Nowadays, it's routine to pay bills, transfer funds or buy stock solely by electronic media. Both faxed and electronic signatures are widely accepted as valid. Yet in the midst of such digital expedients, submitting plans for a building permit remains a process right out of the Middle Ages. Granted, the architectural profession is known for embracing change with all the speed of dripping molasses, but architects are not to blame in this case. Rather, the trouble lies in the bureaucratic inertia of civic building departments, most of which still insist on the sort of paper plans that have been used for centuries. Since the vast majority of architects now use computers to design and draft, and since their work is already in a digital format, you might suppose that plans could be submitted to building departments electronically, and be reviewed, revised and resubmitted without ever leaving the digital domain. That's not how it works, though: Most building departments wil...
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