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Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Recently I have been asked to sign an Electronic Data Transfer Agreement in order to receive CAD drawings from an architect. This is the second time I have been asked to sign such an agreement. In short, the agreement says that the drawings are for reference only an the architect has no responsibility if the information contained with the drawings is correct. Huh????? how am I suppose to design a building if your drawings are for reference only.

What do others do in this instance? Seems like I am forced to sign their agreement or not get any help from their CAD files.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

It sounds like the agreement we ask contruction contractors to sign when they want our drawings for their use. (Sometimes we even make them pay.)

Perhaps it indicates that the architect looks at you as just another contractor rather than a fellow professional. Ugh.

Maybe you need to have a talk with their top brass.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Maybe even have a talk with your insurance company.

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

We have something like this, but it's phrased such that the CAD itself is not guaranteed to be correct. Anything that's dimensioned or otherwise notated in paperspace is right, anything else is just for your information and you'll need to decide if you're comfortable with it. Basically, the actual issued drawing is the master document. If you're doing something important verify it off of that.

This is simply because the final drawing gets checked. The engineer or architect or other responsible profession is only checking the actual physical drawing, not the electronic CAD file. Even a drafting check isn't going to check all the possible things that could be subtly drafted wrong.

If something's called up as a W310 but scaled in a detail somewhere as a W250 I want something to point at if someone decides to blindly grab that detail out of a CAD drawing and use it as the basis for their HVAC detailing. I also don't want people measuring my conceptual connection details and things like that.

It's probably different if you're doing stuff with BIM or combined models where the model is the real deliverable.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

In this particular instance the Arch is using a BIM model. We have had a hard time getting him to get us the correct information as we are not using BIM to draw our portion of the project. In one instance it took us 2 days,12 emails and two phone calls to get the architect to cut a section through a shelf that he wanted poured in the foundation. Once we got the section I figured out what he wanted in about 5 seconds, however the limits of the shelf took another day and 5 more emails and 2 more phone conversations. Oh, and the shelf is detailed wrong on his drawings after all of this.

My point is, if I can't find it on your drawings how am I suppose to detail the structure properly on my drawings which everyone is going to use to build off of.... and how is the contractor suppose to build this in the field. So in the end I suppose to sign this paper relieving the architect from the responsibility of giving up incorrect drawings? That just doesn't make any sense to me.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

This is just one of the apparently unsolved problems with BIM.

The architects's agreement is, er, architected, for the 'old' situation, where the signed and sealed paper print governs, whereas, in theory, with BIM, the model governs.

Perhaps your lawyer needs to be talking to the architect's lawyer.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

BIM or 2d cad.... If the drawings are wrong they are wrong either way. I suppose I may just not sign and let the architect answer all of my questions until he gets sick of me asking and gives me his drawings.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

I haven't seen this from an architect. My first reaction, like yours, would be, "okay, give me the drawings with everything dimensioned and then I'll start work." Usually, I'm laying out foundations on CAD backgrounds that haven't been dimensioned, so this would be a pleasant change.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

The real problem with situations like this is if the Architect is your client. Otherwise it is as per all others' comments: Simply demand to be treated like a collegial professional, or ask for the fully dimensioned drawings from which to start work. Make sure the inevitable and significant delays are documented in writing, e-mail as a convenient minimum.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Huh, that's kind of funny, because to be ISO compliant, we generally refer to the electronic data as being the correct one, while paper could be easily outdated in mere seconds.

I would guess that the architect simply doesn't know how to do the BIM data correctly.

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RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Just wait for drawings from them then, make it clear that its their fault your being delayed.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

I can't really wait for the drawings from them as we have been working on the project for over a month and it is due on Friday. We have been asking for this information for over a month and the arch has refused to give us any information other than PDF drawings of specific areas of concern. For this project I have only seen two elevations of the building and not all four. They refuse to give us topography data to set our foundation depths opting for telling us what to do on a PDF drawing. In this instance I look like a jerk because I am refusing to sign and am being singled out as the bad guy by the owner. The architect being 2000 miles away from the project is only amplifying the problems.

I'm not concerned about repeat work with the owner as I am beginning to see how hard they are to work with.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

You have legitimate reasons not to sign. Delays are not your fault in such a circumstance, but that won't stop an owner from suing you.

I don't envy your situation, as you're basically out of time and needed to put everyone on notice weeks ago...

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

I was fine until the architect and owner made major changes to the building yesterday.

I guess I am just a whiner. I am now being told that if I don't sign the agreement and our drawings don't match the arch drawings that I will be at fault.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Well, the other option is to sign it, design the best you can, and then send the drawings out "NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION" and cloud everything that you are concerened with and put "ARCH TO VERIFY". If your not worried about repeat work, cover your ass. There might not be an I in team, but there sorta is a me.

I see the same thing. I had a guy from my own company ask 'why I need a full set of drawings, you have what is related to the bridge, so who cares"

Turns out the grading plan, profile drawings, etc are important. Who knew, certainly not the sales guy.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Yeah, wow, that's a crummy situation the architect has put you in. Ztengguy seems to have the best suggestion in my limited opinion. Wouldn't hurt to make sure your complaints are documented as others mentioned and just cover yourself as much as you can.

