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.


{ 255 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Dalvit June 9, 2017 at 6:06 am

Understood Michael,
Our construction cost information is based on RSMeans data along with past project data on projects that we’ve been involved with. I don’t have any examples of projects that specific to your use or location. I would suggest reaching out to other contractors in the area who have worked on similar projects and see if they will share that information with you. Good luck and if you are in need of a world class A/E design team to help you with the design, please let us know. Thanks!

Michael Tomczak June 9, 2017 at 5:49 am

thanks, but I am trying to find some reference material on recently completed Casinos in the general vacinity of this property. I have costs per Sq Ft for the contractor and need 2 comparibles

Dean Dalvit June 9, 2017 at 4:44 am

I’m certain we can help. In rough numbers, you should be able to use $200/sq.ft. as a starting point for an average across all product types. Then adjust up or down based on factors such as level of finish, complexity, etc.. if you can send us your plans to, we’d be happy to review them and give you a more refined estimate of construction cost. If you don’t have plans yet, we’d be happy to work with you on developing everything from initial concepts to full permit drawings that are designed to meet your budget. Just let us know how we can help. Thanks!

Michael Tomczak June 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Doing a plan and cost review of a Casino expansion in Gulfport Mississippi. I am having trouble digging up cost breakdowns for this type of facility. Any suggestions of where I would start my search?

Dean Dalvit May 17, 2017 at 4:46 am

While I have not written an article about construction costs for this project type, we do have experience with this product and your range of $100-$110 per square foot for the Chicago area should be reasonably accurate for a starting point in your pro forma. The cost is more or less depending on the location in the country, and the Chicago area tends to run a bit higher than the median. Best of luck with your project and if you need any architectural or engineering resources, please let us know. Thanks!

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