PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods

PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods is a program designed to help preserve, renew and enhance the existing homes and neighborhoods in Virginia Beach.
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PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods provides a variety of free resources and tools about home maintenance and improvements you can access so that:

  • Help to assist you to develop a schedule for general home maintenance
  • You can develop home improvement plans easier
  • You can enhance your home while maintaining neighborhood character and design
  • Preservation efforts, such as the reinvestment of resources into neighborhood activities as a whole, improve the neighborhood's physical condition and its residents' quality of life

Any city’s success and vitality depends on its homes and neighborhoods. Vibrant neighborhoods with well-maintained homes are a key part of our high quality of life.

Since almost all of the land in Virginia Beach is already developed, preserving our existing housing stock is very important if the city is to remain a "Community for a Lifetime". With half of the city’s existing housing units more than 25 years old, we must maintain and preserve our homes and neighborhoods for current and future homeowners.

Many of the city’s homes are in good repair. Proactively preserving our homes and neighborhoods will help keep them this way. If we don’t, we risk having a city with homes that are irrelevant for future generations, deteriorating and blighted homes that lead to costly repairs, and a low quality of life.

Each Virginia Beach neighborhood has distinct qualities that make it unique. We need to preserve these characteristics that make your neighborhood special.

Specialty Design Considerations


In order to transform your home into a structure that is easy to navigate for all, there are some specific guidelines that facilitate mobility, comfort and the ability to complete everyday tasks.

When the entry into a building is not level with the ground outside, a ramp should replace or accompany stairs that lead up from the ground to the entry. Ramps should have a grade no steeper than 1:16 to 1:20.

Bathrooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to enter and exit efficiently. An accessible bathroom should have an open 5 foot radius unobstructed by walls, toilet and cabinet bases and shelving. Showers and tubs should not include steps and should be easily accessible as well.

Doorways and Passageways
Paths and walkways through the home must be consistently 32 inches wide. While open, doorways must allow 32 inches of open space between the face of the door and the opposite frame to allow for the passage of wheelchairs.

Countertops and tables should be no higher than 36 inches from the ground. All people should be able to both see and reach across these surfaces.

 Green Building

The construction and life cycle of a building greatly effects the environment in which we live. Building requires large amounts of energy and raw materials and produces large quantities of waste. Green building and design works to reduce waste and use energy, water and materials more efficiently to decrease the negative impact of the built environment on the earth and human health. This type of building and design initiative aims to create built environments that are livable, safe, productive and comfortable. By making your home more sustainable, the livability and marketability of the home is increased while the negative impacts to the environment are reduced.

This section provides information about how to incorporate green, or sustainable, tactics into their home improvement project. Green building, homeownership and economic development will all be discussed. Going green can help with the new construction and rehabilitation of residential and commercial buildings. This is a key element in the economy and housing markets. Buildings become less costly to operate and maintain by making them more energy and resource efficient.

What is Green Design?

Green building is an approach to design and construction that minimizes or eliminates the negative effects of buildings on the environment and the people who occupy them. It focuses on a broad spectrum of concepts, including sustainable site planning; energy efficiency; water; material; and resource conservation and indoor air quality. Green building considers the entire life cycle of a structure and its components. Green buildings can look the same as a traditionally‐built building but use different methods to achieve their goal. Green buildings may have metal or vegetation‐covered roofs to reduce heat gain, walls and floors made of recycled or locally harvested materials, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that rely on natural systems, such as solar or wind energy. Sustainable buildings also make use of natural light to reduce electricity needs. The buildings are also oriented to maximize use of the sun throughout the year.

Do Green Buildings Cost More?
Not necessarily. In the past going green was not always practical for the average American home buyer, but as green practices have become more widespread, specialized material prices are falling and designers and developers are learning how to apply green principles in cost‐effective ways. In addition, it is commonly found that going green will save homeowners more money in the long run in terms of energy costs.

Why Build Green?

