Tips for building a senior living facility
Facility construction, remodeling or additions are perhaps among the largest projects senior living community leadership will undertake during their tenure. It is most certainly an exciting time, but launching a successful senior living construction project takes months of planning, even before a contract is awarded. It also takes open and honest communication among all the stakeholders.
If you are considering a senior living construction project in your future, we’ve developed a list of things you should consider to minimize roadblocks to its success:
- Conduct thorough market research
- Clearly define your goals and objectives
- Seek out references
- Choose a design/build firm that is well-versed in building senior living facilities
- Make sure the contract is clear and detailed, including the complete project costs, like potential fees and up-charges
- Ensure the lines of communication stay open
Below, we go into detail on each of these steps for those remodeling, adding on to or building a senior living facility.
1. Conduct thorough market research
Before you know what to build and how big to build—or even if you should build—you need to understand the market. A thorough market research study gives you the data you need to determine if you’ll be able to maintain occupancy rates now and into the future, based on your area’s age and income demographics, your competition and the size of the facility you want to build.
A market study also can help you decide what types of care are and will be most needed, including memory care or skilled nursing services, as well as the programming you’ll offer. All of these considerations should be included in the planning and design of your facility.
This is also the time to fully understand any laws or regulations that may affect your project’s success. These could include everything from the dozens of states that require Certificates of Need to municipal building codes.
Our blog, “Taking Your Senior Living Facility from Concept to Completion” provides a detailed outline of what to consider in your research and how we can help.
2. Clearly define your goals and objectives
Too often, many of us think in tactical terms: what needs to get done and when. We often fail to consider—and communicate—the ultimate goals of our organizations. You not only have to ask yourself what it was that sparked the decision for a senior living construction project, but also what you want to achieve for your organization in the future. Even a desire to attract more and higher quality staff could be in part answered by considering their needs as part of the building project.
3. Seek references
Once you’ve pared your list of design/build candidates, ask for references that share similarities with your project. Call clients to ask:
- Details about the project type and scope. Ask about their goals for the project and whether they were met.
- Was the contract clear and easy to understand? Were there any surprises during the construction process?
- Was the project completed on time and on budget? If not, ask for details as to why.
- Did you enjoy working with the team?
- Were they easy to communicate with? Did they answer questions promptly?
- Did the project turn out as you expected? Were the terms of the contract fulfilled? Did the building meet all codes?
- Would you hire them again?
4. Choose a design/build firm that is well-versed in building senior living facilities
Not every construction firm has specific expertise in how to build an assisted living facility or other senior living community. The needs of seniors—and your caregiving staff—are unique. An experienced firm will understand how you deliver care and how a facility can help provide the best quality of life for your residents. For example, certain architectural design features and floor plans will help you deliver memory care in the best possible way, a level of care that may not be achieved through cookie-cutter designs.
5. Make sure the contract is clear and detailed
Before you sign the contract, make sure you understand it in its entirety. It should define the scope of work and provide a detailed schedule from project start to occupancy as well as a list of all costs. This is the time to ensure the firm you chose is transparent with all costs, including fees and ancillary charges. You may want a lawyer who specializes in building construction to review the contract.
6. Keep the lines of communication open
Good communication starts with your first introduction to the firm. But, once the project is underway, it’s imperative to keep the lines of communication among all the stakeholders. You’ll need to determine how often to communicate with your board and what to tell them (see our recent board of directors management blog for tips). You should feel comfortable asking questions of the firm’s project team and expect prompt responses. Misunderstandings or poor communication on the part of any one of the stakeholders could unnecessarily delay the project.
Consider CLS for your senior living construction project
At Community Living Solutions, we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in planning, designing and building senior living communities. It’s all we do. We pride ourselves on competitively bidding every project to ensure costs are kept in check, and we provide 100 percent financial transparency.