Digital Plan Room Help Center

Manatee County is pleased to offer electronic plan submission and review through the Digital Plan Room. The online application is fully integrated with Online Services, our virtual permitting and land development portal. With the Digital Plan Room, customers can submit their applications online and upload their plans at the same time, eliminating unnecessary trips to our office!

Key Features 

  • Easily submit plans, specifications, and other supporting documents electronically
  • Digital signature and file validation to make sure your documents are ready to be reviewed--no more back and forth
  • Automated sheet versioning. Finally, a single-source of truth for each sheet throughout the review and approval process!
  • Access mark-ups and view issues or conditions documented by each reviewer
  • Interactive access to Mark-ups, issues and conditions documented by reviewers
  • Final stamped PDF plans sets available for download




ONLINE SERVICES

Online Services is Manatee County's virtual portal where customers can submit permit and/or land development applications, upload plans and documents, schedule inspections, or submit complaints to Code Enforcement.

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What is the difference between an Electronic Signature and a Digital Signature?

An electronic signature is a method of signing a document in a virtual environment and is treated with the same authority as a handwritten or wet signature. A digital signature differs from an electronic signature in that it’s backed by a certificate authority that has verified the signer’s identity, the same way a notary would verify a signer’s identity before to certifying a signature.

This allows the Digital Signature to act as a verified signature in a virtual environment. Documents prepared by design professionals, such as architects or engineers, are required to be signed and sealed using a digital signature. For additional information, visit our Digital Signature Validation section of the Digital Plan Room Help Center.

Digital Signature Validation

The Digital Plan Room is set up to validate whether a document has a valid digital signature in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code. The following document types will require a valid digital signature in order to be uploaded through Online Services:

• Plans
• Building Plans
• Calculations
• Construction Plans (applies to Construction Plans Review applications)
• Elevation Certificate
• Engineer Letter/Affidavit
• Fall Down Radius Certificate of Tower
• FEMA Flood Proofing Certificate
• Final Elevation Certificate
• Final Plat
• Floodway Construction Certificate
• Landscape Fill Certificate
• Landscape Plan
• Letter of Mitigation
• Lighting Plan
• Limited Geotechnical Exploration Report
• Master Drainage Plan
• Survey*
• Preliminary Plat Plan
• Traffic Study
• V-Zone Certificate

Manatee County has provided a general Guide to Digital Signatures. This guide is not intended to be a legal interpretation and we encourage you to also review F.A.C. Rule 61G15-23.003 for engineers and 61G1-16.005 for architects. Common Certificate Authorities include but are not limited to DigiCert, IdenTrust, and GlobalSign. Please note Adobe and Docusign are not valid Certificate authorities as they are not capable of verification.

For more information on signing and sealing Engineering Documents please refer to the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. 

*Building & Development Services recommends that Surveys being submitted be digitally signed which will validate the authenticity of the document.  Surveys not digitally signed will require additional staff review to validate the authenticity of the document. See 5J-17 Professional Surveyors and Mappers

General Document Standards

There are a few document standards that we recommend for best uploading performance. Please follow these guidelines in your document design to ensure correct processing in the Plan Room.

General documents

  • All files must be in PDF file format
  • Maximum file size is 500MB
  • Do not use encrypted or password-protected files
  • All layers in the PDF will need to be flattened (including seals, signatures, notations)
  • Please do not combine supporting documents in the same PDF file with any plan sheets - they will need to be uploaded as separate files
  • Documents that are typically uploaded as a different file type, such as CAD files or Legal Descriptions, may still be accepted if they are not a PDF

Plans

  • Arrange plans in a landscape page view
  • Title block must be in the lower right-hand corner -our system will be reading your sheet numbers
  • Make sure sheet numbers are unique and consistent for each version of submitted plan pages 
  • All layers will need to be flattened (see below for tips on how to do this)  
  • Generate plans to scale (e.g.1/4" = 1’, 1/8” = 1’ or 1:10)
  • Any annotations in the PDF will be removed during the submission process 
  • When possible, please include a table of contents when exporting/publishing to the PDF index page (ex. Include “Create bookmarks”) setting in AutoCAD* 
  • Include sheet titles within a table of contents when possible*
  • You can upload multiple files, including plans, at the same time
  • When submitting revisions, please do not resubmit the entire plan set, only upload the sheets containing changes from the previous submission* 
  • Leave the top left corner of plan sheet blank for the approval stamp to print without covering any content

