• 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

Where to begin with opening a new veterinary clinic

Veterinarian's Money Digest®Veterinarian's Money Digest® (September 2023)
Kansas City

Business development and architecture experts explain the different types of construction projects you can choose between at the Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, MO

Michael Flippo / stock.adobe.com

Michael Flippo / stock.adobe.com

Are you thinking of building a new veterinary clinic? Well Eric Doering, business development manager at TerWisscha Construction, Inc. (TWC), and Tim Parsons, AIA, architecture manager at TWC broke down everything you need to know before taking on this new project and construction. In their session at the Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri,1 the hospital design pair explained how to get started and how to build the best team.

The first thing to know is what project are you looking to take on:

1. Lease space or tenant improvement. In this project, you will go through a landlord for an existing space that is available to rent, whether it is an entire building or a portion of a building. According to Doering, this option is common with startups or high-density environments.

2. Renovation and/or expansion of an existing operational facility. Doering told attendees that in this case, be mindful of any legal non-conforming spaces that the existing hospital may be located in. He explained that sometimes the building was approved to be a hospital, but if you change it in any way, there could be a whole new set of legal rules you will need to follow. Doering stated, “It also creates a whole other aspect to deal with which is phasing.” If you are working on an operational facility, construction may take longer due to needing to work around staff and patients. Phased construction takes a project and breaks it down into smaller projects, and phases are carried out over months or even years.2

3. Renovation and/or expansion of a vacant building. This could sometimes be the easiest option since you only need to own the building instead of building from scratch. However, there is also a limited control of design, since the building is already intact.

4. New building on an undeveloped lot. “So, this is going to be a completely vacant property. And you're going to totally develop it, which means a lot of details go into the planning of that. It's probably the one people get most excited about, typically gives you the most control over the design and layout of the facility. And it's built with the intention of use for animal care.” However, it can also come with more challenges like stormwater management, utilities, infrastructure planning, etc.

5. Teardown and build new. This has similar advantages and disadvantages to the project above, but with additional challenges that come specifically with tearing down an old building. Doering explained that these challenges can include asbestos, soil contamination, cesspools, and more.

Parsons added that a similar project to this would be, “There's build new and then tear down. We've had a couple of projects where your existing animal hospital stays in operation, and you can construct the new building [separately]. And then when [the new building] is ready to move in, we tear down [the old one]. That's happened a couple of times and it's a great scenario.”

Building the right team

Doering and Parsons recommended having the following people to help on the project:

  • Architect or Design Builder
  • Lender
  • Realtor
  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Consultant
  • Engineers

The pair explained that each area of the project is just as important as the other, so having a realtor is just as necessary as having an accountant. They also suggested making sure everyone on your team is working together instead of only focusing on one at a time. Doering said for example, “‘This person’ wants to know this. Well, ‘this person’ controls that information,” meaning that everyone on your team should be in communication with each other to reduce delays and make the project run more efficiently.


  1. Doering E, Parsons T. I Want To Build….Now What? Presented at: Fetch dvm360 conference; August 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri.
  2. Phased Construction. WSP Engineering. Accessed August 25, 2023. https://wsp-engineering.co.uk/phased-construction-article/#:~:text=Phased%20construction%20is%20where%20a,or%20high%20levels%20of%20complexity.
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