Green buildings can lead to a cleaner environment, better health and a stronger economy.  Buildings consume two-thirds of all electricity used in the United States.  Green buildings can reduce energy consumption of an individual structure by up to 40%.  Building construction and demolition create 136 million tons of waster per year.  Green buildings encourage recycling and reuse of materials to reduce waste in our landfills.  Most people spend hours in buildings where the air inside can be worse than outdoors.  Green buildings make interiors cleaner, healthier and more comfortable.  The benefits of green building are numerous and together they create a convincing case for changing the way buildings in the United States are constructed and renovated.

Six Reasons to Go Green

  1. Reduced energy and water consumption
  2. Lower initial construction cost
  3. Higher building valuation
  4. Increased local economic growth
  5. Improved occupant health
  6. Improved environmental health

Green Renovations

Five Areas of Concentration

  1. Environmental Considerations (Health, Air Quality, Waste Water, Storm Water Management)
  2. Waste Reduction
  3. Pollution Prevention
  4. Water Conservation
  5. Energy Conservation

Green building/products focuses on energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, resource efficiency, site management, and water conservation.

Quick Tips
This list provides basic suggestions and recommendations for homeowners who are interested in incorporating sustainable techniques into their desired project.

  • Research ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse where possible
  • Explore ways to reduce energy usage, waste, and water consumption
  • Reduce exposure of hazardous materials (chemicals/waste products that cannot be recycled/disposed of without special handling procedures)
  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Program thermostat settings
  • Plug air leaks
  • Choose energy star appliances
  • Explore solar opportunities
  • Water use reduction
  • Identify green power opportunities
  • Choose low-voc products
  • Use wood alternatives or wood products certified by Forrest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Provide shade and wind protection by planting trees
  • Use native plantings
  • Research how green building can save costs

 Home Automation

As  society  becomes  more  technologically  advanced,  technology  plays  an  ever‐growing  role  in  our  personal  lives  and  even  our  homes.   Around  the  world,  home  automation  is  becoming  a  common  practice,  as  more  and  more  people  are  using  home  automation  to  control  the  systems  that  make  their  homes  more  comfortable.

Home  automation  works  by  controlling  multiple  systems  in  our  homes  that  do  the  jobs  that  we  would  normally  do  manually.  Home  automation  takes  care  of  a  number  of  activities  in  the  house.   For  example,  home  automation  can  be  used  to  turn  lighting  and  HVAC  systems  on  and  off  on  a  timer.   Home  security  and  sprinkler  systems  can  also  be  automated.   More  advanced  operations  can  be  carried  out  as  well,  like  sensing  the  presence  of  a  person  in  a  room  or  adjusting  the  volume  of  the  music  according  to  the  day  of  the  week  and  the  time.

In  many  ways,  it  is  much  more  efficient  and  cost‐effective  to  install  home  automation  in  a  house  during  construction  as  many  systems  require  room  above  ceilings  and  behind  wall  in  order  to  save  space.   However,  homes  that  have  already  been  built  can  still  incorporate  home  automation  in  a  less  intrusive  way  through  wireless  systems.

 Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is the key to reducing electricity and gas usage and saving money.  By making a number of preparations and adjustments to your home, you can help improve both the state of the environment and even your finances.

Energy efficient windows

  • Incorporate low-E glass coatings, glass filler between layers and composite framing materials; Energy Star products (windows, doors, skylight)
  • Keep temperature of home consistent; comfortable
  • Lower energy bills and saves money
  • Reduce green house gas emissions

Energy Star appliances and bathroom fixtures that save water

  • Replace faucets and toilets with fixtures that use less water
  • Electronics such as televisions, radios, telephones and computers use less electricity than traditional appliances
  • Appliances such as washers and dryers can save both energy and water


  • Sealing and insulating basements and attics help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool or heat your home
  • Insulating walls and sealing openings, such as doorways, windows and garage doors, prevent drafts which increase energy use


  • Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs

Unplug any and all appliances that are not in use; even when they are off, appliances can still use electricity


In  every  home,  children  are  exposed  to  a  number  of  dangers  that  often  go  unnoticed  by  adults.   Even  though  parents  and  guardians  do  their  best  to  protect  their  children,  it  is  important  that  they  do  their  best  to  make  the  home  environment  the  safest  environment  possible,  no  matter  the  age  of  the  child.

