Northampton County, Virginia

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a building permit?

Please review the building code requirements for permits.  Click HERE to view the code text.  If you still are unsure, please contact the Building Official

When do I need an inspection?

There is a list of required inspections listed on the Building Permit card that was provided when the permit was issued.  You can also see a list of required inspections by clicking HERE.  If a particular inspection applies to your job, then it is the permit holder's responsibility to schedule and pass the inspection before proceeding with the work.

How do I schedule an inspection?

The most common method of scheduling an inspection is by a telephone call.  Please make all inspection requests through the permit technician at (757) 678-0443, Ext. 543.  Inspection requests made via email and fax are prone to technical glitches such as spam traps and machines that run out of paper.  Please try to confirm that inspection requests made electronically are received.

Please click HERE for more information about scheduling an inspection.

Do I need to be at the job site when the inspector gets there?

No, you do not need to be present during an inspection. However, it is often helpful if there is someone who may answer questions should they arise. Keep in mind that plans and other documents are required to be on the site at the time of the inspection, and the permit holder is responsible to provide tools such as ladders and lighting to accommodate the inspection. Inspectors often need full access to the structure, so locked or blocked areas may be the reason for a failed inspection.

Can I take pictures instead of having an inspection?

No. Pictures can be helpful, but they are not a substitute for an actual inspection. Pictures may only show part of the work, pictures cannot demonstrate stability of ground, pictures cannot show the duration of an test or the functioning of an alarm system.

Can I get a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?

The building official is happy to consider all requests for Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Permit holders need to be prepared to demonstrate that structures will be safely occupied, both by the building users and emergency personnel should the need arise. Please keep in mind that there is a fee for each temporary CO, that they are valid for only 30 days (maximum), and that should a renewal be necessary, the fees double each time. Please do not ask the building official to waive fees, this can only be done by the Board of Supervisors.

How can I get a copy of the code?

You may download the Virginia portion of the codes at:

The parts of the codes that use copyrighted material may be purchased from

You may come to the Building Department office during office hours and view any of the codes.

Can I get a code variance or modification?

The code permits modifications under specific conditions.  Modifications need to meet the "Spirit and Intent" of the code, and "Health and Safety" must be assured.  Codes are written to protect fire and rescue personnel as well as the everyday users of structures.  Modifications are granted on a case-by-case basis. If issued, code modifications become part of the Certificate of Occupancy and permanent records of a structure.

How do I appeal a decision?

Yes, decisions of inspectors may be appealed.  The steps are:

  • Ask the Building Official to render a formal opinion
  • Ask the Local Building Code Board of Appeals to rule on the Building Official's decision
  • Appeal the Local Building Code Board of Appeals ruling to the State Technical Review Board in Richmond.

Only parties with "standing" may file an appeal.  If you would like to appeal a decision made by the building inspector, we would be glad to assist you with the process.  The appeals form may be obtained by clicking HERE.

Northampton County supports the right of every citizen to due process and a fair and free hearing.  There will never be negative repercussions from a citizen exercising their right to appeal or question a decision.


How can I become a building inspector?

Inspectors are hired by each local jurisdiction, based on their own procedures and requirements.  Some jurisdictions require experience and certifications as prerequisites.  Inspectors are certified by the State of Virginia.  Please contact the Department of Housing and Community Development for specifics of Inspector Certification.  You may contact the County's Human Resources Department to learn if there are currently job openings in the Building Department.

How do I get a contractor's license?

Contractor's licenses are issued through the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.  Please click HERE to contact their office.

Step by Step Guide to Obtaining Your Contractor License

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