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Going "Paperless"

Not applicable
OK. So, what's the news on Electronic Plan Submittal, EPS?

Is it time to design an EPS package, or system of preparation of building "plans" in a format that Building Officials can read on their own monitors in their own work stations, thus eliminating paper, and the delivery of paper plans?

It occurs to me that many aspects of building plan review do not need to be displayed at a large scale, thus a normal computer monitor could function well for plan review. For example the path of travel for building egress could easily be shown diagrammatically.

Links to structural connections, and to special room dimensions could be shown on a "key plan" format for display which would fill the monitor screen, but needn't be a conventional plan with notes and dimensions. Notes would be hyper-linked to other screen views.

Building Departments could have plans printed "on demand" by outside vendors, as needed, rather than submitting multi-page sets of plans in multiple sets, as we do now, saving multiple trips to multiple Departments, ...and time.

A cursory search shows nothing on this important topic. I sense I've missed earlier posts on this topic, but if not, ...what cities and companies are leading the charge to the inevitable Electronic review and approval of building "plans" and who is doing the work? And what have we missed so far?

Is this a thread in ArchiCAD-Talk that I've missed?
Jay wrote:
OK. So, what's the news on Electronic Plan Submittal, EPS?
In this neck of the desert, Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority requires PDF submission. Single PDF per sheet, Excel sheet with hyperlinks for the index.

Still, you have to submit it manually on a CD. However, all the comments and revisions canbe handled by email.

The problem is, most of the consultants are digitally challenged ...


ArchiCAD since 4.55 ... 1995
HP Omen
Stephen Dolbee
When I first heard of the "paperless office" decades ago, it seemed like a great idea that wasn't very far off. Today, however, our office uses more paper than ever. Plot the first set of plans for initial review. Make changes, then plot again. Then the client makes changes, so another plot. Then, the decorator, then the client again, etc., etc. I don't see paperless submittals to gov. agencies coming anytime soon either. Not around our neck of the woods, anyway. Oh well, at least paper is fairly cheap.
AC19(9001), 27" iMac i7, 12 gb ram, ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb, OS 10.12.6
Not applicable
All you say about using even MORE paper is sadly true. But that is my point.

The thrust of my comment is that a paperless process of review and construction seems inevitable for the economy of it, as with video conferencing. But we have not designed the "package" for Electronic Plan Submittals. What we see to date is simply an electronic submittal of pencil drawings.

Building Codes are written and posted online too. But, to date, they are not much more than scanned pages where hyperlinked footnotes, tables and related chapters should be used, ...not to mention colors and 3D illustrations and animations with audio.

"Digital" could simplify our plan submittals and various zoning and building codes.

Isn't it time we pushed the art forward a bit?
Not applicable
In re-reading the text of all this another simple idea occurs to me.

Digital packages must be designed around the medium, It's is obvious that the medium includes video conferences too.

Why deliver paper in person, and why have plan review meetings scheduled way in advance when a plan checker could just video conference with the architect?

We shoud add the video submittal/conference to the list of components of digital plan check/review and permitting.

Other components include: the color/task connection (dimensions in a color, walls in a different color); specific key plans for specific purposes such as dimensions, egress, general notes; zoom-out from key plans for more definition; 3D details and sections; descriptive animation; catalogue input direct from manufacturers.

(This is just a partial list intended to contribute to the pool of other partial lists that may be out there in an effort to push "paperless" forward.)

"Paperless" must save the Building Officlals time and money. So far paper is easier for them to check and I understand why. Monitors are too small, basically.

But paper is FAR MORE EXPENSIVE to store and handle, we have an opening.

Apparently Dubai is modern enough to be asking for pdf formated plans for storage. That's a good start. Smart too.
Until the building owners, contractors, and building officials are on board with "paperless", I don't see the architects making it happen.

I saw it often, that until the guy swinging the hammer on the job site has an electronic reader, I don't see paperless construction anytime soon.
Tom Waltz
I'm scared. My fear is that by going "paperless" we'll somehow lose reality. And that makes me rant!
We have paper because it is legal - undeniable - quick to make notes on. Current digital tools don't suppllant this and should not be trusted.

