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What do you want from an architect?


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4 hours ago, saveasteading said:

I have worked with Architects  some good, some not) who worked with straight lines , but then only issues wobbly line tracings.

This was because 1. It looked more artistic  2. nobody could expect to scale off it and blame them for any errors.

 

 

Part qualified? I don't mind that if they are working on Part 3. By that stage they have done maybe 6 years study and practical, so they should be respected.

Being in RIBA is normally aiming for 'best practice'  and they do organise training.


You’re missing the point - there is no such thing as part qualified architect. Until you register (with the ARB ) you’re not an architect. And I wouldn’t say being a member of the RIBA is really anything to write home about - (with all due respect for the bow-tie wearing brigade) probably great if you live in central London and can take a few hours off at lunchtime to swan over to HQ for a bit of (mainly unless) CPD given by some obscure product placement manufacturer but living outside London all you get is a glossy magazine every month for your subscription fee - bit of a waste of money really - just saying.

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4 hours ago, Adrian Walker said:

 

 

I think that you will find that tiny rooms that can’t accommodate proper furniture are designed by accountant.

 

I see house floor plans every single day that have been drawn by someone who has absolutely no idea of space planning. And guess what - developers are building them and the public are snapping them up. Shocking.

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12 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

 

Tbh, this post exemplifies exactly the issues you hit with self builders.

Getting a project designed and through planning is much more than just interior layout to satisfy planners... The design has to balance 100s of little considerations from buildability, local plans, building regs, budgets, site constraints, daylight, views, client preferences etc. The real value in what an architect does is in the design stage, if you get it right the rest of the project should be on rails, everyone thinks architects are expensive, but compare changing the position of a wall on a drawing to see how the space works to deciding when you see it on site that you want a slightly bigger room or a window in a different location....

Gaining planning permission is also the single biggest increase you can make to the value of land, so having the skills to deliver a planning approval to add hundreds of thousands to a bit of land is quite valuable...

 

 

Opps, replied to wrong poster

 

Edited by Roger440
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4 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

Most of the RIBA training I’ve been to was just people trying to hawk their products.

 

lol true about the wiggley lines. I’m more of the CAD era so I never picked up the shakey hand skill.

Absolutely true. Resigned from the RIBA last year after paying a shed load of money in fees with next to nothing in return.

 

I don’t even think the RIBA is interested in protecting the title and would prefer to promote the public using a “chartered architect” rather than anyone else who would - when the ARB is scrapped - be able to call themselves an architect.

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I think the answer your question @CharlieKLP will depend on whom you ask. Because everyone is different and has different wants, needs, budgets and constraints. People will also have different expectations, depending on their own previous experiences of professionals.

Ultimately, to the complex endeavour of building a house, which lets be honest is part engineering, part art and a hell of a lot blood and sweat,  an architect can be many things: a designer, an artist, a project manager, a coach, a diplomat, a technician, a generalist and/or a specialist. The exact ratio of art to engineering will depend very much on the customer.

 

My advice would be to be honest with your clients. Focus on what you enjoy the most, but be honest about that, whilst finding solutions for the things you don’t really want to do. So for example, if you only like being involved in certain types of projects, reject all others from the outset. If it’s more about the elements of a project, team up with others who can do what you don’t like doing.

 

I consulted a very well regarded award winning architect who had done a couple of local projects as well as his own studio in ways that blew my mind. I knew I had to have him involved in my project. I approached him and pretty quickly realised I couldn’tafford him. But he was such a nice guy and so clearly a genius that I walked what he could do for us for the money I had. He suggested I pay him £1,200 just for the initial concept. This was some of the best money we ever spent. He met with my partner and I  and asked us lots of questions about how we live, what are our gripes about the house, what were our aspirations for it. He asked about our budget and timescales, whether there were any plans to work from home in the future (this was pre pandemic), expand our family, hobbies etc. He really got to know the way we live and the way we wanted to live. He even set us homework. After a couple of sessions he set out two options for what we could do with our 1930s house, in some hand drawn scale sketches. Both were viable and both achieved our aims, albeit one was a bit over budget because it involved ripping out the staircase and installing a new one in the middle of the house. But it really opened up our minds (as well as the house) as to what we really wanted and what was possible. Now some will criticise him and say he should never have temper up down that path… but ultimately it was our choice. But we wouldn’t have had that choice if it wasn’t for him.

