Architectural drawings
Can an Architect Just Stamp Your Drawings? (No! And Here’s Why)

It’s a common situation. You are planning a commercial fit out to expand your business. Your friend with construction experience drafts some drawings, and you contact your city government to get a building permit. Unfortunately, the city says you cannot move forward until you have drawings that are stamped by an architect.  

Hoping this will be a quick and easy process, you contact a few architecture firms and ask them to stamp the drawings your friend created. Each firm gives you the same answer: “no.” 

Why is that? 

Over the years, we’ve received many calls from individuals who find themselves in this exact situation. Rather than hanging up the phone after saying “no,” we hope to educate those who are confused and frustrated. Although it may seem like an inconvenience, there is a good reason behind an architect turning down your request. 

This article will explain: 

  • The significance of an architect’s stamp 
  • The reason city and state governments require an architect’s involvement 
  • Why an architect should never stamp drawings created by another 

After reading, you will better understand why your municipality requires you to involve an architect and how you should proceed from here. 

What is an Architect’s “Stamp?” 

Many government bodies require an architect’s stamp before issuing a building permit, though the rules will differ across jurisdictions. An architect’s signature and stamp signify that the drawings were either: 

  • Created by the architect 
  • Created under the architect’s direct supervision 

Essentially, by stamping the drawings, the architect claims responsibility for the work and certain liabilities. If a design flaw were to impact the health, safety, and welfare of the building occupants, the architect could be held personally responsible. Therefore, stamping a set of drawings comes with substantial responsibility. 

Why Does the City Require an Architect’s Approval? 

Building codes are meant to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Architects have a duty to follow these codes and make sure the built environment is safe and comfortable. Taking on this responsibility means passing a rigorous examination process and earning a license. 

In short, architects have the necessary training and education to lead the design process, work with contractors and government officials, and design spaces that are safe for the public. 

By requiring an architect’s stamp before issuing a building permit, a municipality is placing its trust in the architect’s abilities. This is not a responsibility anyone should take lightly. 

Why Can’t an Architect Just Stamp Drawings? 

Signing or stamping a set of construction documents carries a lot of weight. An architect’s stamp signifies that they oversaw the design work and the completion of the drawings. It is illegal—not to mention unethical—to take credit for design work one did not accomplish.  

At the same time, architects take responsibility for the integration of building systems through a comprehensive understanding of design, construction, and coordination of project teams. The public is trusting architects to do this job well, and the architect can be held personally responsible if the design were to endanger any occupants.  

If an architect is taking their responsibility seriously, they will be involved with a project from its inception to its completion. 

What Are Your Next Steps? 

Although it may seem inconvenient, an architect cannot simply stamp a set of drawings created by another. Architects should (and want to be) a part of the design process and help you reach your project goals. 

If your local government will not issue a building permit until you have an architect’s stamp, you will need to work with an architect and start the design process from the beginning. 

Different architects take on different projects. We may not be the right fit for every project, but we are happy to learn about your goals, discuss your options, and recommend someone who might be the right fit. 

If you are planning to work with an architect, learn what you can expect by reading our breakdown of the architectural process and architectural fees