Hi. You didn't mention whether or not you are in Falls Church City or the part of Fairfax County with a Falls Church postal address. In Fairfax County, the code is on-line. In Falls Church City, you would do well to visit the permit office, which, as far as I remember, is located on the lower level of the City Hall, and asking there for builders with experience in doing what are called "pop-tops".
As a retired builder, I can say this: I have never seen a 1950's rambler built in Arlington County that could not be made to support a second story. A lot of "pop-tops" are being built in Vienna, too. That's just a simple engineering problem. Even foundation work, with modern engineered materials and techniques, is not that big a deal.The design,in and of itself, represents a considerable investment of time and money. I don't think that a seller in this heating-up market will be willing to take his property off the market for the two months it would take to find a builder and have his architects and structural engineer prepare a design. Furthermore, under the new statewide building code, building permits expire after, I think, two years, if work has not been started.
I would be much more concerned with saving the money to do the "pop-top" right, which, currently, is running at least $250,000.00. You will want, at a minimum, to raise the ceiling joists up so that you have a high ceiling. I think you should buy the house and look at a lot of "pop-tops" in Arlington and Vienna. A lot of the ones in Vienna, especially, are really attractive. Your Realtor should be able to put you in touch with a reputable builder, or, if not, you can contact me for more information.... more
Hi Kmp - I had one experience with this recently. My clients were purchasing a home with open building permits. So I called Fairfax County and asked where they handled building permits (they have several buildings). Then I went there in person (figured it would be easier than over the phone). They looked up the permits and found that it was a clerical error - they had issued multiple permits for the same job, for different systems and the final inspection had passed but some of the minor permits were not closed out. They closed out the open permits on the spot for me.
We were worried initially because we thought we might have to negotiate with the seller to obtain permits/do a final inspection, etc. But in our case, it turned out that the work was done properly already. Hopefully your situation will not turn out to be a major expense.
Only the board can answer your questions. Keep trying to contact them before you put in an offer. If not being able to put in the path is a dealbreaker, I'd recommend finding another property that suits your needs. There are a lot of homes on the market to choose from. If, however, this is your dreamhome, do everything you can to find out beforehand if they will allow this. If you can't get an answer, you can rest easy knowing that VA law allows you to withdraw an offer without penalty within 3 days of receiving the HOA documents.
If there's anything I can do to help, please just let me know.... more