Cost per Square Foot of Commercial Construction by Region

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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274 thoughts on “Cost per Square Foot of Commercial Construction by Region”

  1. Hi Mimi, thanks for your question. This data is from 2009, so adjusting for inflation, you would be looking at between $160 and $200 per square foot to build that product mix, depending on level of finish and a number of other factors. So that would result in a new construction cost of between $576,000 and $720,000 for typical level of construction and finish. I hope that helps!

  2. I’m insuring a one story building that is 2500 sq ft retail clothing and 1100 sq ft apartment in the back. The retail store and apartment have a common wall. The building is located near downtown Los Angeles. Can you give me the cost per square foot to rebuild? Thank you.

  3. Hi Bethany,
    Thanks for your question. There is actually a post I’ve written specifically about construction cost for k-12 educational facilities that may be helpful. You can view that article here:
    That post was written a while ago (2013), so you can anticipate that construction costs have risen anywhere from 10%-20% depending on construction type and location. Another article that I’ve written about for higher education classrooms can be found here: You can navigate the additional links at the bottom of those posts to find additional articles on college laboratories, student unions and other project types.
    I hope that is helpful!

  4. Hi Dean,

    I was wondering if you could give me an idea of cost to build an education center in Toledo, Ohio. The facility would be similar to a library or museum in style. I’m currently putting together a business plan and looking at cost analysis. I appreciate your time.


  5. Vas,
    Thank you for your question – it is a very good one. We are often asked how to adapt historical data to current budget expectations. The easiest method is to calculate cost increases based on an index. Many construction cost indexes are available on the Internet, and often they come in the form of a chart which simply shows what Today’s cost would be if the historical cost of some previous year was one dollar. In that example, you would simply multiply today’s indexed cost to the cost per square footage of that previous year. The other way to calculate it is to compute the rate of inflation expanded over the number of years from that historical data. For the US, the average rate of inflation generally hovers around 3%. So if construction cost per square foot in 2009 was $100 per square foot, then for 2017, we would take $100 X 1.03 ^ 8. This results in a 26.7% increase, or a construction cost of $126.68. Note that local economies can have a significant impact on that average rate of inflation (as they also do with construction costs in general). In very hot markets, the rate of inflation could run up much higher over an extended period of time. In the long run, up and down markets take that average back down to a moderate number, however we have seen a strong recovery since 2012, and some markets are posting double digit percentage increases in construction cost per year for a few years running. This data should be readily available for most markets, and you would simply take that percentage per year and calculate the projected cost per square foot as shown above. I hope that helps and thank you for your question.

  6. Hello,
    Cost per SFT of commercial building on the website is 2009 cost. How much has gone up in major cities since 2009? Is 20-25% more in 2017 is a safe assumption?

  7. Mahdi, thank you for your question. Industrial buildings in Austin Texas typically run between $100 and $120 a square foot depending on site considerations, construction type and building program including level of finish. EVstudio does have an office in Austin and a great deal of expertise with these types of buildings. We would be happy to speak with you further about your project and help you take the next steps with architecture and engineering design. Please let me know if you have made a selection on your design team and if not, we would love to set up a meeting and go from there. Please email us at or call us at 303-670-7242. Thank you

  8. Mahdi Al Sallami

    I’m starting a feasibility study to build a 5000 sf industrial hall in Austin – Texas. Could you please give me a rough estimated cost ?


  9. Mahdi Al Sallami

    I want to know the expected cost of a covered building for industrial use in Austin – TX .

  10. Hi AJ,
    Thanks for your questions. We provide A/E design for projects all over the country and even a few internationally as well, so Ft Lauderdale is well within our area of service. To answer your questions, we should start at another article I’ve written that is specifically about mid rise office building costs per square foot:
    As you can see, the data suggests a turnkey cost of approximately $160/sq.ft. However, bear in mind that this article was written in 2012, so escalating that by the indexed growth will add nearly 20% and take you to a turnkey average cost of $192/sq.ft.. and given that’s an average, I’d say an acceptable range would be $185-$200/sq.ft.. Now, the core and shell of the building will represent approximately $120-$150 of that cost and the tenant finish will be in the neighborhood of $50-$80/sq.ft. Depending on a great many factors. Building efficiency and the amount of common area and amenities you have to finish as part of the core and shell as well as the level of finish for both the lobby areas as well as the tenant spaces for example will drive these numbers. Highly amenitized class AA and AAA buildings for example can easily run well above these averages. I hope this helps. If you would like to discuss further and program your project so you can get a better sense of scope and costs based on your specific project, please let me know and we can set up a time to talk. I can be reached at 303-670-7242 or Thanks!

