A post about a remarkable technological leap in the construction industry would hardly be news. The advances we’ve witnessed over the last few decades have been (and continue to be) revolutionary. But some steps ‘forward’ serve as reminders that critical sectors of the industry have a long way to go.

Connecticut recently adopted revised regulations that allow architects to use electronic seals on digital documents. Seeing as architects have been exchanging documents electronically for decades, and with prior rules requiring that seals be applied only to hardcopies, the change is long overdue. Architects have actively pursued electronic seals as a way to reduce time and costs associated with printing and transmitting documents, and they have had to wait more than two years longer than engineers and land surveyors for permission to use them. This revision to § 20-289-7 of the regulations is welcome news, and it brings Connecticut in line with the majority of states in permitting electronic seals. But while this offers some relief to the reproduction budgets for Connecticut projects, bear in mind that most municipal building departments in Connecticut still do not accept electronic documents. Until they do, submission of hardcopies with wet seals will continue to be de rigueur on most projects.

Architects planning to use an electronic seal need to file their seal with the Architecture Licensing Board, and use of the seal must meet the following criteria:

  • It is unique to the architect;
  • It is verifiable;
  • It is under the architect’s direct and exclusive control;
  • It is linked to the electronic document in such a manner that causes changes to be easily determined and visually displayed if any data in the electronic document file is changed subsequent to the electronic seal having been affixed to the electronic document;
  • Any attempt to change the electronic document after the electronic seal is affixed shall cause the electronic seal to be removed or altered significantly enough to invalidate the electronic seal; and
  • Any time the electronic document is to be electronically transmitted, the electronic document shall be converted to a read-only format.