|Administrative History||The requirement to submit plans of new buildings or of proposed alterations to existing buildings was first enacted in the Aberdeen Police and Waterworks Act, 1862. Under section 296, persons intending to start building work within the city boundary were required to submit a drawing to the Police Commissioners showing the depth of the foundations and an outline of the new building in relation to adjoining buildings. It appears that these drawings were usually approved by the Burgh Surveyor until 1869 when the Police Commissioners resolved to consider individual applications for approval at their meetings. Thereafter decisions on submitted drawings - and particularly details of conditional approvals - may be gleaned from the Street Committee minutes of the Police Commissioners until 1871, from the Town Council Police Department minutes from 1871 to 1883, and from the minutes of the Plans Committee of the Town Council from 1884 to 1946. Throughout this period the Burgh Surveyor remained responsible for presenting the drawings to committee, checking the completed building against the proposal outlined in the drawings, and retaining the drawings for future reference. The Burgh Surveyor's record of drawings submitted to the Town Council from 1879 to 1949 are also housed in the City Archives. These "House Plans Books" may provide additional information on the construction of buildings included in the building warrant series.|
The requirement to submit plans of proposed building work was limited to areas within the city boundary. Until 1883, this comprised only the city centre, Footdee, Rosemount, the west end as far as Queen's Cross and the northern part of Ferryhill. The boundaries were shifted in 1883 to include the southern end of the Spital, Kittybrewster, the southern end of Holburn Street, the southern end of Ferryhill and the developing area to the west of the city as far as Forest Road and Forest Avenue and in 1883. Massive expansion in 1891 to include all areas south of River Don - including Old Aberdeen and Woodside, agricultural land of Middlefield, Cairncry, Mastrick, Hilton, Stockethill, Summerfield, villa developments on lands of Rubislaw and expanding areas of Broomhill, Ruthrieston and Torry.
From 1881 the plans submitted for approval had to be far more detailed. Floor plans and sections of each storey were now required, in addition to the bare details of position, foundations and drains. Moreover, the floor plans and sections had to be at a scale of not less than one-eighth of an inch for dwelling houses, and one-sixteenth of an inch for public works. Details of the materials and dimensions of walls and drains were also to be noted on the plans, and, vitally, for their preservation, the plans had to be drawn in ink on durable tracing cloth (Aberdeen Corporation Act, 1881, section 50). The Act was amended in 1893 adding elevations of the proposed building to the list of requirements, establishing a basic format for plans of proposed buildings which remained largely unchanged until recent years. The term "building warrant plan", which technically applies only to plans of proposed building works after the introduction of national building control procedures in 1964, is also used to describe the plans passed by the Police Commissioners and the Town Council since 1862.
The building warrant plans amassed in the Burgh Surveyor's department were divided according to their format. Drawings for certain large projects were retained in a rolled format, and were allocated a sequential number prefixed by P. These plans have been left as a separate series, and are described more fully below. in contrast, the vast majority of plans submitted for approval have been folded to a standard size. These folded plans were stored in alphabetical order by street name, but have been re-arranged chronologically, and have been allocated a unique reference number. The surviving plans from before December 1879 have been allocated a new sequential number, prefixed by A. The plans submitted after December 1879 use their original reference number without any prefix. The latter number can be used to access the relevant entry for each plan in the register of applications, or "House Plans Book". In addition to the details provided in this list, the House Plans Book may also provide details of conditions attached to the approval, the date of the start and finish of building work, and notes of deviations from the approved plans in the completed building.