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SETTING UP A DENTAL CLINIC - DESIGN & FIT-OUT

You’ve confirmed a site and signed a lease, or perhaps you’re looking for a space… beyond sourcing the site and signing the lease – you’ll need to start preparing for the next stages - the design and fit-out for your dental clinic.

From start to finish, the intention of this article is to give you insights that will help you prepare for the process, as well as design considerations to take into account specifically for a dental clinic.

1)    Site inspection: You can inspect the site yourself, however, before you’ve signed a lease deal, our recommendation is to take your designer & shopfitter to site for inspection.  In doing this, they can review the site, and highlight any areas that will present a challenge, or that may increase costs. Areas to look at are elements of the base build such as – existing water supply & drainage points, existing A/C systems, existing shopfront, ceiling heights, existing lighting, switchboard, wall & column locations.  At this stage, if the landlord has not provided site drawings, it would be worth arranging for the designer and/or shopfitter to measure up the site. 

2)    Initial Floor plan:  The first step in the design process is to have your designer complete a rough floor plan.  It would be a smart move to complete a basic floor plan before you sign the lease.  In doing this you’ll be able to establish – how many treatment rooms you can fit within the space, including other required rooms, such as sterilisation room, staff room/kitchenette, x-ray room, bathroom, waiting area & reception.  You may require a certain number of rooms to fit within the space, and in completing a plan layout before signing the lease – you’ll be able to establish if what you require within the space is achievable, and if the space can work for what you need.

 3)    Floor plan options:  Once you know the space will work for you, and the lease has been signed, the next stage would be to have your designer further develop the floor plan.  They may explore alternate options for the space – as there is almost always more than one solution, and its good to review multiple option to ensure you end up with the best possible solution.  At this stage, look at your treatment rooms in further detail – include the actual size of the dental chair, and ensure there is enough clearance around this.  Consider your reception counter, how big it needs to be, and how many seats you require in your waiting area. The key is to brief your designer with enough detail, that they can complete accurate designs for you.  Ensure you provide your designer with a clear brief – all equipment sizes, and clearly listed requirements for each room.  Including sinks, storage, and specialised equipment (with specifications & sizes).  In providing your designer with a clear and concise brief, it will ensure your design outcome is as accurate as it can be.

 Once the floor plan options have been reviewed, considered and refined, you should then be able to select a final design layout.

 

4)    Concept Design:  The first part of the concept design process, generally, is to research & review existing fit-outs and sources inspiration, these can come from similar interiors, or completely different sources.  These images can help to form a discussion between designer & client.  As designers, we put multiple pages of inspiration together for our clients, and then run through these – we find it helps us to establish design direction, that aligns with the client’s vision, and target market. The clearer responses we get, whether it be a love or hate reaction, ensures that our design outcomes remain on point.  We suggest that this is a great starting point, before delving into the concept design development. 

 For dental clinics, it’s good to look outside the box – consider that your clinic may not need to look the same as every dental clinic, perhaps there are ways you can push the boundaries.  Consider creating an environment that will make your customers experience more enjoyable, and that will be appealing to them. 

Once the design direction is quite clear, between designer & client, the designer can then begin to work, create, and develop this into a 3D concept.  Together with the floor plan layout that has already been established.  The inspiration and direction for the concept, should align with the initial design conversation, reference images and brief.  These elements are there to guide the designer, and to ensure the concept remains on track.  Together with the concept design development, the designer will also pull together finishes that will align with the 3D concept. 

Once the designer has completed the concept, this will then be presented to you, the client.  You’ll be able to provide feedback, comments, and advise if there are any elements that may need adjusting or updating.

 

5)    Design Documentation: Once the concept has been finalised, your designer can get stuck into the design documentation process.  At this stage in the process, there may be a priority to complete town planning documentation, if new signage or shopfront elements are required.  The town planning process can take over 6 weeks, so it’s a good move to get this application submitted first.

Once the council application is submitted, the design can then focus on completing detailed documentation drawings.  This will include floorplans, such as – existing conditions. proposed, dimensions, electrical, drainage, finishes, reflected ceiling plan, elevations and detailed joinery drawings.  The initial purpose of completing this technical drawing set, is to prepare a tender document, from which the shopfitters can quote on the fit-out works. At this stage, ensure that you provide all specialised requirements for equipment (such as power, data, and plumbing requirements) to your designer, so these can be captured on the drawings, prior to shopfitter pricing.

 

6)    Tender Process: Once the design documentation pack has been completed, the pack is then sent to builders / shopfitters to quote.  Generally, we recommend this be sent to x3 shopfitters.  This process generally takes x2 weeks.  Once the quotes come back, review them thoroughly, (or have your designer review), ensure everything is included, and that all quotes are comparable.  Once you’re happy with this, nominate a shopfitter to complete your fit-out works.  Usually you’ll need to sign a contract and pay a deposit to lock in the preferred shopfitter.

 

7)    Fit-out Construction: Once onsite dates are set, your shopfitter should be able to provide a fit-out program, giving you a schedule of what will be occurring and when.  They should also be able to provide anticipated completion dates. 

The shopfitter should, as part of their process, oversee & manage all trades required to be involved for the fit-out – including electricians, plumbers, painters, joiners, and so on.

You will need to work together with the shopfitter regarding specialised dental equipment installation, ensuring that the equipment is delivered to site & installed at a date that is co-ordinated with the shopfitters program.

Its helpful during the fit-out process, if the designer & shopfitter already have a good working relationship – as there will no doubt be questions that arise regarding design details, and how things should be finished or constructed. Its best if the shopfitter can reach out to the designer during the process, so any details and questions can be resolved in collaboration.

 

8)     Fit-out Completion: Upon completion of the fit-out, together with your designer, review the shopfitters work for defects.  Ensure the work is of a high quality.  Any minor defects should be rectified by the shopfitter prior to payment of the final balance.

Amy Gray