Engineering Document Retention Requirements

I am a self-proclaimed “Thrower-Outer.” Clutter gives me hives. I like things to be neat & orderly.


If I can deem something to be part of a “Collection,” I can always find a place for it.

Baseball cards. Cassettes. CD’s. Books. Tools. Does that make me a pack rat? I don’t think so….

Since I started working in 1989, I have kept all of the plan sets from the jobs that I’ve worked on. All but one, and to this day, I’ve regretted throwing that set away…..

It was my plans from the first major construction project I worked on: I-355 in Downers Grove, Illinois.

I remember finishing the project and getting sent to our downtown office. I threw those plans out thinking, “Hell, I’ll never need these again.”

Famous last words.

I can’t count the number of times that, in years following, how I wanted to refer to a detail from that set of plans.

That was the last set of plans I ever threw out….

Ever since, I’ve kept my plan sets. It’s become my little repository. A library. A visual representation of where I’ve been and what I’ve built. And it’s been a reference library for others too. Every so often, I’ll get a call or an email from an engineer who’s heard that I’ve worked on a project and has questions about how we constructed something. It is extremely rewarding to be able to pull out the old plan set and give them some input.

So, here’s my dilemma – I want to clean out my garage. I have 6 Rubbermaid totes of drawings – Should I continue to keep them…??

The simple answer is Yes. I can’t throw them out.

Sure, many of the plan sets are already on my hard drive as PDF’s. I could easily toss the paper copies and clear up some space on my garage shelves.

But my plans are like books on my shelves: There’s an attachment to them that I can’t readily let go of.

So for now, I’m keeping them. But I have a lot of other papers, calculations and outdated information that I think I can let go of.

Or can I?

Engineering Document Retention

I did a quick search on what the Statute of Limitations is on engineering document retention, just to try to find out what the rules are for me having to keep information. I found a great article that answered my question. I’m providing a link to it below – I cannot believe that, in Illinois, 14 years was the answer….

Rather than me try to explain the difference between the Statute of Limitations and the Statute of Repose, I’ll let the folks at Greensfelder help us out.

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