THE LAW AND CIVIL ENGINEERING – JULY 2020 NEWSLETTER
Signing the Plans – Requirements and Responsibilities
by Eugene Bass
The California Business and Professions code provides that all civil engineering plans, calculations, specifications, and reports, including documents for structural and geotechnical work, must be prepared by, or under the responsible charge of, a registered civil engineer and shall include his or her name and license number. Interim documents shall include a notation as to the intended purpose of the document, such as “preliminary,” “not for construction,” “for plan check only,” or “for review only.” All civil engineering plans and specifications that are permitted or that are to be released for construction shall bear the signature and seal or stamp of the registrant, the date of signing and sealing or stamping, and the expiration date of the certificate or authority. All final civil engineering calculations and reports shall bear the signature and seal or stamp of the registrant, the date of signing and sealing or stamping, and the expiration date of the certificate or authority. If civil engineering plans are required to be signed and sealed or stamped and have multiple sheets, the signature, seal or stamp, date of signing and sealing or stamping, and expiration date of the certificate or authority shall appear on each sheet of the plans. If civil engineering specifications, calculations, and reports are required to be signed and sealed or stamped and have multiple pages, the signature, seal or stamp, date of signing and sealing or stamping, and expiration date of the certificate or authority shall appear at a minimum on the title sheet, cover sheet, or signature sheet.
The code also provides that a registered civil engineer who signs civil engineering documents shall not be responsible for damage caused by subsequent changes to or uses of those documents, if the subsequent changes or uses, including changes or uses made by state or local governmental agencies, are not authorized or approved by the registered engineer who originally signed the documents, provided that the engineering service rendered by the civil engineer who signed the documents was not also a proximate cause of the damage.
The signing of civil engineering plans, specifications, reports, or documents which relate to the design of fixed works shall not impose a legal duty or responsibility upon the person signing the plans, specifications, reports, or documents to supervise the construction of engineering structures or the construction of the fixed works which are the subject of the plans, specifications, reports, or documents. However, nothing shall preclude a civil engineer and a client from entering into a contractual agreement which includes a mutually acceptable arrangement for the provision of construction supervision services with all the potential liabilities and responsibilities associated with that agreement.
This article is intended only to provide general information regarding legal issues. It is not to be relied upon for legal advice. Contact your attorney for advise and guidance on general and specific legal issues.