  11. Hi Dean, I read your email exchange with Brad in Fort Lauderdale. We are also in Fort Lauderdale. Do you have representation here? Similar to Brad’s planning, I am planning to build a mixed use building that will initially build out for my office needs, which by completion (2019) will be 20k sf. When tenants inquire, we would build out with their lease agreements. I understand from your article and various responses that we would be in the range of $150sf for the area that is completed. I am not clear on what the cost would be for the unfinished areas. In a perfect world I will be able to build 6-8 floors at roughly 150ft / 100ft, including one or two levels of under building parking. The immediate question is what it costs for unfinished open footage? thanks so much, AJ

  12. 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!

  13. Michael Tomczak

    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

  14. Michael,
    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!

  15. Michael Tomczak

    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?

  16. Steven,
    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!

  17. Dean,

    I’m working on a cost analysis for a client who wants to build a one-story, 40,000 SF pre-cast concrete panel warehouse/manufacturing plant. It would be located in west suburban Chicago. Not including site work I’m finding the costs to be in the range between $100 and $110 per square foot. I could not find any data on your website regarding this building type. Can you confirm that I am in the right “Ballpark” with this range?

  18. Francisco,
    Thanks for your question. There are two other posts that you may find helpful for your project. One discusses various project characteristics within MultiFamily and Mixed Use and their associated costs: The other is a bit older, but outlines the cost per square foot for multifamily projects by region at the time: Note that data from 2012 must be indexed based on inflation and growth to properly adjust for today’s dollars (approximately 1.15X total over the last 5 years for the US aggregate, but an index should be specific to your location for better accuracy).

    Without knowing certain cost driving characteristics of your project like level of finish, level of complexity, type of construction, issues specific to the site or location, it’s difficult to give you any certainty on an actual budget. However, if you were to plan for the median type of product in your location, I think a range of $180-$220 per square foot with a median of $200 would be a reasonable starting point.

    As for a parking structure, above grade costs can range from $15k-$30k per parking space depending on many factors from construction type, location, design of garage and adjacency to other structures. Going below grade would definitely be towards the higher end of that, and in some cases higher depending on subsurface conditions, water table, etc..

    Your design team should use your pro forma budget requirements to design within the construction cost range you are targeting. Unfortunately, not all designers are well trained to do that. EVstudio does have an affiliate in California and would be happy to discuss how we can help you with the design of your project to meet your design and budget goals. Just let us know how we can help!

  19. Good morning Dean.
    I’m planing to build a 3 story multi use building in San Diego CA, with 4 commercial units on the bottom floor and 6 residential units on the second and 3rd floor with one elevator, for a total of 16 units, totaling 16,000.00 SQ Foot of building area, with a 20 space parking lot, (new construction on a flat land) do you think a $200.00 per square foot will take me there? and if I want to build a basement parking structure what cost I’m I looking at for that additional build? Appreciate your input.
    Thank you

  20. Bill,
    Thanks for reaching out. For a strip mall as you described in the Benson area, I would expect base building construction costs to be in the range of $70-$120 per square foot range. As you outlined, strip retail is typically core and shell build-out with tenants largely handling their own finish out, so this cost range does not include tenant finish costs. Depending on your target tenant profile, many factors of course would apply as the building exterior can be designed to attract a high-end boutique tenant, or an economy tenant, but should be consistent for your brand. We have a great deal of experience with retail strip design and can provide a convenient streamlined one stop shop for all of the Architecture and Engineering required for permitting and construction of your project. If you would like a proposal for design services for this project, please let me know and we can arrange an initial meeting to discuss further. Thanks!

