Drafting Floor Plans
Measure Twice (or 10 times), Cut Once.
Your floor plan is permanent.
Barring a very large investment at a later date, your floor plan is going to be a permanent thing. I recommend that you go through as many iterations of your floor plan design as you can possibly conceive prior to submitting for city approval. My contractor and I went through about a dozen.
A poorly designed floor plan can cost you hundreds of thousands more in up front build out costs, and even more in lost long-term efficiency and production.
We sat down at his table and just went to work with designs. Here are a few examples of failed designs below:
None of these designs made it to the final product. The 8 designs above are what I would consider to be unusable floor plans. In fact, all of these designs also include a key and expensive design flaw. The stairs. The stairs to the basement are aligned beneath the stairs to the second floor. However, the original position of the basement starts was at a 90 degree angle. We were initially convinced that the stairs had to be repositioned as shown above in order to fit the desired 4 ops into the space.
With design, never think anything ‘needs’ to be a certain way. Everything is fluid, and everything can be changed when it is still all on paper.
How Can You Experiment With Designs? Hint: It’s Free.
If you contact a dental architect — it will be $15,000 to $25,000 for your design. If you are prepared to pay that, then fine, pay it. But if you were the type of person who just wants to throw money at people and hope that they will solve your problems, you are probably not the type of person reading my blog.
Henry Schien (the only time I will endorse them for anything most likely), offers a free dental practice design tool on their website.
Here is the link to the Free online ‘Space Planner:’ https://www.henryschein.com/us-en/Dental/equipment/DentalSpaceDesign.aspx
After a little bit of time playing around with that designer, you will be able to design your own space. Work along with your contractor and you can save yourself $20,000.
“But what if my design isn’t structurally sound? Or up to code?”
In order for a design to move into the production stages, the design needs to be approved by licensed professionals. So when you submit your designs, if they tell you that anything needs to be changed, then go back to your design and change it at that time. The professionals that need to approve your design include professionals like structural engineers, electricians, and plumbers. Your project literally cannot legally progress if it is not structurally sound and up to code.
Here are some more photos showing the evolution of my floor plan
You can see that my ‘alterations’ consist of me printing out the design and drawing on it with colored pencil. It isn’t the rocket science that Dental Supply Companies and Dental Architects may push you to believe. Again — if you want to throw money at the task and let someone else solve it — there are great people I can refer you to. They will do a great job. But you can do a great job as well.
The one directly above was my final design.
Notice the Lab.
I circled the lab in red, because up until my final iteration, I did not include a wet lab in any of my designs. It was a last second decision, the day before submitting the designs for inspection and approval. Many offices will actually combine the wet lab and the sterilization lab into one room. I planned on doing that, but decided that wasn’t the right choice for my desires. Your desires may be different.
If you look close at the design, you will notice measurements of the different walls and rooms and hallways. There are specific sizes that are optimal to make the most out of your space; while at the same time having enough creature comfort to feel spacious and open in your practice. There is a very fine balance. I’ve got an equation I use to determine how many ops should comfortably fit into an amount of square footage.
Wires and Pipes
- This is only the floor plan
- You need to make an additional schematic for the electrical system
- You need to make an additional schematic for the plumbing (water and air plumbing) systems
- All of this needs to be inspected and approved prior to beginning the build
- You might notice none of my floor plans above have a private office for me or a break room for the staff.
- My office has a 2nd story which I placed private office, staff break room + kitchenette, washer/dryer and staff bathroom — nothing special about the designs here, so I did not include blueprints.
- I will go into further detail if anyone requests.