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.

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{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

tailer November 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Yes near Los Angeles thank you Brian. And thank you Dean you have been a big help!! My project is on it’s way!

Dean Dalvit November 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Ah – thanks Brian, I can see that is definitely a possibility. Two possible Ontario, CA locations. In that case, I’d use the numbers for LA and budget a minimum of $152/Sq.Ft.. Hope that helps!

Brian November 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

Dean, I believe Tailer may be referring to Ontario, California, near Los Angeles.

Dean Dalvit November 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

Thanks Tailer,
While we don’t have RSMeans data for Canada, it is reasonable to infer from nearby US cities that an initial budget projection could be between $150 and $170 per square foot. That would apply to your 11,000 Sq.Ft. of finished space but would not include Land costs, Finance or Soft costs, or furnishings fixtures and equipment for operations. I hope that helps – best of luck with your project!

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