  21. Nick,
    Thanks for reaching out. For single story vanilla shell as you described in the San Diego area, I would expect base building construction costs to be in the range of $100-$140 per square foot – many factors of course would apply. We have a great deal of experience with retail and convenience restaurant design and can provide a convenient streamlined one stop shop for all of the Architecture and Engineering required for permitting and construction of your projects. If you would like a proposal for design services for a specific project, or a master services agreement for multiple projects, please let me know and we can arrange an initial meeting to discuss further. Thanks!

  22. Mariam,
    Thanks for your question. If I understand you correctly, you’re looking for a soft cost estimate for the design and engineering for this project. Without a detailed program, we would start with a ballpark, then refine from there. New construction A/E costs can generally run 5%-7% of estimated construction cost. However, additions can get messy depending on the nature of the existing conditions and depending on the level of renovation/reuse as well as the level of finish and detail, and therefore could be as high as 10%. This would be for Architecture, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Civil Engineering for the complete permit and construction package. We provide all of these disciplines in-house, and have a great depth of experience with banquet halls and entertainment/hospitality design. If you would like a more formal proposal, please let me know and we can arrange an initial meeting to discuss the project further in more detail. Thanks!

  23. Hello ,
    desire to do a Demolition and 33,000 SF Additions to an existing banquet hall in NJ area close proximity with NY including the cost for New HVAC equipment 220Tons total , ducts ,bathroom , kitchen areaet.c. which we have the bid on Can you please give me an idea what is estimated projected planning cost per sq ft be?
    Thank you

  24. Hi Dean,
    Thanks for sharing those graphs and estimates. Very interesting. What’s your take on current building costs for vanilla shell condition buildings ranging 3000 sqft to 6000 sqft in San Diego? Retail/Food or drive through places predominately.
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  25. Good morning
    I am looking to build a retail strip mall around benson nc. So far the outline looks to be an L shaped building holding about 29000 sqft. I have looked at different cost from 60 to 140 dollars a sqft for an open shell building. What is your thoughts on cost.

    Thank you

  26. Hi Eric, thank you for your question. The cost per square foot data in the study does not include any site improvements like parking lot costs or landscaping. These numbers are solely for the building cost itself. In your location, you should expect the building cost to fall within a range of $175-$215 per square foot, depending on a variety of factors related to the specific design characteristics of the building. The site costs will be entirely dependent on your unique lot and what improvements would be necessary. If you are looking for an architecture and engineering design team that has a depth of experience and expertise with office building design, please let me know and we would be happy to work with you on this project. Thanks and best of luck!

  27. Hi,
    I’m in the process of considering to develop a piece of land witha professional building, and I have a few questions. One the cost per square foot for a commercial professional building, does that include parking lot, landscaping, outside, or is it just the structure itself? What would be the average cost per square foot to building a 5700 square foot professional building 40 miles south of chicago (60491) ?

  28. Stan,
    It sounds like an interesting project, while RSMeans does provide line item information for specific construction activities as a for fee service, their generalized index costs per square foot do not easily apply to a renovations, much less a program this specific. Be that as it may, in practice, we have been seeing $30-$60 per square foot on core and shell renovations, depending on a wide variety of considerations. These types of re-use projects typically require all new MEP systems and distribution. The inclusion of restrooms for each tenant space should be considered, and storefront is typically a complete re-do. Not knowing the specifics behind your project, I’d be guessing at some of these items, but that range would be a starting point until you could get more definitive plans put together to have a contractor develop actual line item costs to verify. I hope that helps, and thank you for the reference!

  29. I am working on a conceptual study of the risk involved in purchasing a larger drug store in Columbia, SC that may become vacant in the next 5 years due to mergers occurring between Walgreens and Rite Aide. Out building is a 14,000 SF and we are wondering what a ballpark range would be to professionally partition this building into five-six tenant spaces of about 2,500 to 3,500 SF each. This meaning that the existing walls of the store would still be in place. New retail fronts and door would need to be added. Do not consider any major facade redesign. This is just assuming common or average retail upfit with typical MEP/Flooring/Sheetrock (vanilla shell). Anything more will cause the rent to increase to offset the costs. Any help is greatly appreciated. I will also refer the person I am working with to your services.

