Douglas R. Hurlbert
Veterinary Architect

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Why do I need to use an Architect?
A. One might as readily ask "Why use a Veterinarian? A pet can be raised without ever having seen a Veterinarian, but its life might be short and miserable. Similarly, anyone able to get a building permit 
could erect a clinic without involving an Architect, but it might be inefficient, fail to meet the special needs of a Veterinarian, and cost the owner more in the long run. Clinics, even small ones, are complex
facilities and best designed by licensed Architects with Veterinary Design experience.

Q. Is it better to use an Architect miles away with Veterinary Facility experience rather than a local one with little or none?
A. Veterinary facilities ae far more complex than other types of buildings. They are similar to small-scaled human hospitals, with a wide range of specialized spaces including Waiting Room, Reception, Offices, File Storage, Exam Rooms, Lap, Pharmacy, Treatment Area, Doctor's Stations, Radiology, Isolation, Intensive Care Unit, Wards, Staff Break Area, Food Preparation, Food Storage, Grooming, Storage Areas, Laundry and Housekeeping. With current available communication technologies, an Arcihtect with Veterinary Design experience can handle a project from a distant location quite
competently.

Q. What are the normal steps in engaging an Architect?
A. ● Communicate with an Architect of your choice to establish compatibility.
● Ask about work experience; check out photos of clinics your Architect designed.
● Describe your practice and your probable location.
● Help the Architect understand the scope of your project,and your budget.
● Ask for a listing of services and associated fees.
● Schedule tours of some of the Architect's completed projects and meet past clients.

Q. What are the steps in your design process?
A. Simply stated:
First we will agree on all your needs and the budget you have in mind;
Second we will look at the different ways to deliver the clinic you can afford, and offer tours of projects    similar to yours;
Third we will submit flexible designs you can consider and adjust;
Fourth we produce construction documents (drawings) and communicate with your pre-selected General    Contractor to arrive at an estimated construction budget
Fifth we will oversee construction to the level you require.

Q. What information will I need to give the Architect?
A. As a minimum, your budget, your timeframe for occupying your new facility, any special information about the site or tenant space, and sooner or later a complete listing of your planned equipment. You will need to identify professionals that will be working with the Architect, such as the x-ray maintenance provider, the licensed Radiation Physicist, the security system installer, the IT professional and the equipment sales and drug representatives.

Q. How long will it take to complete my project?
A. The time required to design and construct a project depends upon its size and complexity. Designing a sinple tenant upfit may only take two months from the time the Architect is chosen; construction could take only two more months (a total of four months). Larger, free standing structures may take four months to design and six more months to build. Aquiring a building permit, a zoning variance and other bureaucratic delays could add unplanned months.

Q. How much will an Architect cost?
A. Architects are usually compensated in one of three different ways:
● An hourly fee;
● A stiulated contract amount; OR
● A percentage of the construction cost.
Monthly payments are typically required, based upon the amount of work accomplished.
Fees are generally broken into these percentages of the full fee:
  Initial Schematic Design (15%)
  Design Development (20%)
  Working Drawings (blueprints) (40%)
  Bidding, negotiation (getting a construction contract) (5%)
  Construction Administration (overseeing the construction) (20%)

Q. How are agreements made for Architectural services?
A. Most Architects use standard agreement forms (design contracts) between Architect and owner that are published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). These contracts are industry standards and universally acceptable as reasonable and fair.

Q. How useful are free floor plans offered by equipment sales representatives?
A. You get what you pay for. A floor plan is only a small step in the complete process of designing and coordinating the construction of a clinic. Meeting local building codes and accessibility requirements, coordinating cabinet design, plumbing, electrical, HVAC engineering and x-ray shielding all must be managed and organized to work in harmony to produce an effectve facility.

Q. Can I save money by using the "Design Build" process?
A. Design Build is a cut-rate offer by contractors who have Architects working for them. It is sold as a way of reducing construction cost, but it lacks the check-and-balance protection afforded by an Architect who works for the Veterinarian, not the builder. The contractor's architect has no incentive to warn the Doctor of changes made to cut the builder's costs, and must recommend the builder's sub-contractors. An independent Architect can protect the Veterinarian's interests at all times.

Q. What is your track record on cost estimating?
A. I typically assist in a Contractor selection process to identify the most qualified candidate to construct your facility. Once identified, I coordinate with them to provide an accurate estimate of the construction acmount.