Whether you are opening a new business in the City of Alexandria or expanding the physical location of an existing business, it is important to be aware of the City’s build-out requirements. The permitting process may be easier and smoother if you choose architects and contractors who are have done work in the City of Alexandria and are familiar with the State and City regulations and processes. The helpful folks at the Multi-Agency Permit Center will explain the process and requirements to you and your contractor, but you should do some research before you choose your contractor.
When choosing a contractor, be sure that your choice carries the required license for your size and type of project. Contractors in Virginia are regulated by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. As stated on that site, the Board of Contractors licenses businesses engaged in the construction, removal, repair, or improvement of facilities on property owned by others. The Contractors License consists of two parts: the class of license (A, B, or C) which determines the monetary value of contracts or projects that may be performed, and the classification specialty, which determines which type of work is allowed. You should be aware that any job valued at $1,000 or more requires a contractors license. Those who hold a Class C license are permitted for jobs valued between $1,000 and $7,500; those with Class B licenses are permitted for jobs up to $120,000; and contractors for jobs valued at more than $120,000 must hold a Class A license. You can view the state contractor requirements and check the license class of individual contractors on the website of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. There are several documents on that site that can assist you. Each of these documents is recommended reading before you choose a contractor for your small business in Alexandria:
The contractor also needs to have a City of Alexandria business license. Often, the contractor is licensed with the state of Virginia but does not have the required City business license. This can be obtained at the Multi-Agency Permit Center at City Hall.
Of course, in addition to ensuring that your contractor holds the required licenses, you will want to check references, particularly with other local businesses for whom they have done work. Talk with those business owners about the quality of work as well as the timing. Was the work completed on time and on budget? Did the contractor work with the permit office or did the business owner do that themselves? Did the contractor communicate well with the business owner? Did the contractor arrange for City inspections to be done in a timely manner and was the contractor present at those inspections? Overall, would the small business owner hire this contractor again for future work?
Do your research, choose a good contractor and follow up on the progress, and you will be on your way to apply for your Certificate of Occupancy to officially open your new space – congratulations!