  30. Jacky,
    This sounds like a great project as a hobbyist musician, I have a particular interest in music oriented design projects. Typical base level office tenant finish will ordinarily run $40-$60/per square foot. A music studio is definitely a higher level of finish than the base level though, and with the acoustic and technological requirements, and given your location, the $110/sq.ft. doesn’t sound unreasonable. Not having any specific plans to go off of, I can see how a sound studio can easily approach that. I’ve seen luxury office suites run up to three times that based solely on the kinds of finishes chosen. And acoustic treatments are not cheap. I hope that helps – best of luck with your project!

  31. Hi,

    Recently I’m going to open up a music studio in 1750 sq ft retail store in San Jose, I have a bid estimate of the construction which including 10 rooms with metal stud frame, insulations,sheet rock sound proof STC 60, HVAC ductwork,LED light regarding T-24 compliance, drop T-bar ceiling, remodel ADA restroom, 10 new doors, replace store front door, carpet (1330 sq ft) , laminated wood floor(330 sq ft), ADA parking lot & all the plans designs plus city permit submittals. Comes up total around $190,000.00. So it’s about $110/ sq ft. Is it in fair price? I’m new business owner so I don’t have any experience on pricing of the construction, please help~. Thank you and appreciate!

  32. Jeff,
    Based on your contact info, I am assuming you are in Dallas, TX. A more relevant post for you might be this one I wrote specifically for MultiFamily projects:
    With escalations for the past four years applied to the average cost for Dallas, I’d say you’re within the realm of feasibility for a typical level of finish. We do a lot of business in Dallas out of our Texas office, and would be happy to discuss how we can help you further with this project. I will have Jim Salyer, our Director of Texas operations reach out to you separately and we can go from there. Thanks!

  33. We have a 145 x 61 existing slab. We wish to build a two story building, steel, glass, and stucco, for 5 apartments per floor, 10 total, with parking below on the existing slab. These would be upscale apartments, with almost entirely glass on the elevation facing downtown, with balconies. I was budgeting $170\ sqft. Am I in the realm of feasibility please.

  34. Dan,
    Thanks for your questions. Construction cost in urban versus rural environments depends on many factors. Availability of labor and materials often reduces construction cost in urban areas, however site logistics can be much easier in rural areas, lowering costs. So it really depends on the specific locations to assess a good comparison.

    As for construction type, wood construction will certainly be your least cost option. However, use and occupancy will typically dictate the construction type you must use based on the building code. From what you described, a building size that small should be able to be built with wood construction per the code.

    With all of that being said, I would expect a project that you described to fall between $80 and $100 per square foot, depending on site considerations, design complexity and level of finish. Strip retail is typically build out as a core and shell product with the tenants handling some or all of the tenant finish costs. That is of course something that would be negotiated in each of your lease agreements, and should be considered in your overall pro forma. We have completed hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial retail space very similar to this and would be happy to assist you in taking the next steps.

    I will have Jim Salyer, our regional director for Texas office reach out to you separately. We would be happy to discuss this project with you further and can assist you with the architecture and engineering services you would need to secure the permits and build the project.

    Thanks again!

  35. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    I’m looking to build a small strip mall, about 10-12,000 sqft in rural Hopkins County in Northeast Texas. I have a few tenants interested already (a gym, a health food store, a juice bar/healthy food restaurant). I figure I can have at least four decent spaces there.

    The land is outside the city limits, so just in the county, but close enough to likely be annexed by the city so they get their taxes once we build. Utilities are readily available.

    Are the costs for construction usually much cheaper in rural environments versus city? If so, how much is the average or general range? Is there a certain type of construction that is most cost effective (stick vs steel vs concrete)?

    Thank you very much for any advice you can provide!