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Funny thing is that I share all of my drawings with them.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

We share our drawings too. If you cant stand behind your product, dont produce. If someone takes your drawing and modifies it, prints it out, and tries to pull a fast one, We have records of the drawings we send out for approval, construction, etc. Its on them then.

If someone wants to use my details, GREAT! that means its a good detail!

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

We typically have these agreements with contractors and owners that want our electronic files, but not fellow design team members.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Maybe because they were not responsible for retaining my services they think that I am a contractor and not a team member.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Personally, I'd document to the hilt, give them a timeline, and put the project down if I did not receive thee information needed to do the project. It is not your job to do the Architect's job for him. I'd also CC the client with any correspondence.

Oh, and if the Architect does not think that you are part of the team, but the owner does, just communicate with the owner. Things will change one way or the other.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Yeah, this could be a relatively easy sell to the owner to get him to strongarm the architect a little. Frame it as the architect refusing to give you verified information. This isn't you refusing to sign something. It's the architect being unwilling to check and stand behind their work.

Hell, if you're seperately contracted, get the owner to intervene as the intermediary in distributing these documents. They should be able to demand some kind of proper non-bullshit issuance for design. They need to issue some frozen baseline for design, be it a model or drawings.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

I would request a fully dimensioned set of drawings from the Architect, through the Owner, and advise them that the lack of information is delaying the project.


RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

If major changes were made, then I would advise them that there will be a fee for this additional work, and there could be additional time required. My earlier comment about asking for hard copy of drawings would be in writing.


RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

The architect probably figures he ought to be holding your contract!

How did we even end up down that road where we all work for the architect?

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

Because clients respond to the sell, and don't want to hear "no" or "that's cost prohibitive".... As a result, the Architects lead and the projects virtually all go over budget.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

If the CAD technician working for the architect understood what is necessary for the building layout, AND if the architect also understood that his/her CAD technician needed time and direction to produce a workable drawing, all would be good and the paper drawings could be held as the standard.

Since the proliferation of CAD, I have maintained that there should be one additional test before any design professional is granted a license: Take your PAPER drawing and a tape measure into the field and lay out the work WITHOUT referring back to your CAD model. If the paper drawing provides adequate information and you can indeed do the layout, then you pass the test.

I recently had a provide where the architect provided an angle from a main (orthogonal) grid line to locate a skewed grid line. No where in the drawings was there any hint as to where the skewed line might intersect the other grid line. Yet in order to obtain the contact drawings in CAD format, a similar agreement had to be signed AND the specifications were clear that ONLY the paper drawings were to be considered correct. The example I cite is just one out of dozens of layout conundrums that the project presented. And I was only working on the foundation to produce layout drawings for the concrete contractor. Somehow it got built, but I'm sure at great cost to many of the subs on the job.

Structures Consulting
Northeast USA

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

I know this is an old post, but I feel like there are several factors at play here which are getting overlapped.

1. You need Arch drawings to do work. It is not common to sign releases between team members on the design side; however, since your contract is with the owner, I can kind of see why the Arch is requiring this - because they dont have a contract with you. In my humble opinion, I wouldn't read into the release too much. It's CYA for the Arch who sounds like they are not up to speed with the rest of the team. They should actually be ahead of everyone else and coordinating all efforts, that's their job.

2. If you have a contract with the owner, that is who you should be communicating with. All requests for information should go through them since they are your client. It is therefore their responsibility to get you what you need when you need it, which leads to #3.

3. You need to be clear from the beginning what you need and when you need it. This is a VERY common challenge in our industry. Architects who only gives pieces of the drawing set and don't give a full set or important sheets (ie sections) until the week of the due date. This is something you have to watch for and protect yourself against. If you don't draw a boundary of what you expect with your client (see #2), then delay in getting information will eat you alive. And it's kind of your fault for not being more clear and firm in the first place.

4. It is also critical to, somehow, quantify how many design changes/iterations are in your fee. Again, this is pre-planning stuff and you should be watching for this and playing defense to protect yourself. Any good consultant worth their weight on a team is understanding of design developments and even significant changes during the design phase. But it very much depends on the level of communication within the team, the leadership of the Architect and your relationship with the Architect/Owner. Good relationships respect your time and communicate well. Bad relationships don't. Sounds like you are in the latter category from the one-sided picture you have shared. Either way, what you will put up with depends on your fee (which hopefully has room for this type of thing), your relationships, how you are treated and the level of hard work you are willing to put forth in order to be seen as a responsive team member for consideration on future projects. We get last minute changes all the time and handle them differently depending on the client.

Sounds like your deadline was last week, but hopefully this gives a little insight into the multitude of complex factors I feel are at play here.

RE: Electronic Data Transfer Agreement

mtn nailed it. sounds like there has definitely been some communication break downs and perhaps lines of communication have been crossed. good communication and coordination usually takes care of this, but that requires a good project manager to make it happen. generally the architect acts as project manager, but it sounds as if they do not have a strong manager on this project.

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