My Dad, a residential designer and draftsman, died recently. He had a
one-man design and drafting firm for more than thirty years, and his
archive of old blueprints is large.
What should I do with all these old plans?
I could contact all the owners and ask if they want them, but that kind
of effort isn't my first choice--my parents' home is a seven-hour drive
from mine. I could trash them, but that's just *wrong*. I could donate
them somewhere, but who would want them?
Unless there is a "notable" design in there, the current house owners
are the only ones that would really be interested. Displaying/storage
and inventorying the drawings all have costs, whether it's monetary
costs or not. Not many would take on the chore unless there was a
readily visible upside to the situation.
I'd certainly like to have the original drawings to any house I worked
on - they'd be most handy. Contacting the current owners would cost
you in time and effort as well. The costs in simply mailing the
drawings, gratis, would be substantial. If you wanted to invest even
more time, you could try selling them for a flat fee to cover postage
and handling. Fifteen or twenty bucks...? It's worth it to anyone
that works on the house, but I have no idea how many takers you'd
Short of going to all of that trouble...recycle the paper.
On Fri, 13 Feb 2009 18:23:04 -0800 (PST), RicodJour
I think I would send a post card out to the current residents
of the homes offering to send them the drawing for a price you would
find it profitable to send it to them and make the offer for a limited
I exepct your Dad must have charged money for the designs. I
think it's appropriate that his son would offer them the
prints for some small sum of money, twenty to fifty bucks
sounds in the right range.
If you have a good list of addresses, and the majority of them are
local, I'd spend a day driving around and just deliver them. (You'll be
there anyway for the estate work, right? Add a day into your plans.) Gas
is pretty cheap right now, and with hand delivery, you don't need
mailing tubes, just the long skinny poly bags, available at any drafting
supply house. Don't hang around for a conversation or to reassure the
people that you aren't selling anything- just stick them in the door,
ring the bell, and run. Print up a stack of explanations, and include
them with the plans, maybe.
My father, also a long-time designer kept a set of every plan he did.
When he culled his archives for a cross-country move, he kept one or two
of the dipped-in-brick cookie cutters that were the bread and butter for
his company, and slimmed down the sets for the high-end customs to one
full set of clean tracings for each house. It was still like 30 stacking
file drawers worth. Flat storage would have be a lot smaller, but
getting all those old sheets to uncurl was too much to consider. He
always gave each customer a full set of the as-built plans with
instructions to squirrel it away for future work, but who knows how many
paid attention, or passed to on to the next owners? He gave up being a
GC, but kept on with the design work, and again has a huge collection of
prints. Not sure what I am gonna do with them once the time comes. He
never got comfortable with designing on a screen, so a lot of these
sheets are paper only. Maybe get them scanned someplace or something.
I know, most home owners would be clueless how to read a set of prints
or understand how useful they are for repair and remodeling projects.
All you can do is all you can do.
Closing thought- you may want to post the same query over on
alt.architecture. Not all of them are snobs about designers without a
stamp, and they doubtless run into the same situation a lot with one-man
shops or bigger shops that go belly-up.
It's hard to throw out all that paper that represents a life's work.
On the other hand, it has little value.
Few folks stay in the same house for more than a few years.
Codes and life styles have changed.
Paper isn't the easiest thing to move around.
I think the best one could do is sell the library to another house
Alternatively, if you want to take the time and money, the drawings
could be scanned and sold.
I'd give $200 for the plans to this place.
If they're plans for 1200sf tract homes, maybe not so marketable.
Still, I wouldn't trash the evidence of my dad's life work, they'd be
worth keeping to me.
How about contacting them and offering to mail them? It would take a
little time and cost a little in postage (mailing tubes, etc.), but
probably few of the customers would want their plans. It would be a nice
Personally, I like Vista, but I probably won\'t use it. I like it
because it generates considerable business for me in consulting and
Sorry to hear about your dad Steve.
If you do decide to contact the owners, just tell them you ask only for
the cost to get them to them - any packing, cartons, tubes, postage, etc.
and mention you are not adding in anything for your time (if that's what
If they are not willing to cover costs then they really don't want them.
For those who accept it, for your effort you get the satisfaction of
knowing your dads work remains and has value to someone.
Been there, done that. After the Oakland, CA fire (early '90's) I
accumulated about 150 sets of architectural drawings for some rather
expensive homes. These new homes were being appraised and sold in the $ 6
to 8 hundred thousand range. I was doing Civil Engineering and Land
Surveying and architects were supplying me with full drawing sets so we
could do grading plans and building layouts.
Anyway, in early 2001 I mailed every single home owner notifying them that I
have plans for their residence and I would deliver them if they signed an
enclosed 'hold harmless' agreement. For my efforts I got several blasts
from ***hole attorneys telling me that if I don't give them the drawings
without the 'hold harmless' they will sue me. Naturally, some of the
drawings got 'misplaced' and never delivered.
All-in-all, it was not worth the effort. I thought I was doing a good deed
but learned otherwise.
A school (his alma mater) or professional organization might be
interested. Or an historical society in the area where he worked. An
art museum. If he did design work for an organization, such as
municipal, educational or notable commercial facilities, they might be
interested in preserving the work or helping to find interested parties.
A small ad in the local paper, to homeowners, could bring purchasers if
you charge for shipping.
What kind of volume is involved for storage? Could a professional
friend take on the job of scanning them so at least digital copies are
preserved? My city has digital versions of all the building plans, at
least as old as our condo (40 years).
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