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ANNUAL REPORT Fiscal Year 2018
A Fairfax County, Va., publication | September 2017
Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county
programs, services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon
request. For information, call 703-324-1780.
As members of the Land Development Services team, we accomplish our mission by embracing our
values in a work environment that protects the health and well-being of each other and the public.
Facilitate the safe and sustainable building of our communities.
Be the best partner in creating a thriving Fairfax County.
Empowerment Accountability Collaboration
Respect Safety Integrity
Trust and support
employees to lead and
make decisions that
align with our mission
Fulfill your obligations
and expect others to do
Work together towards
a common goal and
openness and moral
Value others by
Adhere to safe working
practices on and off
Page 3LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Table of Contents
4 A Word from the Director
5 New Construction in Fairfax
6 Measuring Time to Market
- Residential Additions
- Single Family Homes
- Tenant Improvements
- Commercial Multi-Use Buildings
- Residential Infill Plan Approvals
- Major Site Plan Approvals
16 Building & Trade Permits
18 Building & Site Inspections
19 Elevators/Escalators & Critical Structures
20 Resources Overview
22 Environmental Outlook
Back page The Future ... PLUS and ePlans
Page 4 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
A Word from the Director
In fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018), Land Development Services (LDS)
continued to improve the speed, consistency and predictability of the development
review process in Fairfax County.
LDS has been intensely focused on creating a new, more transparent way of
measuring what we do and how we do it. For the past several years, we have
measured mainly volumetrics – how much we have accomplished. On their own,
those numbers are staggering, as seen in the pages that follow. In FY18, LDS issued
over 63,000 building and trade permits and reviewed nearly $2 billion worth of
construction. This was all done with a staff of 286 employees.
As impressive as those statistics are, we are now asking ourselves and our customers: How well do we deliver our
services? How does our process affect a project’s “time to market?” To do this, we focused on what LDS can control
during the process:
1. The site plan and permit process.
2. The building plan and permit process.
3. And the construction process through inspections.
These areas are where our speed and high quality reviews are of paramount importance to the time to market. As
we mine our data, we can quickly target areas that need improvement. In addition, LDS is moving to electronic plan
review and, in 2020, launching an entirely new online permitting system, which will provide better, real-time metrics.
These improvements will help to streamline the review process. LDS strives to be the best possible partner in the
development process, while facilitating the safe and sustainable building of our communities.
William D. Hicks, P.E.
Director, Fairfax County Land Development Services
Page 5LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
New Construction in Fairfax
$1.9 billionEstimated value of residential and commercial construction in FY18
$52.5 millionTotal amount of bonds released
5,284 New dwelling units constructed
(Single family homes, townhouses and multi-family units)
745Number of new addresses
added in Fairfax County
New commercial buildings completed
Page 6 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Measuring Time to Market
Fairfax County and the building industry work in partnership throughout the life of a development
project. To strengthen that partnership, LDS has developed a definition of time to market that
measures the speed and efficiency of county review time and customer response time. For our
customers, the time it takes to deliver a product to market is their bottom line – whether it is a family
home, a new restaurant or a major mixed-use development.
The core site and building plan categories used to track time-to-market performance are:
• Residential Additions
• Tenant Improvements
• Single Family Homes
• Commercial Multi-Use Buildings
Together, these 3,247 projects generated $32 million in fees for LDS and represented about $1.9 billion
in new real estate value in the county. The charts in the following pages reflect the time to market for
projects that were given final approval in FY 2018.
These plan reviews took place many months and, sometimes, even years before construction was
completed. These timeframes are noted in each chart and give a snapshot of what it took to bring these
project types to market in FY 2018. To get a sense of plan reviews that were completed during FY 2018
for construction that will be completed in future fiscal years, we also examined the site plan approval
process for major site plans and for residential infill lot grading plans. Not only does measuring site
plan review tell us the average review times, but it also shows the volume of development that is in the
How to read the charts: In each time-to-market chart, time is divided into the calendar days the plan was under
review by the county (green), and the calendar days the plan was in the hands of the customer (orange).
