2009 Virginia Residential Code – Significant Changes

All building permits received on or after March 1, 2012, are required to conform to the
2009 Virginia Residential Code (VRC)

The following is a summary of some of the most significant changes found in the 2009 VRC.

This summary is not intended to be all-inclusive.

The VRC is made up of the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) and amendments to the IRC as adopted by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The complete VRC code is available for purchase in book format through this website: www.ICCSAFE.org, then click on “store,” then “state codes”, then “Virginia.”

It is available for viewing only online at http://ecodes.biz/product.cfm?category_id=94.

Also, the Va. Amendments to the IRC are available for download at:

A more thorough PowerPoint presentation of the code changes is available on our website at:

For further information or for specific requirements, please consult a member of our staff.

R108.2: Increases the size of one-story detached residential accessory structures (tool and storage sheds, playhouses, etc.) that are exempted from permitting from 150 ft2 to 200 ft2.

Chapter 2: New definition: Habitable Attic: Establishes that a “habitable attic” is not to be counted as a story; is to be designed for a min. 30 psf. floor loading; must be accessed by a code-complying stair; and must be equipped with a smoke detector hardwired with a battery backup and interconnected with other detectors in the system.

R305.1: Clarifies where the minimum ceiling height (6’-8”) is measured at fixtures and at showerheads.

R308.4, Exception #5: Requires glazing in walls/enclosures within 60” horizontally of the water’s edge of hot tubs, whirlpools and bathtubs to have tempered glazing.

R311.1: Requires an unobstructed egress path from all portions of a dwelling without going through a garage.

R311.2: Requires that the required egress door must have a min. net clear opening width of 32” from the stop to the face of the door when the door is open at a 90o angle.

R311.3.2: At exterior doors required to have a landing, the landing must be no more than 7-3/4” below the top of the threshold.

R311.7.4: All measurements for stairs (treads, risers, etc.) are to be taken exclusive of carpets, rugs or runners, i.e., to the hard surface of the floor or step.

R311.7.4: Gooseneck and bend fittings for handrails may exceed the maximum 38”handrail height at the start of a flight of stairs, at a transition to a guardrail, or to provide a continuous transition between flights.

R312.1: Clarifies that guards must be located along open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, ramps and landings, that are located more than 30” measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36” horizontally to the edge of the open side.

R312.2: Where fixed seating is used as part of a guardrail, the guardrail height shall be min. 36”, measured from the seat elevation.

R314.2: Requires that household fire alarm systems shall comply with NFPA 72, provide the same level of protection as required by Sect. R314 for smoke alarms, and be a permanent fixture of the dwelling unit.

R315: Requires that for new construction, an approved carbon monoxide (either hard-wired or plug-in) alarm shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel-fired appliances are installed, and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

R317: Requires that wood siding, sheathing or framing installed with a clearance of less than 2” vertically from concrete steps, porch or patio slabs, or similar must be decay resistant.

R319.1: New dwellings must be equipped with address numbers with a min. 4” height and a ½” minimum stroke width, placed in a position that is plainly legible from the street or road fronting the property.

R329: Dwellings not equipped with an automatic sprinkler system shall have a portable fire extinguisher with min. rating of 2-A: 10-B: C rating installed in the kitchen area.

R403.1.6: Anchor bolts are required to be grouted solid in the cells of masonry units, and are no longer allowed to be installed in the mortar joints in the wall. Anchor bolts are required to have min. ½” clearance around the bolt for mortar or concrete placement.

R403.1.6: Where interior braced wall panels are located on monolithic slabs, anchor bolts are required, and thereby a minimum slab thickness of 8” is required for anchor bolt embedment.

R404.1.2: Provides new tables for both horizontal and vertical reinforcing in concrete foundation walls.

R404.1.3: Where the first floor framing system is parallel to a basement wall supporting more than 4’ of unbalanced fill, lateral support for the top of the wall is to be provided by blocking in the floor framing, or an engineered design for the wall is required.

R404.1.5.2: Reinforcement of concrete foundation walls with a brick veneer shelf greater than 24” in height shall be sized and spaced based on the thinner portion of the wall.

R408.3.1: For conditioned crawl spaces, the vertical face of the sill plate must be clear and unobstructed, with a 1-in. min. / 2-in. max. termite inspection gap immediately below on the interior of the foundation wall.

R502.7: For engineered wood products, requires that bridging for lateral support and lateral restraint at supports shall be in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

R506.2: A vapor retarder is required beneath concrete slabs of all attached garages.

Table R602.3: “Fastener Schedule for Structural Members has been expanded to address: built-up studs; corner studs; Rim joist/blocking to sill plate; gypsum board sheathing; and wood structural panel sheathing.

Table 602.3(5): Clarifies that 2×4 studs at 16” o.c. spacing are permitted to be used to support two floors and a roof-ceiling assembly or a habitable attic assembly no more than 32’ in length.

R602.6.1: Straps used for repair of top plates must extend a min. of 6 in. past each side of a hole or notch and can now be fastened using 10d, 1-1/2” joist hanger nails.

R602.10 through R602.12: The wall bracing sections have been completely revised, and now require that methods, braced wall lines, braced wall panels, and calculations be specified on the plans. There is a Power-Point presentation available on our website addressing wall bracing requirements that provides more information.

R612: The manufacturer’s written installation instructions must be provided on site for each window and door.

R703.2: A water resistive barrier is required on all exterior walls, unless excepted by Table R703.4.

R703.7.3: Addresses requirements for lintels supporting masonry veneer as follows: Specifies max. span of lintels (18’-3”); Specifies reinforcement of masonry over lintel; Specifies anchorage of veneer to structure by metal ties; Maximum distance separating veneer and sheathing (1”)

R703.12: When manufactured adhered veneer is specified on plans, two copies of manufacturer’s written installation instructions shall be submitted with the permit application.

R807: Clarifies that access to an attic space is required if the vertical height measured from the top of the ceiling framing member to the underside of the roof framing member is > 30” for 30 ft2 or more. There must also be a min. 30” vertical clearance above the access.

R905.2.4.1: Asphalt shingles must be tested in accordance with ASTM D7158 or D3161and be so labeled.

R905.2.8.3: Sidewall flashing shall be done using step-flashing that is a minimum of 4 inches high and 4 inches wide. At the end of the vertical sidewall, the flashing shall be turned out to direct water away from the wall onto the roof or gutter.

R1001.8 & R1003.12: Medium-duty refractory mortar conforming to ASTM C199 shall be used to install firebrick in the firebox of fireplaces, to parge the smoke chamber of the fireplace, and to install clay flue liners in the chimney.

Table N1102.1.1: The U factor for fenestration has been changed from .4 to .35 for windows and doors in this zone.

N1102.2.3: Access hatches and doors from conditioned to unconditioned spaces (e.g., attics and crawl spaces, including pull-down stairs) are required to be weather-stripped and insulated to the level of the surrounding surfaces.

N1102.4.2: Building envelope air tightness and insulation installation shall be determined to comply with code energy testing by either testing by a third party or by visual inspection in accordance with this section.