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Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

(OP)
A colleague claims that it is standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete construction drawings (approximately 90% complete) and issue them for bid as a means to avoid future change requests. He even left the status on the drawings that indicates they are 90% complete and not for construction. I have never heard of this practice and it goes against my understanding that signing and sealing drawings indicates they are complete and ready for construction so I'm questioning his claim that it is an industry standard. Has anyone else heard of this practice?

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

I do not think any of the AEC firms I have worked with will stamp an incomplete drawing. They do not want to stamp as built drawings either unless they have been involved in the construction acceptance. The practice may violate your jurisdictions law related to the use of engineers stamps, and what they certify.

Here are links to the Virginia Law. Your requirements may be different.

18VAC10-20-760. Use of seal.
18VAC10-20-740. Professional responsibility.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Documents may be issued for bidding or quantity take-off but are generally NOT signed. Either way, any drawings sent outside the company that are not issued for construction should be clearly indicated as NOT TO BE USED FOR CONSTRUCTION. The customary "PRELIMINARY" marking is not sufficient - at least in the US.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

As a contractor, I would consider this good enough only to provide a budgetary estimate.
I'm okay with that.

Brad Waybright

The more you know, the more you know you don't know.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

I've signed partial drawing... but they are clearly noted as preliminary, and not to be used for construction.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

In my experience, the signing / sealing of a document (drawing or otherwise) by a registered professional engineer indicates the document is complete and valid for construction. Any other use of the engineer seal is subject to disciplinary action by both the engineering ethics group the individual is part of (state or country), and additionally in a separate court of law.

In no instance does the signing / sealing of documents limit the ability of other parties to initiate change orders on a given project.

Converting energy to motion for more than half a century

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

...I think only that it's been prepared by an engineer... nothing to do with completeness.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

IMHO, the meaning of the stamp is to certify the design meets code and was performed by a licensed professional. It really is only needed to obtain a permit. JHA really is the only entity requiring a stamp. I wouldn't submit a design to JHA if it isn't complete.

Obviously a private entity (owner, contractor) could require stamps. But that is just because they want, not required.

IMHO a 90% stamped planset is a contradiction since the remaining 10% of the design could include changes that are not conform to code. And who determines a design is 90%?

It varies by jurisdiction. Here we provide a stamped design set to JHA for plan review. That typically is the basis of the bid. but the bid can have changes. Bid documents are not necessarily stamped, but often are. Once the contract is awarded, the contractor obtains the actual permit and builds. At the end the supervising professional signs that the building is substantially the way it was designed (from a code perspective). If during construction there are significant changes (change in egress path), there needs to be approval by the local JHA. Wherever you are located, the process may vary.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

I wouldn't call it a standard, but I've certainly seen it happen. I know of a few architects out there who run most of their projects that way. Do just enough to pass for permit and submit that to the AHJ. Then while the AHJ is reviewing it, they fill in stuff that the AHJ doesn't care about (and maybe a few things they do...). Sometimes the architect can get away with it because all the AHJ cares about is the code sheet and life safety plans...the rest is just making the building look pretty for the owner (mostly). So they automatically think we can submit a structural (or electrical, or mechanical) set at 65% and be okay, when that's not really the case.

I agree with others who have mentioned that the seal is not what makes it complete, it's a "NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION" stamp that signifies it's incomplete. If you seal it and don't say it's not for construction, you're effectively saying it meets all relevant aspects of the code and can be built as shown.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Signing/sealing a 90% drawing clearly identified "NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION" is practically fine in my opinion if it is:
-for budget purposes
-clearly marked as "Not For Construction"
-designed correctly for the 90% complete, and noted where design is "to be confirmed" at the other 10%

If the drawing wasn't signed/sealed, I would take it merely as a coordination drawing which would be covered in the initial T&C of the project.

Obviously the rules of law would apply and may interpret the signing/sealing differently as the jurisdiction varies. There is also some obvious liability issues that are involved. But I do feel that it is a practical necessity in some cases (not ALL) to issue drawings as described.

EDIT: You can also put a disclaimer under your stamp that says "Issued for budget coordination. Not for construction" or similar.

