Cost per Square Foot of Commercial Construction by Region

by Dean Dalvit on August 6, 2009

We get this question all the time: How much does it cost to build a commercial building? There is no quick answer and without more information about the project and its location, is essentially akin to asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. However, there is some guidance provided we know where you are located and what kind of building you are looking to build. Local economy is a very important factor in construction cost as well as the type of construction you intend to build.

We subscribe to RSMeans’, researchers of construction cost data nationwide, and have come across some important current data on the cost of commercial construction for four different commercial project types as a function of their location. Note, that not all types of construction cost the same per square foot, and even more importantly, the cost of construction per square foot varies significantly with location.

Below are four different types of commercial construction and the varying cost per square foot to expect for each in different regions.  All graph images are courtesy of RSMeans Construction Cost Data. Data source: Reed Construction Data – RSMeans/Charts: Reed Construction Data – CanaData

One Story Office Building

As you can see from the range of cost per square foot, location alone can represent as much as 70% of the cost driver for a single story office building. The median for this type of construction is between $160 and $170 per square foot. Not surprisingly, New York tops the charts for most expensive city to build in for all of these building types.

Convenience Store

Convenience stores are generally less expensive to construct than the other building types because of their simpler nature.  The median cost for this commercial building type hovers around $100 per square foot.Fast Food

Because of the new trends in fast food being more boutique and less assembly line, the cost for a typical fast food restaurant is on the rise. Expenses for kitchen equipment also drive this building type to a median of near $200 per square foot, the most expensive of the four building types in this discussion.

Day Care

It is increasingly important to understand the cost drivers for any commercial project and how building type, construction type and location can all be huge variables that will drive your cost per square foot. These are always a part of the initial programming discussions and the Architect will play a huge role in helping to define the ranges of cost to expect for the project.

Share

{ 146 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Dalvit October 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Ann,
For an initial conceptual budget, I’d say you are right on target. At least until you have a developed Schematic Design that you can begin a line item budget. We have an expert Multifamily design team that is trained to capture the most value in every square foot and we would love to discuss your project with you. Just let us know if you would like us to help you take the next steps.

Ann October 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I am interested in building 6 condos in downtown Orlando
2000 sq ft each. Spanish exterior look. With Granit in the kitchens.
Each condo would have 2 baths. 2 story buildings. 2 car garages.
I am looking for the sq ft price for the development.
I would need to pay impact fees also. I have figured about $150.00 per sq ft
Am I close.

Dean Dalvit October 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Hi Joe,
Thanks for reaching out. We are very familiar with that area and project type. Before we can throw out a number for construction cost, there are a number of questions that we have. I will have the Principal of our Texas operations, Gene Dane, contact you directly today and he can arrange to meet and help you take the next steps on your project. Thanks!

Joe Jordan October 12, 2014 at 7:29 am

Hi,
I own a commercial lot 80′ frontage x 230′ deep in a fast developing area north of The Woodlands in Texas. I would like to know what is my cost to build a small 5000 sqf shopping center with about 4 rental spaces facing the road and with an economical budget. My hopes is to be able to attract tenants who are in need of smaller space. If you could give general feedback and have someone that can meet with us locally to go over things. Many Thanks.

Dean Dalvit October 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

Alex,
Depending on the nature of the finishes of the establishment you’re looking to build, you will likely be looking in the $190-$230 per square foot range for a finished new construction project from the ground up. This assumes a fully functioning commercial kitchen, but would not include trade fixtures, furnishings or equipment. I hope that helps – best of luck!

Alex Snyder October 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Hello, I am doing a report for a college class and i was wondering if you could give me a rough estimate of what it would cost to build a bar near or around Kutztown, PA. While i am very unsure about the suggested size of the new construction, if you could help me with the price/sq. foot i can do the rest of the math myself. Thank you very much!

P.S. I’m debating between 1,200 sq. feet, 1,800 sq. feet, and 2,200 sq. feet.

