Design Review: Not in Compliance with the Rules

SSA Architecture has worked as an architectural firms Las Vegas for over 20 years and in that time SSA has done a multitude of projects including built from the ground up and building remodeling design projects. It is common place for us to take an as built site plan and draw a sketch of the proposed new building as a starting point. It is also commonplace for SSA Architecture to use public information on a vacant site to design an entirely new building and site plan.

From there we can begin to analyze if the property owner’s desired concept ‘plans’ will be in compliance with current rules. For example it is pertinent to determine whether or not the building will be too tall, if the lot size will be able to provide an adequate amount of parking spaces, and if the parcel is zoned for the correct use. These rules vary by project location and form of the building work depending on the final use of the building and the jurisdiction the land is in. The various government rules can be further specified by exceptions found in certain areas within the designated jurisdictions. For example, downtown may have parking requirement exceptions that the suburban areas may not have. The plans will have a better chance of being approved right away if the original drawings comply with the rules while still covering all of the client’s needs. And approvals can be possible for projects that are not in compliance with the rules. Regardless of what architect or lawyer processes your entitlements requests, there is never a guarantee that the reviewers will not object to the building concept or design of the “Plans”.

Sometimes it’s not possible for the project to comply with the rules. A common example of this would be when an old rule gets changed that makes a previously existing built item no longer compliant with the current rules. This can result in clients deciding to submit construction projects that are not 100% code compliant or 100% in compliance with current planning and zoning requirements. This can be approved but there is a need for additional steps to be taken. In some cases an attorney specializing in use approvals may be able to help with negotiations for approvals. In any event approval of land use, zoning and design reviews out of compliance are political.

The steps in the process of approvals are typically:
1. Create a drawing that shows what the client wants.
2. Visit the governing authority(s) staff to discuss the proposal.
3. Draw formal drawings for submission.
4. Meet with planning and zoning staff to discuss the formal submission.
5. A formal submission drawing set for (either) design review, planning, zoning or use approval submission.
6. Once submitted the plan set will likely be initially rejected or returned with (staff objections) comments.
7. At this point the client can decide to stay with the original submission over staff objections, adjust the design, cancel the project or attempt to make a compromise with the government staff.
8. A final submittal can be re-drafted according to the client’s decisions.
9. There will then typically be public hearings, discussions and more reviews by staff before the entitlement is established.
10. Many planning and zoning cases result in a (NFA) Notice of final action. The NFA provides a notice of what was agreed in a written form.

Out of compliance projects always take longer in the review system often times taking an additional month minimum.
So how much will this cost? With SSA Architecture it always starts with a free consultation followed with a fee quotation for the original drawing submission for the due diligence process. After the pre-submission meeting the list of items that your applicable agency requires for your project will become known.

For design review processes, fixed fee quotations are available.

For zoning cases, fixed fees for drawings are available.

For meetings related to use approvals and zoning cases we are unaware of any provider that does this work for other than hourly rates. Our hourly rates are competitive.
When a client’s vision for a property is not in compliance with rules, it can and will result in a huge time and money expenditure. That does not mean that the project is not worth it. It simply means that more time and materials will have to go into bringing it to fruition.

The explanation above does not include building permit approvals, which are a separate process.

If you have any more questions or have a project fitting this criteria feel free to call and schedule a free consultation at 702-873-1718. If you were looking for more information on this topic, you can check out a FAQ YouTube video on this topic here.

Creating a Healthy Indoor Environment

Recently health has become a major concern in the world of architecture and more specifically medical oriented architecture as it has rapidly become more important to prevent the spread of virus, germs, and diseases. There are many things that can be done to your residential or commercial building design that can improve the overall health of the people using the spaces. This blog by SSA – Las Vegas Architects will cover information pertaining to lighting, indoor air quality, air conditioning, and other general building conditions.

Lighting-Sunlight is good for people, UVC light kills germs and viruses. Modern buildings have been using windows and skylights that block UV light because it can bleach textiles found within the building. It may be beneficial to remove the UV filter on a skylight or the windows that shine on a majority of a room as it would help to sterilize the room’s air. Alternatively UVC light bulbs can be purchased to help clean the air without the need for direct sunlight. UVC light is not the only countermeasure to preventing the spread of germs, though it is useful for killing germs.