 

As we couldn’t do the whole project with him because he was way out of our price range, I took his sketches to a much cheaper architect, one that I didn’t know much about other than he was young and cheap and not very experienced. I lucked out because this architect has done a pretty amazing job for us. But his inexperience sometimes comes through, and whilst I don’t regret going with him, I do miss the more expensive guy. 
 

A month or so ago, I had a few issues that I needed a second opinion on. I went back to the expensive guy for a one off consultation. He talked me through it, or as he put it, “coached me through” the decisions I needed to take, helping me appraise the cost benefit analysis of different design choices. In doing this, he made me raise that the recommendations my actual architect was giving me were the correct ones, but the more experienced chap had more than just experience. He had a way with people, a bit like a therapist, a bit like a friend, whilst still calling on impecable architectural knowledge. 
 

But even the more expensive guy had his limitations. I know he doesn’t do any appeal work, preferring his clients to use a planning consultant for that. I also know he always insists on getting a proper measured survey from a particular surveyor. And maybe that’s one of his benefits. He knows what he is God it and he sticks to it. If you team up with the right people you could do the same. 

Edited by Adsibob
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it’s super helpful thanks @Adsibob

 

And kudos to you for figuring out a way to get what you needed, sounds like a fantastic guy.

 

Yes you are totally correct, with the assessment of all the things an architect might be and what people might need.

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but there is the IP side of things.

Some people get a bit narked when they ask an architect to design a house, then all they get is a small PDF, with no dimensions.

If people pay you to design them a house, they want full drawings/access to CAD files without any restrictions.  That is what they are paying for.

 

My very first post, over at the 'other place', was about open source house design.

In a former life, I worked as an automotive engineer, house design is a piece of piss engineering wise.  Not as if a house has to corner at 150 MPH, have 2 tonnes smack into the side at 30 MPH, have the safety feature do nothing for nearly all the time, but must work once when needed.

My old banger of a car has electric windows that work faultlessly, doors that open with a remote control and disables the alarm/immobiliser, and on a good run, can do 70 MPG.

Houses are not much better than caves when it comes to design.

 


You’re not paying for the CAD files. You are paying for drawings to get your proposal built but the drawings should be fully dimensioned and not left to a builder to scale from. There are copyright issues and potential abuse of CAD files if handed over to a client.

 

I don’t agree that houses are no better than caves when it comes to design - space planning and conceptual design as well as smart housing, low energy and passive house design are all complex design problems that need a talented designer (note I didn’t say architect) to carry out.

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2 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

Yes please do! Same to you I’ll look forward to it

Be careful what you wish for!

 

Firstly thanks to all for all your posts have enjoyed reading them, there are many to thank but @the_r_sole is a font of knowledge who gives it to you straight up as are many others.

 

Charlie.. it's very much doable.

 

A few years back I embarked on a similar journey although I came at it from the SE / Contractor side.

 

While I do my own design stuff and some "Architectural Design" I collaborate with in particular with one really experienced Architect.

 

I have said to him in the past.. you don't need me (SE hat on) as your design is spot on. He just sizes the building / structural envelope and main beams say nearly always correctly, but he has been doing it for nearly fifty years! But then we start to play about. I put my Architectural hat on and he puts his SE hat on.. we are like "two old grumpy men" and the result is some elegant, competant, safe, and economic design. Oh.. I use the word elegant as this indicates that it will stand the test of time.

 

The work is flooding in and a lot of it is repeat business coupled with some interesting stuff.

 

So yes you want to do your own thing but find some one that can compliment your skills and recognise that you can feed off each other and learn new stuff... together.

 

I advocate that a great Architect should also be competant in structural design, not the calculations but have to a feeling for how the building works and that includes how it stays up structrally. A great SE should be at a minimum competant in the principles of Architecture and have a bit of flair / artistic bent.

 

Over the last few decades the professions (Architects, QS' SE's etc) have diversified and you can see this on BH.. no one is talking to each other and the Client is left in the dark.

