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Dentists see the potential in every person’s smile. Likewise, dentists envision brighter spaces and cleaner places around the office. Yet, many are chronically uncertain about remodeling or refreshing the dental practice.
If this sounds like you, it may be time to dispel some common myths.
Rare is construction of the million dollar dental office. Bargains are commonplace, claims Patrick Crowley, an Orlando-based designer/builder and author of the book Dental Office Design: 1001 Practical Tips for Creating Your Ideal Dental Office. Mr. Crowley explained how a client in Georgia just got an "incredible deal." The doctor had leased his dental suite for 19 years and was being courted to re-sign by the landlord. His enticement? Paint and $5,000 toward new carpeting. "Meanwhile, across the street an investor who bought the building for pennies on the dollar because it was in distress offered to build this same dentist a brand new dental office if he'd lease — and for a lower fee ," Crowley said. "If you are thinking about a better office, now is the time."
Well-intentioned ideas include comparing costs per square foot, according to Mr. Crowley. "The client learns later that this is an unrealistic way to budget the project."
Jason Stulberger, president of Wheeling-based ACOA Ltd. Construction Company, said reputation speaks loudest. He advised dentists: "Ask for a detailed estimate from a place with a real office, not a quote scribbled on a napkin from a guy with a P.O. Box working out of his pickup truck or his basement."
He encourages dentists to ask to take a tour of the offices any contractor done so he can point out the materials.
Dental office construction companies use workarounds, such as closing off zones so that disruptions are minimal. Some remodeling work may be completed in as little as three weeks by closing the office while the staff vacations.
Tiger Nigamatzyano, operations manager for Des Plaines-based Siegel Construction Inc., uses his project management degree plus experience to fulfill his clients’ demands. "They expect full disclosure and are communicative, so our client communications software is the FaceBook of the construction project industry. It keeps them and the whole crew and vendors updated daily about when and where materials are, and reports work status. Dentists type me messages at 3 a.m. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, then I respond all day long."
Green building materials in the Chicago market are infrequently requested due to slightly higher costs. Sustainable all day long, porous cork and soft bamboo remain impractical floorings for dental operatories. More important is that your builder follows state and local energy efficiency codes. They might suggest — or you can request — products like low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint on projects. "VOC paint is cost-effective, the same quality and there is no smell after painting," Mr. Stulberger explained.
Like adding a juice bar and a granite desk to the waiting and reception areas, going green as well as requesting made-in-America materials mean higher fees. Estimates on all options are available.
Janyce Hamilton is an award-winning Chicagoland freelance dental writer and editor. Suggestions? Email suggestions for topics to be covered, or any comments on this column, to Chicago Dental Society.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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