Supporting Documents

  • You can submit supporting documents as individual files or as a single file with multiple pages
  • Document files may be oriented in either landscape or portrait view

Attachments

  • Certain document types can be uploaded at any point in the review process, and are not required to be PDF. Below is a full list of these exceptions:
    • Attachment
    • Aerial Photo
    • Application Checklist
    • Application Worksheet
    • Completeness/Sufficiency Extension Request
    • Business Plan/FEIN Number
    • Change of Contractor Letter
    • Contractor Removal Letter
    • Criteria for Compliance
    • Easement Encroachment Form
    • Energy Conservation Form
    • Engineer of Record Letter
    • Envelope Leakage Test Report
    • Final Survey
    • Flood Insurance Requirement
    • Flood Plain Review Checklist
    • GIS File Submission
    • Inspection Affidavit
    • Insurance
    • Letter of Map Change(LOMC)
    • Locate Documentation
    • Longshoreman Insurance
    • Meter Sizing Form
    • Notice of Commencement
    • Owner Builder Disclosure
    • Owner Letter of Permission
DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT STANDARDS

Flattening PDF Layers

When submitting plans or completed PDF forms, please be sure to flatten all layers (seals, signatures, notations) in the PDF. Otherwise, those layers and fields will be eliminated and not visible for the reviewers.

The easiest way to flatten a PDF is to "Print to PDF." To do this, please follow the steps below:

  1. Open the PDF file
  2. Select File
  3. Select Print
  4. From the drop-down menu of Printer options, select Adobe PDF
  5. Click Print
  6. Specify the location to save the printed, "flattened" version of the document or form
  7. Select Save

What are Issues and Conditions?

Issues

Issues are items that will need to be fixed prior to plan approval. Issues must be responded to in the Plan Room in Online Services, and may also require an updated plan sheet or document to be uploaded in the new review cycle. Issues will not be visible to customers until all reviewers have completed their review.


Conditions

Conditions are stipulations that may require action by the customer, but they do not need to be resolved prior to Plan Approval. 

  • For Planning applications, Conditions are synonymous with Stipulations of Approval.
  • For Building permit applications, Conditions may be open while the project is in the construction phase, but will need to be satisfied before the Certificate of Occupancy or Completion is issued.


Help! Why am I getting this error?!

Below is an outline of common errors you may be seeing when trying to upload documents into the Plan Room, as well as suggested solutions to fix the problem.

Error Message

What does this mean?

How do I fix it?

"Document has been modified since it was signed" Per Florida Administrative Code (FAC), a digital signature is invalidated if any data in the document(s) is changed after the signature has been added to the document Remove the signature field from the document and re-sign the document.
 "Signature date is in the future" The signature date on the document is in the future. A timestamp was not applied to the signature and the clock on the computer is set to a future date.  Remove the signature field from the document and re-sign the document using a valid timestamp.
 "File is not signed" A Digital Signature is required for the document type you selected, but there isn't one detected on the file. Sign the file using a valid digital signature. See more info in above sections on this page.
"Certificate was expired at the date of signature" True digital signatures have an expiration date. If you are seeing this message, your certificate has expired. Contact your third party Certificate Authority to have the digital signature renewed, then re-sign the document.
"Certificate was issued after signing date" The certificate used to sign the file was not valid and the Certificate Authority may not have finalized issuing the Certificate when it was used. Verify the certificate is valid before signing the file by contacting your CA. If the error still occurs after re-signing the document, contact your third party Certificate Authority.
"Root certificate cannot be trusted"
Self-signed plans can no longer be accepted, you must have your own identity, digital seal and signature validated by a 3rd party Certificate Authority. For more information on digital signatures please see our Guide to Digital Signatures.
You are likely using Adobe, DocuSign, or a similar platform. These are not third party Certificate Authorities and do not validate identity.
"One of more signatures have problems" Make sure all signatures have met the State's Digital Signature Standards. Self-signed documents are not accepted per the FL Administrative Code 61G15-23.003.
If you are confident you are using a valid Digital Signature from a third party Certificate Authority, please contact the CA to check the status of the signature.
"File is encrypted" The file is password protected. This frequently occurs with Florida Product Approvals. If you know the password, you can remove the encryption. Otherwise, you can print to PDF or scan the document.