  36. Henry,
    Thanks for reaching out – we’re happy to help. First, you are correct in that there is definitely an economy of scale when you are building out a complete project as opposed to breaking it up into a core and shell and separate TI piece. With a working budget of $142.50, that does seem on the low end of things. There is a wide range of course on projects like this and the level of finish plays a significant role in the overall costs. I might start a core and shell for the building at $90-$110/sq.ft., then consider the interior finish. that would leave you roughly $40/sq.ft. to finish. This can be done if you’re ok with more of a spartan aesthetic. If your FF&E budget covers the atmosphere you’re looking to achieve, then that may be just fine, though you mentioned that includes your contingency. Which puts you in a risky zone if you’re going in knowing that you’ll be spending your contingency (then it’s not really a contingency – it’s part of your budget). Having just completed the design for the Celtic Tavern in Denver, we do have some very current data that may be applicable. In that case, the owner already had a great deal of the FF&E that created the ambiance and the building itself was really just a shell. In any case, I will have Jim Salyer, our Regional Director in our Austin office reach out to you directly. He can help you hone your scope and numbers so you have the best information going in to the project. We have a depth of experience with restaurants, both ground up as well as TI, so I’m certain we can help you take the next steps. Thanks!

  37. Hello Dean – Writing from Austin Texas – this is a great website and thanks for taking the time educate us less than experienced budding property developers.

    Above I see that you break down the cost of the shell and mechanical from the inside build which brings me to a finished cost of anywhere between $120-$210. I am trying to develop a 4,000 sq ft stand alone restaurant on property my company currently owns in Austin (nice level lot with utilities readily available) and I am trying to nail down build cost estimates. The build would be for a fit and finish inline with a nice Irish pub. My business plan estimate was $125 sq ft for a complete build with $70k in contingency monies for a total sq ft cost of $142.50.

    That being said – are there economies of scale when you develop a building from start to finish and do the build out at the same time? In your opinion, do you think my price per sq ft is low? FYI – We are just talking about the building, HVAC, plumbing fixtures, and electrical. No kitchen equipment or kitchen counters, furniture, or anything else. Closest comparison I can make would be walking into a new house.


    Thanks – Henry

  38. Rukhsana,
    Thank you for your question. We actually have a great deal of experience designing strip malls all over Texas out of our Austin branch office. Typically, these projects build out in two phases. The first phase is what we call a “core and shell”, which is the overall building and site, finished on the outside and with all primary mechanical and electrical systems in place. Then, the second phase would be a “tenant finish “phase where either the building owner or the individual tenant completes the interior finish of the specific tenant space.

    There are many variables that affect construction cost, however for a typical strip mall in Texas, we would expect the core and shell phase to range anywhere between $90 and $120 per square foot. The tenant finish cost is even more difficult to nail down without knowing who the tenant is, and what kind of use it will be (retail, restaurant, etc.). We typically advise clients to plan for between $30 and $60 per square foot for typical tenant finish costs. With an actual user and a complete design program, we can get significantly closer with all of these numbers. Please note that these are building construction costs only and do not include land costs, finance costs, soft costs, site improvement costs, entitlements costs, or FF&E costs.

    I will have our Texas Director of Architecture, Jim Salyer, reach out to you separately. With Jim’s extensive experience and knowledge with strip retail projects, he can provide more information after learning a little bit more about your project. Thanks!

  39. Lance, thanks for reaching out. I have actually written another article that is more specific to multi-family projects over eight stories. While that article is geared more towards for-rent product, it is certainly still applicable. The link to that article can be found here:

    What you will see is that construction in the mid rise sector is quite a bit more expensive than low rise construction. This is because the construction type has to be of a non-combustible structure. For the project you are describing, if it were to be built in a comparable location in the US, it would be over $200 a square foot. You described 2500 square-foot condominium units and only two per floor – this tells me these are likely high-end luxury units. Only having two units per floor also creates a lot of inefficiency in the building that will also drive cost per square foot. As a result, your construction costs could easily reach $250 a square foot or more, again, if built in the US. Please note that these figures are for the construction cost of the finished buildings only and do not include land costs, finance costs, soft costs, FF&E, site development costs, offsite improvements or governmental regulations that would need to be addressed.

