Our to-do list between the signing of the letter of intent to the day construction began was fairly aggressive, but 100% necessary. In all, it spanned about 5 months, and I would divide this into the time before our lease was actually signed and the time after our lease was signed. We can think of the first three months (pre-lease) as the planning phase and last two months (and beyond really) as the shopping phase.
Today I'm going to talk about the three months before our lease was signed. It was, quite honestly, some of the most fun we had throughout all of the planning process. Why? Well, we weren't in too deep, and we were free to brainstorm at will, hypothetically spending money we didn't have on whatever we wanted. There were limited things we could do, so our time commitment wasn't overwhelming yet. We spent casual Sundays at Whole Foods chatting and starting to brainstorm. It was a phase of dreaming big and throwing ideas on the table. And with zero commitments yet to date! We came up with a very arbitrary and random budget projection and kind of just hoped for the best. (It was fun to fill our budget spreadsheet in with actual details and numbers as our project progressed, but I'm kind of obsessed with numbers and spreadsheets, so... maybe that was just me.)
One of the primary objectives during this time was nailing down a floor plan so that construction would be ready to begin as soon as possible after the ink started drying on that lease. Once the lease was signed, we would have six months before we had to begin paying rent. The sooner our construction could begin, the sooner we could start working, and the less time we would waste during our rent-free phase. The other key objectives during these five months were figuring out any other details that the contractor would need to know in order to begin our project and finish it as quickly as possible. This meant nailing down the major dental equipment, choosing interior design details (like paint colors), and determining our technology needs (important for the electrician).
We loved our construction team for many reasons - they were funny, personable, creative, and easy to get along with. Most importantly, from a functional point of view, they were DEVOTED to the timeline. Timeline over everything. They gave us their word that they would be finished at the anticipated deadline, they were communicative throughout the project, sending us weekly updates, and they lived up to the expectations they established. But what this meant for us was that we had to become ON THE BALL decision makers. In order for them to meet their deadlines, they gave us deadlines. The deadlines were daunting at first, but the pressure of having to make decisions ultimately helped us in the long run.
So we used these three months to do as much construction planning as we could.
We had limited space to work with, so we had to get creative. We found ourselves with a printed copy of the office floor plan and some tiny paper chairs and walls we cut out to scale and sat around arranging and rearranging them repeatedly. Once we found a plan we liked and gave it our stamp of approval, we started talking dental equipment. With these two decisions almost made, we were finally ready to take the next step...