Commercial Inspections, Certificate of Occupancy and Elevators
Construction Requirements for Occupied Buildings
Building Inspection, in conjunction with Fire Life Safety, will coordinate with contractors to verify that measures are taken to safely segregate construction work from occupied areas.
If you would like to schedule a pre-construction meeting for a project, contact Building Inspection at 804-748-1057 and your request will be given to the Chief of Commercial Inspections. If the inspection team determines that a pre-construction meeting is needed, an inspector will contact the contractor. The meeting assists to bridge gaps between the design and construction teams. The meeting takes place after approval of the construction documents and around the time construction commences. The following are suggested topics for discussion:
- Construction project requirements for inspection and construction methods associated to the project
- Exchange of contact information with appropriate parties involved in the construction
- Procedures for special inspections associated to the project
- Requirements for phasing or for occupancy (Important dates involved with the project, e.g. expected occupancy date, furniture installation, employee training etc.)
- Project specific conditions associated with unusual, unique or special conditions, including any code modifications
Once a permit is issued and construction starts, the applicant is responsible for requesting inspections of the work performed at various stages to ensure code compliance with the approved plans. The applicant must provide a ladder, scaffolding or other equipment necessary to conduct or witness a requested inspection.
The basic required inspections are as follows, but not all of the inspections listed will be required for every project:
- Footing excavations and reinforcement prior to concrete placement
- Foundation systems
- Concrete floor slabs on grade prior to concrete placement
- Structural members and fasteners prior to their concealment
- Electrical, mechanical, plumbing and fire protection systems prior to their concealment
- Fire rated and fire resistive systems
- Energy conservation material prior to concealment
- Final inspections
- Elevator and conveyance
Certificate of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is required prior to occupancy of a new building or tenant space, prior to a change of occupancy classification of a building or tenant space, or whenever permits have been issued for renovation of a building or tenant space. In instances where the building or tenant space being renovated has a valid Certificate of Occupancy, final inspection approvals serve as the Certificate of Occupancy. A building or tenant space cannot be stocked prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy unless approved by the Commercial Building Inspector. Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for any building or tenant space, all of the following must be inspected and approved:
- Exit stairs including handrails and guardrails
- Grade exit lobbies, exit corridors or exit passageways
- Elevator shaft enclosures, including a third party elevator inspection for verification and approval of equipment installation
- All required exit lights and emergency lighting, including the emergency generator, if provided
- The final report of special inspections, if applicable
- Removal of trash and construction debris from in and around building
- All required final inspections for all associated sub trade permits
- All departmental final inspections
- Other items, established during the inspection process, as required for occupancy
A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) may be issued if a clear certificate of occupancy cannot be issued due to departmental final inspection issues such as landscaping, paving, lot stabilization, etc. A TCO allows additional time for compliance and approval for an additional fee.
Letter of Completion
Upon completion and approval of a “shell building,” a Letter of Completion is issued. As tenant spaces within a shell building become occupied, they will receive a Certificate of Occupancy after all final inspections are performed and approved for that space.
Building Inspection does not perform elevator equipment inspections. The required inspections must be performed by a qualified third party elevator inspector. Since Building Inspection Department staff does not perform elevator inspections, permit fees charged for elevator permit installations only cover administrative costs.
Elevator Equipment Inspection Process
A third party inspector must perform all equipment installation inspections:
- The third party inspector may not be the maintenance contractor, installer or the provider of the equipment.
- The third party inspector must have a valid Qualified Elevator Inspector (QEI) on record with NAESA International or have certification as an elevator inspector from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
Submit third party elevator inspection reports to the Building Inspection office for review.
Once the inspection report is approved and there are no outstanding violations, Building Inspection issues a Certificate of Inspection for operation of the equipment. The Certificate of Inspection provides the date of issuance and expiration.
Once a Certificate of Inspection is issued for any commercial equipment installation, the equipment is transferred into the annual inspection program.
Elevator Annual Inspection Process
Once commercial equipment installations have been approved, they shall be maintained in accordance with the Virginia Property Maintenance Code.
Building Inspection sends an invoice to the annual inspection contact person designated on the original installation permit application. The building owner submits all annual third party elevator inspection reports and fee(s) to Building Inspection prior to the expiration date on the existing Certificate of Inspection.
If no violations are cited by the inspector, a new Certificate of Inspection is issued for the equipment. The Certificate of Inspection includes the date of issuance and the date of expiration.
If violations are cited by the inspector with a stipulation from the inspector that the elevator may be operated while the violations are corrected, a Temporary Certificate of Inspection may be issued for a limited period of time until the repairs can be performed. To receive a clear Certificate of Inspection, submit a re-inspection report from the original inspector verifying all cited violations have been corrected.
This process is repeated annually for the equipment in the building.