    In order to bring that number down, if there is any way to rethink how the units fit into the footprint on the site, you can gain much greater efficiency by putting more units on each floor and have fewer buildings. The other consideration is very specific to Costa Rica. I actually have some experience with a developer that did a number of projects in Costa Rica and there were two major challenges that drove cost. The first was the approvals process that was unnecessarily cumbersome and impacted the schedule for the project. The second was the procurement of concrete and other materials for those projects. Before you get too far into the design, I would highly recommend you secure a negotiated agreement with a contractor that is very experienced in your specific location and that has great connections in the materials and labor markets in your area.

    I hope that helps. If you have any further questions, or if you would like to discuss how we may be able to help you with the design of your project, please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time at 303-670-7242 or We are highly creative when it comes to great design with tight budgets. And we are very experienced with multi family projects as well as working internationally and we would welcome the discussion. Thanks!

  40. Hey Dean-
    Love that you spend the time actually answering questions that others may have whether for general knowledge or for an upcoming project. We recently paid off our land in Costa Rica and interested in building 80 condo units (4 buildings, 10 stories each, 2 units per floor, 2500 square feet per unit) totaling 200,000 square feet. Obviously the construction costs will be somewhat different (higher material costs, lower labor costs, etc) however what would the median construction costs be for this type of project if it was in the US?

  41. What is the average cost of building wooden structured striped mall in and around Harris County, Texas – USA

  42. Thanks for your question Courtney. Unfortunately though, it’s like asking “How long is a piece of string?”. There’s no way to answer it without more information. Like the size, plumbing fixture count, level of finish, etc.. And even with all of that, the RSMeans cost data that we’re working from here in this post doesn’t get into that level of detail. However, that level of detail is available (for a fee) from RSMeans if you would like to seek out the industry expectations for any specific project- be advised though that you would need to build it up from individual trade line items, the very same way a contractor would. Best of luck with your project!

  43. Trying to figure out a commercial bathroom remodel in Houston. What do you think the contractor should come in at per sq. ft. Thanks

  44. Edrian,
    I don’t have data outside the US, however, if I were to build a two story office building in a similar location in the US, I would use $150-$180 USD per square foot. This depends on a great many factors, but for your purposes, should be a good starting point. You will have to convert both currency and area units to get a figure you can likely work with. Best of luck on your project!

  45. Hey Dean,
    If you would ask where we are located, we are situated in the Philippines. 🙂 Thanks agaaaaaain

  46. Hey Dean!

    Me and my schoolmates are tasked to make a business plan. Our project is a potential electrical company which is tasked for distribution purposes. I would like to ask how much will we be our possible cost if we will put up a two story building which occupies 1000 square meters. Probably, cement will be the major component of our building. I really hope you can reply since I am not an expert on this kind of stuffs. Thanks!

  47. Sunitha,
    For typical tenant finish space, we typically use anywhere from $30-$60 a square foot depending on the level of finish that you’re looking for provided the existing space already has mechanical, plumbing and electrical service that simply needs to be re-distributed, and there are no changes to the structural or exterior core and shell the building.

    However, there is an important thing to note here because you are describing classroom space, which could be a change of use for the existing building. If you change the use from retail to assembly space, you may also have to provide upgrades to the existing building for fire separation walls to adjacent spaces, sprinklers, exiting, accessibility upgrades, and upgrades to mechanical systems. You might even have to add additional parking on site, depending on the zoning the building is in.

    So it really depends on the nature of the building if this change of use would create additional costs above typical tenant finish costs or not. For older buildings, this can create the real problem as they were not originally designed to code as a change in use requires upgrades across the board to the current codes (in other words, no grandfathering of existing conditions).

    Because of this, I highly advise you to have a licensed Architect look at the existing space with you so they can tell you what you would have to plan for and if the space is appropriate for what you were looking to do without major costly alterations to the existing building. A few hours of someone’s time is well worth the potential of making a mistake that could cost you literally tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more than you need to.

    I hope that helps. Best of luck with your project!

  48. Hi
    I am looking for cost estimates in seattle area converting a retail space used currently as storage into 4 classroom, a small kitchen and bathrooms (2 and 2 for boys and girls with 2-3 sinks) . The total sqft space is 4400. How much would it cost approximately?

