"Dental Blog"

From Medical to Dental
Prices are Down, Opportunities are Up

A Dental office is very specialized and an expensive, but necessary component of any practice.

To give every advantage to a new “practice location”, a lower cost basis will always help. We all know finding a good location is a major factor to success. Everyone would like to find the recently vacated dental office of the correct size, with affordable rates, and available at the right time. This is a daunting task to find considering the odds. These odds improve dramatically when existing vacant medical spaces are considered.

Approximately 60% of construction costs are mechanicals & millwork. Conversely, partition walls represent less than 10% of the cost. Electrical circuits for x-rays & dental equipment, medical wiring & devices and abundant lighting are usually available in a medical space. Plumbing in patient care areas typically have sinks in multiple locations eliminating much of the invasive & expensive coring or trenching. Heating and cooling may already be zoned correctly. The front office & reception can be set at a different temperature from the patient care & work areas. Millwork is another major factor. The medical office front desk, labs, staff area, restrooms & waiting rooms are similar to the dental office.

A dental office build out cost in a class “A” office space typically runs from $75 to $80 per sq. ft. for a 2400 sq. ft, 6-chair facility starting with a ‘white box’. Larger offices will cost less per square foot while smaller offices more. Starting with a vacant medical space, build out can save up to ½ of this cost if the design & decorating team make a concerted effort to utilize the EXISTING conditions. Spending additional time & effort on the design side will pay big dividends here.

Dental Design Projects
The article below is from the "Design for Health" website.

Nine of the Most Common Mistakes Encountered in Dental Design Projects

1. Overestimating the Problem.
Maybe you need a new office... then again, maybe you don't. Just because things have gotten a little out of control in your present space doesn't necessarily mean that a new office is inevitable. Usually dental workplaces "evolve" over the course of years as you adapt to changes in your practice. Perhaps traffic flow is suffering now, or your sterilization area has become less than adequate. Modern approaches to dental office design result in many space saving features that reduce operating costs and provide greater efficiency. Before increasing your lease payments and absorbing relocation costs, consider less costly solutions within your current office that would get you back on track.

2. Selecting a Location Based Solely on Square Footage.
Most people work with a realtor to find a new space. Usually the criteria used to find a space is inadequate to determine how well the space will actually work for you. Square footage is one factor, but subtler aspects may shape how usable the space really is and how much of it you will need. Here are some things to look for: Are the existing plumbing, electrical and mechanical services adequate to satisfy your professional needs? Are there any load bearing columns or partitions? Will the window spacing, solar orientation and views support your design requirements? Is there adequate parking? Are the lease conditions acceptable; for instance is the lease term long enough to justify your investment and is the building owner willing to participate in the cost of the tenant improvements?

3. Overlooking Items When Budgeting and Scheduling.
Moving expenses, start-up costs, phones, computer networks, sound systems, intercoms and security systems are but a few of the items that often get thought about late in the game. Treated as afterthoughts, these become more costly, less effective, and are often very disruptive. Remember that each item has scheduling as well as cost implications and must be implemented on time to keep the project moving smoothly. When evaluating these options, consider also life cycle costs and not just initial expenditures.

4. Underestimating the Value of a Good Design.
Many people have the mistaken notion that a skilled designer is a luxury whose main purpose is to wrap the project in an attractive package. Design is, in fact, a synthesis of many factors that are crucial to the success of your project: the functional, spatial and relational requirement of each of your spaces; the interrelationships between you, your staff and your patients; codes and life safety considerations; budgetary requirements; equipment requirements; consideration of the existing mechanical and structural conditions; and finally, the critical visual element, the atmosphere of the created environment. When combined skillfully by a qualified architect, these factors will reinforce one another and translate into an office that will enhance every aspect of your practice and further your success.

5. Excluding Your Staff from the Process.
It's important for you to maintain control, but there are often great benefits to involving your staff early in the design process. Their day to day involvement with the details of your practice frequently gives them insights into problems that you are too busy to notice. Often you will discover something about how they work or could work better. And almost always, getting your staff's input will make them more receptive to whatever plans you implement.

6. Compiling a Bid List from Weak Sources.
Everyone has friends that have used a contractor at one point or another. Chances are you could accumulate a bid list with five phone calls. But are you really tapping into the most effective resources for you? Do they have experience in dental construction? Can they furnish you with favorable references? Are they skilled in good construction practices; properly motivated; free of scheduling conflicts? Make sure the contractors on your list are truly qualified for your project.

7. Accepting Bids from Inadequate Drawings.
If you have not provided a complete set of Working Drawings and Specifications, there is little to hold a contractor to the quality of construction you have in mind. This leaves the door open for the contractor to cut corners or charge you dearly for change orders and additions after he has won the bid and the competition is out of the picture. Solving the problems on paper and not in the field will save you time, money and aggravation.

8. Failing to Coordinate Changes.
Often a change will be made that will affect other members of the project team. Make sure that all involved are aware of the change. It is easy enough to decide to move a wall, but the design fo the cabinets may also need revision. Does it affect the fire sprinklers? Heating? Electrical? Someone who understands all the ramifications should coordinate the changes. The result will be a smoother job, with deadlines and budgets maintained.

9. Trying to Shoulder Too Much Responsibility Yourself.
You are a highly trained dental professional. Chances are, there are precious few opportunities in your day for returning calls or handling outside issues. Redoing your office will put you in the midst of a disruptive process; there will be more than enough other details requiring your attention. Why would you want to spend time you don't have, trying to do a job you're not trained for, at the worst possible time?

(c) Design for Health, 1997, all rights reserved.

Storage Areas
Many dentists realize they need more storage after the office is built. During the design stage, plan on plenty of storage in your office, it will be needed. Turning a storage area into an additional operatory or office makes more sense than losing a production room because more storage is needed.

PDH is committed to supporting dentists deciding to open a new office or update an existing one. We are full of knowledge and ideas from building the most dental offices in the Atlanta area. Every Friday, look for a new post. We will share what we find to make your new or updated office a hit with your patients and staff.
The PDH Team

PDH Construction has been specializing in Dental Facilities for over 25 years.

Whether you are building your first office or last, PDH’s quality demonstrates the attention to detail that your office requires.

PDH is available to assist in site selection, lease negotiations, design & construction.

PDH strives to successfully complete your office on time and within budget.