 

From my own recent experience I have found that going back to the "old way" where we all start really working together pays dividends. Yes there are a few Clients, BH members too that think it still pays to breakdown each design element to get the lowest price. The lowest price is not always the best in the round. See Ruskin common law of business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, the_r_sole said:

My cad and BIM files contain a huge amount of information that's been built up over years, we issue only prints or pdf information as we can completely control that information, we will coordinate with other professionals who may need raw data files to make their work easier/quicker, but we won't release the files to a client and have zero control on how they're amended or reused.

Sounds to me like you are charging for 1000 bricks, but only delivering 750, claiming that the other 250 is for complicated legal reasons.

 

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33 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

Sounds to me like you are charging for 1000 bricks, but only delivering 750, claiming that the other 250 is for complicated legal reasons.

 

 

Absolutely wrong, why would a client of ours want or need the base information we use to communicate their design to a builder?

We work with clients to get them a building, nothing else. We are appointed to provide information to allow a contractor to interpret into a building. Where its needed by other professionals in the process for coordination that's fine but before cad, buildings got built easily, consultants all managed their work fine and people got houses, if a client comes to us before we start saying they need the raw information we will have to have a discussion on why and what they intend to do with the information.

If you want a cad template, pay one of the guys who make those, but I don't send out paper and pens with my drawings and I don't send out cad files. PDFs of frozen information at all that's required, we now model everything in BIM, but not a single contractor has asked for anything other than PDFs to be able to translate into a building... Which is the aim of the game, the drawings are only part of the process, I've issued hundreds of hand drawn details from site discussions, purely to clarify how things are put together, no one has ever asked for the raw files... It's just not necessary unless you intend to alter the information.

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47 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

Sounds to me like you are charging for 1000 bricks, but only delivering 750, claiming that the other 250 is for complicated legal reasons.

 


Just import your PDF into CAD yourself if you want the plans in cad form. (Just absolutely do not use the architects name and logo etc in the title block, and make sure the copyright is ok on the design). 
 

It is a bit like asking for your solicitor to give you the Word template version of a legal document. It’s fraught with complications. A CAD drawing is more than just lines, especially a BIM one.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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10 hours ago, the_r_sole said:

 

Tbh, this post exemplifies exactly the issues you hit with self builders.

Getting a project designed and through planning is much more than just interior layout to satisfy planners... The design has to balance 100s of little considerations from buildability, local plans, building regs, budgets, site constraints, daylight, views, client preferences etc. The real value in what an architect does is in the design stage, if you get it right the rest of the project should be on rails, everyone thinks architects are expensive, but compare changing the position of a wall on a drawing to see how the space works to deciding when you see it on site that you want a slightly bigger room or a window in a different location....

Gaining planning permission is also the single biggest increase you can make to the value of land, so having the skills to deliver a planning approval to add hundreds of thousands to a bit of land is quite valuable...

 

Don't take the angst personally, you should hear the things people say about my profession. 

 

I accept I will need to pay for someone's pencil chewing time, which can't be billed as an exact science. Self builders are a special breed, as we mostly come with zero experience but are often reasonably bright, to the point of obsessive and often have pencilled our dream house on the back of an envelope, so think it must be easy for you to change it to a planning drawing.  A booklet or good website explaining what we can and can't expect and the limitations of each survey and set of drawings would have been great. I was so wet behind the ears, I didn't even realise that I needed a 'design and build' from the builder and hence I really struggled to get meaningful quotes. 

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@Jilly lol! No I don’t take it personally either, architects do get a lot of bashing and I don’t think it’s really deserved to be honest. A lot of it is stereotyping, like saying they get paid a lot and can’t do buildable designs to a budget. I don’t think I’ve ever designed something unbuildable and well I said earlier, I get paid f all. 
 

I am now thinking I should do more than just a designing and planning service, and also be helping self-builders with some more guidance. I do have some experience with Self-build generally, so maybe that would actually be something that sets me apart and is good for customers. 

Edited by CharlieKLP
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33 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

Absolutely wrong, why would a client of ours want or need the base information we use to communicate their design to a builder?

