5 Areas to Consider When Planning a New Facility
By Scott Webster
Functionality, style and, most importantly, pet safety and wellbeing are all objectives that should be considered when planning a new or expanding an existing pet boarding, daycare or training facility. Consider the following expert recommendations for a successful project.
1 Exterior Appearance
An attractive exterior appearance presents a welcoming feel for not only clients, but also their pets. A covered porch or even a drive-through canopy to allow clients and pets to enter the facility and avoid the elements can be a striking yet practical feature.
Clients want to feel comfortable with leaving their pet in a facility that looks clean from the outside. An exterior that is well-maintained and has curb appeal will give clients the feeling that the interior is just as well-kept and clean as the exterior.
If boarding or daycare operations are within a veterinary practice, a separate entry is a good solution for traffic flow and allows pets a shorter travel distance to their home away from home.
2 Facility Cleaning & Sanitation
Will the dog enclosure areas be cleaned by using hose bibbs that are placed in locations for ease of use? These offer an economical solution that allow employees to hose down the enclosures without the hassle of dragging hoses all over the building.
Will wet-vacuum systems be needed for a more user-friendly approach? These types of systems allow for quick connections to water and disinfectant in a wall-mounted port. These ports can be located throughout the facility for convenience and to allow employees to work more efficiently. The same hose can carry the disinfectant mixed with water to eliminate the need to apply disinfectant directly from a container. Dry-vacuum systems can also be utilized where cleanups are needed for hair or for traditional dry vacuuming.
What types of disinfectants will be utilized and how will they be dispensed? Do your research and speak to the different manufacturers to determine the best products for your facility.
Trench drains in the back of the enclosures with the concrete sloped from the front to the drain work very well. Traditional grated trench drains running through the back of the enclosures are the most common solution. Slotted drains provide the cleanest design, as solids can be washed into the drain easily and pushed to a catch basin using cleaning tools. A flush system might also be considered as it is extremely efficient in clearing the trench drains of wastes.
3 Proper Ventilation
The use of well-designed mechanical systems is of critical importance in pet care facilities. Choosing a mechanical engineer who has previous experience with boarding or veterinary design is the first key step in the early phases of conceptual design. Choosing an HVAC contractor is also important. Finding one that has had experience with pet care facility projects in the past is ideal.
HVAC design that focuses on isolation of various spaces within the facility promotes a healthy environment with essential indoor air quality. Preventing the spread of airborne contaminants and infectious diseases not only helps keep pets healthy, but also provides the staff with clean, conditioned workspaces. If an isolation space is included in the facility, it is important to design this space with negatively-pressured ventilation or a separate system that is only used for this space.
Exhaust fans in proper locations to remove stale air from the building and provide fresh outside air are also important design criteria for achieving quality results. Roof Top Units (RTU) or Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS) are two types of mechanical equipment to consider in the design. The use of an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is a perfect supplement to the design and should be considered for energy savings.
4 Training & Exercise Space
Keeping pets active while away from home is good for their health and happiness. If individual enclosures are installed on the inside of the building, outside runs can also be considered for the exterior. Guillotine-style sliding doors on the inside of the enclosures can be opened to allow pets to exit the building into another run on the exterior.
A large outdoor play yard can also be a nice feature. A decorative, fenced enclosure can add to the aesthetics of the facility while providing a large space for dogs to run and interact with eachother.
Interior training and exercise spaces should also be considered in new construction. These spaces can add to the revenue that is generated during boarding and give a facility yet another offering to their clients. These spaces also allow for the ability to provide training classes throughout the entire year and not only when the weather is fair.
There are a variety of options for flooring for these types of spaces. A hard surface such as epoxy is a popular option that is durable and effectively withstands wear and tear. Rubber mat flooring with welded seams provides a nice option for comfort and is easy to clean. Synthetic grass systems in your outdoor spaces can put your facility on another level that most others do not have. These systems are low-maintenance and easy to clean. Under-floor drainage and disinfection systems can be utilized to clean and flush away urine.
5 Sound Control
Controlling loud noises, such as barking, is crucial to the success of your facility. Sound levels inside pet care facilities can be harmful to dogs and puppies, and to the staff who care for the animals.
A properly-constructed separation wall between the enclosure spaces and other areas of the facility can greatly reduce the amount of noise. A very effective system consists of walls constructed of two stud walls with staggered framing members with multiple layers of gypsum board on both sides of the wall, as well as between the framed walls, in conjunction with soundproofing batt insulation.
Utilizing acoustical wall and ceiling panels can greatly reduce noise within a boarding facility or training space. Acoustical wall panels work well from the ceiling down approximately four feet, or even just above the height of the enclosure partitions. These types of panels provide a high Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating.
Interior doors can also utilize weatherstripping and bottom base seals, depending on the location of the door and where sound is to be mitigated within the space. These accessories can greatly improve the mitigation of sound where it is critical.
Scott Webster is Morton Buildings’ Project Manager. For more information on the design and construction of pet facilities, visit MortonBuildings.com