One of the least understood costs in building a dental surgery is time taken to do it. The actual build of a 3 chair surgery typically takes us about 8 weeks. We have done it in 4 weeks but this involves the added expense of multiple night shifts and weekend work.
Clients need to understand two things in order to control the ‘time cost’ of building a new surgery.
1. Every week costs you thousands of dollars. Sometimes we watch as clients spend weeks and even months negotiating with numerous suppliers, coordinating their own trades and sourcing materials and equipment from far off places in order to save money. I’m not sure whether if you ‘project manage’ your own fitout and negotiate with individual contractors you save much money on the overall cost of the fitout. Perhaps you do if things go smoothly and you have no issues along the way. What I can tell you for absolute certainty is that:
a. The amount of your own time spent on this dental fitout will be more than you anticipate and it will effect other areas of your personal and professional life. You can’t effectively manage a construction project without giving up other income earning activities in order to do it. It’s a full time job for the period of the fitout and if you are leaving your other job or clearing your schedule of patients in order to manage the build you need to add up all the lost revenue when working out whether it’s worth it, and
b. Projects that are self managed take significantly longer to complete. Not 2 weeks longer, but often twice or three times as long. We know this for two reasons. Firstly because we drive past dental and medical surgery fitout projects going on for months, and secondly because clients tell us or come to us later and say “You were right! It went OK but it just went on forever. I just couldn’t get it finished!”
Clients fail to calculate the costs per week of the delay. The cost is not the lost revenue for the weeks when you would have been first open. The cost is the lost revenue of the weeks in the future when your practice could have been at full revenue but isn’t because you were late opening in the first place.
2. The vast majority of delays occur BEFORE we start building. We can build quickly and efficiently once we know what we are building, and have permission to build it. Help us to minimise delays by:
a. Designing your project ahead of time. Don’t try and design it as we build it. You need to be able to envisage the layout and commit to it ahead of time. If you struggle to do this then engage us to design it for you and trust that we have done it many times before and we will design you something efficient and professional.
b. Be available during the design process. Allocate some time to the design of your fitout. Make yourself available while we are designing the fitout and come back to us as promptly as possible with feedback and colour selections.
c. Plan your council and strata approval ahead of time. These are very common causes of delay. Get your council and strata approval underway immediately once you have selected your site. We can assist with this also if required.
d. Efficient building requires planning and lead times are critical. We can’t build a dental or medical fitout in 8 weeks with one week’s notice. Even if our schedule is clear, we still need an absolute minimum of about 3 or 4 weeks’ notice to organise materials and book in trades in order for your fitout to go smoothly. Plan ahead and commit to the timeframe. You need to understand that if we delay a project by a week we often loose the suppliers for 3 or 4 weeks because they must move onto their next project and they will complete it before coming back to yours. They can’t wait for you for a week.
Clients often ask, “When will you be finished?”. To which we reply “About 8 weeks after we start”. The best thing you can do to help us finish on time is to help us start on time.