Dean Dalvit September 29, 2014 at 10:02 am

John,
Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, we don’t have that specific project in our RSMeans database. However, you could look at it as a core and shell block building with basic systems, similar to a warehouse or auto shop (which would be around $70-$90/sq.ft.), and then add to that the cost of your specific equipment that you need in the tunnel. That equipment is the piece that is missing from the data, but you should be able to easily source that from your suppliers. Best of luck with your project!

john September 29, 2014 at 8:39 am

Hi. I am looking to build a car wash. I would like an estimate for the tunnel which would be approximately 800 sq ft as well as a small store which would be 200 sq ft. I am located in Kissimmee, FL.

Dean Dalvit September 29, 2014 at 7:51 am

Nicole, first question: Where are you located? Cost of construction varies considerably across the country. Second question: Does your zoning allow commercial bakery in your home? That would be highly unusual for most jurisdictions. Finally are you asking about the cost of your total home or just the kitchen? If the space is accommodated for the kitchen and included in the cost of the home separately, then the additional cost of the commercial kitchen will simply be a matter of the cost breakdown of each piece of equipment and the appropriate fixtures.

Nicole September 28, 2014 at 5:01 am

Hi Dean,

We are considering building our first home. I am in the process of get licensed as a baker and will be renting space in a commercial kitchen locally. When we build our home, I’d like to add a commercial kitchen permitted at a commercial bakery. I’m thinking 500sq of space. Would you have an idea of what that would cost to build? Thanks!

Dean Dalvit September 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Don,
There are of course a lot of factors that would influence your total construction costs. However, if you start with a ballpark budget of approximately $100 per square foot, that should give you a reasonable median target to build from. We have designed projects similar to this and would be happy to discuss your project with you in more detail. Just let us know how we can help. Thanks and best of luck with your project!

Don September 4, 2014 at 9:06 am

We’re currently in early stage planning for a dog day care, training and boarding facility in Lexington, KY with 6,000 sq ft of arena or gym type space and 2500 sq feet of boarding, office and retail space. Any idea how much we can expect construction costs to be?

Dean Dalvit August 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Jason,
Thanks for your question. Obviously, there would be a number of factors that would influence the construction cost for a warehouse of that size, however, for general front end budgeting purposes, your $75/sq.ft. number is very close to what we have seen in the industry for metal building warehouse space on reasonably level sites with mechanical and electrical systems to meet the basic code requirements. Configuration and minimum clear span play a large role in structural costs, as does construction type (block or steel frame). Also, if there is any finished space for offices, which is not atypical, that would be a separate breakout cost. EVstudio designs projects all over the country and we would be happy to discuss the design needs for your project – just let us know and we can plan an initial programming meeting free of charge. Thanks again and best of luck with your project!

Jason August 22, 2014 at 6:59 am

Hello -
I’m looking at getting very general pricing per square foot for a 200,000 sq. ft. warehouse located near the WI / IL border. From some internet browsing I’ve seen anywhere from $20-$75 and since those numbers aren’t exactly close I figured I’d ask here directly. Doesn’t matter which state, probably the cheaper of the two, and located near Lake Michigan (although not on the lake, just that area. Think between Kenosha in WI and Waukegan in IL (internet map to help see location http://www.advancedfertility.com/1250_miles.htm)

Dean Dalvit August 14, 2014 at 9:29 am

Emmett, Thanks for your question. I am assuming you are looking at core and shell construction numbers (with tenant finish being a separate cost), which sounds about right. On average, across all building types, New Your City runs 22% higher than LA for construction costs by the square foot. If you are in the suburbs, there would be a discounting effect for that, maybe as much as half of that delta by percentage. So, with that said, you might be able to reasonably budget in the neighborhood of $100-$105 per square foot for core and shell retail building in your area. That would be a starting point on paper, but of course, there are so many variables that drive construction cost, that a conceptual design or even a schematic design that is far enough along to identify the core cost drivers would be necessary to tighten up that budget and ink in your pro forma. We have done some work in New York in the past and are well versed in retail building types. We would be happy to discuss this project further with you and help you take the next steps if you need – just let us know. Thanks and best of luck!

Emmett August 14, 2014 at 5:15 am

Hi,

I am looking to build an office suite business in a retail shopping center in the suburbs of New York, north of Manhattan. I am using some similar projects in Los Angeles as a comparison to see how much they would cost to build per square foot. My research tells me the cost in LA is around $85-90 per foot, not including furniture. How much would I use as an estimate in New York, from 30-100 miles north of the City. I am looking for a rough estimate for comparison. I assume the closer to Manhattan, the more I should expect to pay.