  49. Pingback: Cost Per Square Foot Bathroom Renovation | find decorating ideas

  50. Greg,
    Your assumptions are correct – these costs are strictly building costs and do not include site development costs or site work. Those would be on a separate ledger for your pro forma. Similarly, these costs also don’t include land costs, finance costs, Soft costs or FF&E. I hope that helps!

  51. Jim,
    We do have loads of information on retail costs as that is a core market that we serve in our A/E business. Can you be more specific about what you’re looking for – specific location, particular retail submarket/product type? Happy to help.

  52. Good morning Dean,
    I am starting a cost analysis for a project located in the Washington D.C. Metro area. The project is a base building with three individual units. One unit has the interest of a major coffee shop company and it will require a drive through window. I used the 2009 chart and added a 3% yearly multiplier. The base line comes to $172.30 per sq. ft.. I believe this is a good starting point however my question to you is, does the chart take in account of the site work, landscaping, exterior pole lighting, parking lot, etc.? Or is it just the cost of the building? I am assuming that all of the site work listed above would require additional costs. What are your thoughts?
    Thank you very much,

  53. Hello
    Do you have any data for buildng out in line retail locations compared to high street locations in the major markets in the US approximately 5,000 sq feet.

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  55. Rudy,
    Excellent question! Construction costs vary every year, so no, it would not be appropriate to apply 2009 figures to anything beyond 2009. However, it’s very simple to adjust for any given year up to the present year by using a construction cost index. This is essentially a simple multiplier that you apply to the numbers in the chart based on the difference between the adjusted index for 2009 and this year. See the following link for the RSMeans Construction Cost Index numbers for every year dating back to the ’60’s as well as instructions on how to use it:
    Best of luck!

  56. Dean,

    Thank you so much for this informative article. I noticed this was written in 2009. Would these figures hold true for 2016?

  57. Foad, thanks for your question. That will definitely depend on the particular city you are in. Our experience is that utilities themselves are most cost effective to connect (dry utilities) and/or tap (wet utilities) in the urban core of a city because the infrastructure is built for that and fees are most advantageous for most major cities because of the economy of scale and a City’s desire to attract development. Out on the edge, certain infrastructure may or may not be as readily available, and if you are outside certain districts, tap fees typically rise the further out of the urban core you get. These are not hard and fast rules though. Every city is unique and each would need to be analyzed based on its specific infrastructure conditions and available utility providers.

  58. is the cost of construction inside the city utility zone more, less, or the same for a property on the edge of the city limit

  59. Pingback: Commercial Real Estate Construction Cost Per Square Foot | Real Estate License Index

  60. Thanks Robert for your information – we always welcome the input and experience of others in the industry.

  61. Robert Raymond

    This is such a refreshing site to see! No one is asking for a trial period or fees of any kind…just input and feedback! I am a commercial real estate broker with decades of experience and several hundred thousand square feet of re-development in the greater north east. At this time, depending on the market, the fit-up costs…ie.. the cost of refurbishing an existing space(vanilla box) is running about $50-$60 s/f. So for example, a 2000s/f former tenanted space that has existing HVAC, electricity, and bathroom(s) will cost about $100-$120K to re-purpose. That is contingent on a number of issues such as if the existing vacant space space(say an old big box of 20,000s/f) is being sub-divided(now you need to break up the utilities) and must install demising fire-proof walls that may also require new ingress/egress doors, ADA compliancy as well as fire safety and a host of other 21st century codes all of which will double those figures. For new developments the issues are sometimes more onerous but less costly and therefore the costs can be better controlled. Get back to me if you would like to know more.

  62. Gary,
    Thank you for your question. The data that we published here is available only for cities in the United States. The provider of the information, RS Means, very well may offer construction cost data for Mexico. I would suggest going to and contacting someone there who may be able to help you. Domestically, Walmart type projects run between $100 and $130 per square foot, depending on location and details specific to each store. Whether Mexico City would be higher or lower than that range is beyond my expertise. I would suspect that the cost of labor may be lower, but the cost of materials and entitlements could offset that. Best of luck with your project!