Air Conditioning-A common air conditioning system found in Las Vegas commercial buildings is a mixed air system. Generally air is blown from the ceiling then allowed to swirl around the room it is then returned back to the AC unit through a return on the ceiling (as shown below). The advantages of this system are that it is cheap and every HVAC tech knows how to install and repair it. However since the air is swirling throughout the room, it is very easy for pollutants and microorganisms to travel from person to person in the room. One solution for this issue is to use a different air conditioning system like displacement air conditioning. This system pumps air into the room from the bottom but still returns the air through the ceiling (as shown below). Meaning that any particles in the air are taken up to the return sooner rather than being allowed to swirl around the room first. Germs and other particles are removed from the vicinity of people much quicker, significantly decreasing the likelihood of inhaling harmful pollutants. The displacement ventilation system is statistically better than the mixed air system. It can also be beneficial to combine with the practice of utilizing UV lighting to clean air. Installing a UVC light on the return duct of your AC unit will help to kill germs, viruses, and pollen so that they do not get recirculated to harm people.

Mixed Air - SSA ArchitectureDisplacement air conditioning - Las Vegas Architects

General Environmental Conditions-It has become widely known that mold is bad and it is definitely in your best interest to remove any and all mold within your building. Fresh air is also important, as architects in Las Vegas we have found that building owners will commonly close their fresh air vent on their building during the summer months. They do this to assist their AC units in cooling during the heat wave days. That may be satisfactory during that period of the year, except it is common that the owners do not reopen the fresh air vent when the moderate heat months arrive. A proper fix for this problem would be to install an air to air heat exchanger that does the work of blocking heat from fresh air. Fresh air design best practices would include intake of only the air appropriate for the people and activities in the building. Automated air sensors and controls are available. Where construction costs or other factors prohibit using automated systems or opening and closing of ventilation, building occupants can set up procedures to improve indoor air quality without construction costs. If the air to air heat exchanger or open fresh air vent aren’t enough for your building, it could be helpful to open a window or door to let extra fresh air in to the building.

These are only a few tips to help create a healthy environment. Before constructing anything we recommend hiring a licensed architect or engineer to design your system properly. SSA architecture is always happy to provide you with more information, you can reach us at 702-873-1718. Here at SSA Architecture your first commercial project consultation at our Las Vegas Office is always free. More information on this topic is provided in the corresponding video found on our YouTube channel here. A healthy environment is important in any building, particularly those in the healthcare field. You can find information on our other work as medical architects in Las Vegas here.

6 Things to Do Before You Start Drawing Your New Building’s Blueprints

SSA Architecture is experienced in drawing new commercial building “blueprints” as most other architects in Las Vegas are. With that experience we have found there are some steps that make the “Drafting Plans” process smoother. These are a few things that you should look into doing to expedite the design and construction documents process.

  • Preliminary Design – Allow us, the architect, to do a preliminary design with key features that you plan on incorporating into the rough preliminary design concept. This allows for the architect to investigate if your design is viable for the land you are planning to use. This lets you get a feel for the size of the building and parking lot that your new project will demand. This is best done prior to purchasing the land, so that you can try a few different designs on different properties. You can find more information on this specific topic on YouTube.
  • Due Diligence Planning Review – The preliminary design can be taken to the planning department so that we can get their feedback on the specifics of the project. Every jurisdiction is different, but most will initially tell you that as long as your land’s zoning is correct then the design and use are approvable. However, this is frequently not the case and it is best to get them involved early in the process to sort out planning and zoning feedback specific to your exact site and requirements as early soon as possible. If it is worse than that, and they don’t accept your land as viable. It is better to find out sooner rather than later, so that you may plan around having to switch pieces of land or design concepts. If you want to discuss having SSA Architecture provide a preliminary site concept or planning and zoning assistance please schedule a free consultation at 702-873-1718 or contact us here.
  • Entitlements/Design Review – If you are going to design a project with certain uses then you may need an “Entitlement” process to determine of that is possible.  Examples of uses that always require an entitlement or special use permit are: churches, liquor stores, auto repair, bars and others.  This process typically involves public hearings and presentations.  If your use is already entitled in the location that you want then your project may require a “Design Review.”  The design review uses the preliminary design drawings to get government agency approvals for what you want. You can find more information on this specific topic on YouTube.
  • Submit and Process for Governments Entitlements Process – Once you have a reviewed design and your preliminary entitlement information, you must submit certain drawings to the corresponding government agency so that they may approve and the architect can finalize them. This can often be a lengthy process as your project must be coordinated between different government agencies and departments. You can find more information on this specific topic on YouTube.
  • Soils Report – Soils reports are generally created by geotechnical engineers.  Knowing what type of land and soils conditions your new building will be on is important. Can be very beneficial to know this is advance of purchasing land.  Some soils conditions can dramatically increase foundation and structural costs. You may also find ground water that may or may not complicate the project further. A soils report will be necessary when it comes time for structural engineering.  If you have not yet purchased the land the seller may have an existing soils report which you can have for free.  You can find more information on this specific topic on YouTube.
  • Cost Estimation – Having a formal preliminary cost estimate made to determine your likely building costs will help to establish if your planned building will be within your budget. Keeping in mind that the estimate would not be a 100% accurate one as you have merely given the estimator a preliminary design to estimate from. There will be more details known and determined there may or may not be changes throughout the actual final design and drafting phases but you will at least have a general sense of how much this new building will cost. You can find more information on this specific topic on YouTube.

Completing any or all of the items above will help to make the drafting process for SSA Architecture or any other Las Vegas architects an easier and often shorter process. Check out the full video on this topic on YouTube.

Architectural Design Services – Absolutely Amazing!!!

Designing is something that brings life and authenticity to any building either it is residential or commercial. As every client has unique needs associated with their construction and architectural projects. We must thank to all the latest technologies due to which, the experienced and professional design team of SSA Architecture, Small Studio Associates enables you to receive our service, value, and innovation all at once.


It cannot be denied that every project presents a diverse set of challenges and opportunities. For this reason, we offer you a wide range of Architectural Firm of Las Vegas. Have a look!

  • Building Design
  • Tenant Improvement Design
  • Construction Documents
  • Zoning Approval Process
  • Planning
  • ADA Survey
  • Models & Renderings
  • Use Permit Processing

There is no doubt that a building is an expression of energy, design, and materials. Basically, buildings are not comprised of single components, but rather, they are each comprised of systems that interact with one another, including the larger ecological systems and the human community.
Apart from the above-listed designing services, there are numerous other services that enhance occupants, comfort, and productivity such as cabinet design, code consulting, conceptual design, construction administration/ document/ management/ observation/ cost estimating, day lighting design, and much more.


A good start leads to good results and proper listening helps you to deliver the exact masterpiece that the client is asking for. As the leading Architectural Firms of Las Vegas, we believe in offering strategic architectural design goals within real-world project constraints.

Small Studios Associates adhere to our client’s budget and scheduling parameters. Moreover, our experienced designers provide buildable solutions that create functional spaces within enriched aesthetic environments.

For more information, Check out our service page.

Is An Architect Is Necessary For Your Home Customization?

There is one question that I often hear:

“Do I need an architect?”

Well, custom home building is something that has lots of popularity in today’s architecture field and has been completely revolutionized with the advanced technology available. It cannot be denied that home customization is something that requires lots of creativity.

Undoubtedly, individuals are very busy in their day-to-day lives. They don’t have time to educate themselves enough to know what an architect with experience from many prior projects knows. They want a home that is well designed and done once. It only makes sense to hire an experienced architect to save time and money, and get the house done right the first time


For a quality custom house, hiring a professional architect licensed in Las Vegas dramatically increases the ease of designing and reduces the likelihood that you will end up redoing things. An architect can also help you streamline your decision making process, and get the desired results for you in a timely manner. This will also result in reducing the amount of time that the homeowner needs to participate in the architectural design process.

Professional Architects in Las Vegas have all the characteristics to make them the best option for home customization.

  •  Time

Building or renovating a home is a time-consuming process. It takes months or years, but taking the advice of a professional architect will help you get the process done faster as they have all the latest resources to fulfill the given architectural project needs in less time. An architect will spend the time necessary to ensure the successful completion of every task: from the obvious ones to the smallest design details.

  •  Custom Solution

Do you have any kind of working knowledge of design and construction? Perhaps you have been through the building process before or completed a home renovation. An architect offers you custom solutions tailored specifically to your family and your lifestyle. You’ll benefit from an architect working on your project.


  • Personal Experience

Las Vegas architects have hands-on-experience working in this field and know the details of the design and construction processes that most people don’t. Hiring a professional and experienced architect for your construction work guarantees that you will get a better end result.

If you are thinking that you want an architect for your project, I dare you to call one and set up a consultation. Las Vegas architects are passionate about creating wonderful living environments!

Why an Architect’s Voice is Their Most Important Tool in Las Vegas – Top Three Reasons

“One of the Best Beauties of Architecture is that Each Time It is Like Life Starting All Over Again”

Undoubtedly, an architect is a person who brings life to your residential or commercial buildings. As we all know that being an architecture, it is a job of visualization in which, building speaks for themselves. Today, we are going to discuss one of the most important tools of Architects in Las Vegas.

