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COVID-19 and Local Government Operations

The Home Building Association of Richmond is communicating with local governments across the Richmond region to provide the latest updates on inspection and building permit centers that may impact day-to-day residential construction operations.

This list will be updated as soon as we have the information from primary points of contact. If you have additional questions for HBAR to field, please call or email Danna Markland at dmarkland@hbar.org or 804-441-5040.

 

Complimentary cash flow tool, from HBAR member Meadows Urquhart Acree and Cook

The impacts of COVID 19 haven not affected all industries equally at this point. The slowdown of projects for homebuilders and contractors may not occur in the next week or even month, but undoubtedly there will be some interruption in normal operations. Company cash flow may be in a healthy position currently, but new projects may be delayed, materials may not be available, and collections will certainly be extended. Extending cashflow is critical in a time like this. Here are two immediate actions:

    • Talk to trusted advisors about new legislation that could provide cash flow in the form of tax credits or loans and
    • Project the worst, best and most likely cash flow scenarios over the next 3 months.

 

Dominion Energy – Power Installation to New Communities

Dominion is working to address subdivisions across the service territory that remain active and still need power. The following message has been conveyed for HBAR members:

“This is a message from Dominion Energy. As you are aware, these are unprecedented times. We know you depend on us to deliver energy safely and reliably every day. We’re committed to providing the energy you need, while also supporting the national effort to manage the spread of the coronavirus.

Based on the advice of health professionals, government experts, as well as our judgment on what is best for our employees and customers, we announced an elevated company response to the spread of the coronavirus, adopting staffing plans aligned with the highest priority work. This means we will have more of our employees Sheltering-in-Place, away from the workplace, some working remotely, while others will be on “ready reserve,” to be called back with little or no notice. Work will be prioritized to include only that work which is related to customer support, maintenance, system reliability and restoration, operations centers, compliance and capital projects needed to meet our customer needs.

These precautions will result in delays completing some projects. If you would like information about your specific project, please reach out to your point of contact for more information. While we know we are all in this together, we apologize for the inconvenience this may create.”

 

Virginia Dept of Health Guidance: Open Houses and Model Homes
http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/information-for-real-estate-professionals-regarding-covid-19/

Information for Real Estate Professionals Regarding COVID-19

Real estate professionals interact with the public at a significant scale. Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommended strategies to protect workers and limit the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, the Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR) has developed a COVID-19 Resource Page.

Executive Order 53 states “All businesses shall, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities while in operation.” In accordance with this directive, real estate professionals who conduct open houses, including builders who provide access to spec or model houses, are advised to follow best management practices:

Limit interior access to no more than 10 persons

  • Adapt social distancing protocols to open houses:
  • Have all individuals who enter immediately wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Have lots of extra pens and allow each person who signs in to use one pen that they then keep or you sanitize before another person uses
  • Ask people for their names and contact information that you write down or record on your electronic device
  • Open all doors and turn on lights prior to the start of the open house so that people can walk around the house without touching doorknobs and light switches
  • Have paper towels near sinks in the event someone wants to turn a sink on/off
  • Have individuals wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon leaving

 

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County Community Development Update from Jesse Smith – June 15

A new online portal (eReview) now provides an electronic option for application and document submittal. Register for an eReview account to start your eReview experience for submitting site plans and subdivision cases.  This phase will initiate electronic plan review which allows staff to write and mark up directly on plans submitted and see changes in subsequently revised plans more easily. Go to Planning eReview submission requirements to get more information about this new service.

Things you can do using the eReview Portal:

Submit plans and construction related documents electronically
Access review status in real-time
Access comments and marked-up plans
Download and print approved plan sets

Building Inspection

The Community Development Customer Service Center reopened June 15th.

Six-foot social distancing will be maintained, and all customers must wear a mask while in the buildings in accordance with state and county requirements. Due to limited availability of masks, they are not able to provide masks so please bring your own.

Permit applications sent via mail or commercial courier will be accepted and processed.

Customer deliveries are being handled using an exterior pickup/drop off cart located in the breezeway directly outside of the Community Development Building (9800 Government Center Parkway). Instructions are provided on the door and/or cart.

The walk-thru permit process is suspended until further notice.

Utilities Customer Service Center is Open
The Chesterfield County Department of Utilities’ first-floor customer service center is open with regular business hours. Learn more about available services and health and safety guidelines.

 

Henrico County

(Last updated on July 21, 2020)

In accordance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 63 , effective Friday, May 29, visitors are required to wear a face covering when entering and spending time inside a county building. Most county facilities remain closed; please see below for details.