  63. Sirs,
    I am an MBA student with the University of Maryland overseas campus at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Our class team is tasked with writing a project plan for design and construction of a Walmart type commercial store in Mexico City. We’ve searched all over for data concerning design and construction costs to no avail.
    This doesn’t have to be fine science but we need to get close to a reasonable estimate of the project.
    Would you be kind enough to point us in the right direction to obtain this information?
    Thank you in advance for your assistance.
    Gary C. LaGassey (

  64. Tad,
    A more complete analysis of construction costs per square foot for apartments can be found here: and here: for various sizes of buildings. Note however that the RSMeans study is limited to locations in the continental US. However, in general, Honolulu costs generally rank similar to New York and San Francisco costs, so I would plan for the high 200’s per square foot as a starting point. EVstudio has a depth of expertise in multifamily design and we also have an affiliate in Honolulu. We would be happy to discuss your project with you and provide you with Architecture services for your project. Just let us know and we can arrange a meeting. Thanks!

  65. Winston,
    The RSMeans data is for new construction, so it isn’t readily applicable to renovation projects. However, EVstudio has extensive experience in commercial renovations and can provide a conceptual starting point for establishing a budget that would then need to be validated by design development and iterative pricing. There are a great many factors that can influence the costs of a renovation project, but if you are taking it to the core and shell, and replacing MEP systems, a median level of interior finish would likely land you in a cost range of $80-$130 per square foot. The trick is that you are working with a small square footage, so that will be highly price sensitive to large line item costs, like bringing in 3-phase. Intended use and level of finish are also highly influential to the cost, and without a schematic design and demo plan, can only be conservatively forecast. I’m assuming a professional class A level of office finish, but there can be substantial savings if the resulting space is a lower level of finish.

  66. wanting to remodel an existing 3,500 sq ft brick office building in St Louis area. total inside gut with new ac/heat and taking 1 bath (small) and making 2 ada accessible bath rooms. it has a 200 am service panel now, would need to rewire as the build out goes, and add 3 phase which we have the bid on. Can you advise what our estimated projected planning cost per sq ft be?

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  68. Eugene,
    Thanks for your question. There are a wide number of variables that would need to be considered, mostly pertaining to the level of the existing conditions, how much renovation is required of the systems (Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical), and the level of finish of the final product. Generally, we would estimate up to $40-$60 per square foot for tenant finishes in an existing building, provided the existing core and shell does not require any additional work. And if finished bathrooms and other amenities are already provided, that TI budget could come down substantially. We have an office in Texas and I will have our Regional Director reach out to you. He can help you zero in on your budget, and hopefully we can also work with you for the Architecture and Engineering work for the permitting and construction. We have a depth of experience with day care facilities and would love to learn more about your project. Thanks!

  69. hello sir, I’m trying to build a day care in side a shell of a building thats 4000sq ft. just checking to see what the square footage should cost in houston tx.

  70. Amanda,
    What exactly is your question? I’d need considerably more information in order to provide an informed response on cost. Though you mentioned apartments, perhaps this link on multifamily construction cost that I wrote a while back may help:
    Take what you see there and add about 5% for escalation since 2012 and that would be a good index starting point. Best of luck with your project and if you need Architecture or Engineering for your project, we would be happy to discuss. We have a team of multifamily experts that have completed award winning projects all over the US and Canada. Thanks!

  71. Hi…I have 2 commercial lots in NJ.

    Both over 100K Sq. Feet; 116k on one and 114 on another. both are apartments, tricky lots. one wants walks done and that’s 20K Square Feet. Again, this is in NJ. Please plz reply with thuoghts…bid is due monday..


  72. Michael,
    For a stand-alone restaurant in your location, I would plan for a range of $180-$210 per square foot. Many factors can influence that, not the least of which is the level of finish you anticipate building. These numbers also do not include F F & E, so you will need to run a separate budget for furnishings trade fixtures and specialty equipment for your operation. The numbers for that are as varied as there are variations in the restaurant industry. We have a team of designers that are steeped in restaurant design, so please let us know how we can help you with the design and permitting of your project. Thanks!

  73. How are you sir? I want build about 5000 sq feet restaurant at west Des Moines Iowa. How much per sq feet. Thanks.