Certificates of Occupancy for New Commercial Buildings
The Uniform Statewide Building Code requires a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) be issued for any new building “prior to any occupancy”. The CO can be issued once the work authorized by the permit has been completed in accordance with any pertinent laws and ordinances. We require the owner or the general contractor make application for the CO, 7 business days in advance of the anticipated date the CO will be needed. Applications MUST be made a minimum of 7 business days in advance of the target date. Applications submitted for a target date less than 7 business days in advance will not be accepted. This application can be made at the Building Safety and Permits Division, in Building E, in the JCC Government on Mounts Bay Road or at the JCC Satellite Office at the Emergency Operations Center in Toano next to the Toano Fire Station. A $50 Building Safety & Permits fee and a $50 Fire Department fee are due with the certificate of occupancy application.
The applicant needs to have the approved site plan number and the building permit number to make application for a CO. Routine inspections, eg building final, electrical final, plumbing final, etc. do NOT have to be completed previous to the application for the CO. The CO application is routed to various County departments who will send a representative to the location to determine if it is okay with those departments to issue either a permanent or a temporary CO. Customarily, these departments include Fire, Engineering and Resource Protection Division, Planning, and JCSA (Sewer and Water). In some circumstances, other departments may also be involved. The routine building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and etc., inspections can take place concurrently with this process.
Building Safety and Permits Division understands that the opening of a new commercial building can be a complex process subject to a broad variety of problematic situations. Our principal concern is public safety. In cooperation with the owner/general contractor, and other county departments we will work with the CO applicant to issue a Temporary CO when possible and appropriate. On sites with multiple new occupancies, such as a new shopping center, new CO’s frequently do not all occur simultaneously. When dealing with such circumstances, the general contractor should make it clear to customers and construction workers what part of the site they can visit and what part they should avoid. This should be accomplished by appropriate signage and barriers such as saw horses, or safety ribbon. Installation of commercial building fixtures, such as shelving, and merchandizing may be accomplished in advance of the CO being issued, pending approval of the Building Safety and Permits Division.
If a Temporary CO is issued, it is issued with the understanding that all the outstanding items will be resolved within the timeframe identified on the CO, and a reinspection will be requested by the owner or general contractor. If the outstanding work cannot be completed by the deadline, then the applicant should contact code compliance in writing and request an extension of the Temporary CO. The request for an extension should explain why this is necessary. If an owner or general contractor allows a Temporary CO to expire without resolving outstanding issues, the Building Safety and Permits Divisionmay pursue enforcement action.
If you have additional questions about this process please contact the Building Safety and Permits Division at 757-253-6620. Contractors who are nearing the end of a commercial construction job can contact the Assistant Building Official, 757-253-6684, to review this process.