Apogee Group LLC Blog

Trials and Tribulations of Business & Healthcare

New Facility Construction 101: Put a bathroom in the lobby

Posted by Taz • Jan 22, 2011 • Category: Construction

I just opened up a new facility in Piscataway, NJ - Kingley Health. It's 21,000 sq.ft. It is beautiful. It is unique. It doesn't have a bathroom in the lobby.

Kingley Health has been a dream come true. It's an integrative medical facility that has nutrition, fitness, massage, physical therapy, family medicine, a cafe, a teaching kitchen, an active gaming room and so much more. It was a journey that was started in September 2009. The journey ended September 2010 when we opened our doors to the public.

I designed it. I'm not a designer, so I was pretty proud when the architect we used made only small changes to meet code. I was proud until I got the CO (Certificate of Occupancy) and realized I forgot the bathroom in the lobby.

Now, we are a health care facility that treats obesity so I can say..."Well it gives you the exercise you need on a daily basis." In reality, the only public bathroom in the facility is access controlled, which presents a small but not detrimental problem of the public who sit at Tazi's Cafe waiting for their appointment or just enjoying their french pressed coffee. They have to walk 90ft to go to the bathroom. That's half the width of a football field. Hmph.

Now what is reality.

Reality is that building a commercial entity is very expensive. Anything to do with plumbing is outrageously expensive (perhaps at some point a plumber can explain to me why). Based on the lease negotiations we had, we were limited on the number of bathrooms we were allowed to have to the number of bathrooms we needed to meet code. Additionally, we could only put the bathrooms where there was existing plumbing (we took over an abandoned Charles Schwabb space). My entire design revolved around the bathrooms. I learned a key lesson though from this endeavor, never use an architect or any vendor whose loyalties are to the landlord. The architect that we used was a good architect. He has even helped us with some other projects that needed to be done. However, the job of an architect is to point out flaws in a plan. Not having a bathroom in the lobby - was a flaw in the plan.

When you are thinking about doing construction, do your own research and find the right general contractor. Don't just go on the recommendation of one person. Take the time to interview them thoroughly, ask for references, ask for credentials and make sure they are licensed to do the work they are doing. You will be stuck with who you choose so choose wisely. If you are in a situation where the landlord insists that he chooses the general contractor or he himself will be the general contractor, be very careful and beware.

Lesson learned, message received. Don't think that the landlord is your friend and is looking out after you, no matter how generous he seems.

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