County Review Customer Review
Page 7LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Completed Residential Additions
• 637 Projects (19 with Site Plans)
• Avg. Time to Market: 18 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 2
• Avg. Construction: 733 days
In FY 2018, LDS approved 637 residential additions permits ranging from sunrooms to
second-story additions to garages. Generally, these projects are relatively complex; the
category does not include simple finished basements or decks.
Within this group of projects, there were 19 (3 percent) that also required residential infill lot
grading plans because the project disturbed more than 2,500 square feet of land. Compared
to projects in this category approved in FY 2017, the building plan review time frame improved
by as much as seven days.
Page 8 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Completed Single Family Homes
• 706 Projects (465 with Site Plans)
• Avg. Time to Market: 190 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 2 site, 3 bldg
• Avg. Construction: 318 days
Of the 706 single family homes approved for occupancy in FY 2018, 465 (66 percent) had
accompanying site plans. The top bar in the chart above shows average site plan time-
to-market metrics for all homes that required site plans. Some of the building plans were
submitted as “masterfile plans,” which means builders had already received approval for
a standard home type. These projects tend to have a shorter time to market, because the
plans do not need to be reviewed again unless there are major changes.
16 3 55
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
# of CalendarDays
PERMIT PICKED UP
Page 9LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Completed Tenant Improvements
TOTAL TENANT IMPROVEMENTS: 1,849
(Projects greater than 4,500 square feet)
• 817 projects approved
• 44 percent approved in one submission
(Projects less than 4,500 square feet)
• 1,032 projects approved
• 61 percent approved in one submission
Commercial tenant improvements include projects where a tenant reconfigures or updates an office, storefront, or restaurant
location. In FY2018, the “Fast-Track” program, which includes projects up to 4,500 square feet, met LDS’s goal of 15 days for
county review. In 2019, with the launch of ePlans for these plan types, the threshold for electronically submitted Fast-Track
plans has increased from 4,500 to 10,000 square feet.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
# of CalendarDays
PERMIT PICKED UP
PERMIT PICKED UP
Page 10 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Completed Commercial Multi-Use Buildings
• 57 Projects
• Avg. Time to Market: 381 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 2 (site), 2 (building)
• Avg. Construction: 469 days
0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400
# of CalendarDays
PERMIT PICKED UP
TO BONDS &
Page 11LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
There was a 63 percent increase in the number of commercial multi-use buildings that received their final
inspection in FY 2018 compared to FY 2017. The county review time decreased 72 days (28 percent), with
95 percent completing the site plan review process within two submissions and 54 percent completing the
building plan review process within two submissions. Fifty-seven projects arrived on the market, including:
• Capital One Headquarters in Tysons.
• Inova Schar Cancer Institute.
• Apple Federal Credit Union.
• Chantilly Wegmans.
Page 13LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Residential infill lots are parcels of land that are either surrounded by already-
developed parcels or part of a subdivision of land parcels. To build a new home on such
a lot, a residential infill plan must be reviewed and approved by the county. Often these
developments have sophisticated stormwater management requirements, as well as
erosion and sedimentation controls, to minimize any negative effects to the surrounding
environment. High quality submitted plans minimize review times. In contrast, poor quality
submissions increase review times.
• 557 Projects
• Avg. County Review: 29 days
• Avg. Customer Time: 57 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 1.4
FY 2018 INF Plans - # of Submissions to Approval
557 Total Plans
Page 14 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Major Site Plan Approvals (DPE and non-D
Page 15LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Because major site plans are so complex, LDS has worked with industry to identify ways to expedite the
submission and review process. The Designated Plans Examiner (DPE) Peer Review Program, which leverages
a partnership with the Engineers and Surveyors Institute (ESI), provides a plan quality control review to ensure
high-quality submissions to LDS. As seen in the charts here, the DPE program results in a significant reduction
in the total time to market for major site plans. With few exceptions, the DPE program will result in plans being
approved within two submissions and with a 33 percent total reduction in review and comment time. The charts
here show the typical time to market for plans approved within two or three submissions.
