In part one of Terms of Engagement 101, we provided a summary of the basic requirements related to an architect’s terms of engagement, including why written contracts need to be in place with a client before ‘architecture’ begins. In part two, we discussed the range of standard form agreements available, and provided information on how to select the most suitable contract for your project. In the final installation of this series, we will be discussing electronic seals – including outlining their regulatory requirements, advantages and benefits, and a step-by-step guide on the process of obtaining one.
Key documents related to requirements for sealing include the Architects Act, AIBC Bylaws, and the AIBC Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct.
Section 77 of the Architects Act outlines the requirements of an architect’s seal:
- “An architect must apply a seal, with signature and date, to letters of assurance, certificates, drawings and specifications prepared by or under the architect’s supervision, direction or control if the architect practices architecture.”
Section 78 provides the conditions in terms of architectural seal use:
- “A member of the institute or a licensee must not affix his or her seal to a plan, working drawing, detail drawing, specification or other document unless it was prepared by or under the supervision, direction of control of the member or licensee.”
Bulletin 60: Signature, Seal and Delivery of Electronic Documents and Bulletin 61: Seal of an Architect are the AIBC Bulletins which describe requirements for sealing. Bulletin 61 provides guidelines on the use of the seal. Bulletin 60 specifically addresses the use of digital seals on electronic documents.
Some advantages of digital sealing include:
- Batch sealing drawings: Seal can be applied to multiple drawings at the same time.
- Remote Signing: Seal can be applied remotely, via computer.
- Guaranteed Integrity: Digital seals guarantee the integrity of the document, and allow easy viewing of information regarding the document and architect.
- Reduces Cost: Time spent by architect sealing and signing documents is reduced, thereby reducing costs.
Authorities Having Jurisdiction and Electronic Seals
Currently, there are only a few municipalities which accept electronic seals, although many of them are working towards implementing them. It is an architect’s responsibility to check with the applicable municipalities to determine submission requirements.
How-To Obtain a Digital Seal
The process to obtain a digital seal is straightforward. There are five steps, which take approximately 45 minutes to complete over several business days:
- Sign up with Notarius: Complete the subscription application form on notarius.com/aibc. If your organization has more than 5 users, you can open a corporate account.
- Fill out Form: Fill in the personal application form for the AIBC (authorized organization). This step includes a series of personal questions and answers that are used to identify the applicant.
- Face-to-Face ID Verification: Once the personal application form is completed, you will be presented with a scheduler to book a face-to-face video session with a Notarius Verification Agent. The most efficient way to conduct an ID vetting session is with a smart phone equipped with a camera and microphone.
- Install Software (CertifiO Suite): Notarius provides a complete set of software tools, called CertifiO Suite, to activate and use CertifiO for Professionals digital signatures. All of the software, including the CertifiO Manager, needs to be installed to proceed.
- Approval and Activation: After approval, the architect can activate their CertifiO for Professionals digital signature. This is done by entering a reference code and answering identification questions. Upon completion, the architect will then need to scan and upload a hard copy of their stamped seal and signature.
Additional detail on how to sign up for a digital signature CertifiO for Professionals can be found on the Notarius website. In addition, the Notarius team has technical staff who can assist architects with setup and use.
- Bulletin 60: Signature, Seal and Delivery of Electronic Documents
- Bulletin 61: Seal of an Architect
- Notarius: How to Sign-Up in Four Easy Steps
- Notarius AIBC Subscription Application Form: notarius.com/aibc
- Notarius: Signing Up for a Digital Signature CertifiO for Professionals
- Notarius: Commonly Asked Questions