Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The meaning of the stamp

A recent project in my office required the services of a structural engineer to design a small metal frame indoors on an interior remodel. The structural engineer faxed the architectural project team his details to be drafted into the project's drawings. When it came time to stamp the construction documents for the city and for our and the owner's records, the project architect assumed that the architect's stamp would cover the whole set--after all, the engineer didn't issue a sheet in the drawings, and it was just a couple of sketches. Right?

Wrong. The structural engineer came in to stamp the one sheet on which an intern drafted his it should be.

An architect's or engineer's professional stamp says that the architect or engineer vouches for the accuracy and appropriateness of the documents. The architect/engineer's stamp goes on the Contract Documents, which includes the drawings (the construction documents), the specifications, and any addenda that are issued after the CDs are issued. It goes on all these documents because these are the documents a contractor needs in order to build the project, and the stamp means that everything in the drawings and specs are correct, coordinated, and appropriate for the project. For the architect to allow their stamp to cover the structural engineer's sketches is to say that the architect 100% understands and approves of what the structural engineer sketched up. Furthermore, the structural engineer needs to review how his hand-drawn and faxed sketches were drafted into the architectural set. Is the engineer willing to rely on an intern over which he has no control or supervision to transcribe his notes and markups?

Ideally, the structural engineer would issue his own sheet, as empty as it might end up being, and he would stamp that sheet as well. If the engineer insists on having the architect draft up his sketches, then he must review them as well as stamp the sheet along with the architect.

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