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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2evbLedpyww
  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwtfxrsC12g
  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ktF5MuhQE
  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKJ02pyOvCM
  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYBcqn1723Q

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVQF9lutkxc&list=PLGcR_hF4Ue6203JXii5NiKj9FP7k00sDv&index=8&t=592s

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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I just bought a really ugly building because of its location and price. What can be done to make it look good without breaking the bank?

Posted May 18, 2018

There are a lot of good solutions to make an ugly Las Vegas building presentable and possibly beautifully designed. Clients have recently used our architectural design services to “re-skin” a commercial stucco building. This simply means that the existing architectural façade of the old office building was covered over with some rigid insulation material (which helps insulation values also) and covered in new architectural stucco details. We also designed the placement of other architectural finish materials such as standing seam metal. Sometimes we use the insulation to hide the ugly decorations of the old building façade and other times we decorate a blank façade by adding “pop-outs” to give it some quality visual texture.

Click below for an example.

architectural cure for world's ugliest building

Another architectural design option is often used if the old building is planned to be expanded. Sometimes it is possible to simply build a new building addition in front of the old building and hide the ugly old building entirely. If you already planned to add on to the building then there should be little cost difference between building in front as opposed to on another side.

flower project hand sketch

Another option is to build something else in front of the building. In the animation that we show a design by SSA architecture that places a curvilinear wall in front of an old building. This design was chosen because the building itself was not suitable for extensive exterior modifications. Therefore the architects designed a decorative exterior in front of it. Ken Small also planned to upgrade the exterior behind the curved wall.

Check out some work samples from SSA architecture.

SSA architecture 2016-2017 work samples

In the Las Vegas vicinity architects who want to make major design changes to the exterior of a building are required to submit to government processes that are called “Design Review(s)”. The examples used in this explanation will tend to require that process. Typically the government reviewers are very supportive of improvements. But buyers should understand that anything other than an obvious improvement could delay the process and require public notices an hearings.

I have a rush architectural project. Can I get permit expediting by an architect in Las Vegas?

Posted: May 16, 2018

SSA Architecture provides permit expediting services for architectural projects. In the largest jurisdiction in the Las Vegas area (unincorporated Clark County) Ken Small, owner of SSA is one of only two architects who can obtain a permit one day after the completed plans are submitted to the building department. This program is called “Permit Now”. In North Las Vegas their ‘rush job’ process is 4 building department working days. In other jurisdictions they have other (slower) rules. But regardless of the location of your project we offer permit expediting processing in order to help to rush your project through the permitting process.

Can I get permit expediting by an architect in Las Vegas

There is a great deal of variation in how the numerous jurisdictions will allow a project to be expedited and it also depends upon what your project is.

Click below to learn how architects in Las Vegas can expedite your permit.

architectural permit expediting

How do I obtain a special use permit or zoning change in the Las Vegas area?

Posted: May 16, 2018

If you know that the current zoning of your property is not what is needed for your use, then there is a prescribed process for each of the jurisdictions in the Las Vegas area. Certain uses (examples: gambling, liquor sales, car sales, bars) are always required to participate in the zoning special use permit process. In the Las Vegas area there are many government groups that each have a slightly different process for use permit and or zoning approval. Typically we recommend that we take a preliminary sketch, with preliminary design information to the city planning and zoning department where the property is located. Jurisdictions that could have control over your property include: city of Las Vegas, city of Henderson, unincorporated Clark County, Boulder City, Mesquite, Pahrump. When we take the preliminary sketch to the planning and zoning department we will then find out the sub-jurisdictions that control and also the latest schedule for processing. This is not a fast process, regardless of who helps you with it. The government moves at its own pre-scheduled pace and there is often no speeding it up.

a special use permit site plan in the Las Vegas area

The zoning of a property is generally referred to as an “Entitlement”. Some entitlements are what use you can have, how big the building can be, how may floors a building can be, how many car parking spaces will be required and more urban planning issues.

These are the most common steps in obtaining entitlements, zoning and special use permits:

1. (Optional) It is strongly recommended that you direct us to prepare a preliminary drawing and take it to planning and zoning before purchasing, depositing money for a purchase or rental option, or signing a lease or a letter of intent.
2. Create a formal drawing or drawings to fulfill the standard requirements. For an existing building this could be fulfilled with one 24×36 page. For vacant lots this could be 10 pages, including civil engineering and building designs.
3. Submit to the planning bureaucracy to be allowed to get a first FORMAL (preliminary) appointment to discuss the project.
4. Submit the drawings and other forms for planning and zoning staff to review and make comments.
5. Revise and resubmit according to comments, if any.
6. Staff agrees to support your application and schedules it for a town board meeting.
7. Attend the town board meeting and present the project.
8. Revise and resubmit according to comments, if any.
9. Discuss with planning and zoning bureaucracy and get them to schedule your project for a planning commission hearing.

a special use permit floor plan in the Las Vegas area

10. Attend the planning commission hearing and present the project.
11. Make any revisions required at the planning commission hearing.
12. Revise and resubmit according to comments, if any.
13. Discuss with planning and zoning bureaucracy and get them to schedule your project for a city council or county commission hearing.
14. Attend the city council or county commission hearing and present the project.
15. Revise according to comments from that meeting.
16. Now you are ready to create and submit your construction documents for building department permitting.

