Chances are, you’re going to need a few build-outs…

Build-outs and building modifications are a reality of opening a daycare center, unless you’re buying or leasing an existing daycare. And even then, there might be things that you want to do differently. Daycare center construction can be a stressful task, as regulations and details stack up. As I mentioned in Starting a Daycare Center Part 3: Learn Your Way Around Red Tape And Zoning, hiring a good architect is vital.

Find out everything you need to know about daycare center construction in our video:

That means preferably someone with experience in building daycare centers. A skilled architect will be able to navigate around the building you lease and figure out the cheapest and best way to do necessary build-outs. If you’ve hired a good architect the actual daycare center construction will go more smoothly. Regulations and requirements from sinks to square-footage are very specific when it comes to daycare centers (also discussed in Part 3), so find a contractor who can follow the architect’s plan with precision and confidence.

Picking a good contractor

There are a lot of contractors out there, so picking one crew or person can be hard. In this case, don’t underestimate word-of-mouth and start by asking family, friends and other business owners. If possible, find a contractor with past experience in daycare center construction.

If the friends & family search didn’t work out as well as you’d expected, you can consult review pages like Yelp! and Facebook to read customer reviews.  It’s always a good idea to get in touch with previous clients for references, and you also want to make sure the contractor you hire is licensed and bonded. Choosing a good contractor who can work at a good pace while sticking to exact specifications is the name of the game.

Agree with your contractor on a solid timeline with deliverables and milestones. For going over the deadline, work out a discount or pro bono system. And for positive incentivizing, you can offer a small bonus if they exceed all the deadlines.

Daycare center construction is all about finding a contractor who can work confidently and accurately with the plans your architect provides them.Let’s talk daycare center construction itself

In addition to your main renovations, don’t forget to consider everything from wall colors, bathroom fixtures, light fixtures and baseboards, as well as all the various small details that come into play. I recommend a wood-appearance vinyl for flooring because it looks good and it’s durable no matter how many toys you throw at it.

The daycare center needs a fire alarm system, which can rack up to $15,000-$40,000 or more for an entire daycare center. These systems included those glass-encased handles that say “Pull in case of fire,” so we’re not talking about just picking up a few alarms. When you pull the handle on these, alarm strobes go off loudly in every room and area. The system connects up to a central box that stores info about the incident (where handle was pulled, etc.) These may be required to be directly linked to the fire alarm station via a built-in cell or hard wired phone line.

As for fire extinguishers, the top of the fire extinguishers should be no more than 5 feet off the ground, so people can reach them easily. Also, each fire extinguisher usually needs to have an indicator above it, so people can easily locate it.

Building shelving that is above the height of children to store things such as a mini fridge is an important detail of daycare center construction.Shelving height and other important things to remember

You’re going to want high shelving for certain items that need to be kept out of reach (mini-fridge, radio, etc.) Have electrical outlets for those fridges, radios and others installed high on the walls, near those particular shelves. This allows you to plug in appliances near the height of the shelves so kids can’t grab the cords. Speak with the electrician about making sure outlets are safely out of kids’ reach. For the rest of the outlets near the ground that are unused, you’ll need to plug them with outlet covers.

You may be required to have two points of exit from each classroom. They should lead to different destinations outside your daycare center. For example, one exit can lead to the main hallway and the other can go to the back alley. This ensures everyone can get out easily and quickly in an emergency.

As also mentioned in Part 3, your kitchen needs to be built up to code and that likely includes a three-compartment sink requirement, grease trap and many other regulations. There are also all sorts of requirements around bathrooms, hallways (usually minimum 3 feet wide), square-footage and so on, as discussed. Like always, check specifics with your local licensing authorities and your architect.

In terms of security, you should look into installing a buzzer system. Install the programmable buzzer system in a vestibule where parents can wait to be buzzed in. This ensures no unauthorized people get access to your daycare center. If this sounds pricey, you can work out the alternatives before you open and then take a look at the options Hopping In gives you for earning extra revenue.

More to keep in mind…

There are some additional important details to keep in mind in terms of daycare center construction.

  • You have to ensure there are mixing valves on classroom handwashing sinks. You know when you turn on water and it turns burning hot very quickly? Mixing valves stop water from going past a certain hot temperature. Make sure the plumber installs this in between the hot and cold water lines.
  • Make sure contractors are building to fit the required space for the amount of toilets and sinks you’re required to have.
  • Plan for a janitor’s closet, which is equipped with a janitor’s sink, storage shelves for cleaning supplies and hooks for storage of mops, brooms, etc. You’ve got to keep this closet locked at all times when not in use to keep children away from dangerous chemicals.

Construction usually takes a while!

Daycare center construction can take a lot of time. Plus, there are always last-minute modifications or issues that come up. This is one of many reasons why you should try to negotiate free (or deferred) months of rent on your lease with the landlord, as I advised in Part 2!

Whatever you do, pay attention to the deadlines you had set. Always give them a little more leeway in case of unexpected delays, and keep your cool on you at all times.

You’ve come this far so read on to Part 5 of Starting a Daycare Center series where I’ll cover required Classroom Signage and Daycare Setup Basics.

How to start a daycare center table of contents

1: Location and Square-Footage

2: Finding Funding and Calculating Expenses

3: Learn Your Way Around Red Tape and Zoning

4: All About Daycare Center Construction

5: Classroom Signage and Daycare Center Setup Basics

6: Passing Daycare Center Inspection

7: Daycare Center Paperwork for Employees and Kids

8: Ready to Rock!

Author: Hopping In Blog

Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.

To contact him or for media inquiries email s.strick@daycareteam.com

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