Wendy Wheeler, BDA Architecture
Site selection of a veterinary facility is the first major decision to be made when establishing or relocating a veterinary practice. Lack of knowledge of qualitative and quantitative features can have a long-term negative impact on the viability of the practice. Qualitative features involve characteristics of the area being considered. Will it allow for adequate square footage, appropriate parking, and possible expansion? Is the image and neighborhood appropriate to you and your clients? Is the site visible to clients both during the day and night? Is it convenient? This includes such important factors as ease of entering and exiting, thoroughfares near the facility, and other businesses that may affect access. The buildability of the site needs to be carefully considered. Slopes, depressions, and appropriate drainage are critical considerations. Zoning restrictions need to be taken into account because they can affect parking, loading, trash removal, landscaping, and building height. Existing improvements to a site, such as perimeter fences, landscaping, bike paths, and playgrounds, may be easily overlooked aspects that will make one site more desirable than the other. Quantitative features that affect site selection include covenants, codes and restrictions, easements, rights of way, topography, hydrology, availability of utilities, and assessment of soil conditions for suitability of construction. These are just some of the restrictive conditions that must be investigated when considering a potential site.
COMMENTARY: Finding a building site for a practice is a complex process. Hiring professional consultants to investigate demographic and market analyses to assess present and future growth is as important as hiring competent consultants to provide briefs on both the qualitative and quantitative feasibility of various sites.