1: What's a document?
I signed a contract the other day with a group in another city. They didn't number the pages and they sent me a PDF of a scan of the contract for my records. Very cavalier.
It's NOT real.
There's no way to authoritatively stand up in court and wave a document with some real ink marks on it that really says what the agreement is, indelibly. (notwithstanding the fact that the wording of the document might make it incomprehensible - another problem.)
"Your Honor, I have the printout of the contract. I think it is what my client signed, but I can't be sure."
This is why we talk about contracts being in parts: The document was divided so that it took a meeting of all the parties to read the document.
Electronic documents aren't real.
2: What's a real record?
When I was just out of architecture school, I consulted with an insurance company adjusting a claim from an engineering firm whose records room had been flooded. What a mess - mostly storm sewer silt. The insurance company had used the local army base's vacuum/freeze drying facility and botched the fix, because it "glued" the silt to the blueprint paper. Much better to individually wash off the rolls of paper and let them air dry, as we learned.
These documents, as messed-up as they were, were the legal records of what the engineers specified and were virtually indestructable. Well, okay: fire. "Poof." That's why God made sprinklers.
The engineer's drawings were important, not only because of the information they contained, but because they were the only proof of what had been ordered by the engineer. Or not.

I hate to come off like an old guy, but I've been in court dealing with liars enough to know that real is real and digital is fake. So, review electronically all you like, but in the end there will always be, and SHOULD always be, something physical to wave in court when people disagree over what was said or ordered. "See this coffee ring, I made that. It's real!"

Let me tell you how paper saved me paying for a change order in a public art project. Like usual, I was late specifying the power requirement for my moving installation. There's always a problem because you need to test the thing on house current, but it want to be in a building a 542Volts or whatever. There was a meeting in a construction shed where I wrote "220V" on the drawing and said "Can I please have a copy of this?". So when the 600V default wiring (they had to put something there) didn't get changed and when we showed up with our 220V motors, there was trouble. Sparks would have flown. (You know, the worst thing your electrician can say is "What's that smoke?"). I avoided paying for the change because I could prove that the contractor failed to incorporate my instruction. The point of this is that when things get a little less formal, paper is our only protection.

Of course, we forget the old formal ways, and, now, people sloppily affix their professional seals to things that can be reproduced by anyone, muddying the situation between real and not real. Legal, not legal. Deniable, not deniable.

It is often a long time between when a document is made and when something goes wrong. I got a call from a lawyer last week about a right-of-way agreement that was discussed in a meeting I attended in 1980. They called me because they were trying to reconstruct what was agreed to now that the condo association built a fence along the space where the firetrucks need to drive. I remember that moment with clarity. It was so boring, my mind drifted to thinking about women. (Remember, its a good excuse to avoid conflict: distracted by daydreams) Even though the conclusion was obvious, I wasn't going to get involved in it. Too bad for them.

How can you solve these disagreements without paper?
Can you pick a more reliable archive method.
Okay, stone tablets with lists on them. Lists of ten.
But tablets break in lightning.

Rant complete.
Anybody else care to comment on this?
Does anybody care, or have i gone off wrong like Miss Emily Litella?
Dwight Atkinson
Not applicable
TomWaltz wrote:
Until the building owners, contractors, and building officials are on board with "paperless", I don't see the architects making it happen.
Architects can't drive this. They have too much to do, enough liability already, and not enough fees as it is.

If there are real productivity benefits and cost savings to be had, it is the owners who will reap the rewards and will need to take the risks. Contractors have some opportunity here but it is limited. Building officials will probably be the slowest to change and so "Permit Sets" will be around for a long time.
I saw it often, that until the guy swinging the hammer on the job site has an electronic reader, I don't see paperless construction anytime soon.
I can't see a portable job site reader becoming popular any time soon. A piece of paper is still the most efficient and reliable way to carry a lot of information in an easily accessible form.

I also agree with Dwight that there has to be a verifiable paper trail to confirm everyone's agreements/obligations. There will always be mistakes and disputes in the business of making buildings and the better the documentation the easier they are to resolve.

I don't really see ever becoming truly "paperless". TV didn't do away with radio, nor synthesizers eliminate acoustical instruments, nor e-mail make letters disappear. As I see it we will continue to get better at making (paper) Contract Documents as part of the product of the building model while we also find new ways to use the model to expedite the actual construction process. Done right, we should be able to reduce the need for paper - and disputes - but I don't see either going away completely.
Aussie John
I saw it often, that until the guy swinging the hammer on the job site has an electronic reader, I don't see paperless construction anytime soon.

Lets be real here. When was the last time you saw a guy swinging a hammer looking at a piece of paper
Cheers John
John Hyland : ARINA :
User ver 4 to 12 - Jumped to v22 - so many options and settings!!!
OSX 10.15.6 [Catalina] : Archicad 22 : 15" MacBook Pro 2019
I thought the reason we gave them specifications in a book was that they would have something to throw away.

My first job doing field service: they took my fantastic and beautiful stair section, folded the drawing set it was in all up and stuck it in a clear plastic bag because it was raining (Vancouver) , then they nailed it to the wall with a single 4" spike through the middle.
I was flattered, because, once it is hung on a wall, anything is art.
Dwight Atkinson

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