Last Updated on December 21, 2020
States require locally licensed architects to stamp most drawings for building projects, especially those that are of public safety concerns. There are exemptions from state license laws when it comes to drawing plans for residential projects. Under the laws of many states, single-family homes and structures under a certain square footage are exempt from requiring the involvement of an architect in the design.
Scroll below to see which states require plans to have an architect stamp, and which states have exemptions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sometimes local ordinances may require house plans to be stamped by an architect or a structural engineer. When your local building department allows an architect or engineer stamp, a building designer can prepare your house plans. A structural engineer will provide stamped structural plans as a supplement for the house plans to meet the permitting requirement if necessary. Check with your local building department to verify requirements to obtain a building permit. This step should be included in your home planning checklist to design and build the ideal home plan for your family.
Detached single-family dwelling and any sheds, storage buildings, and garages do not need to include the stamp of an architect on the plans.
Exempts a person preparing drawings for a building for the person’s own use and occupancy as a single family residence and related site work for that building; a building that is intended to be used only as a residence by not more than: four families and that is not more than two stories high and the grounds of the building; or two families and that is not more than three stories high and the grounds of the building, if the building is located in a municipality that has adopted a building or residential code that applies to the building and if the building complies with the building or residential code.
A one or two story building in which the square footage of the floor area measured to the outside surface of the exterior walls does not exceed 3,000 square feet, that is not intended for occupancy by more than twenty persons on a continuous basis and in which the maximum span of any structural member does not exceed twenty feet unless a greater span is achieved by the use of wood or steel roof or floor trusses or lintels approved by an engineer registered by the board.
Architect stamped house plans are not needed for single family detached, duplex, triplex, and quadruplex dwellings.
Stamped drawings are not needed for single-family dwellings of conventional wood-frame construction not more than 2 stories and basement in height.
One, two, three, and four family dwellings; in addition to, accessory buildings commonly associated with such dwellings do not require architect stamped house plans.
Architect stamp not needed for the construction or alteration of a residential building to provide dwelling space for not more than two families, or of a private garage or other accessory buildings intended for use with such residential building.
No person shall be required to qualify as an architect in order to make plans and specifications for, or supervise the erection, enlargement, or alteration of any one-family or two-family residence building, townhouse, or domestic outbuilding appurtenant to any one-family or two-family residence, regardless of cost.
Please note that some local jurisdictions may require residential plans to be signed and sealed by a Florida licensed Architect for building code requirements.
One and two family residences and domestic outbuildings regardless of cost does not require architect stamped house plans. Residential work, three stories or less, does not require an architect.
Any privately owned or privately controlled one-storied structure, which is used primarily as a residence, the cost not exceeding $50,000, nor to any privately owned or privately controlled two-storied structure, which is used primarily as a residence, the cost not exceeding $45,000.
The rendering of any architectural service required in the erection, enlargement, alteration, or repair of any building, where such building is to be, or is used as a single or multiple family residence not exceeding three (3) units or three (3) stories in height does not need an architect to stamp the drawing.
Detached single family homes on a single lot. Wood-framed, two-family homes on a single lot not more than two stories and basement in height don’t require architect stamped house plans.
Single family dwellings do not require architect stamped house plans.
Architect stamp is not needed for drawings of detached residential buildings containing twelve or fewer family dwelling units AND of not more than three stories in height, AND/OR an outbuilding in connection with such building.
Persons preparing plans, drawings or specifications for one and two family dwellings or for agricultural buildings do not need a licensed architect.
Residential buildings with less than 12 dwelling units or a capacity of less than 50 people do not need architect stamped house plans.
Persons acting as designers for single family residences & buildings that are to be constructed for personal use, provided such buildings are not intended, or adaptable for public employment, assembly or other occupancy by the public do not require architect stamped house plans. This also includes renovations or alterations of any size building which do not affect the structural integrity, or life safety, exclusive of building finishes and furnishings, or which have been pre-approved by the state fire marshal where life safety is affected and does not exceed one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.
Maine and Maryland
Architect stamp not needed for detached single or 2-family dwellings, including those to be utilized for home occupations, as defined by local ordinances, also sheds, storage buildings and garages incidental to the dwellings.
Any single or two family dwelling or any accessory building thereto doesn’t need architect stamped house plans.
A detached 1- and 2-family residence building not exceeding 3,500 square feet in calculated floor area don’t need architect stamped house plans.
Single family dwellings, outbuildings such as barns and private garages; two family dwellings does not require an architect to stamp the plans.
Architect stamped house plans are not required for one-family and two-family residences regardless of cost. Residential work under three stories does not require an architect.
Architect stamped house plans are not required for a dwelling house; or a multiple family dwelling house, flat or apartment containing not more than two families.
Exempts any person from planning, designing, altering, repairing, supervising, or engaging in residential construction consisting of less than eight living units regardless of size or cost.