Thanks

Dean Dalvit August 3, 2014 at 6:21 am

Thanks Stephen, we’re very familiar with the Houston market as our Texas office has worked on several projects in that area. For a tenant finish of a new existing core and shell building, you should budget between $30 and $50 per square foot. Being a bike shop, you will likely be on the lower end of that given the more warehouse like nature of your shop, however things like built in racking, retail lighting and design elements that excite the customer emotional experience to encourage making a buying decision all have to be considered. So if you budget approximately $100k for the finish out, not including your trade fixtures, furniture, etc., that would be a good starting budget to work towards. Best of luck with your project and if you need any design assistance with the architecture and the required mechanical/electrical engineering for permitting, we would be happy to help!

Stephen August 2, 2014 at 11:40 am

The bikeshop will be in the Houston area.

Dean Dalvit August 1, 2014 at 8:57 am

Stephen, we’re happy to help, but can you tell me what city you are located in? A Bike shop in Manhattan has quite a different cost/sq.ft. than say, Des Moines.

Stephen July 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Hello,

I am looking to get an estimate on cost for build-out on a shopping center. we are building a bike shop. the space is brand new. We are looking to build 3010 sq/ft. The location is an end-cap. the bike shop will have 2 badrooms, one fitting room and a storage room. there is going to be a bar to divide the repair area.
Around how much should we plan to spend per sq/ft ? range

Dean Dalvit May 7, 2014 at 5:13 am

Mohammad,
Thank you for your inquiry on our website. There isn’t enough information in your request to formulate a proper opinion of probable cost, so I will have the Principal of our Texas office, Gene Dane, contact you directly. Gene is an expert in Commercial design and is currently working on a number of commercial projects in Houston. He can follow up with you directly and gather more information to help you determine costs and take the next steps for your project.

Mohammad May 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi,

I would like to inquire how much it would cost per square feet to make a commercial plaza? The total sq ft is 135,000 and location is in Texas Houston.

Land development cost
Hard construction cost?

Your comments would be valuable

Dean Dalvit May 5, 2014 at 10:22 am

You bet Adam – I already sent a separate email to you with Gene on it, and he will contact you today. Gene is at gene@evstudio.com
Thanks!

Adam Briar May 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

Thank you for the response, could you please send me the contact information of your Texas office, I would like to speak with them about my project if the coast is around $70 to $100 per SF.

Dean Dalvit May 5, 2014 at 8:47 am

Adam,

Thanks for your question. Depending on construction type (Pre Engineered Metal Building, Block Building), you would be looking at approximately $70-$100 per square foot for the building along with the required restrooms and some amount of assumed office space. We have an office in Texas and would be happy to discuss this project with you in more detail as we have experts in automotive project types and can design you the most cost effective building to achieve your objectives. Your required program would be a very important factor in understanding how much of the building is core and shell space vs finished space. Also, while FF&E costs are outside of these estimates, your required operating equipment will have a factor in the design and resulting accommodations costs. We will have our Texas Principal, Gene Dane, contact you separately. Thanks!

Adam Briar May 4, 2014 at 7:27 am

I want to know the cost of three bay 60X40 (24000 sq FT) auto shop in Dallas TX?
Thanks,
Adam

Dean Dalvit April 19, 2014 at 10:28 am

Jim, thanks for your question. I don’t have any data outside of the US or Canada. Perhaps someone from our readership may be able to provide some information on that.

Jim April 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

Anyone have any idea what the square footage construction cost for square footage is for a warehouse type facility like a Home Depot or Lowes (in Mexico City)?

