Can owner 'redline' arch drawing before giving to bidders?

la_koalaFebruary 21, 2011

Hi all,

Many times, I don't know how to ask the question in the "right way", so feel free to correct me, and provide any guidance you feel like sharing. This is my first big remodeling project, and while I've learned a lot with all of your input, I am still a newbie at this (and making mistakes along the way). I'm not sure what the best options are here.

My situation:

- Contracted with a licensed architect to develop a set of construction drawings for a kitchen and bath remodel in an existing house, that could be used to estimate construction costs, obtain permits, and complete construction. (wording in the contract).

- My intention is to do a bid process with three GCs.

- I had a falling out with the architect. The architect has finished the drawings and schedules (printed on the drawings). However, because of how the relationship closed, I feel unable to approach the architect with any changes.

- In writing up the documents for the bid package, I realized I want to change the fan/light combo in the bathroom to separate units. I also want to correct a sentence that's in the Door Schedule (about the finish for the lockset and knob).


In my situation, what are my options for getting the "right picture" for the bid package, so it's clear to the bidders, when architect is no longer onboard the project?

If something's printed within the architect's drawings (like the fan/light combo is on the Electrical Layout) or printed in a Schedule that's on the same sheet as the floor plan, what's the standard protocol I can use to indicate there's an update?

I saw the term "redline" used in descriptions on the Web -- is that the appropriate method? How would I actually *do* it? Write directly on the printed pages?

While I recognize that ideally I'd still have the architect onboard, that won't be possible in this case. As far as a statement of ownership, the contract states that the documents may not be used for any purpose other than the remodel of the house at my address--and that's all I intend to use them for. I just don't know what the least confusing way is to communicate changes like these.

Thanks in advance!


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Depending what you got for documents it is straight forward.
If you were given only paper drawings, take a red pen and line out the items you want to change and write in the new spec. either by adding a new item to the schedule or writing it next to the deleted item. Be sure that any where these change items show up in the drawing that it is also noted,as you mentioned aesthetic changes,different hardware and fixtures. Bottom line make clear to anyone reviewing these drawings,know exactly what they are looking at.
If you got electronic data in the form of a pdf , you can make your changes with a using a generic pdf editor. Your best bet stick with the paper.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 6:15PM
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I had that issue too.... I didnt have falling out as much as I didnt want to deal with him anymore.
The problem I found was that the building department would not accept the plans with written corrections on them.
I had to go back and pay an expensive architect for drawing up my ideas (and having none of his own)
We also had to go back to him when the GC took down the ceiling and found that he did not find what the architect had on his plans and we needed 'direction' from the architect - which was basically a rubber stamp from him for the building dept. grrrrrr.... wish I could have fired him but would have cost too much to start fresh.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:57PM
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If your architect has "stamped" the original set, and YOU make changes, the plans are now not approved by that architect, nor covered by him/her for liability.

Not sure if you are required to have stamped plans to begin or get permits.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 8:54PM
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Thank you all for weighing in!

Bottom line make clear to anyone reviewing these drawings,know exactly what they are looking at.

Yes! You hit the nail on the head--my goal is to make sure it's clear.

juliekcmo, I'm not sure if I'm required to have actual *stamped* plans by our town's building department. (I know I'll have to find that out; while the city's web site is better than it was, it is still hard to find such particular info like that). Is the architect's "stamp" an actual ink stamp? The papers we have from the architect don't have an actual ink stamp. They do have his name and address printed in a box on the right hand side of the pages.

Your point about how changes alter the liability is something that nags at me. While I know that changing a finish from "bronze" to "nickel" is nothing compared to some structural defect, it disturbs me to think that that minor change would mean he wouldn't be liable for something more serious.

judithsara, thank you so much for sharing from your own experience! It sounds like it was a real headache. I could understand if it was a major beam or something, but if it's a location of a light switch or fixture, I'd hate to have to go back and pay another half hour fee to change that. (Even if my architect would take my call--which I'm not sure he would.) Or have to "start fresh"--ouch.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 10:10PM
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Seems to me those questions could easily be answered by the building codes office where you live. They are the approving authority, so should be able to give definat3e answers.

Locally, those types of details are not required on plans. Finish and models of things are not covered in the blueprinst, but rather on a parts or finish plan.

The brand/model of refrigerator is not needed in construction blueprints---only the size.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Thanks handymac for the point about going to the town's building department.

I've been reluctant to go down there because the last time I went down to ask some plumbing questions, the plumbing inspector looked at me like I had grown two heads. That's why I am soooo grateful for GardenWebbers, who will actually be candid enough to state "you're crazy" and go on to tell me why. I want to know the reasons, because I know I don't know much in this process, and every bit of info helps me feel less nervous. And it's so great because now that you've recommended I talk to them, I can feel like I'm supposed to be asking them!

What you say about not putting the brand/model of things on the blueprints makes complete sense to me. However, all along the architect kept asking "what model XXX? what finish?", and he has a box next to the floor plan that has all that stuff listed. _Why_ he did that--only he knows. It's the first time I've been through anything like this and thought this is how it's done.

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:29PM
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not sure if I'm missing the point here or not, since others have comments opposed to my view, but in my town I'll explain how this goes down.

