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Building Development Division
Building a Pole Barn

The term 'pole barn' has varying significance. Some people will focus on the word 'barn' and assume a farm building is being constructed for agricultural use. Other people focus on the word 'pole' indicating a Post & Beam construction method. However, it is the intended use of the structure that determines the approval process.

Any detached accessory structure, including a pole barn, will require approval by the Zoning Administration Division before submission for review by the Building Development Division for a building permit. A new grading plan may be required in some cases. Contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-792-6830 for requirements.

Regardless of the proposed method of construction, if the property in question is zoned A-1 Agricultural and has been approved by the Zoning Administrator for agricultural uses as defined in Part 100 of the Zoning Ordinance, and the proposed structure is intended for agricultural use, the proposed structure may be exempt from Building Code Compliance as provided by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. However, if the property is zoned A-1, but the principal use of the property is residential, or it is zoned Residential with a principal residential use, or if the proposed use of the building is not strictly and solely for Agricultural purpose as defined by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, a building permit may be required. Please contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-792-6830 for questions regarding the zoning of the property or the Building Development Division at 703-792-4040 for questions regarding the use of the building.


Steps 1-3 may be completed at the Development Services Building, 5 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA, 22192. Step 4 may be completed by telephone or online.


STEP ONE: Zoning Approval

The Zoning Division Counters are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. No approvals are issued after 4 p.m., Click the link for Zoning Approval Requirements.


STEP TWO: Building Plan Approval

If the proposed structure is exempt from Building Code Compliance as provided by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code no building plan submission will be required.  Instead the Building Development Division will create an application in order to make note of the code exempt structure.  If the applicant would like to obtain the appropriate permit, the structure does not meet the agricultural exemption, or the use of the structure or the property changes and is no longer agricultural as defined in Part 100 of the Zoning Ordinance building plans will be required to be submitted and the appropriate permits issued.

The Building Plan Intake Counters are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.              

  • Provide two sets of Zoning Approval (from step 1), with the location of the pole barn highlighted, to the Building Plan Intake Counter.
  • If the pole barn is prefabricated, provide plans from the fabricator/manufacturer/supplier.
  • Bring two sets of plans on 11" x 17" paper drawn to a scale of ¼" = 1' with the following: plan view (view from above); elevation (view from side); and elevation section (cross section from side view that shows typical footing wooden post and all typical connection details).
  • Complete appropriate permit applications including Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and/or Gas.
  • Obtain fee pricing.


STEP THREE: Permit Issuance

The Building Permitting Services Counters are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • If the homeowner is the permit applicant and will be responsible for the work, the homeowner must complete the Statement of Exemption form.
  • If the contractor is the permit applicant and will be responsible for the work, the contractor must provide a copy of his or her Virginia State Contractor's License and Prince William County Business License.
  • Pay for permits based on the approved Building Development Fee Schedule


STEP FOUR: Construction Inspections

In order for staff to conduct an inspection of a project, the permit must be affixed to the front window of the residence, and the approved plans must be available for the inspector to review at the time of inspection.

Building inspections are conducted between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit or call 1-866-457-5280 to schedule an inspection through the automated system. The system will prompt for the permit number or 6 Digit IVR Pin Number, and inspection type code, which were provided at the time of permit issuance. The inspection process for pole barn buildings will vary depending on the extent of the work. The most common inspection types and codes are 103 - building footing, 151 - residential final, 198 - residential combination concealment, 199 - residential combination final, and 202 - electrical service.

For more details on Building a Pole Barn see our Requirements for Residential Plan Review.





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