EDIT2: I'm not saying this is best practice, but it is practice that has evolved. There are inherent issues with doing this on the regular. And there is also some schedule tradeoff with trying to attain 100% before permit submittal...usually the schedule wins.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Requirements may vary. Per Texas rules,
"(a) The purpose of the engineer’s seal is to assure the user of the engineering product that the work has been performed or directly
supervised by the professional engineer named and to delineate the scope of the engineer’s work.
...
"(e) Preliminary documents released from a license holder's control shall identify the purpose of the document, the engineer(s) of record and
the engineer license number(s), and the release date by placing the following text or similar wording on the title sheet of bound engineering
reports, specifications, details, calculations or estimates, and each sheet of plans or drawings regardless of size or binding, instead of a seal:
'This document is released for the purpose of (Examples: interim review, mark-up, drafting) under the authority of (Example: Leslie H.
Doe, P.E. 0112) on (date). It is not to be used for (Examples: construction, bidding, permit) purposes.'"

Note that state board rules may require items to be sealed even if the customer doesn't require it.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

It is all about advertising. If you seal a 90% plan set, with known design content that needs to be added, that says anything but "issue for construction" this is not unethical. You have not told the contractor that they are for construction. Perhaps they are for bidding (much different than construction) or permitting.

How did you advertise the plans and, perhaps more importantly, to whom did you advertise the plans.

If a contractor chooses to build off a set that says anything other than "issue for construction" that is at their own risk regardless of whether a seal is present.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

With ridiculous project schedules and unrealistic client expectations, we are sometimes forced to issue incomplete drawings. These drawings could be bid drawings so the contractor can start procuring material, they could be owner review drawings so the owner can start logistical planning, etc. As long as the intent and level of completion is clearly stated on the drawings (bid, 90% owner review, issue for permit, issue for construction, etc), the drawing is accurate (but not necessarily complete) and could be sealed. This is different than a situation where the drawings are only 75% complete and issued for CONSTRUCTION.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

@MotorCity - I agree totally. I'll also add, a true 90% plan set should meet code, and should have went through multiple rounds of QAQC. The difference between 90% and issue for construction should be polishing up some details here and there.

We also have to be mindful of the standard of care. In most states, the standard of care is basically a "C" average (i.e the design doesn't have to be perfect, but has to pass). A 90% plan set should meet the standard of care, and the final 10% should just be utilized for tweaking some minor details that don't affect the public's health et al.

Once again, it is all about advertising and what you call the plans. The seal is to signify that they have been prepared under your direct supervision, but they do not certify that they are "perfect".

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Quote (The seal is to signify that they have been prepared under your direct supervision, but they do not certify that they are "perfect".)


I'm pretty sure you're correct... that's been my understanding for the last 50 years...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Is there any law that states that "not for construction" drawings have to be sealed?
I believe in NC it is not required.
Seems an unscrupulous contractor with some whiteout could take care of that note pretty handily.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Most AHJ's that I've dealt with won't let you pull a permit without a seal.

The title block should list the revision as "ISSUE FOR PERMITTING". You can also buy encryption keys that lock the PDF after it is sealed. Printed off with whiteout would be an easy fraud to detect.

If a contractor builds off a permit set, that is at their risk. That set is to get the job permitted, not for construction.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

XR - varies by state, but I don't seal anything until it's done for my VA or NC projects. I'm less worried about the white out because they'd have to white out about 30% of the drawing. I create a PDF and put a giant NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION watermark on it in Bluebeam. Fade it to 25% opacity and you can read everything underneath really easily, but there's no mistaking the NFC.

alchemon - that doesn't work around here anymore. AHJs have started cracking down and anything that says not for construction or for permit only is instantly rejected. They want to review the set that will be built - otherwise they're wasting their time.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

If they want to see what is being built... Then they'll have to wait for the as builts...

I've not had this issue in VA or NC, but I appreciate that it is driven by the local AHJ. I typically tell the permit folks that the difference between the Issue for Permitting and Issue for Construction are me addressing their review comments.

It'll be interesting to see if this becomes more of an issue over time.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

phamEng: I set up the sheet family in Revit to use a global parameter to show "Review Set - not for Construction" in 25% opacity or so on every sheet. At the end of the design I un-toggle the yes/no parameter to hide that note for all sheets at once. I'm sure one could set up more complex schemes.

