• One Health
  • Pain Management
  • Oncology
  • Geriatric & Palliative Medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Poultry Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology
  • Theriogenology
  • Nutrition
  • Animal Welfare
  • Radiology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Small Ruminant
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Feline Medicine
  • Soft Tissue Surgery
  • Urology/Nephrology
  • Avian & Exotic
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Anesthesiology & Pain Management
  • Integrative & Holistic Medicine
  • Food Animals
  • Behavior
  • Zoo Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Orthopedics
  • Emergency & Critical Care
  • Equine Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Shelter Medicine
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Virtual Care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Epidemiology
  • Fish Medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Livestock
  • Endocrinology

Building a plan for opening day

dvm360dvm360 August 2023
Volume 54
Issue 8
Pages: 52

A veterinary hospital design expert shares tips on how to successfully open a new practice

Freedomz / stock.adobe.com

Freedomz / stock.adobe.com

Opening a practice from scratch can seem daunting, but Roger Layman, AIA, NCARB, managing principal at RL Architecture PLLC in Davidson, North Carolina, has tips on how to prepare for that day. During a session at the Fetch dvm360® conference in Charlotte, North Carolina,1 Layman described what you need to build a successful practice, including how to assemble your team, establish a budget, select site, and create a timeline.

Assemble your team

According to Layman, some important people to have on your team when deciding to build a new hospital include:

  • Accountant
  • Practice manager
  • Finance professionals
  • Real estate professional
  • Attorney
  • Architect/designers
  • Site/civil engineer
  • General contractor
  • Equipment representative

“We‘d like to get the contractor involved as early as possible, so they can start ordering effective electrical panels,” Layman said. “[They also can] identify where all the computer stations are to get power in those areas. That’s [what we put in] our construction docu- ment, where we coordinate on the mechanical, electrical, structural needed, in case of remodeling.”

Establish a budget

When planning your budget, keep in mind all the costs needed to complete the project. These costs include:

  • Site acquisition
  • Construction costs
  • Permits
  • Professional fees
  • Furniture/equipment
  • Relocation expenses

Select your site

“Location/site selection, as you’ve heard from real estate agents all your life, it’s location, location, location. It’s the one thing you can’t change about your practice. So if you’re looking for a new location, it needs to be visible. It needs to be accessible; [you need to consider] traffic patterns, neighborhood patterns. And hopefully it is expandable. Many practices we deal with are locked in between their neighbors or they’ve outgrown the site, so they have to move. If you’re looking to build something new, those 3 [attributes are the most important]: expandable, accessible, and visible,” Layman told dvm360 in an interview.

He also suggested making sure your location is convenient for clients and has demographic support for areas in need of a nearby veterinary clinic.

Create a timeline

Things to consider within your timeline include:

  • Design and construction drawings
  • Bidding, financing, permitting
  • Construction schedule
  • Target move-in date

According to Layman, predesign planning can take roughly 2 to 6 months, which will need to be factored into the timeline as well. The construction itself can typically take 8 to 9 months, but can vary based on the size of the building and any weather delays.


Layman’s parting advice: “Take your time and plan. Once the walls go up, it’s not too late, but it gets very expensive afterward. So work with your architect, work with your designer, work with your builder to make sure your outlets are in the right place, your drainage is in the right place. But even before that, before construction, it has to be in the plans. And it has to be on paper. Plan through it and give yourself time to plan through it, so that it’s good to go once the walls go up.”


Layman R. Hospital design—ideas to opening day. Presented at: Fetch dvm360 conference; Charlotte, North Carolina. March 23-25, 2023.

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