The blueprints to your building are one of the most important components to a disaster preparation and recovery plan. The technical drawings outline a property’s floor plans, dimensions, the locations of rooms and utilities, fixtures, and other important details. By keeping a copy of blueprints safe and easily accessible, you will provide emergency personnel with vital information if they need to enter a building. The drawings are also helpful if your organization wishes to modify the building in the future.
How to Find a Building’s Blueprints
You may be able to locate a building’s blueprints by contacting the contractor that constructed it, as the firm may have copies of the drawings or can direct you to someone who does. If you don’t know which contractor undertook the project, you may find these details from original building permits filed with the city’s zoning board.
Original or Previous Property Owner
If your firm purchased an existing building, the original property owner or a previous owner may have the blueprints. If you don’t know who the owners were, the real estate agency that helped you acquire the property may have access to this information. You may also find this information in municipal records.
The county clerk, county recorder or land registrar may maintain copies of building blueprints. If so, you may need to fill out paperwork and pay a fee for administrative and copying costs. Depending on your municipality, you may also find a copy of the blueprints online.
Commissioning New Blueprints
If you come to a dead end during your search for the building’s blueprints, you may hire an architectural firm to draft a new set of drawings. It may be a good idea to hire the architectural firm that performed the original work because one of the partners or principals may be familiar with the property’s layout.
Tips for Keeping Blueprints Safe
Once your office obtains a copy of the building’s blueprints, taking measures to keep them safe will prevent the need to search for them again, as well as reduce document restoration costs. Ways to keep drawings safe from tears, water damage, mold and fires include:
- Storage at an off-site location: Keep a copy of the drawings at a secure, off-site location, such as a safe deposit box. Doing this ensures easy access to a physical copy if the on-site copy receives damage.
- Electronic copies: If you have physical copies of blueprints, scan and save the electronic versions on a CD or USB drive. Keep one of the CDs or USB drives in the building, and store a copy in a secure, off-site location. It is also a good idea to save a copy of the drawings to a secure cloud storage solution so you have access to them from any device that connects to the Internet.
- Upstairs storage: Store blueprints and other important documents that aren’t already kept off-site on the upper levels of a building. Doing so prevents and minimizes water damage in the event of a flood.
- Water-and fire-proof storage: It is always wise to store important documents in a water-and fire-proof file cabinet. If the drawings are too large to keep in a locking file cabinet, consider storing them in a large steel flat file drawer, a locking storage cabinet or a large safe.
Ensure that workers and emergency personnel know how to find a copy of the blueprints by notating their location in a disaster preparation plan.
If your blueprints or documents experience water, fire or mold damage, you may be able to salvage them. Contact Polygon as soon as you notice the damage. Our specialists will promptly arrive to your building to assess the damage, stabilize the documents and provide suggestions regarding the best courses of action. Call today to talk to a specialist about your document restoration needs.
[Will Scullin via CC License 2.0]