Architect may do up all these technical drawings with doors, electrical diagrams, maybe even spec fixtures. My town only really cares about the structural design, a simple plumbing diagram and a fastener schedule. Everything else is free form.

My architect didn't spec electrical at all, or finishes.

for something as simple as a bath fan, I don't see any problems with penceling in a change on copies given to a GC.

you can ask the GC if the plans need to be amended for the few lighting changes, but considering how often people make lighting changes I would think not. I wouldn't make any marks on the copies that were submitted to the town without asking someone there.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 3:00PM
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Let's make something clear an architect's stamp means nothing unless it is a PE(professional engineer) stamp issued by the state that this person is practicing in. PE stamps are issued for Structural, Electrical, Fire Protection and any other safety related disciplines. In the case of chrisk, the designer isn't interested in the particulars of your house wiring just the aesthetics, that is why you didn't get wiring diagrams. Furthermore , this person is not qualified to provide these documents.Electricians and plumbers are best suited for residential projects. They know the codes and are also licensed.
If you would really like things done right, become your own GC, hire the carpenter, the electrician, the plumber and bid each one out.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 7:57PM
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The most common color code is yellow means take it out, red means add it in,and blue is used for clarifications/notes.
Green is used to mark items that have been checked.

There are other codes, but this combination is very common.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:48AM
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Oh brickeyee, thanks for that info about the color coding!

That will make my life so much easier, and even if just for myself, keep things less confusing as to whether I mean to add something in or take it out.

chrisk327, thank you so much for describing how things go in your town. It further supports what others have said about the importance of my going into the Building Department office and asking the questions directly.

Hi jonnyp, thanks for posting. Do you know if the distinction between PE "stamp" and an architect is the same in all states? I mean, in my state, it seems like the state licenses the architects too. I can go to the state's Web site and do a look up on a person's name and see if they have a license. The state's site uses the same lookup interface whether you are looking up an engineer or an architect. So, I don't know if this is something that's different state to state. I've read the copy of the Building Code that's posted on my state's web site and in one paragraph it mentions "architects and other professionals", which sort of sounds like it's lumping architects and engineers together.

Your recommendation to be my own GC if I want things done right is a great point --I don't know if I have the stamina for doing that! It is such a blessing to have folks like you sharing your knowledge here on GardenWeb. It makes the whole adventure seem less daunting.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 4:34PM
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The two groups generally work together. I can tell you that if you had engineers designing buildings they would tend to be spartan looking.On the other hand if you had only architects designing , you see a lot of beautiful rickety buildings falling all over the place. My understanding is a PE is in charge of safety related items, there is a liability on their part and the state is charged with ensuring that only qualified individuals receive this status.
I have worked with a lot of these guys and I can tell you, architects are a heady bunch and think they deserve the same status as the engineering people. The state could also filling the coffers with the fees they pay yearly, who knows.But in your case as long as you are not substantially changing the original design I wouldn't worry about.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Can I piggy back on this thread?? I also am very disappointed and fed up with my architect.
I cant imagine starting fresh because the project is underway and we really dont need him (if we ever did)
What we do need is the engineer we have made structural changes as the project goes on and we need to get his approval. Unfortunately this all goes through the architect, who adds nothing to the project but charges us an exorbitant fee for his useless time (while also billing for the engineer)
Is there a way to bypass the architect, and go straight to a new engineer for structural approval, without needing new plans drawn up by another architect?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 4:18PM
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"Is there a way to bypass the architect, and go straight to a new engineer for structural approval, without needing new plans drawn up by another architect? "

Just hire another engineer.

It may cost more when the new engineer has to repeat all the calculations though.

I would never put my stamp on someone else's work without checking everything.

Last stamp gets the liability.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Thanks Brickeyee,
Right now I am doing everything not to make more changes so we dont have to deal with him.
I have an add on project that the architect drew up but am hoping to find another engineer to look it over before I submit it for permits I just want to cut my losses with this guy and start fresh.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 11:56PM
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Hi judithsara!

I'm the original poster. I just wanted to share what I've found out in the meantime since my original posting.

All the posters who replied "it's up to the AHJ (= Authority Having Jurisdiction)" are spot on. I went into my city's building department to talk with the building inspector. We haven't gotten to the point of submitting for a building permit yet. I had the architect's drawings and had places in red and yellow (following the color coding that brickeyee mentioned), and asked the inspector if he needs anything more than this. He said "no". I pointed out the place where there is an LVL beam written in the architect's drawing and asked if he needed anything more than this, and he said "no".

Now, I don't know if this is because we're in a rural area, and in another place, one might need more. It might be worth a visit to whatever office it is that you have to get your permits from to see what they'd require from an engineer who would be reviewing your project.

Now, I also called a structural engineer because we do have a beam on our drawings, and he said that getting an independent review is "commonly done". (Well, that was in response to my asking whether what I was asking for was out of the ordinary). And he said that if he had some recommendations that are different than the original, that what he would do is write a letter outlining the recommended changes and stamp the letter, and that would go to the building office.

After talking with the building inspector though, you might find out what level of change on the drawing their office actually requires, and whether you'd need the other engineer.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:07PM
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