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View Full Version : Is it possible to legally get blueprints for a specific house?


DeadlyAccurate
10-27-2006, 01:50 PM
As I mentioned in this (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=393885) thread, in the book I'm writing, the characters are planning a heist and they need the blueprints of the mansion they're breaking into.

Three questions:

Is it possible to legally get the blueprints to a specific house? If I went to the right government building could I say, "I want the blueprints to the house on 742 Evergreen Terrace," and that happened to be Barbra Streisand's home, would they give me (or rather, let me buy) copies?

Who would they request the blueprints from?

Who else keeps copies?

DeadlyAccurate
10-27-2006, 01:53 PM
Oh, thought of one more:

If they can legally buy copies of a house's blueprints, is the homeowner informed that someone asked for them? The mansion they're breaking into is owned by a crime boss, so they obviously don't want him to know they're looking for the layout of his house.

GaryM
10-27-2006, 01:55 PM
When I was applying for a building permit in my county, in Missouri, the Zoning and Planning office wanted a set of plans.

Don't know if they kept them on file, or would make copies for anyone.

For commercial buildings, I know the Fire Departments often have sets of floorplans showing locations of hazardous materials and such.

Gfactor
10-27-2006, 02:06 PM
Some older blueprints are available at libraries or archives: http://lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00078/tsw-00078.html

http://lva.lib.va.us/findaid/37533-intro.htm

Others are maintained by local building departments, but most require some documentation: To obtain blueprints, this Department requires written authorization from the property owner, the licensed architect/engineer of record, and a copy of a current grant deed.http://ladbs.org/permits/bldg_permit_records.htm

http://ci.malibu.ca.us/index.cfm?fuseaction=detail&navid=32&cid=107

Here is one where you might be able to get the documents, but they get destroyed after 7 years: http://denvergov.org/Building/template114806.asp

The nice lady here (http://ci.farmington.mi.us/permits.htm) told me they only keep them for 10 years, but anyone can get a copy of what they have.

spingears
10-27-2006, 02:19 PM
Is it possible to legally get the blueprints to a specific house? If I went to the right government building could I say, "I want the blueprints to the house on 742 Evergreen Terrace," and that happened to be Barbra Streisand's home, would they give me (or rather, let me buy) copies? "Bleu" prints are the property of the designer/architect. He might sell a set for a price and would probably ask the ownes for permission to do so. Also 'mansion' implies an older structure and plans may not even exist.Who would they request the blueprints from?The architect.Who else keeps copies?No one that I know of. Once approved the governing authorities have no further need for them nor space to store them.
Why not just case the joint as is the case of most other plots.
OTOH since it is a work of fiction you can do most anything realistic or not. :rolleyes:

Bridget Burke
10-27-2006, 02:26 PM
"Bleu" prints are the property of the designer/architect. He might sell a set for a price and would probably ask the ownes for permission to do so.

So, the criminals need to become even more criminal! Insert someone into the architect's office who can steal or copy the prints? Seduce and/or blackmail the architect?

I'd say "the plot thickens"--but the house may have been built before architects used plotters....

DeadlyAccurate
10-27-2006, 02:44 PM
Ooh, I like the idea of breaking into the architect's office and stealing the prints. Adds more excitement to the book than just going into a government building and paying for a copy.

Thanks, all!

Random
10-27-2006, 03:28 PM
In Illinois, local govenmental authorities may refuse a request from a member of the public to provide copies of building plans that the government has on file.

It's an exception to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (which generally requires goverment agencies to provide copies of public records upon request).

One reason for this is to protect the architect's intellectual property.

10-27-2006, 08:26 PM
Would the blueprints still match the house?

People commonly remodel and make renovations to a house. They are supposed to get permits for this, but would a "crime boss" bother about that? And even if he did get permits, does someone in the government office actually dig out the original blueprints from years ago, and enter the renovations onto those? I'd think it unlikely.

So even if they got the blueprints, they might find a few surprises once they got into the actual house!

picunurse
10-27-2006, 08:49 PM
Here's an idea... How about obtaining old film footage of a tour of the house with a previous owner? You know like you might see on PBS of old, stately buildings?

10-27-2006, 08:56 PM
Here's an idea... How about obtaining old film footage of a tour of the house with a previous owner? You know like you might see on PBS of old, stately buildings?In the Donald Westlake crime series (Dortmunder), his professional thieves state that they commonly check out the architecture magazines in the library, which commonly feature stories and pictures of houses of the wealthy.

alphaboi867
10-27-2006, 09:36 PM
Ooh, I like the idea of breaking into the architect's office and stealing the prints. Adds more excitement to the book than just going into a government building and paying for a copy.

Thanks, all!
Well if it's an old enough builiding the architect may be dead and his papers long gone.

DeadlyAccurate
10-27-2006, 11:58 PM
Thank you for your answers, everyone. You've given me much to consider.

barracuda
10-28-2006, 12:17 AM
Here in the LA area accessability of old plans varies wildly. Older, more settled cities may keep plans indefinitely, or at least microfilm them. Newer, fast-growing cities generally do not have the storage capacity to do so. Some years ago I was doing a remodel in Huntington Beach and was told that six months after a building permit is issued, plans are destroyed.

Architects keep plans for a few years, but eventually they face the same problem--storage. Owners of the homes often keep a copy of the plans, but this is not something you can rely on.

However, there is a very posh suburb of LA called Palos Verdes Estates which has blueprints of every building built in the city since it was incorporated in 1925. The founders of the town had very strict rules about what they wanted it to look like (a Mediterranean hill town looking out over the ocean, all red tile roofs and tan stucco walls) and wrote conditions into the city's charter that created an Architectural Art Jury to evaluate every new building and every remodel in light of the original design. These are kept in a temperature-controlled vault in a separate building from the city hall, with a full-time staff of about six to tend them and deal with an often irate public.

If a house is remodeled or added to, the original plans are kept and the revised one filed with them. Theoretically anyone with access to the vault would have access to the plans of every building in an overwhelmingly residential--and very wealthy--city.

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