What is the Typical Time Frame for a Dental Office Build Out?

Posted by HJT Design

First, let’s get one thing clear: there is no such thing as “typical” when it comes to build-out scheduling your dental office design. Even if you’re working with an empty building shell, have everything detailed-out in the construction documents, and are using readily able materials, there are still numerous things that can go wrong and cause delays. 

The rule of thumb is that it will take more time than you’d planned, no matter what. Some of the steps in the process will require a little time and some will require more, all depending on how much information is available to your design team, how quickly decisions can be made, and how your entire project team collaborates. Let’s skip ahead past the talk about negotiating to lease or purchase the space you’ll need and examine the steps necessary for the build.

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Consultation and Designing

If you, the owner, come to the table prepared with information and a clear vision of what you’re looking for then you’ll be off to a good start. However, this is not typically the case. Since Build-Outs are usually limited to work on a space’s interior, whether it be a total demolition or a brand new empty shell space, the actual construction activities should not be hindered due to weather conditions. However, the consultation and designing process can be a straight-forward exercise or a drawn-out and time consuming task. In general, consultation is about fact finding and information gathering to give the design team an overall picture and scope of the project.

The design process is broken down into manageable and structure phases allowing design ideas and systems to develop and to create a collaborative work flow. We have found that the bulk of time spent in the design process isn’t so much to do with how or who does the work, but rather educating the client. If the client is unable to make decisive decisions, that can often cause delays or reworks. Depending on the complexity of the physical space and how effectively the entire design team can collaborate, the consultation and design process can take a couple of months to complete.

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Permitting and Bidding

The more detailed and thorough your construction documents are, the easier it’ll be for the entire project team to follow and work from them. Once completed, the construction documents can be submitted to the building department for review and approval for construction permits. This process typically takes about 2 weeks if everything is in proper order. During this same period of two weeks, pre-qualified contractors are given the same construction documents to gather their numbers including construction duration, and submit their proposal for consideration.



The construction phase of the project is a bit more predictable. However, it isn’t immune to potential mishaps and delays. Factors that may affect the construction schedule could result from the selection of materials used, equipment requiring long lead times, shortage of labor, non-compliant construction requiring rebuilding, etc. It’s always best to allocate extra time for the unforeseen and some breathing room so that you can adjust your opening date schedule if needed. A Build Out plan can be very comfortably achieved within 90 days, but seldom takes longer than 120 days.

The entire process for a Build-Out averages out to be about 6 months from inception to completion. It is important to remember that one of the biggest factors in making your project go smoothly is your ability to make solid decisions and get through the design phase with a clear goal in mind. Being proactive in the entire process and accessible for important decisions helps keep progress moving steadily forward. Having and working from current, well detailed and accurate construction documents will minimize costly change orders and miscommunications. Coordinating all construction issues through your project architect will centralize the project directives, clarify decisions, and reduce communication conflicts.

HJT loves helping create amazing dental offices! Contact us today to talk about your dental office design ideas.