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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

Hiring Considerations for an Animal Care Building Project

Upcoming Building Project and Not Sure Who to Hire


Our clients and prospective clients often ask us, "Who should I hire first?" The building process is complex, and that's a fair question! Let's face it - sometimes it is challenging even to know where to begin on a project - whether a remodel of an animal shelter, an expansion of an animal clinic, or a new building project for a pet rescue.


Most of the folks that reach out to Design Learned for our building expertise don't have a building design or construction background - and that is not an issue! That is where our team of building experts comes in.





Here are a few essential questions our team of building experts in the animal care industry advise folks to explore when selecting people or companies to work on their projects.


What is a design professional, and why do I need one?

The first question we often get is, "What is a design professional?". The term design professional is used frequently, but what does it mean? Design professionals are licensed professionals with training and experience in their field. For building design, some of these include Professional Engineers and Registered Architects. The emphasis on this is that they are licensed. Every U.S. state and Canadian province require licensed professionals to prepare plans and specifications. Building departments usually require stamped plans to issue building permits to begin actual construction. If you do not have a licensed design professional to stamp your blueprints, then the plans cannot be approved by the building department for construction.


Who is the first design professional I should hire?

The next question is, "Who is the first design professional I should hire?". You can start with multiple options, but we recommend that you hire a licensed professional engineer (such as Design Learned) or architect as the lead designer of your project. You can do this even before contacting a financial institution or contractor. The lead design professional should be an expert in animal care, meaning that they work on animal care facilities exclusively and has completed dozens of animal care projects.


Regardless of who takes the lead role, the lead design professional will provide directly (or through sub-consultants): interior planning, mechanical and electrical engineering, architecture, civil engineering, and structural engineering. Your lead design professional (whether engineer or architect) will oversee the services - whether working with their own team or sub-consultants. It is common in the industry that a lead design professional works with sub-consultants as each professional is highly disciplined, requiring licensed professionals. Working with sub-consultants allows the lead designer to select individuals most suitable for the specific building needs. Ultimately, the lead design professional will ensure the proper the licensed professionals stamp the drawings for the building department as appropriate.


Why should I hire Design Learned (DLI)?

Another question we often get is, "Why should I hire an engineer instead of an architect?" That is a great question! DLI provides both engineering and animal care consulting services. Our engineering services include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and noise control engineering. Our animal care consulting services include programming, floor planning, needs assessments, building reviews, equipment/caging recommendations, and finish selections. DLI designs all the critical elements on the inside of your building.


We found over the years that the interior planning of an animal care facility profoundly affects the engineering design capability and vice versa. Our engineers and building experts understand that they must closely coordinate the interior planning and engineering designs. When we serve as the lead design professional on projects, we bring in a licensed, experienced, and trusted architect to design the remainder of the building around the critical interior plan and necessary engineering decisions for the animal care facility.


Who else should I hire?

Once you have the design team established, we recommend these additional professionals:

  • Contractors: Contractors can provide cost estimates along with construction services for the project and they are essential to have on the team early.

  • Attorney: At each project stage, you will need an attorney to assist with contracts and municipal approvals.

  • Banker/Financier: This individual will be able to help with funding and the financial side of the project.


Ask Us Questions Before You Make Hiring Decisions

Design Learned is more than happy to answer your questions about hiring for your upcoming building project. Call us at 860-889-7078 or schedule a consultation online to discuss this further.





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