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Issuance of Conditional Certificates of Occupancy Guidelines

The DC Construction Codes give the Code Official the authority to issue a Conditional Certificate of Occupancy (CCO) if the building, structure, or portion thereof may be safely occupied, even if the work required under the issued permits is not complete.

Administrative
As soon as the need for a CCO is recognized, the owner of the property shall draft a letter requesting the CCO and deliver it to the Zoning Administrator and Chief Building Official.  The letter with any supporting documents shall clearly state why the CCO is needed, the issues that prevent the issuance of the full Certificate of Occupancy, and a timeline for the resolution of these issues.  
The property owner shall then submit the following documentation and pay the required fees:

  • Certificate of Occupancy Application - A core and shell COO is required for a new building.
  • Two sets of paper plans illustrating all areas to be occupied and egress paths to a public way and how the construction area will be separated from occupied areas.
  •  An emergency fire plan (if required).
  • Verification that all fire protection systems, where required, are fully functional.
  • Copies of the Inspection Record Cards for the inspections performed on the property.
  • All violations issued have been abated.
  • All permits related to the project have been inspected.
  • Core and shell provisions shall apply.

Building

  • All structural work must be completed and have an approved final inspection.  
  • Where applicable, certifications by the special inspection agency shall be completed and submitted to the Building Code Official for final review and approval.
  • Emergency vehicles, including police, fire, and ambulances, shall have access to the building as required by the DC Construction Codes.
  • Required means of egress must be provided and maintained. The egress routes may not include portions of the structure without a CCO.
  • Prominent warning signs shall be posted informing construction personnel and building occupants of the locations of egress routes and the requirement to maintain the egress routes free from obstruction at all time.
  • The emergency fire plan if required, must be provided to all occupants of the building and posted.
  • Final inspections must be approved by DCRA or Third Party Agency.
  • Where required by code, occupant load signage shall be posted in conspicuous locations.
  • Required accessible components shall be inspected and approved.  

Fire Protection Systems

  • All fire protection systems, including stand pipe and alarm systems must be completed, fully operable, tested, and approved in the area of requested occupancy. If the building has a central monitoring system or a firefighter' communication system for fire emergencies, it must be fully complete, tested and approved.  
  • Where a portion of the building is still under construction, provisions shall be made to ensure safeguards during construction are maintained.

Electrical

  • The electrical system serving the area to be occupied must be complete and approved.
  • The standby power system for the building must be installed, tested, and approved.  

Mechanical/HVAC

  • The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system serving the area to be occupied must be completed and approved.
  • Smoke evacuation systems in areas to be occupied must be tested and approved.  

Plumbing

  • All plumbing serving the proposed area to be occupied must be completed, tested, and approved.

Public Space

  • Sidewalks, driveways, and all work in the public right-of-way must be sufficiently completed to provide site access and egress with appropriate barriers, signage, and security.  

Access for Individuals with Disabilities
•    The accessible route to the occupied area, and the plumbing fixtures to serve the area shall be complete and approved.
•    Accessible parking spaces shall be provided and signs installed.

Green Building

  • For Green Building Act (GBA) projects, verify that LEED Online or Enterprise Green Communities access is granted to DCRA at green.building@dc.gov and the project is clearly on track to certify within two years. Privately-funded GBA projects shall complete and record the Green Building Act “financial security.” For more information please visit Green Building website.
  • Green Construction Code (GCC) projects must be approved for both a Rough-in and Final Green Inspection and provide all applicable documents. GCC inspections must be conducted by a DCRA building inspector. GCC inspections must be conducted by a DCRA building inspector or an approved Third Party Agency specifically approved for Green and Energy Inspections. For more information please visit Green Building website.

Zoning

  • A zoning inspection will be required for the Core and Shell C of O.
    • In cases where parking and loading is required, the number of spaces needed to satisfy the parking and loading requirements for a partial use of the building must be provided. These spaces must be paved and striped prior to the inspection.
  • For a development with an Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) requirement, a proportion of market and IZ units must be provided, and the C of O application should specifically list the IZ units by unit number.
  • If the property is subject to a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) or Zoning Commission (ZC) Order, the property must comply with the conditions of that approval. A zoning inspection is required to verify parking and loading compliance with BZA and ZC Orders, if applicable, prior to approval of the CCO.

Review by the Zoning Administrator and Building Official
The Zoning Administrator and Code Official will review the package requesting the CCO. Either of the reviewing officials can deny the request for a CCO. Either of the officials can attach conditions to the CCO including but not limited to:

  • Fire watch
  • Change in occupant  loads
  • Limited or no alcohol use
  • Occupancy only for stocking and set up
  • Specified duration
  • Any other conditions deemed necessary

The property will be subject to inspection at any time it is covered by the CCO. If any of the conditions are found to be contrary to what was represented or not being met, the CCO will be subject to revocation pursuant to the DC Construction Codes and the owner will be subject to administrative and civil penalties.