Thanks,

Dean Dalvit April 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi Alex,
thanks for your question! We do have a more specific construction cost study on multifamily apartments that can be found here: http://evstudio.com/construction-cost-per-square-foot-for-multifamily-apartments-2012/. This sounds like a mixed use project, and yes, you are on the right track in terms of compartmentalizing the costs by area and use. Multifamily apartments also typically include a certain amount of amenity space (clubhouse, gyp, etc.). As far as you numbers, the multifamily feels a little light for your location in Seattle. I might budget that closer to $180 per square foot. The retail looks about right at $100/sq.ft. for a core and shell. Finished would of course be more, but obviously heavily reliant on the type of space. Structured parking will actually run about double what you’re planning on. While the parking space itself may be about $15k by area, the circulation (drive lanes, etc.) roughly doubles the net area, so we typically use about $30k per parking space in our initial ballpark estimates. Of course, there are countless variables that would inform all of these numbers. If you would like to program your project with a multifamily expert from our multifamily studio to hone in on your project parameters, we would be happy to arrange that. We’ve designed multifamily and mixed use projects all over the country and also in Canada, so our full service Architecture and Engineering team is happy to come to you. Thanks!
-Dean

Dean Dalvit April 2, 2014 at 10:30 am

Hi George, thanks for your question!
We do have a more specific construction cost study on recreation centers that can be found here: http://evstudio.com/construction-cost-per-square-foot-for-recreation-facilities/. Depending on the amenities you wish to provide, your cost per square foot can range anywhere from $150-$190 per square foot. For a 130000 square foot building, you would be looking at a $20M-$25M facility. Recreation facilities come in all shapes and sizes with a wide array of amenity offerings, so if you would like to program your project with someone from our Texas office, we would be happy to assist you. We have recreation specialists on our team and we serve all of the major cities in Texas. Thanks!
-Dean

Alex Iverson March 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

In the city of Seattle, I’m doing feasibility on an in-fill near acre lot for a mixed-use, 3 story wood frame,with additional underground parking garage (suited to the bowl shaped lot). Looking at 56 units in top two floors, a mix of retail and live/work lofts below on the main floor. and a single floor parking garage underground. Residential units require 1 parking per unit, not sure yet on the retail end.

I know the cost is huge, but trying to fine tune it to make this go…..Thinking that if I break the building into its 3 components, (MF, Retail, Parking) and different costs/sq ft., that I can arrive at the most accurately numbered guess?

Is it fair to attribute MF construction costs at $160/sq ft, unfinished Retail spaces at $100/ sq ft., and parking at $15,000 per space? Its not a tall building, just a large footprint on a corner lot, surround by 3 city streets.

thanks
Alex

George S. March 31, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Hello. I am in contact with someone who owns land. We are in the Woodlands TX. We are trying to get the best estimate on sq ft cost for a health club. multi floor. about 100,000 sq foot imprint or so, the upper level would only be a 1/4 or 1/3 of that as it would be open and overlooking the level below. Thank You.

Dean Dalvit March 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Tony,
For the kind of project you’re looking at, I would plan to budget no less than $100 per square foot for the building construction cost. Assuming tenants will be responsible for their own finish out, and there’s nothing overly complex about the building geometry or exteriors, that would be a good starting point. Best of luck with the project and let us know if you need any help. Thanks!

Tony March 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Hi
I would like to know the cost of a 7200 sq ft small shopping center brick on the out side. Commercial / Flat Roofing .
Footing. Brick masonry. Concrete flooring. Utility connections cost ? North of Detroit
Thanks Tony

Dean Dalvit March 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

Emanuel,

I can’t help much if I don’t have a location. Any chance you could tell us what city this will be in? As you can see from all of these charts, construction costs are highly sensitive to location. Let me know and we can go from there.
-Dean

emanuel March 25, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Really early on in the developmental stages of a brand new 10 thousand sq ft grocery store/restaurant with patio with a few retail spaces for rent on a corner lot in boston….the land is already paid for..looking for info on how to get decent estimates on the building….thanks manny

Dean Dalvit March 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Amy,
Any chance you could tell us what city this will be in? As you can see from all of these charts, construction costs are highly sensitive to location. Let me know and we can go from there.
-Dean

Amy March 13, 2014 at 7:40 am

Hi
I have a client that is asking for estimates on a new restaurant and he is looking for a per square foot lighting price. Do you have any type of figures. Its roughly 3000sq ft.