 

For me, as a client and given my personal experience: To keep an eye on what the builder is (trying, possibly with difficulty) to do and stepping in to help out. 

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10 minutes ago, Radian said:

 

For me, as a client and given my personal experience: To keep an eye on what the builder is (trying, possibly with difficulty) to do and stepping in to help out. 

 

But why could you not do that with formally issued pdf drawings? 

Why wouldn't the builder speak to the architect about what the issue is?

On big jobs when we get queries from site, everyone wants a drawing issued to clarify the queries rather than the base cad files...

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44 minutes ago, Jilly said:

Don't take the angst personally, you should hear the things people say about my profession. 

 

I accept I will need to pay for someone's pencil chewing time, which can't be billed as an exact science. Self builders are a special breed, as we mostly come with zero experience but are often reasonably bright, to the point of obsessive and often have pencilled our dream house on the back of an envelope, so think it must be easy for you to change it to a planning drawing.  A booklet or good website explaining what we can and can't expect and the limitations of each survey and set of drawings would have been great. I was so wet behind the ears, I didn't even realise that I needed a 'design and build' from the builder and hence I really struggled to get meaningful quotes. 

 

Don't worry @Jilly

I've been at this long enough to not be offended! You're right that a huge part of the perception problem is the inability of some architects to communicate exactly what they do and the value they can bring. There's a few practices who have booklets to help inexperienced clients (ourselves included) but we also tend to know when a certain client is a good fit for us and will help them find someone else if we can see it won't work out! 

We work with clients for years at a time so it's worth finding people who want to work with you and who you want to work with!

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@CharlieKLP, @Roger440, @the_r_sole

 

Just to make it clear, as I am struggling to understand what things you are protecting by not sending CAD files, which are just drawings really.

So what are you protecting?  What are the legal complications? What is wrong with people working to your files, rather than part of your files?

Edited by SteamyTea
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10 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

@CharlieKLP, @Roger440, @the_r_sole

 

Just to make it clear, as I am struggling to understand what things you are protecting by not sending CAD files, which are just drawings really.

So what are you protecting?  What are the legal complications? What is wrong with people working to your files, rather than part of your files?

 

Just like a photographer, an architect owns the copyright even through the client has paid for it.  If as a client, you want CAD files copies or complete ownership then you must agree this before engagement.   Do I think that is right, not totally.

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16 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

@CharlieKLP, @Roger440, @the_r_sole

 

Just to make it clear, as I am struggling to understand what things you are protecting by not sending CAD files, which are just drawings really.

So what are you protecting?  What are the legal complications? What is wrong with people working to your files, rather than part of your files?

 

It seems clear that you don't understand the difference between the deliverable and the tool, the way we use cad in our office is how we use it to deliver drawings to build from, whether you think you should get a shot of the tools is down to you. I don't ask my builder to hand me a saw on site anymore than I have clients working on their own cad files.

 

If a drawing originates from our office, made using our own standards, is then later adapted by a client with no understanding of the implications of changes there is loads of potential for things to go wrong in terms of compliance or coordination with other packages, why would you want to hire an experienced professional and then make your own changes to their information, as I said, if you just want a cad template, buy one but all the embedded information in a cad file is my pi, for example we use dynamic cad blocks for doorsets, it would be easy enough to click the wrong button and change a door opening to a size that doesn't comply with the regs but everyone is seeing our drawings with non complaint doors on it. And it took me a week to make the block with all the relevant information on it, and 90% isn't applicable to that one project... Why do you think people have businesses selling cad templates and blocks? 

 

There's a massive difference of what's in a full cad file compared to what is needed to communicate a design effectively and it's not what clients pay for, they pay for the deliverables which are drawings.

 

There is no control over the information if you issue the base information, if it gets changed by someone who isn't us but it still has all our information on it and all our company information, all our cad blocks and logos etc there's a huge issue if anything is wrong in terms of liability

Edited by the_r_sole
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12 minutes ago, Adrian Walker said:

If as a client, you want CAD files copies or complete ownership then you must agree this before engagement

I agree that it has to be a done deal before, just confused by the language and examples used.

