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ADA Dental Budget-Killing Dental Office Construction Cost #4

By Jayme Amos.  Get free updates of posts here

ADA Dental Costs For a New Practice
Estimated Cost: $0-$100,000

Do you have one of those little green and white stickers in your office window?

That ADA may charge you just $500 per year.

Well, the dues for the “Other” ADA are insanely more expensive – by tens of thousands of dollars.

The American Dental Association is the ADA Dental due of about $500 annually. ADA dentalBecoming compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act ADA can easily run you $20,000.

Two ADAs.

A huge difference impacting dentists’ new offices.


While I’m clearly making light of both associations having the same initials, I beg of you to please don’t make light of the “Other” ADA Dental costs.


An Example From One Of Our Most Recent Clients

I was just with a client this week whose project just completed. Let’s call him Dr. Smith. As Dr. Smith and I walked through the whole office, my jaw was on the floor with how amazing the project looked in its final stage. I can’t imagine the pride that bursts out of him when he’s giving patients their “new patient tour”.

But what confused me was when Dr. Smith pointed out the back door at his entry steps.
There were steps, yes. But there was no wheelchair ramp.  Hmmm…. I wondered how that could be possible.

No wheelchair access. My mind tells me this could be a problem. Why?

See, the ADA sets out federal regulations that require businesses to make access for those who are disabled. Basically, people need to be able to enter you place of business, even if they have to come in a wheelchair.

You may already know this but the Americans with Disabilities Act says:

ADA dentalEach facility or part of a facility constructed by, on behalf of, or for the use of a public entity shall be designed and constructed in such manner that the facility or part of the facility is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if the construction was commenced after January 26, 1992.”

Learn more about the ADA Regulations here.

In other words, you need to make it possible for those unfortunate people in wheelchairs as well as those with other disabilities to enter your building.

While I was standing there, scratching my head, looking at Dr. Smith’s exterior steps from the back door, I had these ADA Dental costs and words rolling around in my memory.

This topic is a big deal for patient access, of course. But it’s also a big deal because of dental office construction cost to the dentist.

This is a cost that ALL dentists need to consider when they’re planning out their space. Doctors who unintentionally neglect this cost in their budget planning discover a horrible reality of budget overruns. This is also one of the reasons why constructing a dental office can be so expensive!


Examples of ADA Dental Office Costs:

A dentist will, on average, pay costs like these, simply to make the dental office accessible and ADA compliant:

– $15,000-$25,000 for a wheelchair lift or
– $20,000-$100,000 for an elevator or
– $5,000-$20,000 for a wheelchair ramp AND
– $1,000 – $10,000 for an ADA approved bathroom (typically, we need to design bathrooms at least 7’1” x 6’ with a door swinging out to a 5’ hallway)

There are more ADA Dental related costs than this but these few costs will be enough to cover in this conversation.


Back to Our Client Example:

So as I stood there, scratching my head next to Dr. Smith, I asked the inevitable question, ADA dentalHow did you get your Use and Occupancy Permit without a ramp or elevator”?

His answer surprised me. “I was quoted $14k-$20k for a wheelchair lift but my landlord is best friends with the local inspector. They were able to find some legal language that grandfathered my building into a historical classification.

Essentially, the drinking buddies of the landlord and the inspection guy found an ethical way to have the building fit into an ADA approved loophole about historically significant buildings.

Because this historic building was positioned in strange way, close to the adjoining parcel of land on a main road, their options were limited. But their options left them with an exemption from the need for an elevator, ramp or lift.


Here is why:

a) Option A: Install a lift that would encroach on a shared sidewalk between the building and the neighbor, effectively blocking the flow of pedestrians or

b) Option B: Install a ramp that was 50 feet long (the ADA says the ramp needs to be 12 inches in length for every inch of vertical travel…a 50 inch height from the sidewalk to the entry door, therefore, requires a 50 foot long ramp!!). The building parcel couldn’t fit a 50 foot long ramp.

c) Pray for an exemption. Like a historical loophole. WOW.


Most of the time, a budget to build a dental practice can’t count on the landlord having friends such as Dr. Smith’s.

But when you’re planning your office, make sure you leave room for unanticipated dental office construction costs like the ADA dental examples above.

ADA dentalThe satisfaction and capabilities that come with owning your own facility are a life-changing achievement. I see it on client’s faces every time we complete their project. It’s a look of exhaustion from a long process but confidence, pride and renewal that hadn’t been there before.

Imagine walking patients through a new facility that you’re proud of…when you can be proud in every area of the building. Imagine the confidence you’ll exude when your community and family walk into that stunning new facility. (ADA compliant of course!)

Your future practice can bring you pride like this!

Just make sure you have a Practice Project Team who has the experience and success to guide you through the process!


By Jayme





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