TOTAL MAJOR SITE PLANS APPROVED: 47
Designated Plan Examiner (DPE-Peer Review)
• 35 Plans
• Avg. County Review: 78 days
• Avg. Customer Time: 194 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 2
Non-DPE Peer Review
• 12 Plans
• Avg. County Review: 95 days
• Avg. Customer Time: 310 days
• Avg. # of Submissions: 2.3
Page 16 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Building & Trade Permits
63,224Total building and trade permits issued
(71.7% applied for online)
47,064Total trade permits issued
Trade Permits By Type
Page 19LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Critical Structures meetings: 439
Shop drawings reviewed: 1,667
Inspections performed: 10,651
# of elevators/escalators in Fairfax: 6,210
Permits issued for new elevators/escalators: 392
Total inspections performed: 16,087
Critical Structures: Building projects that, for safety concerns,
require special inspections by a Registered Design Professional
retained by the owner. Most major commercial projects and multi-
family residences are considered Critical Structures.
Page 20 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Approximately 58 positions were vacant at one point
during the year. LDS is addressing this by:
• Focusing on plan review and inspection workload.
• Offering competitive salary and benefit packages
within county guidelines.
• Providing funds and assistance for continuing
education and certifications.
Expenditures include personnel ($31.2 million/80%); contracts,
utilities, training and other operating costs ($5.4 million/14%) and
an overhead rate for occupancy costs, interagency coordination and
county oversight ($2.2 million/6%).
Fees are the primary source of revenue for LDS and are based on
the costs required to perform our core services and to operate the
agency. This fee revenue can fluctuate each year depending on the
volume of plans submitted and permits issued.
LDS’s cost recovery rate is determined by comparing the total annual expenditures
to the total annual revenue. This rate is used to determine how fees are calculated.
The Board of Supervisors’ target rate is 90 percent; however, LDS may exceed that
cost recovery rate based on the volume of permits and plans in a given year.
Revenue beyond the 90 percent cost recovery rate goes back into investing in LDS,
with a current focus on the department’s capital needs, primarily the PLUS online
permitting system (see back page).
103% Cost Recovery Rate
Page 21LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Average number of inspections
per site inspector per month
LDS is currently reviewing industry standards and
appropriate resources to determine the right site
inspection workload and to clarify the need for
additional site inspectors.
In FY 2017, the county added four building inspector
positions to address workload that had tripled
Number of Employees
Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality
Va. Dept. of Housing and
Certified Flood Plain Managers
Page 22 LDS FY18 ANNUAL REPORT
Acres of approved
Erosion and sediment
brought online, treating
The Future ... PLUS and ePlans!
Fairfax County is developing a new online planning
and land use system, called PLUS, modeled on best
practices from around the country. The system will unify
siloed processes into a one-stop-shop customer service
portal for industry partners and the general public.
• The system will offer customers real-time status
updates and more transparency about their permit
applications and transactions.
• Meaningful metrics and flexible reporting will allow the
county to measure performance with greater accuracy
• Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and electronic plan review
integration and modernized mobility platforms will greatly improve
workflow for customers and staff.
The PLUS project is a pivotal part of achieving goal three of the Economic
Success Strategy: Improving the speed, consistency and predictability of the
development review process.
The first phase of the system will go live in 2019, which will include food
establishment permits and other services offered by the Health Department.
The land use system is scheduled to go live in 2020. In 2021, a third phase
will wrap up, which will create extended functionality for proffer tracking and
Comprehensive Plan management.
ePlans in Fairfax
In early 2019, LDS launched
ePlans to all customers,
which turns plan review into a
completely paperless process.
To start, customers may submit
ePlans for Site Plans, Site Plan
Revisions, Minor Site Plans,
Minor Site Plan Revisions, New
Commercial Buildings, and
Interior Alterations of Existing
A Fairfax County, Va. Publication | March 2019
If accommodations or alternate formats are needed, please call 703-324-1780, TTY 711
• Permit Application Center, Site Application Center, Facilitation
and Addressing Center, Bonds and Agreements: 703-222-0801
• Building Plan Review and Inspections: 703-631-5101
• Site Development and Inspections: 703-324-1720
• Director’s Office: 703-324-1780