Some of the steps shown above will not be required for some projects. In other projects you may have to go through the same step more than once and go through other steps.

Click below to watch a video about entitlements and special use permits by a Las Vegas architect.

permit or zoning change in the Las Vegas area

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How can I get a commercial interior remodeling building permit in the Las Vegas area?

Posted: May 16, 2018

Commercial remodeling projects are often referred to as tenant improvements because they are typically designed for tenants who do not occupy the entire building. This is for projects where their use is already allowed and are not subject to special government agencies. This is a best practices and common practices way to go about it.

    • 1. Try to get the existing plans from the building owner or seller if you are purchasing the building. This will save you some cost and may describe some pitfalls. This will show how your building was originally analyzed under the building code and how your parking and toilet allocations were figured. It will also show the dimensions of the location and the actual property identification. These things can be “figured out” again but everything costs money.
    • 2. Make a list of what you need and or a sketch of what you want you layout to be. Most projects don’t finish as they began but you have to start somewhere. If you can’t follow plans, just make yourself a list of the requirements. Examples: break room with 5 tables having 4 chairs each, 3 exam rooms each with a dentist chair a table and a stool, a waiting room for dogs with seating for 6 people and their dogs.

The video below can help with determining if your preliminary architectural sketch will work.

determining if your preliminary architectural sketch will work
    • 3. Before you sign a lease or purchase the building, hire a commercial architect to provide a scaled drawing of your desired floor plan. Look for an architect who is:
    • a. A licensed architect in that state. Architects are licensed by state in the USA.
    • b. Sufficiently experienced in the general location of the work and hopefully near enough to go to the project site without costly travel time. This depends on your location. Many times an architect in the same city is fine. In the Las Vegas area any architect in the valley can get to any project in the Las Vegas area sufficiently.
    • c. Experienced in your type of project if the project is common enough to be known. So if it’s an office, a retail space, or a restaurant, then you want an experienced architect in that building type. If your project is very unusual then it may be impractical to find an architect who has designed one before.
    • 4. Have the architect prepare a preliminary design sketch to make sure that what you need to do will fit inside the space that you have.

The video below gives you information on preliminary building design.

preliminary building design
    • 5. If you have a landlord, attach this to the lease indicating that the landlord will allow it.
    • 6. If it fits the space and the landlord approves it direct the architect to draw construction documents for the building department and file them for plan check process.

Click below to learn about permit expediting for tenant improvement.

permit expediting for tenant improvement
  • 7. While the “Plans” (construction documents) are being reviewed at the building department, ask contractors for bids or if you are negotiating with a single contractor then he should solicit subcontractor bids. Do not sign a construction contract until the plans have cleared plan check and the permit is ready. Your contractor is not supposed to build without permits. The building departments often make comments that increase costs. The building departments hardly ever don’t make any comments that effect the final plans. Your best time to negotiate with your contractor is before you sign the contract.
  • 8. When the plans have cleared plan check you will be told that your permit is ready and you then must select a contractor. Only contractors can obtain permits on commercial projects like tenant improvements. Attach a copy of the plans to the construction contract and make sure that the language in the contract says that what is indicated in the plans is included in the contractor’s bid. Check with the contractor’s licensing board to make sure that your contractor is licensed.
  • 9. Before you can occupy the space your contractor must obtain a “Certificate of Occupancy” from the building department.
  • 10. Remember that buying a building construction project is not like buying an existing object. If you haggle too much for a bottle of wine and get yourself a deal, the wine was already in the bottle before you were haggling. In construction, after you get your “Good deal” everyone has to still want to do a sufficiently good job to get you a satisfactory end result. Tell everyone thank you, but don’t say things that could later be interpreted as your acceptance of substandard work. Leave it up to your architect, building inspectors, and others to do quality control. Saying thanks and I appreciate your work makes it “worth it” to workers or subcontractors and will sometimes even substitute for money. During every construction project there will be problems and stressful situations. Making good relationships will get you through it without starting your new venture with undue stress.
  • 11. When the work is done, collect and carefully store the permitted plans and documentation on items installed. These will later turn out to be valuable.
  • 12. This explanation covers projects not under the jurisdiction of special rules unique to that particular project type. See other information regarding restaurants and the health department, used car lots and liquor stores requiring special use permits, and others under zoning and special use permits.
    Click here to learn more about special use permits.Check out these videos to learn about designing and building offices and restaurants.

    how to design/build an office building
    how to design/build a restaurant

    Click here to see our Tenant Improvement Page

  • See more commercial building questions..

Click on the images below to find out more about building permits in the Las Vegas area.