By Scott Somers, NCARB, ARCH-101 Architecture, Designers, Advocates, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ssomers@arch-101.com www.arch-101.com

Key points:

  • Start planning at least a year ahead of your desired move-in date.
  • Before purchasing a property, make sure it will meet your needs for office space as well as parking.
  • Protect yourself by only dealing with reputable companies with a history of satisfied customers.
  • Avoid looking for “deals.” Most often, the cheapest way of doing a project ends up being the most expensive.
  • Consult professionals to help you make informed decisions.

 

Designing and building your new office is a major undertaking. Familiarize yourself with the design and construction process before getting started.

Important First Steps

  • Most importantly, make sure you have thoughtfully planned for your project. It is a large investment—maybe the largest you will ever make. Plan your project around your personal goals and the goals of your practice. Your practice should not be planned around the design of your office. Define what a successful project means to you.
  • Establish major goals early. Define all of your budgets (project-related and equipment- related), financing options, project schedule and expected outcomes.
  • Plan well in advance of your anticipated occupancy date. New building design, permitting and construction will take roughly 13 months or more after a site has been selected. The design, permitting and construction of a remodel can take 7 months or more after a lease has been signed.
  • Work only with professionals you trust, who are also experienced in orthodontic design, easy to work with and who understand your goals. They should advocate for you, free from conflicts of interest.
  • Do not purchase property without the review of your architect. Use “due diligence” to fully investigate the property. Visit your local county or city planning and building department and apply for a pre-construction conference before closing on any property deal to ensure your property works for you before you buy.
  • Decide how much time you will invest in your project. Will you be heavily involved, or will you have experienced professionals in charge?

 

Project Mistakes to Avoid

  • Buying a piece of land without knowing with a high degree of certainty it will meet your needs.
  • Not completing a comprehensive project budget that is realistic, represents your goals and includes contingencies for unknowns.
  • Purchasing a site that is too small with inadequate space for parking.
  • Underestimating the time required for design, permitting and construction.
  • Building an office space that is too small for future needs.
  • Choosing an architect or contractor with little or no orthodontic experience.
  • Selecting professionals who have conflicts of interests.
  • Looking for “deals.” A thoughtful and realistic project budget complete with expected returns on your overall investment should dictate what your project cost allowances are.  Most often, the cheapest way of doing a project ends up being the most expensive.
  • Believing that the architect’s role stops with the building permit. You should engage your architect to assist overseeing the construction process to ensure that the contractor is building what was designed and following the terms of the construction contract.

 

Don’t Get Taken Advantage of

  • Check with the contractor’s past customers and your banker regarding the contractor's cost and performance record.
  • Work only with experienced professionals you trust.
  • Many times the architect, more than any other professional, helps determine your project’s success.  With you, they are in charge of programming, planning, meeting budgets, managing construction and advising you of threats and opportunities in your project. Make sure you trust this person to act in this capacity.
  • Execute contracts that protect your interests. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has contracts for design and construction. Make sure all contracts are reviewed by an attorney.
  • Accept that you will need help. Your expertise is most likely not in the building and construction industry. Avoid making uninformed decisions. Consult your professionals when you have questions.