Architectural Review Unit

Thank you for visiting the Architectural and Engineering Review for Health Facilities program webpage. The Department of State Health Services maintains this webpage, but pursuant to Senate Bill 200, regulatory authority over Architectural and Engineering Review for Health Facilities has transferred to the Health and Human Services Commission. (HHSC) as of September 1, 2017.

An architectural review is one of the processes that is necessary in order to receive license approval from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and must be completed for hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), dialysis facilities (ESRDs), free standing emergency medical care facilities (FEMCs), and special care facilities (SCF).

The owner/operator may not begin construction of a new building, new addition, renovation, alteration, modification, or conversion of an existing building until the Department of State Health Services, Architectural Review Unit, approves final construction and necessary documents.

Contact Information

  • Phone: (512) 834-6649
  • Fax: (512) 834-6620
  • Physical address: (for feasibility conferences and over-night packages):

    Texas Department of State Health Services
    The Exchange Building
    Architectural Review Unit (MC2835)
    8407 Wall Street – Suite S241
    Austin, TX 78754

    Map and directions to The Exchange Building

    Mailing addresses may be found on the contact page.

Applications and Forms

Applicable Laws & Rules

The Architectural Review Process

Step I: Application for Plan Review

Complete and submit your application and the applicable fee to the DSHS Architectural Review Unit.  Fees are not refundable. If you are submitting plans for an ASC, ESRD or FEMC facility, a plan review fee is not due.

In addition, submit on facility letterhead a narrative of the project.

Download the Application for Plan Review (PDF, 133KB)

Step II: Submit Construction Documents

Submit one complete set of construction documents/final plans and specifications to the DSHS for review and approval. All construction documents/final plans and specifications shall be appropriately sealed and signed by a registered architect and professional engineers that are licensed by the State of Texas.

See TAC Title 25, Chapters: 117, 125, 131, 133, 134, or 135, as applicable, for detailed requirements.
Options for special submittals include:

Alternative Submittal - Recommended

In-lieu-of submitting one complete set of construction documents/final plans and specifications for review and approval, the DSHS Architectural Review Unit will accept one complete set of PDF formatted CD’s/DVD’s for these type of facilities regulated in Title 25 of the TAC:

  • Chapter 117 – End Stage Renal Disease Facilities
  • Chapter 125 – Special Care Facilities
  • Chapter 131 – Freestanding Emergency Medical Care Facilities
  • Chapter 134 – Psychiatric Hospitals and Crisis Stabilization Units
  • Chapter 135 – Ambulatory Surgical Centers

Submittals for Hospitals-25 TAC, Chapter 133 may be provided on PDF formatted CD’s/DVD’s if the project is 15,000 square feet or less.

The CD’s/DVD’s must have a complete index page which includes page numbers as the first image. The CD’s/DVD’s shall be submitted in a hard case cover(s) with a label indicating the name of the facility and name of the project. The department may request hard copy documents for Life Safety Code plans or any other documents that are necessary for a complete review.

  • Self-certification - Upon your request and at the discretion of the DSHS Architectural Review Unit, you may be allowed to submit a set of final construction documents and the self-certification form attesting that plans and specifications are based upon and comply with the requirements of state licensing rules.
  • Minor project - A small project in a building that holds a current facility license issued by the DSHS and meets the specifications listed in 25 TAC Chapter 117, Chapter 125, Chapter 131, Chapter 133, Chapter 134, or Chapter 135, accordingly may request to be reviewed as a minor project. A minor project shall be requested in writing with a brief written description, narrative of the proposed project, and floor plans which depict the areas of work. Minor project packages shall be submitted via mail or fax (512-834-6620). E-mail submittals will not be processed.
  • Fast-track project - A new hospital or major new hospital addition may request a fast track process. At the discretion of the DSHS Architectural Review Unit,, you may be allowed to submit the project documents in two or three separate packages, which will allow for the review of each package as it is received. This process will allow construction to begin as soon as DSHS issues approval of the initial package. Submittal of the package must be in accordance with 25 TAC Chapter 133, §133.167(g)(2). A fast-track project shall be requested in writing on facility letterhead with a brief written description, including a narrative and construction timeline of the proposed project.

Feasibility Conference (optional)

The facility owner/operator or representative may request a feasibility conference. A feasibility conference is an informal meeting between a member of the Department's Architectural Review Unit and the facility owner/operator or representative to determine the feasibility of a project, for consultation and informational purposes, and to facilitate and establish understanding of compliance with the rules and codes. Call Architectural Review staff at 512/834-6649, to schedule a feasibility conference. Required items for the feasibility conference:

  1. Functional program narrative
  2. Provide preliminary or design development plans for review and discussion.

Step III: Construction Approval

Construction shall NOT commence until the Department has issued a letter granting approval to begin construction. The architect of record or the facility owner/operator shall provide written notification to the Department as to when construction will commence. 

Step IV: Requesting An Inspection

You must receive written notice from the Department indicating approval of the construction document/final plans before you are allowed to request any inspection. The architect of record or the facility owner/operator shall request an inspection by submitting, at least three weeks in advance of the requested inspection week, an Application for Inspection (PDF, 38KB) and the construction inspection fee in accordance with TAC 125, 133, 134, as applicable, for each intermediate inspection, final inspection, and reinspection requested. Inspection requests by contractors will not be honored. No inspection fee is due with an ASC or ESRD Application for Inspection.

Request for cancellation of an inspection must be at least the week before the inspection occurs. If the inspection request is cancelled the week of, day before, or the day of the inspection, ARU will NOT inspect the project the following week.

Step V: Final Architectural Approval

Upon completion of the above items and submittal of all final approval documents, as required in §117.105, §125.95, §131.147, §133.168, §134.128, or §135.55, as applicable, the Department will issue written final approval of the architecture project. This completes the architectural review portion of the facility licensing process. The application for license for each facility and the required components is a separate process and must be completed before the license can be issued. To read about the facility license process, click on the facility type from the menu on the left-side of the page. 

Additional Resources

Last updated May 13, 2019