Have you walked past the ideal location or just got out of bed with a voice in the back of your head urging you to go out and start up on your own?

Well if you have, you are not alone.

“So what do I do about it?” you ask.

Essentially, no one project is the same. Therefore, it is paramount that you do a small amount of basic research before plunging into what should be an exciting and pleasurable experience.

To ensure a smooth start and avoid wasting valuable time, you should seek out specialist financiers to find out just how much you are able to comfortably lease or borrow to purchase. Even if you are in a position to be paying directly from your own cash reserves, seeking professional advice on leasing the fitout, depending on your position, may improve your future taxable outcomes.

Once you have ascertained your project budget, you can go out and search for prospective locations that suit your budget and brief. It is no use contemplating a location that you cannot afford to purchase, or a space that is too big, as you will be paying rent on area you do not need. There is no such thing as the perfect size for a surgery. However, depending on your area of speciality, two to four consulting room practices can be accommodated easily within 80 to 130 square metres of floor space.

Before settling on a location there are a number of other factors that need to be considered. The relevant local council can inform you of the various conditions which must be met in order to obtain the necessary planning approval. For instance, will it allow a surgery to operate at the location? Does it require you to provide extra car parking before granting planning approval? A property professional such as an independent advocate can assist you through the buying or leasing process.

You may have a good idea of how you would like your surgery to look and the space you need to work in. While designing your own surgery may seem an attractive option there are many design factors you need to consider that you may be unaware of. Factors such as disability access, energy efficiency compliance, infection control, body protected electrical considerations and the level of documentation required by contractors to ensure a good outcome all require specialist knowledge. Engaging the services of a specialist dental designer is highly recommended.

Establishing your budget and brief is important when it comes to dealing with an experienced designer.

There are compelling reasons to recommend dental design specialists over architects or corporate interior designers who may not be aware of specific compliance requirements for your surgery. Good design is the basis of a successful outcome. A specialist dental designer will exercise due diligence through a thorough site assessment and space planning to demonstrate that the proposal will be able to satisfy any council conditions for planning approval, and allow you to proceed with your purchase or lease. The adage "a failure to plan is a plan to fail" holds particular relevance to surgery design.

To create an effective design brief, you will need to think about your intentions for the practice now and into the future. Your designer will ask you a series of questions that have been formulated to help capture the essence of your vision for the practice. The process of compiling a design brief is often a catalyst for further discussion that may identify options and opportunities you may not have considered.

Your designer will work with you to develop the concept design, at times with the aid of coloured three - dimensional renderings, until you are satisfied with the space planning and proposed design theme. It can be that easy when your brief is well communicated and you do not lose sight of the original project budget.

Design and construction or ‘one stop shop’ firms have the advantage of being able to more accurately estimate the cost of a project at the concept design stage, before you embark on the next stage of the process  documentation.

Ideally, as concept design is nearing completion you should finalise any specialist equipment requirements with your supplier. This is critical to the success of the documentation stage. Importantly this information allows the surgery design, function and location of specialist equipment to be finalised and ergonomics and services to be correctly addressed in consultation with the equipment supplier or suppliers.

It is important to understand that although design documentation will indicate the location of what is required, it will not demonstrate how to actually build, install or manufacture the operational service required for your specialist equipment.

Depending on your contract, you may have the option of putting the construction out to tender. There may be immediate cost benefits to this approach, as each component of the construction is shopped around to the lowest bidder, however the time and energy commitment for managing a construction project should not be underestimated. Coordination of the various providers on site can be a significant logistical challenge and may not prove to be worth the apparent cost savings.

If you choose to use a one-stop design and construct firm, once the documentation is completed, then you do not have to do much more than wait for the final project quotation to be tendered to you. You may also find the design component is provided to you at cost if you proceed with construction.

Another bonus of using one company throughout the design and construction process is that it is solely responsible for the entire project life cycle. This way you don’t find the contractor blaming the designer if something has been missed or left off the drawings, which in your opinion should have been noted in the first place.

Be aware that taking the traditional approach of using one office for the design and contracting another to do the construction is that if it’s not on the drawings it may then be regarded as a variation that you will probably end up paying for.

With the design and construct option it is the responsibility of the ‘one stop shop’ to get it right the first time.

So, do you still want to open your first practice? Of course you do!