Location! Location! Location!
By Craig McAllester
Building a new boarding kennel, an animal shelter, a veterinary hospital, or any kind of structure, for that matter, is a process not too much unlike planning a road trip. First, you must clearly identify where you are, right now, before you can map a route to your new destination. Consider that, for example, you are planning a trip to California. If you are in New York, the roads you take are going to be very different than if you started your journey in Florida.
So, Where Are You Right Now?
When building a new animal facility, I would recommend that you start with a blank sheet of paper and start writing down all the things that you want to have in your new kennel. Build your list as things come to mind and in no specific order. Don’t leave any rock unturned, and be as specific as you can. Cover all the areas of interest that you can imagine. Start with the inside of the building and think about all the uses throughout the building for both animals and people alike. Consider the outside of the building as well—do you want outdoor play yards and perhaps room for a waterdog pool? List them!
Once you think your list is fairly complete, rewrite it in such a way as to keep like items together and then expand on each use. For example, you will need some place to prepare the food for your guests—a food prep room. Under that item, consider what else you will need that will go into this space. How many people will be working in this room at one time? How many food bowls will be prepared each day? Where will you store your guests’ food? Will you have a one-bowl sink, a two-bowl sink, or a three-bowl sink and will one sink be enough? Will you need a dishwasher, or do you plan to hand-wash all your food and water bowls? Will you towel-dry the bowls or let them air dry? If the latter, you will need a rack to keep them while they drip-dry; preferably one over a drain board to handle that water for you. How much cabinet storage and countertop space will you need? Do you need a refrigerator? If so, how large?
Work through each area of the building, and add anything you may have missed when building your list. Once this list is complete and organized by room, you can begin to get a sense as to the size of the building that you are going to need. The next step would be to find a location for your new business. Do you plan to rent, buy, or build a new building?
Location, Location, Location!
For a new business, especially a kennel, the location is extremely important. Most businesses need visibility, and having a business along a major road offers great visibility. These types of properties are usually offered at a premium, and often have significant zoning restrictions. If that is the case, they may not be best suited for a new start-up boarding kennel business. But there are other factors that must be considered before spending any money on a piece of land or an existing building when planning a kennel.
Looking over your list, consider all the uses of your business and how they will fit into the property. Are both indoor and outdoor kennel runs permitted within your zoning district? If not, then all activities will need to be indoors, so you may need more building to achieve all the uses on your list. If permitted, is there sufficient space for having fenced outdoor play yards to keep the animals safe and secure? Do you have room for sufficient parking and room for growth, should you need to add another kennel in a few years?
Looking For Property
Regardless if you are building, buying, or renting, when deciding on a location, there are a lot of factors that must be considered. I strongly recommend that clients consult with a commercial real estate agent early in this process. Perhaps a real estate attorney may need to be involved as things develop. Every business has special needs, but few have more than a kennel. Regardless of the business, commercial real estate agents have the training and knowledge that is key for finding properties specific to the needs of their clients—it’s what they do! It is so important to make sure that the use is permitted and that you understand the restrictions that apply, before buying any real estate.
Often, once the perfect property is found, the sale of the property is made contingent on the use being approved. Sometimes, a zoning hearing may need to convene in order to approve the use, so this may take some time. This is the best way to ensure you are not buying real estate that you may not be able to use for your kennel.
Consider Zoning Regulations Early On
In most areas of this county, zoning regulations prevent a kennel from being built just anywhere, and for good reason. For example, a kennel is likely not going to be permitted within a residential zoning district. There may be certain requirements for locating a kennel within a rural, commercial, industrial, or even within an agricultural district. The zoning requirements are different in every municipality. A commercial real estate agent will help you sort through these local requirements, will be able to locate a parcel that will give you enough acreage for growth, room for play yards, room for parking, and in an area where the kennel use will be permitted.
Already Own Your Land?
Often, I design kennels that are to be built on a clients’ own property. This is usually in a rural zoning district and the neighbors’ homes are within an earshot of each other. In these circumstances, I recommend that the client involve their neighbors early-on to put to rest any concerns that they may have. If any concerns do arise, then invite all the neighbors to a dinner gathering and show them your plans. Showing them how you are addressing their specific concerns, right in the drawings, will go a long way in having them support your new venture.
Craig L. McAllester, President, Craig L. McAllester, Inc, kennel designer, has been designing veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels, animal shelters, police, military, and U.S. Department of HomeLand Security/Boarder Patrol working dog kennels, here in the United States of America, and in countries around the world, since 2003. Craig may be contacted at 877-234-2301. Email: [email protected] Website: www.KennelDesignUSA.com