Building Construction and Inspections

Building and Trade Permit Submittals and Issuance: The Department of Building Construction and Inspections office at the West Government Center on 4301 E. Parham Rd. will be closed to the public. Drop stations will be placed in the Administration Building Lobby for building and trade permit submittals. NO FEES ARE BEING COLLECTED AT THIS TIME.  Please do not include cash or checks with your application.  Applicants will be contacted by staff regarding arrangements to pay the required permit fees.   Customers will be notified by email and/or phone with instructions for picking up permits that have been approved and issued. Building and trade permit and plan review services will be conducted by staff via remote telework locations. Communications with customers will be handled via cell phone and email. Please note there will be delays with permit/plan review services due to transport of documents between staff. Please be reminded that the status of permits and inspections can be verified through the following web portal at  http://www3.co.henrico.va.us/bldg/insp/

Inspections: All inspectors will continue working remotely to conduct field inspections. Inspectors are authorized to use discretion for performing inspections of occupied structures, which may include viewing installations for limited scopes of work via photos or video formats (e.g. electrical service changes, appliance installations, etc.). Inspectors have been instructed to communicate with customers about flexible and creative options for completing inspections, while also emphasizing the importance of accountability and maintaining their personal safety.  Inspection staff have been instructed to not perform inspections where individuals have either tested positive, been exposed to, or are symptomatic of the COVID-19 virus.  An inspector refusing to perform an inspection does not waive the building code mandate to obtain required inspections (e.g. prior to installing any concealing materials, finals, etc.). See additional information below for using third party inspection resources as an option for completing these required inspections.

The Residential Inspection Surcharge Fee for new single-family dwellings is suspended until further notice.

Third Party Inspections: Customers are authorized, without prior approval, to use third party inspection services for conducting inspections of any interior spaces of occupied dwelling units that require access through the dwelling unit. Customers are also authorized to use third party inspection services, without prior approval, for any inspection that we are unable to perform within 2 days of the submitted inspection request. The use of approved agencies to perform Residential Footing Inspections remain in effect based on the existing policies and procedures for such inspections. The use of third party inspections services for any inspections other than those listed above shall be approved by the Department of Building Construction and Inspections prior to conducting the inspection, in accordance with our published Third Party Inspection Policy.

Complaint inspections for maintenance code violations will be limited to only reports of unsafe buildings and structures that involved life/safety issues. Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) inspections of commercial food service establishments will be suspended indefinitely.

If you have any questions regarding permits, inspections, or plan reviews, please call their office at 804-501-4360.

 

Hanover County

The Hanover County Planning Department has implemented a new community web portal for submitting applications and plans to the office. It can be accessed at this link.

This site provides access to community development services, allowing customers to complete many common tasks online.

Use the Permit module to pay permit fees, access permit history, and apply for residential subtrade permits.

Use the Project module to access Planning Department projects such as rezoning, conditional use permit, and site plan. You may also search for information about active Planning projects.

Use the Inspection module to schedule or cancel Building Inspections.

To schedule an inspection online, you will be required to create a user account.

 

Goochland County

As of Monday, June 8th all county government offices and facilities are once again OPEN to the public during the business hours of 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; all patrons are required to follow prescribed social distancing practices.

 

City of Richmond

Update Regarding Permitting and Inspection Services- July 15th

The Permit Center has transitioned to a fully electronic service model and will no longer be providing in-person processing of permits and payments. As a result of this change the lobby, located in City Hall Room 108, will remain closed to the public except for customers who have made a prescheduled in-office appointment. To schedule an appointment please e-mail the appropriate address below or directly contact the staff member that you are working with. Appointments are intended to be used on a limited basis for processes that require in person interaction that cannot be duplicated by electronic means. Appointments will not be made for application processing or payment services.

 

To schedule an appointment or for customer service inquiries e-mail:

 

Permits and Inspections                 PDRPermitsAndInspections@richmondgov.com

Zoning                                            PDRZoningAdministration@richmond.gov.com

Permits and Inspections (P&I)

Permitting and Plan Review:

All services are now being processed through one of two online gateways: the City of Richmond’s Online Permitting Portal (OPP) and OneDrive document processing system. Processing times for some application types may take as long as 2-3 weeks. Applications and plans are being reviewed in the order in which they are received.

Mail and Fax Services:

Applications and payments received by mail are still being accepted, however, we are not currently conducting business by fax.

Residential Trade Applications:

The On-Line Permit Portal (OPP) should be used for Residential Trade Permits (Building, Electrical, Gas Piping, Mechanical, Plumbing). Certificates of zoning Compliance (CZC’s) and Plan of Developments (POD’s), click here.

