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What Does the Phrase Sealed Drawings Mean?

| 10/1/2010 4:41:01 PM

Tags: building,

The building department where I am building requires sealed drawings. What does this mean?    

More and more, building inspectors around the country are requiring that construction drawings, or “blueprints,” (which are rarely blue anymore) for residences be sealed by a licensed architect or engineer. This licensed professional must review, and in some cases supervise the drawing of, these documents. They then put their professional seal on them. This means they take full responsibility for all the information provided. If the building is built as drawn and sealed, any failure or defect that shows up during or after the home is constructed is their responsibility. This is also as close as we get to an assurance that the building is designed to perform under the conditions of its location and use. This sealing and assumption of responsibility has been a requirement for a long time in commercial construction. Slowly but surely, it is making its way into the homebuilding business. Check with your local building department to get the requirements for the area in which you plan to build before any design work is started.

Dan Trimble and Dan Griffin, owners and operators of Timber Frame Services

Christopher Haley
10/3/2010 9:21:33 AM

Depending on where you build you can sometimes avoid needing sealed prints by building under a certain square footage. In my town, any residence under 1500 square feet does not need to be sealed. While it is important to build safely, getting plans sealed can be financial burden for a DIY'er. Local building code enforcers are usually happy to work with you for free on your plans to help any issues during your build (It's part of there job).

10/2/2010 10:03:22 AM

Thank you very much for your article. It helps people understand the role of engineers and architects. I would like to make a comment about the following statement: "If the building is built as drawn and sealed, any failure or defect that shows up during or after the home is constructed is their responsibility" That would be large responsibility indeed! While engineers and architects assume a great deal of liability for their work, they could never assme responsibility for "any failure or defect that shows up". The liability of architects and engineers, like that of all professionals and trades, is generally limited to the work that they performed. That work is expected to meet generally understood parameters of quality and technical accuracy.

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