Authentication of Construction Documents in Washington
Construction documents comprise of all building plans, specifications, and supporting documents that are utilized during the completion of a construction project. The information and documentation that are required to be submitted to simplify the construction permit application and plan review process for the construction and additions to the construction include information, documentation and plans along with fully completed permit application forms. All these submittals to the Building Official, including construction documents and structural calculations, can be reproductions of the original signed and sealed documents. The structural calculations submitted as review helps in reviewing the permit and should have an initial page that explains the enclosed calculations and a seal or stamp of the registered design professional.
The requirements for the sealing and stamping of construction documents vary significantly in the various jurisdictions within Washington. Some jurisdictions even require multiple copies of “wet-signed” drawings. Design teams have a shared interest in maintaining control of the design drawings along with an interest in competent transfer and reproduction of the construction documents. This document reviews Washington laws and codes relating to sealing and signing of documents by registered professionals and presents recommendations for policy requirements for the acceptance by the jurisdiction.
The State law and code require documents prepared by registered professionals to be sealed and signed but the state laws or codes do not necessarily require submittals of such original documents or multiple copies of such documents to bear “wet-stamp” to the Building Official.
The purpose of having the seal and signature on plans or other documents produced by professionals is to notify other parties using or reviewing those documents to confirm that they have been developed by a registered professional. The requirement for one or multiple sets of stamped documents does not prevent fraudulent use of the seal or modification of such documents, or offer protection under copyright laws. All the pages of the structural construction documents and revisions to those documents should bear the seal and stamp of the responsible professional engineer. Some of the relevant State Laws and Codes regarding sealing of construction documents include:
- RCW 18.43.070 Certificates and Seals. “Plans, specifications, plats and reports prepared by the registrant shall be signed, dated, and stamped with said seal or facsimile thereof.”
- WAC 196-23-020 Seal/Stamp Usage:
- “Final documents are those documents that are prepared and distributed for filing with public officials, use for construction, final agency approvals or use by clients. Any final document must contain the seal/stamp, license expiration date and signature of the licensee who prepared or directly supervised the work.”
- Preliminary documents are those documents that are not considered final, but are released or distributed by the licensee. Preliminary documents must be clearly identified as “PRELIMINARY” or include such wording so it can be differentiated from a final document. Preliminary documents shall be stamped and dated, but need not be signed by the licensee.”
- WAC 196-23-070 Signature. This WAC describes the meaning or requirements of a “handwritten identification” and a “digital identification”.
- IBC Section 106.1 Submittal documents. Construction documents, special inspection and structural observation programs, and other data shall be submitted in one or more sets with each application for a permit. The construction documents shall be prepared by a registered design professional where required by the statutes of the jurisdiction in which the project is to be constructed. Where special conditions exist, the building official is authorized to require additional construction documents to be prepared by a registered design professional.