Price Per Square Foot Construction Cost for Multi Story Office Buildings

by Dean Dalvit on July 14, 2011

Time again to look at the current construction market activity and analyze construction costs per square foot for various types of office buildings. How much does it cost to build an office building? Below is some data from RSMeans construction cost data that we keep a close eye on in order to estimate construction costs for all of our office building projects. This data is sorted by region from the most expensive to the least expensive.

price per square foot construction cost for two to four story office building

For the most common office building size, two to four stories tall, the range is from just over $130 per square foot in Winston-Salem to over $230 per square foot in New York. The spread here is largely due to the local cost of labor and regulations that allow various construction types that are allowed in low rise construction. For example, in some cases where wood frame construction is still allowed, depending on location and occupancy, this would help to keep costs lower. In areas that are restricted to non-flammable construction, price per square foot will go up.

By taking advantage of savings provided by vertical construction, you will see approximately a 4% savings in cost per square foot by increasing the stories to between five and ten stories. While one might expect a larger savings for that economy of scale, several new requirements come with the mid-rise building that are often not dealt with on the low rise buildings. For example, elevator shafts and service corridors get more complicated as well as HVAC systems.

Price per square foot construction cost for five to ten story office building

The geographic spread in cost per square foot is identical to the low-rise data. This is still principally driven by local factors such as labor costs and local regulatory requirements.

Finally, the high rise buildings see the most economic cost per square foot. For buildings between eleven and twenty stories tall, there is approximately an 11% savings over the mid rise buildings and 15% over low rise. this is largely due to the fact that similar elevator, HVAC and service equipment requirements are required for mid and high rise, resulting in more economy of scale for going up.

price per square foot construction cost for eleven to twenty story office building

Again, the geographic spread is still the same, telling us that the cost per square foot is very sensitive to geographic location. Note that over twenty stories starts getting into more unique building characteristics that will drive costs in various ways. For more information on estimating the cost of your office building during the early planning stages, contact any of us here at EVstudio and we can help scope the right size project for your pro forma.


{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Dalvit August 9, 2016 at 10:25 pm


Thank you for your questions. I have not received any updated data rom RSMeans on this particular product study, so yes, adjusting based on a index is highly recommended.
These costs are for the construction of the building alone. Additional costs include land costs, entitlement costs, soft costs, finance costs, site development costs and FF&E costs. I hope that helps!

Benjamin Hagen August 9, 2016 at 8:48 am

I have two question regarding building costs for offices:

1. Is there a more current Graph on building costs (2016) or is it necessary to in index these costs based on the “Turner index”.
2. Are there any additional building costs to add to your numbers?

Thank you in advance.

Dean Dalvit July 12, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Thank you for your question. A more useful link might be another article I wrote on apartment buildings that have more stories:
You will see from the data there that you should expect between $210 and $250 per square foot for what you’re describing, based on a number of factors. The construction cost per square foot steps up when you go beyond low-rise woodframe construction and have to use concrete in order to achieve higher stories. Please let us know if you seek any assistance with the design of your project – we have provided architecture and engineering services on three sizable condominium projects in Canada, and are currently looking at an age targeted independent living project. We would love to speak with you about your project. Thanks!

Tom Vee July 12, 2016 at 8:46 am

I have a question :
How much will cost to build seniors residence in Toronto.
An!18!storey building at approx
- is the cost floor higher floor higher per sq ft and how much?
Thank you in advance for your answer

Dean Dalvit April 18, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Thank you for your question. Going to six stories will require a different construction type, and therefore a step function in cost. The variables, of course, are what type of construction system, and where you are located. The premium for going from wood construction to concrete for example could be as much as $50 per square foot or more above and beyond the costs for wood frame construction. There are so many variables however to consider, and coupled with the fact that a concrete building offers many benefits, it’s important to weigh the options. EVstudio designs wood, steel, concrete and masonry buildings in low and mid-rise projects all over the country. Please tell us a little more about your project and we would love to assist you with the next steps. We can be reached at 303-670-7242. Thanks!

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