Permits Requiring Plan Review and Other Services:

Microsoft OneDrive should be used to submit commercial applications and plans electronically. Other services accepted through OneDrive are permit extensions, cancellations, modifications, contractor changes, amendments to the scope of work, responses to plan review comments and post permit revisions. For information on how to register and use Microsoft OneDrive, click here.

Verifying Business Licenses:

The individuals listed below are available with access to MUNIS to verify if a business has a valid business license in the City of Richmond. They can be reached by E-mail or phone:

Customer Service Supervisor Business Unit

Annette Stokes                 804-646-6192                     annette.stokes@richmondgov.com

Eboni Iverson                    804-646-1629                     eboni.iverson@richmondgov.com

*The door to Room 103 is open if you need to speak to either of the Business Unit’s Customer Service Supervisors. Please come in and ask for assistance. Should you have additional questions or concerns please contact Ms. Weatherless at 804-646-5195.

Inspections:

Field inspections are continuing for all project types. Inspections within occupied buildings are being conducted virtually or by a third-party inspector per our 48-hour third party inspection policy. Please limit the number of contractors or site representatives meeting an inspector on a jobsite to only one. Please remember to practice safe social distancing and to wear personal protective equipment when meeting an inspector.

Virtual Inspections:

We are putting a greater emphasis on virtual inspections across all disciplines. Use this service option to complete an inspection remotely with a City inspector using Facetime or Microsoft teams. For more information, click here.

Third Party Inspections:

Limited: Customers may use our limited 48-hour third party inspection policy for individual inspections when the building official is unable to perform a scheduled inspection within two working days of a request or an agreed upon date or if authorized for other circumstances in the building official’s written policy. Third party inspections shall be requested, and the inspection reports submitted, in accordance with the City’s official policy. For more information contact David.alley@richmondgov.com and/or visit thirdpartyinspections@richmondgov.com.

Full: Customers may use our third-party program in part or in full to obtain third party inspection and plan review services. Please click here for more information.

Property Maintenance/Code Enforcement (PMCE):

The Property Maintenance lobby will remain closed to the public until further notice; however, services are ongoing. Citizens may continue to report code enforcement issues within their community by using RVA311 or calling the main number at (804) 646-6398. If a physical meeting is needed it will be scheduled through an appointment and appropriate “social distancing” measured will be followed.

The City of Richmond Online Permit Portal (OPP)

Customers can register, apply for plans, and search permits using the above link. Or for more information and instructions, visit the OPP web page.

 

New Kent County

Effective Monday, June 15, 2020, new restrictions have been put in place to ensure your safety while visiting the Planning & Zoning Department.

Until further notice, all visitors will check in at the Upper Level Administration Building Information Desk upon entry.  There you will be informed of current social distancing and face covering requirements as well as information about restricted areas within the building.

New reduced Planning & Zoning Department permit and application hours will be from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM to allow ample time to make a safe transition to the Treasurer for payment prior to their 4:15 PM closing.

Staff will be available to assist with non-payment related matters by appointment only between 3:45 PM and 4:30 PM.

 

Deed Recordations

The Richmond Association of Realtors is tracking deed recordations. Chesterfield County, Henrico County, Hanover County, Goochland County, New Kent County and the City of Richmond are conducting traditional recordation and eRecordings.

 

Issues with Recording, Indexing and Scanning Local Land Records 

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a declaration of judicial emergency, which suspended all non-essential, non-emergency Circuit and District court proceedings with some exceptions, which can be found here. The Chief Justice’s declaration also stated that "the courts and clerks’ offices shall remain operational and provide essential services while balancing the health and safety needs of court visitors and personnel.”

The Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV) believes that the Chief Justice's declaration and underlying judicial protocols hold that indexing, scanning and recording by the Clerks’ Offices are deemed "essential functions" of the Virginia court system.

However, HBAR has received several reports of challenges with the recording, indexing and scanning of local land records.  If you run into any challenges with local Circuit Court Clerks and the recording, indexing, and scanning of land records, please contact HBAV's Vice President of Government Affairs, Andrew Clark, at AClark@HBAV.com as soon as possible.

HBAV has been in frequent communication with the Virginia REALTORS and the Virginia Court Clerks Association to resolve any challenges that arise during these unprecedented times. In order to resolve these issues in a timely manner, it is helpful to consolidate our communications to the relevant stakeholders through HBAV.

The Department of Housing and Community Development has pulled together a “snapshot in time” spreadsheet of the current status of local building departments as well as information about approved third party inspectors for that locality.  The Virginia Building Code Officials Association has posted it on the website and will be updated as often as possible.  That page can be found here: https://vbcoa.org/operating-status/