Pet Boarding & Daycare

Buying vs Building New: What Should You Do?

Buying vs Building New: What Should You Do?

By Craig McAllester

I get this kind of question all the time. Clients want a clear-cut answer, but all too often in life, things are not so cut and dried. This is one of those instances.

I remember the ‘S&L crisis’ of the late 1980’s. Once resolved, there were banks on nearly every corner with “For Sale” signs out on their lawn. I lived in Phoenix at the time, and they seemed to take over the landscape.

Back then, buying vs building new was really clear–cut for those of whom could fit their new business inside a bank building. I designed quite a number of offices, veterinary hospitals and more in those empty bank buildings back then. There was always a concern as to what should be done with those huge vault doors. The thick concrete walls that surrounded the vaults took up so much space, and the cost of demolition was high.

When you are thinking of buying a property today for your kennel, you should consider these same things, and more. True, you are buying a building that is existing, so you won’t need to wait months for your building to be built, but there is still work to be done.

Start first by hiring a commercial realtor. This is not a person who sells homes. Commercial realtors have an understanding of all sorts of things that don’t come into play when buying a house.

Zoning is a good example. Is your new–found building in a zoning district that will permit a kennel use? Every municipality in this country has its own zoning ordinance. The next town over may permit a kennel in a C2 zoning district, but your town may not. If your building is located in a C2 district, you would be well advised to look elsewhere.

A good commercial realtor will research your use (a kennel) and know where to look for the right piece of real estate to fit your needs. Likewise, the realtor would not want you to make a large down payment on the sale of the building until the use has been approved. The sale should be made contingent upon the use being approved.

If the building clears zoning, has the right location, has enough space for fenced turnout yards, has room to grow and has the right price, then there is a good chance that you can make it work. However, if there is a huge concrete safe that has a 20 ton door in the middle of the building, then your buildout costs will start to rise, and rise fast!

Along those same lines, if you plan to use floor drains to collect the cleaning water in your new kennel, building new allows you to slope the new floor to your choosing. Buying an existing building, however, makes that a little more difficult, but it can still be done. The old floor is often broken out and a new sloping floor is poured after the new drains are installed.

Is the roof sound? Look at the ceiling tiles inside the building and see how many water marks you see. If only one or two, you’ll probably be fine with some minor repairs. If those water marks are in every room, then you might want to pay a roofing contractor to evaluate your fabulous find.

Is the building itself sound? Look around the outside for cracks. Again, a few might not be a problem, but if there are too many cracks in the exterior walls, that may be the reason for the price being right.

A lot of the materials used in the construction of the existing building will need to be replaced or protected from cleaning water. This adds cost that is often not considered.

How will the animals circulate from the kennels to the outdoor yards? Will they need to cross a parking lot? That could be dangerous and should be considered.

So, what should you do, buy or build? Really, it depends on what is available and what fits your needs at the time. There really is no cut and dried answer. Consider all your options and all the best in your new kennel.

Craig L. McAllester, President, Craig L. McAllester, Inc, is a kennel designer, and the author of several books, the latest of which is, Boarding Kennels: The Design Process. He 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: