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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    I have recently worked with a company to produce designs for a garden room building as I was impressed with their previous works and business ethos.

    Using room arranger I sent scale drawing floor plans including dimensions and provided 3D elevations of the design that I wanted to build. For planning purposes I wanted the drawings in CAD format (beyond my skill level) so the company produced SketchUp images and CAD elevations and floor plans.

    The only addition/variation to my drawings/design was the addition of one window and a change of cladding on one elevation otherwise they are entirely as I provided (it states "as client drawings" on some of the documents.)

    The company have since produced a quote far beyond my budget and far in excess of other prices for comparable builds. However when the final drawings were produced the words "designs are the property of company" in bold were added to all the drawings.

    During a phone call early on in discussions they mentioned that they "had been stung before" and become frosty when I expressed my concern about the price estimate they provided.

    Should I proceed with the build either myself or via another company do I need to be concerned about the company who produced the initial drawings attempting to take ownership of the design? I feel that in order to protect themselves from losing work that they are attempting to ownership of my design ideas.
    • CommentTimeJun 29th 2022
    AIUI, you own the copyright in your original sketches and they own the copyright in their drawings. (see e.g. https://copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p22_derivative_works )

    You're not clear exactly what their quote is for, or why they produced that after the drawings rather than before. Nor is it clear whether you've paid them to produce the drawings. If you haven't yet paid them then I think they could take you to court for the cost of the work involved in producing them, but you may not have any rights except to keep the copies they sent you; depends on contracts (what was said). If you have paid them then I would expect that you have an implied right to use them to build your garden room since that was why they were drawn. But it will all depend on exactly what was said and especially written about what was intended. I suspect you need a solicitor to be sure.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 29th 2022
    As djh says,

    my understanding is that you can build as per your sketch but cannot expect to use the work of others for free. I would go to another company and get them to give a quote so you have a comparison. I would advise against using other 'similar' builds as a guide as yours is clearly bespoke and therefore different to all others. If you do decide to build it yourself using the plans provided with the company's quote I would imagine you might get a solicitors letter.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 30th 2022 edited
    Agree with the above. If you want a design that you can use to obtain quotes from multiple companies, you need to commission an independent designer / architect for the purpose. Otherwise get each individual company to work from your initial sketches.
    • CommentAuthorcjard
    • CommentTimeJul 3rd 2022 edited
    > The company have since produced a quote far beyond my budget and far in excess of other prices for comparable builds

    A quote for what, exactly?

    It sounds like you've gone for some kind of turnkey but have changed your mind - i.e. you go to Company A with some sketches, they produce a full set of plans, regs etc, and a quote for £1000000, you think it's too much, so you're wondering about approaching Company B and saying "these are my plans for a garden room, what is your quote to build it for me?"
    Talk of solicitors seems a bit unnecessary. Is this company really going to track what the OP is doing, secretly visit the site and gather evidence, and take the risk of court costs for the sake of a small garden building? If the produced drawings are essentially similar to the OP's ones then how would they even prove that one set of drawings had been used vs the other?

    That's unless what they have actually produced is a full set of construction details, compared to some rough sketches from the OP. But it seems unlikely they would have done that without payment (or an agreement that it would be paid for).

    My concerns would be less about copyright than design liability. For example if the drawings are given to another company, who builds from them instead of producing their own, then some defect arises and it's because of a design issue, company 2 are going to say it wasn't their design at fault, and company 1 is not going accept any liability for it unless they have offered and been paid for design services.
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