Quick tips on building a dental office

April 10, 2012
Opening a new dental office can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Dan Mahony outlines four areas that you will need to focus on to ensure that your project is a success with a lot less stress.

By Dan Mahony

Opening a dental office can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. The following article will help you to complete this task with much less stress. There are four areas that you will need to focus on to ensure that your project is a success. Once you have answers to the following questions, you will be on your way to fulfilling your dreams.

How much space do you need?

  • Before you even start looking for a space, make a list of how many operatories you would like to have. This will determine how much square footage you will need, and it will also determine the size of your waiting area.
  • There are rooms that are needed and rooms that may or may not be on your wish list. Rooms you need are: waiting room with a front desk, business checkout area, handicapped bathroom, mechanical closet, IT closet, and also a lab and sterilization area. These may be separate or together.
  • Rooms that may be on your wish list could include: a private office, private bathroom, pan area, staff lounge, consultation room, storage closets, etc.

Location, location, location

  • Think about how many existing dentists are in your desired neighborhood.
  • Will you be looking for walk-ins? If so, you will need a high-profile location such as a storefront with a first floor location.
  • A location on the first floor with an open basement is the most cost-efficient as far as construction is concerned.
  • Are you a specialist who only works from referrals? If yes, then you can look for a less costly space on an upper floor. Your office can also be situated off a main road or you can locate in a building with less exposure.
  • A location in a high-rise building with occupied space on the floor below is usually the most costly as far as your construction fees are concerned, but typically is less per square foot in your lease expenses.
  • Will your patients need access to public transportation?
  • Will there be ample parking for your staff and patients?


  • When negotiating your lease, you want to make sure that you have at least a 10-year commitment. The cost of your build-out will be a large investment, and you wouldn’t want to take the chance of having to rebuild in a new location before that time.
  • Most owners today are willing to give you three months of free rent. This may change at any given time.
  • It will take anywhere from 12 to 18 weeks to construct a new office once the building permit is issued. This is why I suggest that you work some free rent into your agreement since you will not be generating any income while the construction is taking place.


  • Establishing a team that will work for your benefit is crucial to your success.
  • It is imperative that you establish a team of players who know each other well and have worked together in the past.
  • Your contractor, architect, and construction manager should all be dental-specific. This may be the same person or three different individuals.
  • The equipment you choose is just as important. You will need to find an equipment salesperson with whom you feel comfortable working. Do you want a large supplier or a small, independent company? If there is a specific manufacturer that you would like to have, make sure you ask your salesperson if their company carries that particular brand. Not all companies carry all of the different manufacturers’ products.
  • Your IT, computer, and phone representative will be someone with whom you will have a relationship long after your office is completed, so choose him or her carefully.
  • Equally, if not more, important is your banker. It is always smart to have a good relationship with your lender. It is costly to start and build a practice, so the right bank — and specifically, the right person — working on your behalf is important.
  • Finding the perfect team doesn’t have to be stressful. Use the referral system. Once you find a person with whom you want to work, ask him to assist you in finding the other members of your team. For instance, your contractor should be able to recommend a good equipment salesperson and/or an IT person. In return, your equipment salesperson can recommend your contractor. Your banker will usually be able to recommend most, if not all, of your team.

Your dream of building your own dental office is turning into a reality. It can be a costly undertaking, so make it a priority to do it right the first time. My goal was to break down the many components of this task to ensure that you will not be disappointed in the end. Hopefully I fulfilled my goal in this article. Best of luck in your endeavor.

Author bio
Dan Mahony is the owner and operator of D&D Development Group Inc., a dental-specific contractor in the New York metropolitan area. He has more than 24 years’ experience in the construction industry and has been specializing in dental office construction since 2004. For more information, please visit www.dnddevelopment.com.