The AIA Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP) serves as a resource for AIA members, the profession, and the public in the deployment of computer technology in the practice of architecture. TAP leaders monitor the development of computer technology and its impact on architecture practice and the entire building life cycle, including design, construction, facility management, and retirement or reuse.
My client for a residential project is a developer. My plans are 98% complete. He is asking me to provide him with a set of CAD files (not PDF's). He wants my dwg cad file. I'm worried he can misuse my cad file for other projects. Cad files can be reformatted, imported, exported and shared in other cad programs and used for other projects. He wants to submit the drawings to the building department himself. He could revise the plan check set. I have the standard note on my drawings that prohibit re-use but my cad file can be easily revised to delete this note.
Should I provide my cad file to the client? He already has a full set of PDF drawings.
Thanks for your advice.
Tim Mead, AIA Architect
Maui Chapter, Hawaii
No. I especially do not give up any AutoCAD paper space files nor any sections or details. My contract with some clients does require me to send AutoCAD file of the floor plans. They claim to need them for backgrounds for engineering. In the case of the floor plans, I remove most all information except walls, doors, windows, steps and stairs and also the room names. Then I PURGE the file several times. I then select ALL and change all remaining work to layer ZERO and PURGE again.
Our profession is already a race to the bottom of the fees due to poor business practices.
Just my thoughts and practices.
------------------------------Timothy Mead AIA Member EmeritusTimothy N. Mead, AIA, ArchitectKihei HI------------------------------
Hi, providing the CAD or models that were created to create the contract documents is typically part of your agreement with the client. However, to insure you are not subject to and additional risk in supplying the files, you might consider having them sign a digital media agreement (name is up to you) that clearly states you are not liable for any use of these files outside of your responsible control. I have been using some form of this for decades. Good luck,
What does your contract say regarding CAD / .DWG files? Specifically? You are likely learning this lesson that a simple line item in the master contract stating that finished product CAD / .dwg files cost an extra $50k eliminates this problem/opportunity up front. How CAD / .DWG files are handled/managed is specifically addressed in every contract and engagement and we never give them out without seriously substantial payment, for all the reasons you state. CAD is a tool for design and CD's, "electronic documents" as deliverables are defined as PDF's for all our work (unless the client and contractor know their stipulated CAD needs up front, and they are accommodated in the contract, work plan and products). Do we bend the rules and give them to folks for good reasons or reduced amounts, or stripped of certain data sets, you bet, but that is based on our generosity and the ongoing working relationship with our clientele and their larger business network.
We are rarely asked for CAD files due to this one line item in our agreements.
For the naysayers, yes, there are multiple ways to bring PDF's into CAD and all are far cheaper that the $50k quoted above. Please proceed and leave us out of it. What you would be doing/achieving is not equivalent to the CAD set requested (we have to do it all the time). Declare a value for your products and don't have it default to charity, design needs to be a business. Businesses set expectations, then exceed them, mostly via contract terms.
All the best.
------------------------------Emil Slavik AIACompass SFMP, LLCSomerset KY------------------------------
Don't provide your CAD files to the client!
You are the owner of the design.The full set of PDF drawings should be enough.
Been there!. When a client wants editable drawings it's because they intend to edit them.
They can always redraw or edit the PDF files but it will be harder.
The way I have organized my plans keep the "base" drawings separate from the "sheet" drawings. Base drawings are the floor plans, roof plans, elevations, sections, etc. which do not contain anything but the actual drawings. Then I xref the base drawings into the sheet drawings that contains all the necesary information for a full set of plans.
When I am asked for CAD files, I only send the Base drawings with a huge warning. I do not send the sheet drawings, exactly bewcause of your concerns. If they want to modify the drawings themself, they will need to creaate them fron scratch.
Also, make sure the PDF's you send can not be imported and extract the information directly from autoCAD.
------------------------------Matias Santini AIAHogan Land Services------------------------------
Your response goes directly to how complicated it can be to provide CAD files. Revit, layers, Xrefernce, etc. Doing Hospitals requires many consultants those working under your contract with the owner, no problem. Those doing other work including the General Contractor, require a release of some kind. I use Bluebeam to work on pdfs. This program allows me to scale, estimate etc. Since the drawings that I submit for agency approvals are all pdfs. I prefer to provde the agency approved pdfs to the client and contractor. Then they can use Bluebeam or other software for cost estimating or other legitimate activities.
------------------------------Matias Santini AIAHogan Land ServicesOriginal Message:Sent: 11-21-2023 05:13 AMFrom: Timothy MeadSubject: Providing CAD Files
Absolutely NOT. If you have no choice, you should have your attorney draft a draconian contract with penalties and protections, that he must sign before getting the files.
If you have an AIA Owner-Architect contract, then you own your drawings including copyright and all rights to them. I think normal copyright law pertaining to architectural works says about the same thing - you can look it up on the web. I would not give the developer your CAD files for the reasons you mention. Giving away your CAD files would be similar to giving away hand-drawn construction documents you had worked on for eons. I don't think you'd ever do that!
The only possible exception would be if you could get the developer to sign a waiver of liability which would relieve you of all responsibility for his use of your CAD files and his agreeing to accept full responsibility for any and all changes he might make to the CAD files. Of course enforcing such a waiver would require taking legal action which isn't fun or cheap.
Good luck and stick to your guns!
Hello Timothy Mead,
I would not share CAD files. Only give him PDF files. Also the Owner should not be filing the drawing set – that is the responsibility of the Architect.
Francois de Menil
Stephen Lafferty, AIA
No. I do not share all my AutoCAD project files. Especially, I do not share my AutoCAD details nor sections/elevations.
For that matter, be careful about sharing PDFs that contain the geometry and layers.
I do share an AutoCAD plan for use by the Engineers as a background, but I strip out everything but the windows, walls, doors, and Room Names/Numbers and I PURGE the remaining file then I do a SELECT ALL and change the layers to all be "0" (Zero) and I PURGE the file again. The remaining file is perfect for the engineers. They can xref it into their file and screen the TRANSPARENCY down so their work is prominent on the architectural background.
Just my thoughts.
Good advice in the previous comments. With the client being a developer, I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned that a huge concern is that the developer would use the files to build additional projects, robbing the architect of his compensation and potentially exposing him to liability if his name is still attached. Remember, an architect provides a service, not a product. Any agreement to provide CAD, PDF, or other forms of the documents must clearly spell out that they cannot be used for other projects without the express written permission of the architect.
Great Question. In this case the owner may have a perfectly legitimate reason to request your CAD files. He will be hiring a contractor and estimating costs and he may be doing the Construction Administration. I would provide him the CAD files but make him sign a release. If you browse AIA contracts you will find the exact wording regarding the following: Indemnify you for the use of your CAD files. The files are only for single use at the location in your contract. Use at other locations requires payment of a reuse fee. This reminds me of a project I did for a developer many years ago. 150 single family homes. I did one floor plan on CAD. Using rotate and mirror the contractor filled 150 sites. 3 different elevations. Worst project ever, I never went to see it.
AIA Conference on ArchitectureAIA Contract DocsAIAUAIA FoundationAIA StoreAIA TrustTopicA
© 2023 AIA