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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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

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?

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