Sharing cad files with contractors
Why should a civil engineer typically not provide cad files for construction staking purposes? Several reasons come to mind.
First, in our professional opinion, staking should be provided by a licensed land surveyor (LS). Think about it. By Idaho law, the boundary must be established by a LS. This boundary is used to dimension the site. And many approving agencies require a licensed engineer (PE) prepare the construction drawings (grading plan, drainage plan, utility plan, etc). Furthermore, our plans are typically reviewed by a PE working for the approving agencies. Many features, such as water and sewer mains, are required to be designed by and approved by a PE. Why should all this effort be put forward to ensure the safety of the public if anybody is allowed to stake the features? A LS is more likely to pay attention to mandated rules such as water main separations. A LS also understands the relationship of the boundary to the features being staked. If we share our cad files, it is more likely that staking will be provided by a non LS due to the "magic" provided by the cad file.
Secondly and on the selfish side, Mason & Stanfield is a full service firm. We provide engineering, surveying and staking services. Why give our competition the ability to cut corners? And don't tell me because it saves the client thousands of dollars. I agree it can save a few hundred dollars, but the advantages of having the firm design and stake are worth it. Not to mention the extra set of eyes on your plans when paper copies are used. Hey, plans are not perfect!
Liability and exposure is the third reason. Sure, a contractor can sign a release of liability. But any business owner will tell you the legal costs associated with enforcing it will be very expensive.
The next reason is very simple. If the design PE does his job, the plans will properly dimension (horizontal and vertical) the site features. Control will be provided by the PE. This will allow the LS to quickly calculated the features and hence stake them without the cad file.
Finally, only stamped paper copies are to be used for construction. The cad file does not meet this criteria. This too is simple. On occasion, many engineers will make last minute plan changes by hand. The cad file may not reflect the latest design.
Note: this does not apply to design-build projects since the PE is under contract with the contractor and the risk/reward is more balanced. Also, we do share cad files with other engineers to coordinate related projects.