Northampton County, Virginia

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Certificates of Occupancy

Virginia law requires that a Certificate of Occupancy be issued for all new buildings and when the occupancy use of an existing building changes.  The CO is the County's way of certifying that a building may be used in a specific manner, and that construction methods comply with applicable codes.

Northampton County issues both permanent and temporary COs.

Permanent COs indicate full compliance with applicable regulations, and may include specific conditions and stipulations.  There is no charge for a permanent CO.  Structures must pass a Final Inspection before the building official will sign a certificate of occupancy.

If projects involve new or altered well water or sewage disposal connections, an "Operations Permit" or equivalent is required from the Health Department before a CO is issued.

Temporary certificates are issued at the sole discretion of the building official and may include stipulations, conditions and limitations. Temporary COs are valid for up to 30 days, and are renewable at the building officials discretion.  An escalating fee structure applies for temporary COs.

Existing Buildings

Owners may request a Certificate of Occupancy for an existing building. Owners should make requests for COs for existing building in writing to the building official.  A fee is charged for inspections associated with these certificates. Final inspection approval or approvals may serve as the certificate of occupancy for any addition or alteration to a structure for which a certificate of occupancy has already been issued.

Zoning and COs

In general, COs require approval of the Zoning Administrator or agent.  Zoning regulations applicable to new structures are enforced, and compliance is often a prerequisite for approval of the CO. Please contact the Zoning Administrator for more details on these matters.

Contents of COs

The certificate of occupancy shall contain the following information:

  • edition of the USBC under which the permit was issued
  • the group and occupancy classification
  • type of construction
  • automatic sprinkler system installed
  • occupant load
  • any other stipulations or conditions of the building permit
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