I figured if I manually have to add that in Bluebeam, I may accidentally issue a review set and forget to add that in the PDF editor. If it is marked as review set by default in Revit, there is less chance to forget to do that.

No one ever asked me to stamp an un-finished design and IMHO, JHA is the only entity that as an actual reason to get a sealed design. Once we have a contractor, we provide them with the set the JHA approved so they can obtain the permit. That JHA approved set can be a bit different from the bid documents since the bid may have had addenda to make changes unrelated to code requirements. The set we submit to JHA for review is the complete set at the time. It just happens that during the JHA review and bidding, some changes come up. It is a bit arbitrary and subjective what a 70%, 90%, 99% completed design is. But what I submit to JHA is at that time considered 100% complete. It is possible to submit to JHA less than 100% in an emergency and time crunch. But that isn't good practice and should be the exception.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

EP - good idea. I still do a lot in 2D CAD, so I'm stuck with Bluebeam on those for now. I'll have to add that to my Revit TB.

In retrospect I probably painted our AHJs in a bad light there. They aren't that rigid, and they realize they may force changes or designs may change in construction. We had an issue a few years ago with a lot of design teams rushing 50% sets in so they could get 'reviewed' and try to short circuit the process when the drawings were finally done. So as long as the design is 'done' and what you show is safe and buildable, you're good. But if you send back a set later with a revision bubble around every sheet, they won't treat you very nicely. Inspectors have also cracked down on wanting to see field revisions at least acknowledged by the city reviewer.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

phamENG: Here in WI there is a "foundation only" review to allow the owner to start earthwork and foundation before the remainder of the building is designed and reviewed. We have winter here, so that may be why they allow that option to allow construction to start before winter. I'm not a structural engineer, so I'm never in the situation to take advantage of that. Obviously if you design, permit and build the foundation you need to know a lot about the building structure already. but HVAC, plumbing, egress etc. Still can be unknown for the most part. Obviously that foundation plan needs to be stamped. But this also sounds like an emergency option and good practice would be to submit a complete design.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

PharmENG, I could see where that would create issues. The Issue for Permitting set has been useful to me in the past as there are generally review comments that have to be addressed in pricing. Typically minor in nature, but I have also had rogue code reviewers who have asked for things outside of what the code book says (or interprets things differently, etc.). Better to get those items addressed before Issue for Bid if possible, as otherwise you'll be paying change order prices vs. bid prices 😂.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

EnergyProfessional: I have worked on jobs that have permitted/designed foundations early. It does take some additional coordination, planning, and MEP design but can be done (well). I'd say that most large fast track projects are moving towards getting foundation packages out early ahead of the rest of the building. That does sometimes mean that changes are required after additional information trickles in, but those are generally minor adjustments and typically are dwarfed by the cost to the owner of having the building being delayed. For example, for an industrial plant, each day that the new plant is delayed can be millions of dollars.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

I sign drawings that are for bid only, or for plans review. Knowing that they are complete, but could change due to bid, or a review. If someone wants a review set prior to either of those, I dont sign.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

Quote (alchemon)

for an industrial plant, each day that the new plant is delayed can be millions of dollars.

I always find this statement funny for new builds. Since it really just comes down the Owner picking a day and saying hence forth the plant is open and I am losing money. Yes, there are nuances with the just in time supply chain everyone uses, opportunity cost, interest, etc. but it really is arbitrary.

RE: Is it standard industry practice to sign and seal incomplete drawings to avoid change requests?

I have seen enough issues and a few lawsuits over draft prints that I refuse to send them out unreleased unless directed by both the customer and management, no way I'd ever send a stamped and unreleased print under any circumstance. The giant watermark really doesn't do dink to protect anybody against a good lawyer, much the same as NDAs.

Quote:

Yes, there are nuances with the just in time supply chain everyone uses, opportunity cost, interest, etc. but it really is arbitrary.

How arbitrary it is depends on the plant and company. Losing profit bc you're not selling widgets is very different from being penalized by a customer for not delivering parts of their widget on time. The first upsets the bean counter, the second digs your grave.

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