June 11, 2021
After you decide to start a new dental practice, there are a million questions to answer. A big one is, “Am I going to buy an existing practice or do a new build?” Regardless of what you choose, you will most likely find yourself speaking to a contractor in the near future. To help make the startup process as smooth and easy as possible, here are the 12 questions you definitely need to ask your contractor before deciding to work with them.
Do you have any experience with dental office construction?
A contractor with dental office experience will be able to offer you industry-specific suggestions and may help you solve problems you might not have been aware of otherwise.
Do you have references?
If your contractor has worked with other dentists, ask for their contact information. Speaking with the dentists about their experience can give you a preview of what it will be like to partner with a certain contractor, plus they will let you know if it is a good idea in the first place!
How long will it take to complete the project and is there a penalty clause?
It is important to set reasonable deadlines at the beginning of any construction project so everyone is on the same page. It’s also essential to discuss what will happen if the contractor doesn’t meet pre-set deadlines. A penalty clause will have the contractor paying you a certain amount each day the project goes past the scheduled completion date.
How many projects are you working on right now?
Contractors love to make promises, but even if they are well-intentioned, they sometimes cannot follow through if they are extremely busy. Doublecheck to ensure they have the necessary manpower to commit to your project.
Will you get the permits required for this project?
Before the project begins, ask your contractor whether or not they will get the necessary permits. This should be part of their services, and while the cost won’t be included as part of their initial quote, they can give you an estimate of the expense.
Can you make sure my office is ADA compliant?
Any dental facility must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, both for patient access and legal reasons.
Will you be hiring subcontractors?
If your contractor will be hiring subcontractors, ask to meet with them as well. These will be the people actually putting their hands on your building, so it’s important that they understand your vision and expectations.
How are change orders handled?
Even the most carefully laid plans need to be adjusted from time to time. Making sure that your contractor has a streamlined process to handle this is important to keep things on schedule.
What is the payment schedule?
Typically, you will be asked to make an initial deposit, and then payments are made at predetermined stages of the process. A cardinal rule is that you should never pay a contractor in full until the project is 100% completed.
Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
If your contractor is properly licensed, bonded, and insured, this will keep you protected in case they fail to complete the project, don’t pay subcontractors on time, or accidentally damage property.
How do you handle delays?
Almost every construction project will encounter delays, but this should be considered when coming up with the initial schedule. Your contract should have a clause where if the finish date has to be pushed back, you should not be liable to pay above the agreed price.
Is there a warranty?
A warranty will basically state that your contractor agrees to complete your project using good quality materials and methods, and the result will be compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations for dental facilities.
How Next Level Consultants Can Help
Taking the next step in your career is exciting, but it comes with a healthy amount of stress. While getting the right answers to these questions will certainly be a big help, a dental practice management consultant can ensure that you avoid the many pitfalls that dentists encounter during the building state and the initial opening phase of the practice.
Michael Dinsio and Paula Quinn have helped start, grow, update, and run hundreds of successful dental practices across the country, and they can expertly guide you so that the next phase of your life begins in the best way possible. To get in touch with Michael and Paula to talk about your practice and how they can make your vision a reality, click here.
12 Questions to Ask Your Contractor