Budgeting 101: Dental Office Construction
Like the Great Pyramids, the Empire State Building, and the Eiffel Tower, any good construction work is going to be a product of significant time, labor, and costs. And dental offices, which are high volume and high tech workplaces with many moving parts, are no exception. Yet I consistently find that doctors are shocked when they see the estimate for a complete dental office renovation. Even successful doctors with lucrative practices—who are prepared to make a significant investment in their work place—are often unprepared for the costs and decisions that come with a great project. So I’ve decided to write this blog to explain how these costs add up, and justify what is ultimately a profitable investment in any enterprise.
Budgeting 101: Research To Lower Dental Office Construction Costs
Why is it that so many doctors, who will spend months upon months researching a car before going to a single dealership, won’t even do a single Google search for plumbing costs before
calling my office? Doing your homework about construction
costs beforehand helps both you and me do our jobs better. Think about the big picture—plumbing, electric, air, heating, fire protection, and general construction like demolition, walls, flooring, ceiling, painting, etc. These are your primary costs, and make the biggest difference both in terms of your bill, as well as the overall feel of the new office.
For example, don’t focus on things like outlet placement (only around $100) until you’ve considered where you want your sinks (up to $3,000 or more apiece). And be honest with yourself: do you need a sink in every treatment room? Or can you make it work with just hand sanitizers? Where else can that money go which would be more useful? Doing this kind of research can help you to defray costs down the road, as well as providing insight into the real, unavoidable costs associated with construction generally.
Budgeting 101: Cost of Dental Office Construction
The bottom-line for construction itself usually comes to between $80-$100/square foot
,depending on the location, the scope of the project, the timeline, and all the little details along the way. On top of that are the design fees—architects, engineers, interior designers each have their own bills that add to the total cost. Then there’s the mill work (cabinetry, fixtures, etc.), technology, and equipment to consider…
At the end of the day, budgeting really comes down to figuring out what you want versus what you need. Many doctors simply tell me that they want a “nice office.” Would you walk into a car dealership and just ask for a “nice car”? You need to be asking yourself questions like: How many treatment rooms do you need? What kind of equipment? And more specifically: What is the “feel” you are looking for? What kind of patients do you want to attract and delight?
If you don’t know the answers to those questions already, there’s no way you can even begin to formulate a budget for your project. In my entire career, I have only worked with a single doctor who had prepared a detailed action plan itemizing what they wanted, along with a well-researched timeline and budget. This just goes to show the importance of “doing your homework”—no wonder this office was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
Your office should reflect the mission and values of your practice, your personality, and the attitude of your patients and staff. When you go into another office that you like, take a look around and take notes. Be as specific as you can. To make a great dental office, you need a concrete vision and an action plan. Our job is to make that vision a reality.