Animal Hospital of Humble

Since moving into its new digs, the Animal Hospital of Humble in Humble, Texas, is anything but modest—and can boast the client growth numbers to prove it.
Jun 01, 2008

When Dr. Ernest Parson bought the Animal Hospital of Humble in Humble, Texas, in 2000, it wasn't because the building impressed him. The portable, wood-framed building had long outlived its usefulness. "It was about 1,200 square feet and was decrepit and falling apart," he says. One of the exam room floors had even caved in and required some quick repairs.

Photos by Chris Walter
But Dr. Parson saw the building's potential, namely its location on a busy thoroughfare surrounded by rapidly growing suburban developments. So he and his team made do in the original structure until Dr. Parson could build a practice on the same site that was worthy of his talents, team, and clientele. Surviving the humble beginnings—shaky flooring and all—was well worth it, because his new practice earned a Merit Award in the 2008 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition.

Humbling experiences

Just like home: Vertical board and batten siding in a three-color scheme, limestone detail, and lush landscaping create big Texas style in this modestly sized practice. (Photos by Chris Walter)
Building a new veterinary hospital on the same lot as the old one could've resulted in construction nightmares, but fortunately, business wasn't interrupted. The team sweated it out in the original structure until the new building was complete, then moved into the new practice while the old was torn down to make room for expanded parking. Still, there were a few bumps along the way.

Floor plan: Animal Hospital of Humble
During the environmental inspection, inspectors found a well on the property and assumed it was an old oil well—the area is littered with oil wells from the late 1800s. Capping these wells can be expensive, so Dr. Parson had it reinspected, and luckily, the inspector discovered it was an old water well that didn't require any expensive treatment. "We definitely dodged a bullet there," Dr. Parson says.

A look at the numbers: Animal Hospital of Humble
In addition to concerns about the well, Dr. Parson received an unpleasant surprise from his accountant. "Most doctors probably know this, but I certainly didn't know that the money you spend on a new building isn't tax-deductible until you're in the new building," he says. "I just assumed that the construction would be a business expense, but you can't deduct those costs until the project is completed and you take up occupancy. That was a great big tax bill!"

Reception and waiting area: The reception and waiting areas are Dr. Parson's favorite part of the new hospital. Separate waiting areas for cats and dogs cut down on pets' stress. Client information and education pamphlets are kept conveniently by the main entrance. (Photos by Chris Walter)
Dr. Parson rode out the bumps and wound up with a 4,166-square-foot practice that's user-friendly, easy to maintain, and, most importantly, warm and comfortable. The building was designed like a rustic country ranch to give it a residential, homey feel. The look is carried through the lobby with vaulted cathedral ceilings, cedar woodwork, and separate dog and cat waiting areas where clients can cozy up with their pets. "I love the way the lobby looks and feels," Dr. Parson says. "It's got that rustic ambiance that we were shooting for."