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Depending on where you build you can sometimes avoid needing sealed prints by building under a certain square footage. In some locations, any residence under 1500 square feet does not need to be sealed. While it is important to build safely, getting plans sealed can be financial burden for a DIY’er. Local building code enforcers are usually happy to work with you for free on your plans to help any issues during your build.
More and more, building inspectors around the country are requiring that construction drawings, or “blueprints,” (which are rarely blue anymore) for residences be sealed by a licensed architect or engineer. This licensed professional must review, and in some cases supervise the drawing of, these documents. They then put their professional seal on them. This means they take full responsibility for all the information provided. If the building is built as drawn and sealed, any failure or defect that shows up during or after the home is constructed is their responsibility. This is also as close as we get to an assurance that the building is designed to perform under the conditions of its location and use. This sealing and assumption of responsibility has been a requirement for a long time in commercial construction. Slowly but surely, it is making its way into the homebuilding business. Check with your local building department to get the requirements for the area in which you plan to build before any design work is started.