I have a composite plastics systems that has overcome a longevity problem.  Nothing special in itself, and it is up for sale.  If I ever manage to sell it, then the new owner can do what they like with it, even give it away for free to the whole world.  I am not putting an NFT on it, though maybe I should.

17 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

It seems clear that you don't understand the difference between the deliverable and the tool, the way we use cad in our office is how we use it to deliver drawings to build from, whether you think you should get a shot of the tools is down to you. I don't ask my builder to hand me a saw on site anymore than I have clients working on their own cad files.

That is odd, or the way you have said it is.

When I did my first two degrees, the university technically owned the copyright.  This narked me as I was paying and did all the work.  Except I didn't.  I only paid for part of the course and it was graded by university employees, and, I assume, is still being stored in the library.

When I started lecturing, part of my job was to create 'module boxes'.  Basically lesson plans and schemes of work.  It was fair that the university owned these, they paid me to produce them.  They I don't think they noticed that I had copyrighted them.

If someone comes along and changes them, that is nothing to do with me, the university bought them, I don't feel that my reputation is at risk.

 

There is a large, ongoing debate how patents and copyright are stifling innovation.  I tend to think that it is. I also know how difficult and expensive it is to enforce ones IP, generally greater than any financial advantage.

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19 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

the difference between the deliverable and the tool

 

I do think this is where confusion lies in that CAD files are not 'just' drawings and there's no way in a million years it's appropriate to distribute raw CAD files directly to clients, especially self-builders who are probably more likely to want to take it upon themselves to tinker with them. ? Then you've also got issues with file format, software and the associated costs of software licensing. When I got my first job in engineering it was in document management within one of the world's largest engineering consultancies and I learned quickly how poor documentation, revision, distribution and control can cause immense problems on even the smallest of projects.

 

Providing additional information such as dimensions is a different matter and I do believe that properly detailed construction drawing should be dimensioned and made available to the client/builder as even at 1:10 it's easy to make critical mistakes.

 

What I do think is problematic is when the various professionals can't share files to incorporate their piece of the work and therefore costs the client extra - we had that problem due to incompatibility with the architect/structural engineer and then the steel fabrication company used their own 3d modelling software - lots of circles of drawing creation/commenting and modification that could have been done more efficiently. At least our topograhical survey company provided the raw cad files when I asked them to, which was helpful for the initial designs.

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42 minutes ago, Adrian Walker said:

 

Just like a photographer, an architect owns the copyright even through the client has paid for it.  If as a client, you want CAD files copies or complete ownership then you must agree this before engagement.   Do I think that is right, not totally.

 

Whether it is a CAD file or a pencil drawing makes no different to copyright. Copyright is not a reason for not passing on a CAD file.

 

41 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

 

It seems clear that you don't understand the difference between the deliverable and the tool, the way we use cad in our office is how we use it to deliver drawings to build from, whether you think you should get a shot of the tools is down to you. I don't ask my builder to hand me a saw on site anymore than I have clients working on their own cad files.

 

I'm not sure who is misunderstanding here, your analogy is poor. The CAD file is the product of the tool, not the tool. No one is suggesting you hand over the workstation and software license which would stop you from producing any more "product" in the same way a carpenter handing over his saw would do. The tool is the software, or the pencil, the product is the CAD file, of the pencil drawing.

 

41 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

If a drawing originates from our office, made using our own standards, is then later adapted by a client with no understanding of the implications of changes there is loads of potential for things to go wrong in terms of compliance or coordination with other packages,

 

In the same way that a client could choose to change a pencil drawing, and if that was to directly cause a failure in the design then it clearly would be no fault of the original creator.

 

My own industry, Automotive Design & Engineering, went through this same conundrum in the 1990's. The Engineering Service providers did not wish to hand over the Native CAD formats to the client. Not for IP or copyright, but because you have an advantage at the next tender stage of the project, future updates or a later "face-lift", if only you hold the original CAD files. Any competitor has to allow for recreating all the geometry from scratch, whereas the originator is holding the database and thus could quote stage two or a later face-lift cheaper.

 

Since the late 1990's, it's now written in to every contract that work will be completed and delivered in exactly the same software the client uses, right down to Version, Service Pack and Hot Fix overlay, to ensure compatibility.

