Kudos to the Arlington County Building Department

Arlington County Virginia official Seal

As most Arlington residents know all too well now, we are under a statewide shelter-in-place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various types of businesses are exempt from the closure order and deemed essential, based on their necessity to the people or their low exposure potential for the spread of the virus (less than 10 people congregating, etc.).

Cook Bros. and Arlington are on it

Cook Bros takes this seriously and is also subject to many regulatory controls and processes, including building permits and building progress inspections. Fortunately, our Arlington County building department is as progressive as Arlington residents.

Although the Arlington county building department physical offices are currently closed, building permit and inspection processes remain fully active, but in a VIRTUAL manner now! That’s right, crucial construction regulatory processes can continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, safely for all, due to the to the forward thinking of the Arlington County Building Department. 

Here are a few facts about the Arlington County Building Department

Arlington has been processing electronic plan submissions/review and fee payments for several years, in an effort to reduce paper use.  This practice takes on a new meaning in our COVID-19 environment.

Cook Bros helped Arlington Beta test their current system from the very beginning and have been utilizing the electronic platform since they rolled it out, so we are well equipped to efficiently and competently accomplish all requisite permit application and acquisition processes.

Arlington had already been experimenting with virtual inspections for several months before COVID-19 arrived in the USA and had their first internal tests of their system about two months ago.  This forward thinking allowed the Arlington County Building Department to move their inspection operations to a virtual platform efficiently when this became necessary in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic- to keep all builders and inspectors safe.

In the past two weeks (since late March) Arlington has been able to accommodate every inspection request that has been made, completing approximately 1400 virtual inspections during these two weeks according to Shahriar Amiri, Arlington County’s Chief Building Official.

Some reference resources

Information on virtual inspections can be found here: https://building.arlingtonva.us/inspections/virtual-inspections/.  Info about the online permitting system can be found here:  https://building.arlingtonva.us/permits/apply-online/.  General info about the building department and COVID-19 can be found here: https://building.arlingtonva.us/2020/03/permit-office-service-changes-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19/

Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arlington County was asked by the Commonwealth of Virginia to lead a virtual seminar on how-to run and operate a virtual building department. And to share with other building jurisdictions in the area the measures Arlington has already implemented. 160 building officials from all over the country attended, a true validation of both the importance and urgency of this topic as well as Arlington County Building Department’s leadership.

For several years Mr. Amiri has convened a monthly Arlington Contractor’s focus group that Cook Bros’ President and General Manager, Steven Tinter, proudly serves on, to provide feedback and exchange ideas on code changes, code interpretations, processes, etc.  During this COVID-19 pandemic Mr. Amiri has switched these to a virtual platform and has moved them to once a week in order to keep everyone apprised of what is going on in an ever-changing pandemic environment.

Cook Bros and Arlington… “partners”

Cook Bros and the Arlington County Building Department are literally, on the cutting edge in this COVID-19 pandemic and continue to serve and keep people safe.

Stay safe and we will all get thru this difficult period and onto our bright Arlington futures soon. Don’t let cabin fever set in, see how we are handling it here https://cookbros.org/get-outside-sheltering-in-place-arlington/

Rob Cook, owner and co-founder of Cook Bros. Arlington, Virginia
Rob Cook, owner and co-founder of Cook Bros. Arlington, Virginia