Below are some quick topics that can help you decide what strategies you can you use to protect the children in your home.  

  • Attach safety catches to drawers, doors and cabinets that hold dangerous items such as knives, chemicals and medications.
  • Install smoke alarms in every room of the house.  Develop fire escape methods and instruct children on how to follow them in the case of an emergency.
  • Replace blinds that have parts that are choking hazards with those that do not.  Long, looped cords can be cut and replaced with tassels.
  • Door knob covers and safety gates are a must to keep children from roaming into dangerous spaces, onto stairs or out of the adult's line of sight.  Pressure gates are less effective than attached gates, and gates with large openings can be a danger to small children if their heads can fit through them.
  • Latches and safety guards and safety netting can be used on windows, balconies, patios and decks to prevent falling.  Make sure that at least one window of a child's bedroom is operable in case of a fire.
  • All sharp or rough corners and edges of doors, walls and furniture should be covered to prevent injury.  Corner guards are inexpensive and can match the decor of almost any home.


Tips for Adaptive Home Improvement 

As  we  age,  our  needs  change  and  so,  too,  must  our  living  environments.   This  is  particularly  the  case  for  the  elderly  population,  whether  they  live  alone  or  with  the  help  of  another  person.   As  a  result,  the  homes  of  our  senior  citizens  must  be  altered  to  make  living  safer  and  more  comfortable  for  both  our  elderly  family  and  friends  and  any  caretakers.   Below  is  a  list  of  home  improvements  that  can  make  this  life  transition  a  smooth  one.

  1. Pathways  and  areas  where  medication  is  dispensed  or  administered  must  be  well  lit,  whether  they  are  used  by  senior  citizens  or  their  caretakers.   A  variety  of  lighting  can  be  used,  including,  but  not  limited  to,  ceiling  lights  or  night  lights.
  2. Level  changes  and  travel  up  and  down  stairs  should  be  minimal.   Primary  living  spaces  (including  bedrooms  and  bathrooms)  should  be  on  the  main  floor.   Necessary  changes  in  level  should  not  occur  throughout  the  day  and  floors  should  prevent  slipping.
  3. First  aid  kits,  a  phone  and  all  emergency  phone  numbers  to  police,  medical  assistance  and  fire  control  should  be  posted  in  a  place  that  is  easy  to  reach.   Emergency  call  systems  may  be  a  useful  addition  as  well.   Pathways  should  be  clear  and  without  carpet  or  loose  wires.
  4. Railings,  grab  bars  and  ramps  should  be  installed  throughout  the  home  to  aid  in  both  day‐to‐day  circulation  and  emergency  evacuation.   A  plan  for  disaster  and  fire  escape  should  be  developed  and  communicated  to  both  the  elderly  person(s)  and  his  or  her  caretaker. 
  5. If  care  providers  are  to  live  in  the  home,  a  room  for  sleeping  and  desk  space  for  administrative  duties  are  necessary  so  that  the  patient  and  his  or  her  paperwork  can  be well  taken  care  of. 
  6. Door knobs may be replaced with levers to facilitate the opening and closing of doors. In addition, appliances and furniture should be both easy to use and low-maintenance.

Source:  Top 10 Home Improvement Tips for Senior Citizens

Contact Information

 Virginia Beach Pattern Book

​If you're looking to renovate, remodel or update your home, the Virginia Beach Pattern Book is your guide to help make your project a success. Use the Pattern Book to find remodeling tips, "greening" suggestions and other important information specific to your home and neighborhood. Whether you're an experienced professional, preparing for your first home renovation, or interested in the city's housing styles and architectural culture, the Virginia Beach Pattern Book is your resource.