 109.3 and 1604.2 through 1604.4). When working on existing structures, minor changes to the structural system may not necessitate a detailed analysis of the existing structural system if certain conditions can be met (see VUSBC 3404.3 and 3404.4).

6. When do I need to submit hydraulic calculations?

In general, fire sprinkler hydraulic calculations are required for new systems and renovations where the use of the space is changing to a higher hazard level. Interior renovations that do not change the hazard level may require hydraulic calculations if sprinkler heads are added to the system within the system remote area (note that sprinkler heads added in other areas must be supplied using the previously calculated pipe schedule). If you are unsure about your particular project, contact the Fire Safety reviewer to discuss further.

7. When are shop drawings required?

  • Sprinkler:
    • Fire sprinkler shop drawings are not required for minor modifications where the hazard level is not increasing and the project consists of relocating existing arm-overs utilizing existing branchline outlets. The Engineer of Record must provide complete design drawings indicating the following at a minimum: Installation to comply with NFPA 13, arm-over detail indicating min 1” diameter piping, new sprinkler head specification, existing sprinkler system hazard level design and new use hazard level, demo plan showing existing sprinkler head locations and plan showing new sprinkler head locations. Other scenarios will be considered on a case by case basis; please contact the Fire Safety reviewer.
  • Fire alarm:
    • For a new building construction: Fire alarm shop drawings are always required. For renovation projects: If existing devices are relocated, when no new devices are added, or very limited number of new devices (up to 5) are added on to the existing system, fire alarm shop drawings are not required. If significant number of new devices (more than 5) is added, fire alarm shop drawings are required. If you are not sure, please contact OUBO staff in advance.
  • Other:
    • Shop drawings are also required for other systems such as emergency alarms, spark extinguishing systems, clean agent suppression systems, and hood suppression systems. Contact OUBO staff to discuss your specific project.

When required, shop drawings shall be submitted to the A/E of record for review and approval prior to submittal to OUBO. Approval from OUBO staff is required prior to installation.

8. How do I handle changes made to the plans after the building permit is issued?

Minor changes to the plans, such as adjustments to the route of pipe and ductwork and installation of an equal product rather than the manufacture listed on the schedule, shall be recorded on the As-Built drawings. Requests For Information (RFIs) from the contractor which require the A/E to make adjustments to the design shall be submitted to OUBO for review if there are Code implications. All drawing revisions documenting changes to any discipline due to owner change in program or scope, unforeseen conditions, etc. shall be submitted to OUBO as a Bulletin.

9. Can I get a waiver to the Code?

In short, no. However, the Uniform Statewide Building Code does have provisions for granting modifications when it can be shown that equivalent health and safety provisions have been made through an alternative method. At UVA, a Determinations and Findings for Code Modifications form must be filled out and accompanied by documentation from a licensed professional architect/engineer to substantiate the equivalency of the proposed method.

Waivers to the HECO Manual or the Facilities Design Guidelines require an approved Determinations and Findings.

10. Can I break my project into phases?

You can break the project into phases. When determining how to do so, there are additional things that need to be considered. First, the project can be broken into phases such that separate and distinct areas of the project will be completed before moving on to another area of the project (Phase 1, Phase 2, etc.). The other way that a project can be broken into phases is by requesting a partial building permit for site work, then a partial permit for structural, then a partial permit for core and shell, etc.

  • Phasing the project. It can take longer to review a project if the design is broken into phases which can add additional cost to projects. Coordination between the phases can become challenging if the phases are not clearly defined on the drawings. Fewer coordination issues arise if the entire design is completed, allowing the Contractor to phase the work as they need. However, OUBO has much experience with phasing and can provide assistance as needed.
  • Partial building permits. Many of the considerations for breaking a project into phases also apply to breaking the building permit into phases. If partial permits are requested, please remember that the permit must be based on a specific set of Documents and those Documents must be sealed and signed by a registered design professional. This is sometimes an issue for the A/E if the entire set is not ready for seals and signatures. Issuing partial permits will also result in additional review time by this office which can result in additional cost to the project. OUBO can provide assistance with preparation and coordination of phased permits.

11. Does OUBO accept electronic copies?

We require drawings and specifications to be sent electronically; however, all electronic drawings and specifications must be sent to Geospatial Engineering Services using their Print and Review Transmittal. Some fields on their transmittal will automatically populate. Please make sure all drawings, specifications, bulletins, supplements, etc. are sent to Geospatial Engineering Services for record keeping.