When planning a new clinic, one of the biggest decisions you need to make is the location. Choosing an appropriate area for your medical or veterinary practice could impact whether you have a steady stream of local patients. It should also help you deliver a high-quality, comfortable, and – most importantly – a convenient patient experience.

But finding the perfect property can be quite difficult. There are several important requirements that make a building suitable for a medical or veterinary fitout. And while many commercial spaces meet these, most of those that do aren’t particularly accessible to the local community.

When deciding where to set up your practice, it can be tempting to look at other building types. Converting a residential property can seem like an interesting, and potentially quite effective, option. But is it a good idea? And what do you need to think about when planning a medical or vet fitout in a standard suburban home?

Why Would you Convert Residential Premises?

For a medical or veterinary clinic to be successful, it usually needs to be well integrated into the local community. This means providing services tailored to the needs of residents and running programs that address specific local issues or concerns. It also means being well-positioned within the area, ideally in a location that is visible and easily accessible.

However, the properties most suited to a medical or vet fitout often sit within a business park or shopping strip. This can mean that they are harder for the local community to get to, particularly by foot. It also means they generally feel more commercial, and less comfortable and private.

By contrast, the right residential building could place your practice at the centre of the community. This can make the clinic seem more welcoming and could potentially speed up the growth of the practice. It can also reduce the barriers for new patients, putting the clinic right on their street or just around the corner.

What do you Need to Consider?

Most residential buildings were not designed with a medical or veterinary fitout in mind. Choosing to convert such a space can present a few unique challenges and additional planning will be required. Specifically, when developing a medical or vet clinic design for a residential property, it’s important to keep the following 3 points in mind.

1. Zoning and Planning Requirements

Depending on the location and type of medical or veterinary fitout you are proposing, additional planning approvals may be required. This could include a special “change of use” application, which is effectively a request to rezone the site.

The exact requirements will vary between Councils, so you need to do your research before committing to a specific property. You should also investigate how long planning approvals could take as this can have a significant impact on your timeline.

2. Compliance with the Building Code (NCC)

Residential property has been built to a completely different set of rules than a commercial one. In changing the use from residential to commercial, you will be expected to ensure as part of the build that it now complies with the commercial building code. This is what is required during the construction certificate (or building permit) phase. It can mean very significant works around wheelchair accessibility, fire compartmentation, and energy efficiency.

As these changes can be quite expensive and time-consuming, they need to be included in your planning.

3. Providing Additional Parking Spaces

Even the smallest medical and vet practices will attract more visitors than average residential property. This means the design of your medical or veterinary fitout will likely need to include expanded parking arrangements.

In many locations, having sufficient parking for your patients will also be a requirement for planning approval.

The Final Verdict: Is it Worth it?

With all the above in mind, it’s clear that converting an existing residential building could be a good option. However, how suitable this approach will be will really depend on your location and ideal medical or vet clinic design.

If you do choose to go down this path, you need to be conscious of the additional time and cost. This means doing your research and making sure you have a realistic view of what you are signing up for. It also means thinking long-term and making sure the additional investment will really be worth it.

Also, make sure you engage an experienced medical or vet fitout service, like Cyclo Group. These businesses specialise in conversion projects and medical and vet clinic design and can help you spot any potential issues. They should also work with you to complete a thorough feasibility analysis and help determine whether your plans are achievable.

Want More Information?

Whether you’re considering converting a residential property, or just want advice on your medical or vet clinic design, Cyclo Group can help. We have over 30 years of experience in medical fitouts and veterinary construction and can guide you through the planning process. We are also experts in medical and vet clinic design and specialise in creating spaces that are truly fit-for-purpose.

Contact us to find out more about our services and to arrange your free medical or veterinary fitout consultation session.