Crafting Your Dream Dental Space: Renovating a House

dentist house

For dentists and doctors contemplating practice growth, turning a home into a medical or dental office is an option worth exploring.

Think about the charm, history, and what it means for your brand if you’re considering retrofitting a house. But remember, there could be challenges for future growth. While retrofitting may cost less upfront, building your clinic from scratch could be a savvier move for lasting success. In the past 30 years, we’ve noticed healthcare practices, like dental clinics, shifting from homes to bigger commercial spaces or shopping centers for this reason.

Community backlash

Over the past decade, local councils have become less keen on converting homes into healthcare offices, especially in cherished neighborhoods—navigating these changes is crucial for community well-being.

How good is your property? Over the last decade planning laws have looked to protect sensitive residential areas and shifted retrofit projects to main roads with good access to transportation,. Planning legislation now focuses on accessibility, safety, parking, landscaping, and noise, making them key objectives in the development process.

Along with these changes residents have become more outspoken when new healthcare practices are proposed. They worry about losing the quality of life in their neighborhoods due to increased traffic, noise, waste, and limited parking. Above all, residents are concerned about a decline in the neighborhood’s unique character, especially if the design of the new facility is not well thought out.

Will your design be a concrete eyesore? Will your facilities attract criminal activities like theft or anti-social behaviour? Or will your design be a community asset?

Minimum Design Requirements

Transforming a house into a healthcare facility means it’s no longer a home, introducing diverse people and increasing occupational health and safety considerations, raising liability and risk.


Firstly, the building must be accessible and comply with the Building Code of Australia and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. With a multitude of people entering and leaving, including those with disabilities (Over 4.4 million people or 1 in 5 people in Australia), failure to meet these requirements could result in potential litigation and severely damage your brand.

With more people coming into your building, the risk of infections greatly increase. Making sure the design of you heating, cooling, and ventilation is essential to ensure a healthy environment. skimping on these measures may save money upfront but long-term will create problems like “sick building syndrome” affecting both staff and patients.

Finally, meeting parking standards and local regulations is vital, as it’s often a point of contention for council approvals when converting residential properties; failure can lead to objections and public unrest. Equally, it is essential to take into account the constraints of the existing building and site conditions. Councils may refuse permits or impose conditions that restrict the operations of the new practice based on these factors.

Why should you convert an existing house?

While some clinic owners may be discouraged by the mentioned challenges, renovation remains an appealing and affordable option for others. If you’re renovating an existing clinic, risks can be minimized with the right team, thorough feasibility, and contingency plans. However, for those tackling retrofitting or renovating an unfamiliar building for the first time, seeking expert advice becomes crucial. Meticulous planning and budgeting are key to keeping projects on track and within allocated resources.

Evaluating the suitability of your intended property involves assessing access, visibility, street character, and parking. Crucial considerations include whether there’s sufficient parking space, including accessible parking, and the height of the finished floor level from the ground, impacting accessible ramps and parking availability. Adjustments to existing walls, floors, and ceilings are often necessary to accommodate the clinic’s layout. Understanding structural aspects is crucial, as designs with changes or upgrades can incur higher costs. Assessing the switchboard’s capacity, ensuring treatment rooms are suitable for new equipment, and evaluating corridor widths for accessibility and safety are vital considerations.

For building owners contemplating retrofitting or renovating, especially for the first time or with an unfamiliar structure, our guides provide valuable insights on navigating the process, considerations, and typical renovation costs. These resources empower property owners with the knowledge needed for successful retrofitting or renovation projects.

Hearts Dental Clinic

We recently completed the transformation of a residential house into a dental clinic featuring three consultation rooms, an X-ray room, a new reception area, and a staff room. The entire project, spanning one year, included six months of construction.

The key components included significant internal wall modifications, a new external ramp, retrofitting of the existing toilet, and a new public car park. The project’s success can be attributed to the robust nature of the site, strategically located on a main road with two street frontages, ensuring excellent accessibility and offering multiple parking design solutions. The existing spacious rooms minimized changes, and the building structure, in good condition, made it an ideal fit for commercial conversion.

The smooth council application process reflected the development’s positive impact as a community asset, with opportunities for landscaping and noise buffers enhancing its overall appeal. This success story illustrates the transformative potential of retrofitting houses into dental clinics, affirming the effectiveness of our approach for aspiring clinic owners

Although transforming a house into a healthcare facility can be a strategic decision, there are various risks that, if not handled effectively, can rapidly deplete your funds. Leveraging our expertise in designing and developing healthcare facilities, we’ve gathered typical concerns, risks, pitfalls, and frustrations linked to converting existing houses. This resource is designed to assist you in determining the suitability of this approach for your project.

If you’re considering launching or growing, delve into our Pre-Purchase Essentials Series. Our action toolkit equips you with essential design guidelines and checklists for evaluating the property. Before acquiring a property, perform a comprehensive due diligence using our Pre-Purchase Essentials to ensure the future success of your practice.