LPA CEO Advises Commercial Realtors on “Navigating the Steps to Occupancy Permit”

The Commercial Industrial Land Exchange (CILE) invited Loveless Porter CEO Sean Porter to be the guest speaker at a recent meeting, where he shared his expertise on a critical stage of opening or expanding a business: Navigating the Steps to Occupancy Permit.

While most commercial realtors and business owners expect some permitting complications related to a new site, they often don’t anticipate the complex layers of zoning, code compliance and architectural requirements that may prevent them from hanging the “Open for Business” sign. Even something as simple as moving a light fixture requires an electrical permit.

Jurisdictions define every space by a use group and construction type (combustible or noncombustible construction), which dictates the allowable size (to include height and stories) of the building, whether fire suppression is required and allowable uses. For instance, in Prince William County, daycares and restaurants operating in a two-story wood building require fire suppression. A vehicle maintenance facility may operate without a sprinkler if it is under 12,000 square feet.

Looking at setting up shop in a historic district? Be ready to go through an Architectural Review Board process for any exterior modifications. Colors and material types will vary based on whether the building is a landmark, contributing structure or noncontributing structure.

A code compliance analysis prior to entering a purchase or tenant contract can ensure that a business venture doesn’t drown in a sea of local regulations. This could range from running parking tabulations to ensuring that zoning regulations allow for your intended usage. A little advance planning can save a business from committing to the wrong property. We hope that Sean’s presentation will serve this group of commercial realtors well as they as they assist their clients in bringing their dreams of business ownership to life.

Have questions about site selection for yourself or a client? Loveless Porter Architects is happy to help; give us a call at 703-335-2211.