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What would a real architect do?

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I've produced only a few sets of drawings using VW. When I draw up a plot plan based on county information or other previously drawn plans, I scale it out, measure the angles and duplicate it. Granted, I need the practice, but what does a real architect do? Could I simply scan the image, turn it into some kind of file, & import it into VW? If so, could I turn it into editable VW lines, polygons, text, etc? If this is possible, which format is most useful for this purpose?

Thanks for your input. (Mac user)

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"Vectorization" software does what you want. It reads a bitmap (or "raster") image file (that's where the graphic image is defined by assigning a color to each individual pixel, row by row and line by line), and turns it into a vector image file (where the image is defined by specifying only the key points on geometric figures).

The scanner gives you a bitmap image file, such as TIFF or JPEG, and the vectorization program converts that file and then saves it as probably an AutoCad file or an Encapsulated PostScript file, either of which can be imported into VectorWorks.

There are vectorization programs for Windows machines for as little as $100. Some of them give you a certain amount of free trial before you have to pay. I don't know what's available for the Mac.

Another way to do it is to import the bitmap image into VectorWorks on another layer and trace over it. You won't be able to snap to any points on the bitmap, of course, and having a bitmap in a VectorWorks file slows it down unmercifully; but the vectorization software is not completely trouble-free either.

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i would NEVER scale a plot plan, or use a scan as a plot plan. its a legal document that effects zoning restrictions, and that could severely impact the project, or the reputation of the owner and architect. as an architect these are some options, in no real order, i would investigate:

1. i would use the metes and bounds information on the paper plot plan, or county plan, and redraw the plot using the 'property line' tool.

2. i would redraw the plot using description from owners deed description.

3. i would recomend you ask the owner hire hire a survayor to give you an accurate plot plan.

i would only use a scan to trace certain site features, such as streams, ponds, trees, landscape items such as rocks, or driveways. i would then go to the site and do some check measuring. in any case i would always add a note to the site plan clearly indicating where the site information came from. hope this helps...

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There are a couple of ways to do this. First you should request that the owner of the project provide you with a plot plan done by a licenced surveyor. This is required by the AIA contract. It is the most acurate way to do it and it covers your butt in case there are problems later with setbacks, easements, utlitity locations, slopes, trees, etc. Well worth the money in the long run. Request from the surveyor an electronic version (DWG) file to import into VWKS. Make sure the scale is proper after you import the DWG file (very important). Print out the file and check with a scale. If the surveyor is not on autocad then he's the wrong guy for the job. Everybody is computerised these days. This is a great way to go because he can just email it to you. Saves time, is more acurate, etc. Plus you can then email back to him your building layout / site plan for him to layout the building in the field. Saves him time too and it is right on the money as far as the layout. well worth the money spent. Most Building / Planning Depts may require a survey by a licensed surveyor anyway. Also they may even require to have property corners, setback lines, easements, etc. staked out in the field prior to excavating the foundations. Second if if your client is cheap and will not pay for this, you can use the property line tool to imput boundary data from the parcel map or legal discription. Then you can scan in the topo info, etc. and scale up the scan to fit as close as possible the boundary drawing from before. You must use the boundary tool to insure acuracy. Be very careful to get the right numbers. The boundary tool is great because if you imput the wrong dimensions it will not close the boundary. You can spend hours doing this which is not very efficent. The scan can be way off depending on where you go the info, etc. Once you size the scan properly, then trace the contours with the belzer line tool with as few control points as possible. Trace all the info you need from the scan and then dump the scan from the file. Scans will really bog down the file. Tracing does not take that long and you will get much better output control over line thicknesses, colors, dashes lines, etc. I would use this second way only if there were no potential issues with setbacks, easements, etc. like a large lot and a small project. Be sure to be as acurate as possible, especially with the boundary property lines, easements, etc. If you are not it can really come back to bite you when you go into construction. Make your client aware of the pitfalls of not getting a survey. Contours can be way off or old and not current. A new eaement could be not shown, etc. There are lots of horror stories out there.

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Your cautions are well taken. I confess my naivety on this subject but it is not as it may appear. I did in fact begin by carefully drawing the plot plan based on a surveyor's exact distances and angles. I drew these lines using the data display bar consistently for accuracy. My beginning and ending line did not meet by about 2' and this is a 2 5/8 acre lot. The document I was referring to is 24 years old and not entirely legible; possibly causing this discrepancy.

From this plan I have now scaled building and utility locations and created a preliminary drawing which I can take to the site to verify for accuracy as best I can with a compass and tape measure. I realize I am losing accuracy the more I get into this but my mission is to create documents for a renovation involving only changes in interior partition walls, cabinetry, door & window changes, and some mechanical upgrades.

As I am not an architect I generally offer drafting services only to convey home improvement decisions made by the owner. I am careful to not take on a project I am not qualified for. Even so I am not aware of what liabilities I may be exposing myself to. I would appreciate your recommendations on how I may enlighten myself on this matter!

As for the "property tool" and "boundary tool" I am eager to look into them. I have not yet discovered them.

I thought the "how to" part of my question might bring a very simple response involving a file format I simple was not aware of. Now I can regard my drawing method as good solid practice rather than a waste of time!

Thanks for your varied responses.

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I agree with Jim. Your entire project is based upon that site plan. Inaccurate dimensions will produce an inaccurate product.

These days it is common for surveyors to do their surveys electronically. They can provide you with a paper plot but can also provide you with an DXF file that you can import.

Though I have not done it, it should be possible to take a surveyors electronic file and create a DTM from it.

By the way "Real Architects" will have a note on their plans that says "Do Not Scale These Plans".

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broc, I use the Property Line Tool, which is part of VW Architect (that is, when I don't have a CAD file from a surveyor or civil engineer). Enter the bearings and distances between points in sequence to create the boundaries of the property. I can then see if the legal description of the property closes or not, and be aware of any discrepancy in that regard. I sometimes have to adjust the bearing by 180 degrees, because often it is hard to tell whether the bearing on the map is taken from point A to B, or from point B to A. That's easy to do - if your new line goes off in the wrong direction, back up a step and enter the bearing as before, but add "-180" to the angle.

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P retondo, Thanks for your comments on Property Tool. Fortunately, I do own Architect (although I've chosen not to turn over my layer & class management over to Task Manager until I myself manage them a little better!).

I experimented with Property Tool for just a few moments and became a bit confused. I think your tip on the 180? is the thing I need to know about. Also, if you end up that the polygon doesn't close itself, will Property Tool allow a way out of this?

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If the property line doesn't close, there are two possible explanations: 1) you made an error, or 2) the description of the property is defective. I usually find that there is a small gap to close at the end - less than an inch. You can just reshape the polyline to close the gap, or let it be.

In addition to being aware of the 180 degree thing, you have to be up on your degrees-minutes-seconds. Take a look at the manual or the help topic - it's easy once you get the hang of it.

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Magness has the best answer I see, but I'd emphasize the liability issue. By using a plan drawn by a surveyor and e-mailed to you, the liability gets tracked to the surveyor. Not that you are totally out of it.

Also, the lines on the paper may or may not be drawn correctly. The metes and bounds description can also be flawed. Sometimes easements cannot be located.

If you have to draw it yourself, reference the documents used and provide a disclaimer. Be certain what you are doing does not constitute the "practice of engineering" which could result in fines of $10K in my state and permanent prohibition from ever being licensed.

Just some thoughts about what a real engineer would do. [Cool]

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