There is no doubt that architecture is not based on concrete, steel and the elements of the soil. It is based on one’s imagination or wonder. Do you really know why the architect in Las Vegas is famous throughout the whole world? Well, there are various reasons due to which, they are famous globally such as their creativity, their exceptional designs, green building concept and much more but all of the above they are renowned for their voice and it is the most important tool of these architectures.

Architect Design

Let’s have a look that how their voice act as a tool…

Public Protection

As an architect, your own voice protects the public. As an expert architect, they are bound by their duty to protect the public welfare in similar ways to that of a lawyer or a doctor. While an Architect does not have a formal Hippocratic Oath, they are still responsible to protect the health safety and welfare of the public according to the laws of their jurisdiction. An architect’s voice goes about as the essential medium through which this assurance can be framed.

Regardless of whether it’s amid a planning stage or into the development stage, the Architect in Las Vegas is the victor of the general population. Even if there is something that the Architect did inaccurately, as long as it might have an impending effect upon well-being, the Architect must utilize their voice and talk up for what is right. The general population depends upon the Architect for their skill and puts in them their trust that the Architect will keep them safe.


Architectural Firm


Owners Protection

Many times, the Architect is likewise the shield for the proprietor of an undertaking. Contracts and their formative relationships created, put the Architect into a lead job that must secure the Owner against things that are out of their mastery. The Architect must keep the harmony amid development and give the Owner administrations that are both reasonable and to their greatest advantage.

Design Protection

One foremost thing that contracts aim to protect it is the structure expectation of a given task. The Architect must offset individual structure interests with an Owner’s capacity to utilize a project once it’s built. While there are numerous opportunities in the profession of architecture to use practice as a method of exploring new ideas, the Architect is responsible for reigning in scope to create a functional building

So hope you understand that why architect in Las Vegas for their voice as it is the tools that offer protection to all !!!

When do I need a commercial project building permit?

Posted: December 19, 2018

Of the many architectural clients that have gotten themselves into a problem with the building department, many have built without permits. So we are often asked: “Do I really need a permit?” or “Do I really have to have a permit?” Many property owners can sneak in some construction without getting caught in the moment of their activity. But, later, government employees come by to check on the building when a business license is pulled and then they have a significant problem. This may be even more important after a problem that causes an insurance claim or bodily harm. The perpetrator of building without a permit can end up unable to collect on an insurance claim or with a negligence claim from whoever got harmed by non-permitted work. While the permitting process for most items does not even require architectural plans or drawings, the information on what is being done is required by the building department. Submission for a permit does not require an architect or a general contractor in many instances. For instance, your electrician can submit to obtain a permit to add an electric outlet. Your sign installer can obtain a sign permit. If you are changing walls or your roof then you will likely require a set of architectural drawings. For more utilitarian structures a structural or civil engineers drawing set may be sufficient for permitting.

The video linked below details more concerns such as the (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act compliance that could control construction of both new and remodeling projects including some work that does not require permits.

SSA Architecture is a Las Vegas Nevada architectural firm.

commercial project building permit

What is an ADA site survey? Do I need an ADA survey?

Posted June 21, 2018

Background: The federal law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act has been a requirement for over 20 years. That law includes many architectural requirements, such as ramps, clearances around doors, and grab bars. Because the building department in Nevada is not tasked with checking for ADA compliance, many buildings exist that are not ADA compliant.

For this reason, many business owners order ADA services for Las Vegas Buildings. When an ADA survey is created we go to the project site and evaluate the existing conditions. We then write a report listing the conditions that are out of compliance with the ADA. Typically ADA surveys include identification of what section of the ADA each problem relates to. The report would normally be in a list format so that the building owners can use it as a “checklist” to bring the property into ADA compliance.

These ADA surveys are often used to negotiate property sale prices as most buyers do not want to own property subject to discrimination claims. Sometimes an ADA survey will lead to the need for construction documents to remediate problems. Many ADA problems are minor enough to be corrected without the need for permits. SSA Architecture offers architectural construction documents for ADA corrections as a service. However, the design of repairs is not normally included in the ADA survey.

Architectural clients and ADA survey clients often ask if their building conditions are “grandfathered” and can remain as they were built before the ADA. There may be some small chance that your building’s non-ADA compliant condition is allowed (by law) to remain. However 99.9% of the time those items need to be corrected.

At SSA Architecture ADA surveys are done on a first come first served basis. After the process is begun a common time for completion (for small projects) is 2 weeks. Times vary dependent upon our schedule and we do offer “rush ADA survey” pricing.


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