 

We still build our own macros and templates for developing repetitive areas of the geometry, and wouldn't consider handing over our library of macros and templates, but the geometry they create gets stored directly on to the client's data-collector.

 

The Architectural industry in the first instance typically tries to protect this data, so if the client feels having it would be a benefit to them then it needs to be agreed up front as a deliverable. This is how I did it and it really worked well. The timber-frame designer, structural engineer and passive house architect all shared their data in compatible file types. In this instance I held the Master for the data as the PH architect was supporting small defined areas rather the doing the whole house.

 

 

Edited by IanR
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10 minutes ago, IanR said:

I'm not sure who is misunderstanding here, your analogy is poor. The CAD file is the product of the tool, not the tool. No one is suggesting you hand over the workstation and software license which would stop you from producing any more "product" in the same way a carpenter handing over his saw would do. The tool is the software, or the pencil, the product is the CAD file, of the pencil drawing.

 

That's not quite right, our cad templates, line types, dynamic blocks, sheet set up, plot styles, line weights etc are as much part of the tool as the software, there's no need for an end user to have any of these things that are unique to our office and have been developed over years.

The output is the pdf drawing which uses all of the information in the file to output drawings which communicate the design.

13 minutes ago, IanR said:

 

In the same way that a client could choose to change a pencil drawing, and if that was to directly cause a failure in the design then it clearly would be no fault of the original creator.

But it would be much more confusing where the cad file has been used to create a pdf with all of the architects details on it, to anyone it would look like our drawing, a hand marked sketch is absolutely not the same.

 

15 minutes ago, IanR said:

The Architectural industry in the first instance typically tries to protect this data, so if the client feels having it would be a benefit to them then it needs to be agreed up front as a deliverable. This is how I did it and it really worked well. The timber-frame designer, structural engineer and passive house architect all shared their data in compatible file types. In this instance I held the Master for the data as the PH architect was supporting small defined areas rather the doing the whole house.

 

We always share the correct information with other professionals who are engaged to deliver the project in question, this isn't the same as releasing the base cad files to a client where they're completely uncontrollable.

We work with the consultants and make sure the information is all checked and coordinated as it's critical to communicating the design to contractors but that's what we get paid for, the ability to communicate the design effectively and accurately

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48 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

That's not quite right, our cad templates, line types, dynamic blocks, sheet set up, plot styles, line weights etc are as much part of the tool as the software, there's no need for an end user to have any of these things that are unique to our office and have been developed over years.

 

If the only way of using "Blocks" in the CAD system you use it to insert the entire block with all its "intelligence", then that is a weakness in the system you are using. Our own macros and templates deliver orphan geometry in to the part/system being created, so when the CAD files are handed over only the geometry they create is present, not the template or macro. 

 

48 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

But it would be much more confusing where the cad file has been used to create a pdf with all of the architects details on it, to anyone it would look like our drawing, a hand marked sketch is absolutely not the same.

 

Not really. The client using the CAD files should understand that making an alteration and printing off a new PDF using the Originator's Title-block, without recording that change in the Revision Block is not correct, in the same way as changing a pencil drawing, without recording that change would be. Drawings go through multiple updates, often by different draughts-persons, so another change by the client could just as easily go unnoticed. However, the Originator in all likelihood keeps a record (data-base or blue/black line) of the final drawing passed to the client, so any changes after that point a very easy to identify should problems occur. I'd say version control is far easier with a CAD file than with a manual drawing.

 

48 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

We always share the correct information with other professionals who are engaged to deliver the project in question, this isn't the same as releasing the base cad files to a client where they're completely uncontrollable.

 

You only need to control your part of the contract. What the client chooses to do with either a CAD file, PDF or Pencil drawing is for them to understand the implications. Whether it is a CAD file, PDF or pencil drawing makes little difference to control, copyright (apart from your Blocks if that is the only way you can work with them, but I'm sure there is an alternative) or IP.

 

Protecting the CAD files is however a potential income stream. If the client wants additional 3D Renders, later revisions or additional drawings etc. then you have a competitive advantage if they do not have the CAD files. That is the typical position within the Architectural Industry, but not one that I would accept.

Edited by IanR
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