Any idea on how to find original plans for a house?

Just purchased a property in Miami, built in 1972, sold to second owner in 1985 and now sold to me. House was custom built and has a lot of unique features but unable to find any plans.
Went to the Dade County buildings department, was told any plans between 1961 and 1972 were on microfiche but those were "eaten up" by parasites and all gone. Nothing is left.
Last owner is an elderly who had a stroke and cannot remember much, not even the combination to the floor safe in the house, or much of anything. Looked through the house and no plans.
Tracked down original owner who is the architect, says he has retired and closed his business and all plans were thrown out.
Then I started to trace the mortgage lenders...too bad all of those BLAH BLAH BLAH Savings and Loan Associations no longer in business, only one survived and have nothing older than 1996 at all.
Any idea of where else I might look to locate any plans that might show sewer, water, electrical, structural, there are a lot of conduits in the house for alarms, intercom, central vac, electrical...now everything has to be done by trial and error and if we have to do any remodeling we have to hire an architect to redo the plans...not looking forward to it.
Thanks in advance,
MC
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Sounds like you have exhausted most all the possibilities. You might try to find similar houses in the area built by the same builder and you may find some plans that are close.
The plans would be useful for such things as identifying load bearing walls and such but as far as electrical, plumbing etc. That stuff may be shown on plans but not in the detail that will help you much. The plans will most likely only tell you what you already know - panel here - toilet there etc. Back when I was wiring new houses we put major items in place as requested of course but I am sure it was not exactly as drawn on the plans. In fact I don't remember even looking at plans, (my boss did of course) but details were left up to us. If there were special requests such as an extra outlet here or there we did that, otherwise we just wired to code any way we could. Same for plumbing, alarm systems etc. Also allot of stuff could have been added after the house was built or added changed during the building process and not updated on the plans. Kevin
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City building department? Similar homes around by same architect/builder?
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wrote:

would not expect every wire or pipe to be where it shows on the plan, particularly in a custom home. My wife builds "master plan" production homes and that is even true there. They do a lot of "as built" in homes that essentually look like clones. Sometime the change is a better method and may get reflected in the next revision of the plan. Other times it is just at the whim of a trade. Inspectors are usually only looking at code compliance, not "per plan". In 1972 Dade County he might not have got out of his car. (one reason why Andrew caused so much damage)
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You sound like my judge. I sued a contractor because he agreed to follow my architect's plans, but cut corners everywhere. The judge ruled that I was unreasonable in expecting a contractor to be honest. I won, but only a fraction of what I should have.
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workmanship, and other details defined in a way that architect, owner, general contractor ,and all sub-contractors understand and agree on. Don Young
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Don Young wrote:

I am one of lucky guy. My contractor makes up what we miss on our plan and make sure things get done correctly over and aboce expectations. All his subs were on same wave length. He built us 3 houses and now retired. A German gentleman. Once we have our plan drawn, we could do the business with shake of our hands. And I always kept full set of blue prints; house plan, wiring diagrams, HVAC run, list of sub contractors. Passed them onto the folks who bought the house.
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wrote:

Tried this on a house. After so long the county defers you to the architect. Of course, in my case it was seven years and he had destroyed them. This is a good case for digital archiving.

Would the family have any older pictures they would not mind sharing? It could possibly show any changes to the home, specifically after a "him-a-cane"... repairs, etc..

Can you take pictures, plus take this original owner to lunch and interview him with the pictures? Make notes - some little things will better help you understand. Might jar his memory a little. Was he involved in any storm repair while he lived there?
Oren
"My doctor says I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber, and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."
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I wish...architect moved to a different state when retired. Did not remember much and is in the upper 80s. He did tell me the house was one of a kind and custom designed, nothing else like it.

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I had a house built in 1968. I picked out the plan from a book of houses and the developer got the plans and built the house. At the closing, I asked for a copy of the plans, The developer wanted to charge me extra. I said, "forget it, the house wasn't built to plan anyway". He gave me the plans. What was worth more was that I was living in an apartment pretty close and would run over after work and take pictures before the sheetrock and siding hid it all. That way I had a clue about pipe and wire runs. They are not on the plans anyway, just the placement of the fixtures etc.
Charlie

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On Sat, 6 May 2006 15:47:45 -0400, "Charlie Bress"

will simply refuse to give you the plans. Of course you could steal a set from the permit board and nobody would be surprised. They lose them all the time. (trades or inspectors forget to put them back)
... but it would be wrong
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This was a local outfit. Actually a real estate guy who was backing a contractor.
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On Sat, 6 May 2006 15:47:45 -0400, "Charlie Bress"

All I have is a townhouse, but I figured none of my neighbors would have plans either. And the house was only 4 years old, so original owners remembered the architect. He made blueprints for me for 15 or 20 dollars, the cost of copying he said. Very easy to deal with.
But they haven't helped me any yet. The immediate need was that the first owner sheet-rocked over the phone jack in the master bedroom, but the plans don't show phone lines anyhow. Dimensions were shown, but not what things were made of, like the siding and the brick, iirc.
Your house (the op's) sounds much more complicated than mine, but I think you'll enjoy figuring this stuff out as you need to know it. And I'm sure you'll succeed.
Maybe?? you won't have to submit plans for the entire house, only the parts to be remodelled, and that you'd have to do anyhow.
Did they say what insects eat microfiche?
...For a while I was friends with a guy (worked for the same charity) a few years younger than I who was a laborer on these houses when they were built! The guy's family is a lot richer than mine, and I think he was related to the builder or the owner of the bank that did the financing. His father or uncle got him a summer job.

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It sounds like you did all you could. I would second the idea of looking for similar houses in the area and see if they were built/designed by the same company.
We recently tracked down the plans for our house. It's a raised ranch built in 1967, has had about 6 owners and the original home-owner plans were long gone. The town building & zoning department didn't have them. I tracked down the builder (still in business and on the 3rd generation) for this development and asked the folks in the front office very nicely for help and offered to pay for a copy of the plans. One guy went down to their old files in storage, search out our house file and gave us a set at no charge. That was very nice of them to go to this effort and I plan to write a thank you letter.
The actual plans are extremely interesting and explains a lot of funky stuff as well. At first I thought they gave me the wrong plans since the first page showed an exterior elevation that didn't match our house at all. In fact it matched a house down the street that was built in 1966, a year before our place. Looking through each page though, one could see all sorts of penciled - in modifications that did match our house. The original exterior elevation showed a sort of modern Frank Lloyd Wright knock-off (but not in a good way with windows off center - on the corners of the house/rooms instead of in the center of walls, weird "rubble-built" style of rock facade) but, due to the buyers preferences, it was changed to a nicer (IMHO) style (brick facade, windows centered in walls, hip roof ). According to the plans the garage level was supposed to be in-between the basement & first floor levels with a door in the rear to the backyard. Instead the grading was done so the garage & basement were on the same level which resulted in the back of the garage inset in the ground to about 4 feet. We had always wondered about the partially done door framing in the back of the garage but now see that the builder had second thoughts about making it work and it was never completed.
Chris
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