Sign and seal


I have a client who wants a signed and sealed floor plan, but does not want to pay for engineering services (only architectural).  The floor plan is a requirement of his lease, and the drawing would satisfy the lease requirement.  It would essentially be a design level drawing or layout plan, and it would have been prepared by a licensed architect.  

But, I know that the work also includes plumbing, mechanical and electrical work, and the county requires drawings that are signed and sealed by registered engineers in order to obtain a building permit.  Can I sign and seal drawing that only tell a small portion of the story...drawings that I know have not been coordinated?  What are the liability issues involved with this?

Part of me thinks it is totally shady and that I should drop the job and run.  And part of me thinks, "what's the big deal?"  It is a layout plan and nothing more.

Jul 14, 13 8:31 pm
You need signed and sealed arch drawings to get a building permit. Will these layout drawings be enough to build it, at least the arch portion?

Go have a conversation with the building dept. see what they will require. I just went through a similar process, and the building dept agreed that we needed stamped arch and HVAC but elec and plumbing could just pull a permit due to limited scope.

Then, have a conversation w your client about the result of the conversation. Perhaps can be a bargaining chip to get the consultants.

You can certainly stamp your own trade w/o the others, but your client might not be able to get a mech, plumbing or elec permit w/o the other trades drawings stamped.

Many small projects don't get stamped or engineered designs - the subs do the "design" and get the permits.

Only liability is if you do a design that isn't up to code.
Jul 15, 13 10:46 am

What gruen said.  Put a big note on your signed plans saying electrical etc. trades are responsible for design and construction of their own scope of work and are required to pull permits as needed or something like that.

Jul 15, 13 12:29 pm

Seems to me that this is not an omission in the liability sense as the mechanicals are outside of your scope of work. Be sure your agreement spells that out.

Remember: the client is always right. If (when) he gets stalled he can either badger the subs (not an auspicious way to retain contractors) or come crying to you for more detailed plans.

I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. A job is a job and there are lots of bad clients. Make sure you get paid in full before delivery. This guy smells bad from here.

A "NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION" stamp can be very useful ...

Doesn't it suck to have to think this way about business?

Jul 15, 13 11:21 pm

i don't think there is anything wrong with this.  do you know who the contractor will be?  for a small tenant, i think it's common that the MEP trades provide their own engineers, and the contractor can coordinate what needs to be done with the city.  the contractor has to pick up the permit anyway, so that sort of coordination is better left to them.

if you know there is going to be mechanical, plumbing or electrical work, you can indicate on your drawing where with a note that says something to effect of 'there is plumbing here, and someone other than me might need to figure it out.'  that's more or less what donna was saying i think.  if the contractor and city agree what's on your drawings is adequate information, then that should be fine.  otherwise, if you're coordinating with the contractor and trust them, you can have a note that says something to the effect of limiting mechanical to relocating diffusers or electrical to relocating lights or something like that.  (if you're fairly certain that's the case)

the MEP stuff in a tenant as a part of a larger building is generally quite simple.  there just isn't room to screw with mechanical units or add transformers or anything like that, unless there is some special need to do so.  they aren't going to be changing plumbing outside the tenant space or vent stacks or anything.

Jul 16, 13 10:30 am
The only weird thing I see is if the client wants to pay you for "less than SD level work" but wants it stamped. IE: you are asked to do a set of drawings that couldn't be permitted but still stamp them. That wouldn't work.
Jul 16, 13 8:25 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Jul 17, 13 11:33 am

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