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Public access to architectural plans

Hink

OH....IO
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If someone asks you for a set of plans for a building in your jurisdiction, do you give it to them? Do you make them request a public record?

Anything provided to us is a public record. Generally we don't make people go through the whole public record request stuff, because it is kinda just being an ass to do that.

Just wondering. I am looking for examples of a building we are looking to complete, and I sent a kind email and received what I would say is a pretty unreasonable response - that I have to contact the architect. I mean I am looking for the planning documents - site plan, general layout, etc. Am I being crazy here? Aren't these all public records?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Just wondering. I am looking for examples of a building we are looking to complete, and I sent a kind email and received what I would say is a pretty unreasonable response - that I have to contact the architect. I mean I am looking for the planning documents - site plan, general layout, etc. Am I being crazy here? Aren't these all public records?
They're in a murky zone, really. Building permit records should be public. However, architectural plans are copyrighted works of art. Some home plan companies sell "permit ready" versions of their plans for thousands of dollars. By getting a copy of the building permit, and the plans that go along with them, you're getting those plans for free.

I may be wrong, but understanding is that paying for permit ready plans gives you a license to build the building. If you have the plans, it's one thing. Having a reduced version could be considered "fair use" under US copyright law -- you're not trying to profit by possessing them. However, if you use them to build, without a license, you're violating copyright law.
 

Hink

OH....IO
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I get building plans I guess. Detail sheets, cut sheets, etc. I am talking about planning level documents. Site plans, general building layout, landscaping plans. Sure these were prepared by a professional, and sure they are probably copyrighted I guess, but I am not looking to build anything from them.

To break a copyright when it comes to house plans would be really tough. I think it would be almost impossible to do with commercial plans.

In Ohio at least, we have strong public records laws (which generally I support) that make all things I receive a record. It doesn't protect you because you made it. It means that anyone can ask for all the plans you submitted to me for permit. They can get the permit and the plan sets.

I am really getting at the higher level though. The Planning Commission level. Where they are getting approvals for the building placement, size, scale, etc. These documents are generally put online and put in a public packet. Why wouldn't you just provide those to someone who is asking for them?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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13,548
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I answered in the wrong thread, but we make people go through the records request process and we have sign offs on our site plans that allow reproduction. I can find the language if anyone needs it. Generally I just print out copies and let them do what they need. I'm not the one using it wrong.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
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1,350
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Building plans are subject to the formal records request and also Architect authorization. Site plan and simple elevation sheets (as part of a plot plan/commission review) we provide without the records request, unless they are asking for a fullsize copy (which then incurs the cost to run our plotter).
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
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Building plans are subject to the formal records request and also Architect authorization. Site plan and simple elevation sheets (as part of a plot plan/commission review) we provide without the records request, unless they are asking for a fullsize copy (which then incurs the cost to run our plotter).
What he said.. to the "T".
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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We tell them they are review construction architectural plans in person, but can't take copies or sketch over the drawing.

This is the way to balance open records transparency, but not interfere with private copyright/intellectual property rights and also tell people they can contact the architect for permission to obtain the plans.
 
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