Preparing and sealing documents: Landscape architects

Who can prepare and seal architectural documents submitted for a building permit?

It will depend on the scope of the work for which a building permit is sought. The practice of engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, and land surveying are regulated professions and, except for limited exceptions, the type of work described in the documents being submitted for a building permit will need to be prepared and sealed by the applicable professional. The practice of engineering and land surveying is defined in and regulated through RCW 18.43.

May Washington state-licensed architects, engineers, or landscape architects prepare documents for submittal to public authorities for an exempt structure such as a residence, a structure of less than 4,000 square feet, or for other exempt work without their professional seal and signature?

No, regardless of whether the structure or work is exempt or non-exempt, Washington state-registered architects, engineers and landscape architects must seal and sign all drawings they prepare when filed with public authorities. See:

Do pre-engineered structures need to be sealed by an appropriate licensed architect, engineer or landscape architect when submitted to the building official for approval?

Pre-engineered structures such as “manufactured” buildings are treated no differently than other buildings. The plans for non-exempt structures must be prepared and stamped by an appropriate design professional registered in Washington. Examples of such structures are:

  • Prefabricated metal buildings
  • Roof truss systems
  • Post-tension or pre-stress designs
  • Pre-cast concrete building components

May an owner or builder or contractor make changes to an architect’s, engineer’s, or landscape architect’s sealed documents?

No, when plans are sealed by a Washington state-registered design professional, changes including addenda and change orders must be approved by that professional or another registered design professional in the same profession who then assumes responsibility for the changes along with all affected documents.

May a Washington State registered design professional make changes to filed plans prepared by another Washington-registered design professional?

Yes, but only in the following circumstances (RCW 18.08.320(16) and WAC 308-12-081):

  • The changes and all other related or affected portions of the structure must be shown on separate plan sheets that are stamped by the registered design professional making the changes. The seal on these change sheets means the professional is certifying that he or she takes responsibility for all portions of the structure that are related to or affected by the changes even if some or even most of the affected work is not being changed.
  • The drawings as changed must meet all requirements of law.

May Washington State registered (licensed) architects, engineers, or landscape architects practice any of the 3 professional disciplines in Washington?

No, they cannot practice any of the 3 disciplines or represent themselves as practitioners of any of the 3 professional disciplines unless they are specifically registered or licensed by Washington State to practice in that specific professional discipline.

Are there penalties for facilitating the unlicensed practice of architecture or other regulated businesses and professions?

Yes, “aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice or operate a business or profession when a license is required” is against the law. RCW 18.235.130(9)

Questions?

Contact us: DFCcompliance@dol.wa.gov

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