Article Date: 9/1/2007

office space

Office Design Diary: CHAPTER 4

In the fourth installment of our series, the practice begins to take shape.


After several weeks of rain delays, we finally saw some vertical progress on our building. The framing process took about three weeks. After that, things started to move faster and we began to see what our building would actually look like.

Arranging alterations

Upon entering the building, we discovered that under the original design it was a very long walk from the exam rooms to the cashier window. So, we decided to modify our original plans and include a second cashier station much closer to the exam rooms. We also made several small interior changes, such as adding inside windows and moving a wall to increase usable space.

Builders and framers are never too excited about making changes once a structure is up, but it was much easier to make a change now than farther into the process. We also felt it was important to have the building constructed to our exact specifications, since we'll likely be there for the next 30+ years.

The framing process for our new practice took about three weeks.

Once the framing was complete, the decking for the second floor began and the windows were installed. With the decking in place, it was time for a roof.

We decided on a 40-year-shingle roof, which cost only a few hundred dollars more than a standard, 30-year-shingle roof and had a slightly different look that we felt enhanced the appearance of the building.

Hard wiring

We met with the electrician to decide on things such as the lighting and where to place it. For the exam rooms, we decided to center lighting over the patient and have it adjustable in intensity.

For the rest of the practice, we discussed where light-switches should be placed so they were convenient for staff and not obtrusive for patients. We also decided on outlet locations for any special equipment, such as projectors and lab equipment. Finally, we decided to install cable outlets in the reception area and in a small seating area by the exam rooms.

While the electrician worked, the builder installed the heat- and air conditioning units in the upstairs attic space.

Our phone and computer system can both use the same cable, so we had little worry there. Our office manager marked every location on the plans where we would need a phone or computer and gave them to the subcontractor who installed the phone system. The electrician could have installed these cables, but, if any problems with the phone system arose later, the phone company would not be willing to help, as they did not run the cables.

The building will also have sound- and alarm systems. The electrician wired the alarm system to include all windows and doors as well as three motion sensors. We decided to have speakers in the hallway just outside the exam rooms. The reception and frame styling area will also have speakers with their own volume controls.

Soon it will be time for insulation and sheetrock, followed by paint and woodwork. Thankfully, we're at a point where we can make progress, even if the weather doesn't cooperate. OM

Dr. Christensen specializes in contact lenses and primary care. He is senior vice president of Vision Source, L.P.
Dr. Christensen is a 2004 graduate of Northeastern State College of Optometry.
Dr. Smay is a 1996 graduate of Northeastern State University College of Optometry.

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2007