In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Laura Vlaming, CKD, Arkiteriors, asked the following question: Independent Designers: How do you handle it when a client asks you for your Word documents (scope of work) and/or CAD files in lieu of PDF files?
Vlaming went on to share some more detail. “I have a current client who has, and in the past I have shared my Autocad files with architects when working on a mutual project. This seems more invasive, and I wonder if there are any liabilities in sharing with clients. I do not have anything in the design agreement he signed addressing this.”
We want to share the responses from other designers with you.
Pete Walker, Developer, The Proximity Kitchensystem at Walker Design Group, proximitykitchen.com
If you’ve been paid for the work, [there’s] no reason not to share the files. I’d make sure you get the client to release you from any liability regarding revisions (yours) or alterations (anyone else’s) after you release the electronic files. There are other considerations, I’m sure, but this one seems most important.
Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, Designer/Owner/Author at Fresh Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC
Did you ask the client why he wants the files? This certainly sounds like he wants to make some changes somewhere. Pete makes a good point about being released from liability should you release electronic files.
Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS, Owner/Principal Designer at A Kitchen That Works
Our contract stipulates that only drawings marked “final” can be distributed (viewed) by anyone other than the client. So although Pete’s idea has merit, assuming you can get them to sign a release in advance and make sure your documents are stamped appropriately, i.e., DRAFT or FINAL.
Nina Green, Principal Interior Designer at NGD Interiors
I do release my designs if they have been paid for. However, in my contract it states that my design documents are not to be used for construction, permitting or other things that would have to be signed off on by an architect. I would make sure that is stated somewhere. If the [designs] have not been paid for, then no, and it states in my contract that all of my designs are my property.
Elizabeth (Eli) Hunter, Because YOUR Kitchen Should Be BITCHIN’! ™
I only release drawings with a design retainer paid in full and other documents (scope of work) with a signed contract for project management. The drawings belong to the client after payment, and they are free to have other contractors bid off of them but not other documents.
Vlaming’s final comments regarding the feedback:
Thanks everyone for your comments and emails. After updating myself regarding professional liability and copyright laws and how they relate, specifically, to our drawings, I am putting together an agreement for him to sign before I release them (IF, I choose to do that) and will add this to my design agreement.