Dean Dalvit March 7, 2014 at 8:28 am

Hi Darryl,
Thanks for your inquiry. Rich Muller, one of our multifamily experts will be contacting you directly as there are a number of variables on Denver infill lots that we should discus in order to get you a more accurate estimate of construction cost.

The RSMeans data for multifamily projects suggest a general index of $165 per square foot (see http://evstudio.com/construction-cost-per-square-foot-for-multifamily-apartments-2012/), however, we should validate the broad factors in your project to get closer. We are happy to study the site to determine that the parking, number of floors and number of units will align with your objectives.

Darryl Rounsaville March 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm

I am under contract to purchase a property in downtown Denver. This will be a small apartment complex of 30/31 units. There will be a first floor parking garage (10,000 sqft) with 4 stories of stick frame above at (26000). I would finish the building at a (medium) level. We are looking for a range (per sqft) that I can use at this early point of the project to evaulate the fiesabilty. I presently own 8 apartment buildings in good areas (136 units) in Denver. This will be my first project constructing (I have moved in from the east coast. I am looking for a GC and architect.

Dean Dalvit February 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Thanks for your question. The answer lies entirely on the zoning allowed by the property you are considering. Assuming apartment use is allowed, the density of units, building height and required setbacks from property lines will all inform the size of lot that would be required for that program. Also, you need to consider any drainage requirements, open space and/or landscaping requirements, access and driveway requirements. A quick review with the authority having jurisdiction would verify all of this for a particular property. Similarly, you can understand from the jurisdiction where the property zoning allows the use and density you are looking for so you can select from among the available properties.

If you are considering a specific property, feel free to send us the information and we can help you understand what is allowed and what you can do. We do have license in Canada and would be happy to help.

-Dean

heman February 10, 2014 at 3:46 am

Hi dear,
we will be looking to built and for storied apartment building with just one floor on each floor for my family and each floor will consist of 3 bedrooms living room and kitchen with at least 2 full bathrooms around 1500 sq. ft living space with main floor car parking and 4 floor on it what size of land at least we required for this and to built this what is approximate cost per sq. ft we should be looking to built in southern Ontario in Canada please let us know

Dean Dalvit December 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hi Brad,
Thank you for your reply. Based on what you’ve described, the RSMeans data would suggest that you would be closer to about $150 per square foot, give or take about 10%. Obviously, major parameters like level of finish, complexity of building and site factors will heavily influence total construction cost, but if you start with a $2M budget, you should be in the right ballpark. The RSMeans data does not include Furnishings, trade fixtures or equipment, so be sure to create a budget specific for those items with regard to your restaurant spaces.

brad smith December 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

Hello,

We are looking to build a 3 story structure in Gilbert, Arizona. The building will have approximately 12,800 sq ft (4,600 sq ft on the ground floor, 5,200 sq ft on the 2nd floor and 3,000 sq ft on the rooftop). There will also be a 2 story 800 sq ft unattached garage/storage unit with 400 sq ft on each floor. Total sq ft = 13,600. We will house a restaurant with an outdoor patio, a brewery with an outdoor beer garden and a retail space on the lower floor. An office, a full salon and a yoga space will be on the second floor and a roof top bar or another restaurant with additional office space will be on the third.

Any estimate on cost per sq ft would be appreciated. Typical buildings in AZ are stucco over steel frames. We may want to have a brick face. Also. will this estimate include the ti’s or will that be a separate price?

Thanks,
Brad

Dean Dalvit December 12, 2011 at 8:31 am

John,

Thanks for your inquiry. We will need a bit more information to be able to speak to the differences between Gym space and Pool space. Do you have a concept plan for the spaces involved or do you need design services at this stage? I am forwarding your question to our recreation design specialist, Matt Svoboda. He will be able to discuss the various aspects of your project along with general cost parameters. We would also be happy to discuss architectural and engineering design services for your project. Thanks!

Dean Dalvit December 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

Jagtar,
Thank you for your inquiry. All of our labor and material data comes from Reed Construction Data and is specific only to territories in the United States. I do not have international construction cost data, but would be happy to help you with you project. To get the kind of information from a project, you will need a preliminary conceptual design to identify the major cost drivers like type of construction, occupancy, level of finish, etc.. Are you in need of design services for architecture or engineering?

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }