Building plans of existing homes...

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Old 03-24-05, 01:38 PM
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Building plans of existing homes...

Isn't there usually a legal requirement to record building plans with city or county offices?

I am looking to get copies of the plans for my house which was built in 1992. I tried calling Pulte but they claimed "trade secret" and refused to assist.

Any ideas where I might start looking?

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-24-05, 05:34 PM
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alynch_2000,

Very few municipalities keep the plans that were submitted for building permit. Issue is the storage space that they require, ones that would be moisture and temp controlled as well as being fireproof. As a public document, you can view them but you cannot use them.

I have one here that surprised me, they actually have them on microfiche.

However we do have something else that many do not realize. That is the Copyright Laws. This is the one example of what I have and what others use to protect their work,

"All of the plans that are available through xxxxxxxxxxx and are protected under the Federal Copyright Act, title XVII of the U.S. Code and Chapter 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. We retain the title and ownership of the original documents. The blueprints licensed to you cannot be resold or used by any other person, copied or reproduced by any means."

Another well know internet firm has this,

"Each plan purchase authorizes a single construction. Multiple uses of the plan purchased is a violation of the copyright held by the respective designer and may result in legal mediation to compensate the designer. All floor plans, renderings and other images on The Plan Collection are property of their respective designers and may not be copied or reproduced in any fashion without written consent. It is a violation of copyright laws to redraft plans found on this site to avoid plan purchase."

Calling Pulte was a good thing to do. Yes, they will be tight lipped about it and they have the license and the law behind them to do so. If you were to get a copy of the plans, and knowing that Pulte is a large firm, they do have employees whose job it is to notify the management of copyright infringement. This is serious business. It is the only way to protect what they have designed and built.

The best way around this is to literally design a home from scratch. You may use similar footprints but it must be considered original. In calling Pulte, sometimes they will give you written permission, at a COST, to use their plans. Sometimes they will not. Just look at the plans available on the internet, you will see the copyright act mentioned several times and this is to avoid "stealing" what they have created. Even getting a set of plans from them, you are only allowed to build the structure once for the fee that you paid.

I have been asked to take original plans and redraw them with some "minor" changes. I cannot do this unless I get permission from the original designer/owner of the plans or I would be subject to a lawsuit and sued for copyright infringement.

I think you can understand the reasons behind it.

Hope this helps!
 

Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-24-05 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 03-25-05, 07:45 AM
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Thanks very much for the reply Doug but I think we have a bit of a misunderstanding.

I am looking for copies of the plans for a home built by Pulte in 1992 which I already own. I am not looking for plans based on which I can build my own copy of their design (frankly I have not seen any Pulte designs that are desirable enough to be worth trying to steal).

I am considering doing some work to the house for which it would be very helpful to have a "map" of the framing, electrical & plumbing systems, etc.

A friend who recently purchased a new house from another manufacturer was given a copy of the set of plans at closing so it does not seem all that odd for an owner to have a copy.

Just trying to get around having to re-create the plans which would then not be all that accurate!
 
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Old 03-25-05, 04:00 PM
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alynch_2000,

Sorry, you didn't say that you wanted them for that purpose.

However, Pulte may charge you a fee to obtain a copy of the plans. As you mentioned they will be tight lipped about it.

I have run into this many times. Owner wants to do work, add on alter whatever and I must measure the entire home - draw it up then redesign for the improvements. It takes time but I end up with accurate plans whereby the originals may be off or changed on site during building.

It may be somewhat inconvenient but you'll have a good set of plans in the end.

Good Luck!
 
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Old 03-27-05, 10:50 AM
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Thanks again Doug...

So if I understand you correctly you're saying that you often get better plans by taking measurements & drawing them yourself than you would with the original construction plans?

Do you know of any online tutorial on how to do this accurately for newbies? I've tried this (using Punch! Pro) and I think my taking bad measurements and not being especially familiar with CAD software have resulted in rather lousy drawings.
 
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Old 03-27-05, 02:51 PM
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alynch_2000,

What I am suggesting is that on existing homes, that if the owner has the original drawings, I have found them to be inaccurate. This is, more often than not, the case. This is not to imply that the contractor, architect or designer did anything wrong. In fact what I find is that once a building permit is obtained, the project can be changed per the owner’s direction, in most cases. Examples would be let’s move this wall over here and then let’s place another outlet here or delete that one, etc. all the while still conforming to the building code. If severe changes are done, load bearing issues for example, it is expected that the original draftsman be called for confirming if the change is allowable.

One of the most interesting things is that the drawings may say to use 9 ½” TJI’s and the contractor replaces them with 2x10’s. It may meet code but the difference here is that a homeowner paid for TJI’s which cost more and the contractor has pocketed the savings of not using them. In most cases, the owner may never know what happened. This is just one example.

Most drawings do not include plumbing. However, almost all do require electrical. This is another area that does get changed from what might be on the original drawing. The owner may decide to add more here or there or change from a wall mount vanity light to an overhead. The electrician may decide to change an items location or delete the total number of can lights per his experience. This may not always prove to be a wise move but it happens. Again these changes are not on the drawings.

There is no tutorial on doing this. It is best to buy some ¼” graph paper and start measuring your home. Good tape measure, someone to help and start doing your thing. Anyone can do this. Unsure what you have in mind that you need to do this but it is best to start at one end of the home. Take all the measurements to include ceiling heights, where windows and doors are located, soffits, mark all your heat and cold air registers (if need be), etc..

This post does describe some disadvantages of less expensive design software and how they are used. Bear in mind that everything has a learning curve.

http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=164953

Hope this all helps!
 
 

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