All residential structures 10,000 sq. ft. or larger must be designed by an architect and/or professional engineer. This includes: single family homes and multiple-unit residences with four or fewer units.
Must be a “registered residential designer” or “licensed architect” in the state to design a single-family dwelling unit; or multifamily dwelling structure that does not exceed two stories in height and is composed of not more than four units in that structure.
A single-family or 2-family residence or any building used for farm purposes does not require architect stamped house plans.
A detached single family dwelling can be design by any person in the state to be constructed by that person solely as a private residence for that person or a member of that person’s immediate family. A person may utilize pre-designed (commercially published, available to the public) construction documents that include certification that they were originally prepared by an architect licensed in any United States jurisdiction, provided that the construction documents are reviewed, signed, sealed and adapted to the specific site by a New Jersey licensed architect.
Single-family dwellings, not more than three stories in height don’t need architect stamped house plans.
All plans for building construction (residential and commercial) must be produced by a licensed architect or engineer in the state.
Exempts a family residence from architect stamping, up to eight units attached with grade level exit, which is not a part of or physically connected with any other buildings or residential units; in addition, an institutional or commercial building if the total building area does not exceed 2,500 square feet in gross floor area or a total value exceeding $90,000.
Exempts a person preparing plans and specifications, in addition to designing, planning, or administering the construction contracts for the construction, alteration, remodeling, or repair of a private residence; a building that does not exceed two stories in height exclusive of a one story basement.
No seal is required for any plans, drawings, specifications, or data submitted for approval for any residential buildings (one-family, two-family, or three-family dwelling house; in addition, any accessory structure incidental to that dwelling house).
Exempt residential with unlimited square feet; not exceeding 2 stories; detached one and two-family dwellings and townhouses; nursing homes and child care facilities for less than 5 persons; etc.
Exempt single family residential dwellings; Structures used in connection with, or auxiliary to, single family dwellings or farm buildings. These include but are not limited to three-car garages, barns, sheds, or shelters used for housing of domestic animals, or livestock.
Architects licensure Act exempts detached one-family and two-family dwellings not more than three stories in height, and their accessory buildings; design documents for “any utility or farm structure” if that structure is used in connection with a farm residence.
Single-family or two-family house or any minor accessory building does not require architect stamped house plans; any building used for farm purposes, as long as it is not for human habitation or occupancy.
An architect is not required for the design of farm buildings, detached single-family dwellings, two-family dwellings (duplexes), and buildings less than 3 stories in height and containing less than 5000 square feet of total floor area.
A person who is not a registered architect or engineer may design and supervise the erection, enlargement or alteration of a single family dwelling and outbuilding such as a barn or private garage; two, three or four family dwelling; farm or ranch building or accessory except for a building regularly used for public purposes.
No architect needed for One-family and two-family dwellings and domestic outbuildings pertaining thereto; in addition to farm buildings not designed or intended for human occupancy.
Agricultural buildings, single- and dual-family dwellings. Architect stamped house plans are not required.
Plans & specs for a one, two, three, or four-family residence not exceeding 2 stories in height, exclusive of basement does not need an architect stamp.
Architect seal not needed for a detached single, two-family, three-family, or four-family dwelling, or a shed, storage building, or garage incidental to that dwelling; a farm building including barns, silos, sheds, in addition to housing for farm equipment, livestock, poultry, or storage.
No license as an architect or professional engineer shall be required for single- and two-family homes, townhouses and multifamily dwellings, excluding electrical and mechanical systems, not exceeding three stories; in addition, farm structures used for the handling, processing, housing or storage of crops, feeds, supplies, equipment, animals or poultry.
Architecture licensing and stamping requirements are not required for design work related to construction, repairs or renovation of residential buildings with a maximum number of four dwelling units, farm buildings, and structures “used in connection with or auxiliary to such residential building and farm building, such as a garage, barn, shed, or shelter for animals or machinery”; commercial buildings (up to 4,000 sq. ft. of construction).
Stamped plans are not required for single family dwelling, sheds, storage buildings and garages; a multifamily residential structure not in excess of three stories excluding any basement area; farm buildings, including barns, silos, sheds or housing for farm equipment and machinery, livestock, poultry or storage, if such structures are designed to be occupied by no more than ten persons; a commercial structure which contains not more than 7,600 square feet and is only one story, excluding any basement area.
Does not require an architect stamp on plans to dwellings for single families, and outbuildings in connection with single-family dwellings, including, but not limited to, barns and private garages; apartment buildings used exclusively as the residence of not more than 2 families (duplex); buildings used exclusively for agricultural purposes.
An architect is not required to provide plans for private residences; garages, commercial or industrial buildings, office buildings, pre-engineered metal buildings and buildings for the marketing, storage or processing of farm products and warehouses, which do not exceed two (2) stories in height, exclusive of a one (1) story basement, and which under applicable building code or codes, are not designed for occupancy by more than ten (10) persons; farm buildings.
We also have information about architecture laws regarding sealed house plans for residential designs in Canada.