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RE: Allocation of Responsibilities (part 1)

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Personally, I don't accept architectural drawings not drawn to scale. I
include language in my contracts that my design is based on to-scale
architectural drawings and advise them that the foundation plan (which is
the only place [most of the time] where I show dimensions) will be
dimensioned associatively from the architectural design. Further, I tell
them that, regardless of what they intended the two lines indicating a wall
to mean, I will interpret them as face of stud or face of masonry. This is
regardless of whether they intended it to be from outside face of finish
(stucco or ?) to inside face of finish (GWB or ?) or not and it's done
regardless of whether the distance between the two lines is 3-1/2", 4",
5-1/2" or 6". I spend significant time in the front end of a project (and in
a new relationship) detailing this issue to them (in specific terms in my
proposals). I won't make them redraw their walls to scale thickness, but I
do advise them what their lines mean to me. Most of the time, I don't have
any problem with this arrangement either with the client, building
department or contractor. And, I have not worked from a paper set of plans
in a long, long time. Maybe I'm just lucky in that regard.

If an architectural client gives me any grief over this (and they have), I
tell them they can have their retainer check back (even though I really hate
giving them back) and tell them "Good Luck". I have passed on some
(seemingly) good projects with "renowned" architectural clients because of
this very reason. I don't regret it for a minute.

Of all the policies I have, this is the one I uphold most regularly,
regardless of the business climate. Yes, if I'm totally out of work and
can't make my house payment, I will turn down a job that is not drawn to
scale by a client who refuses to accept this practice.

Life is too short and I would end up spending too much time fixing things
and being exposed to potential problems because the client is, well, I don't
know how to say it any other way, ignorant.

This decision is not based on some lofty ideals, but real world (bad, very
bad) experiences I have had.

With regards to shop drawings, the reason I don't give my plans to the steel
fabricator is simple; my insurance carrier doesn't like me to do it. I
probably wouldn't do it anyway.

My two cents.

T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
ALLEN DESIGNS (http://www.AllenDesigns.com)
San Juan Capistrano, CA

<SNIP>
:
:
:This is where, in my experience, the problem occurs.  I get a not-to-scale
:drawing from the architect. It happens all the time - the architect
:realizes he needs an extra inche here or there, and changes the dimension
:manually rather than correct his drawing. Better yet - he manually changes
:a dimension because it's showing an odd 16th and he wants it to look
:cleaner, then he goes back later an stretches the drawing to get that extra
:inch or two...but forgets that he's manually edited that dimension. The
:office policy was that the architectural dimensions come straight from God
:himself, and they are the gospel.  I know that my design is complete - as a
:general layout.  An inch or two  will not affect my design - I don't base
:my designs on anything beyond two significant figures in buildings, as too
:much can change between modelling and occupancy.
:
:So my design is good, my plans correctly convey the design intent. But I
:know that there are some dimensions that are off and I can't do a damned
:thing about them. If the fabricator uses my digital plans, there's gonna be
:problems.  This sounds silly, but telling the brass that their project
:architect's building doesn't close falls on deaf ears. They won't take any
:action until it causes a problem (budgets are tight, can't spend time to
:fix things, only to correct them in the field ;-)
:
:This is why we (the structural department) never allowed reproductions of
:drawings - we couldn't trust them ourselves.
:
:Two points on this:
:
:One, we developed an autocad routine to check all dimensions on a drawing -
:it put a green box around every "automatic" dimension, and a red circle
:with a line over every "manually edited" dimension. We caught a LOT of
:fudging with it, but even getting it right one week didn't mean that there
:wouldn't be changes the next week.
:
:Two, the friction this caused between me and management over doing things
:properly was one of the reasons I left my old firm.  In my own practice, I
:offer to use digital plans from architects to save a client money. I make
:it clear that if the plans are not accurately drawn in autocad, or the
:levels do not line up, they will be charged - in both schedule and fee -
:for my drafters to recreate the drawings just as if I'd gotten paper plans.
:
:
:
:Jordan Truesdell, PE, Principal
:
:Truesdell Engineering, Inc.
:Structural Consulting and Design
:434 Bluegrass Trail Studio #23
:Newport, VA 24128-0342
:www.truesdellengineering.com
:
:
:
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