Price Per Square Foot Construction Cost for Multi Story Office Buildings

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.


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69 thoughts on “Price Per Square Foot Construction Cost for Multi Story Office Buildings”

  1. Hanabi,
    Thanks for your question. I don’t have any data specific to a vertical farming tower as that is an unusual building type for RSMeans and I don’t believe there’s much precedent for historical cost information. But assuming it would be like a core and shell concrete tower similar to other tower structures, and simply unfinished similar to a warehouse type use, then I’d say you would be looking at $120-$180/square foot. Depending of course on a great number of factors. I hope that helps.

  2. We are looking to plan the construction of a vertical farming tower in LA with >10 floors of roughly 18,000 square feet each and would like to have an estimate of the cost to construct the building itself.

  3. BteVelde,
    Thanks for your question – It sounds like you have a great project. I wasn’t clear if you were referring to a 7500 square-foot building footprint or a total enclosed area of 7500 ft.². In any case, a two-story building in your location with the level of finish that would be typical of professional office environment would run you, in today’s dollars, between $200 a square foot and $230 a square foot. These numbers would not include any special power generation or any other specialties that would be unique to the project. These numbers also do not include land costs, finance costs, soft costs or any FF&E (things like classroom desks, furnishings, equipment specific to the business, artwork on the walls – that sort of thing). You likely will need to consider some specialty acoustic treatments for this type of use. These numbers are based on the RSMeans cost data indexed and escalated for cost increases over the past six years. Bear in mind however that every project is unique and different, so while their numbers provide a great starting point for a preliminary budget, that budget would need to be refined after a proper programming session, conceptual design, schematic design, and every step along the way through the development of Construction Documents so the contractor can validate actual costs as you proceed through the design process. I hope that helps you take the next steps on your project. Please let us know if there is any thing we can assist you with.

  4. We are a conservatory of music, and want to build a 7500sq ft 2 story teaching facility with 24 8×10 teaching rooms, 2 100 person capacity performance suites, and waiting rooms, 6 executive offices, and reception area. We would like to do open parking under the building. We are in San Luis Obispo county in California. How would we get a rough idea of cost per square foot? We want a Pvt solar roof and Tesla commercial battery, so that power will be off the grid. That cost would be added to the total per square foot costs, but I don’t know if that will add any cost to the basic infrastructure of the building?. Do you have any ideas on where we would start with a realistic budget? Thank you so much for this blog. It is very helpful for people like me who really have no idea about construction costs. We want to do a crowd funding campaign, but I have no idea how much money we will need.

  5. Anil,
    Thanks for your question, I’m happy to help. First though, I’d need to know where your project is located. Construction costs vary substantially across different regions, so that’s an important component in the cost estimate. I’d also need to know the level of finish you are looking for – is this a high end boutique building with luxury condos or is this an economy product for lease to budget minded renters? With a little additional information, I can give you a conceptual range to begin with for your construction budget. Thanks!

  6. have a lot with 5000 sq feet floor plate with basment
    four apartment on each floor 2nd to 4th ( 15000 sq feet) 2 bhk with two wash room n a gallery
    1st is 4 commercial ( 5000 sq feet)
    and one basment ( 5000)

    what would be cost of construction with a wooden framed structure

  7. Kejuan,
    There’s not nearly enough information in your request to be able to provide you any useful information. Please let me know the project location, square footage of building, actual number of stories, unit mix and level of finish. If you need assistance with determining these parameters for your project, we can help. Call us at 303-670-7242 or email Thanks.


    Surveyor just done the property. I am Just about to hired an architect the property is 33.33’witdth foot and lenght 82.46′
    I would like to build four of five stories concrete with a few set backs
    How much am I’m looking to borrow. Ball park

  9. George,
    I don’t quite follow your comment. Please try calling us and we can discuss over the phone. 303–670–7242. Please select whichever extension seems most appropriate for what you were looking for (Architecture or any of the Engineering disciplines that we offer). Thanks!

  10. Benjamin,

    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!

  11. 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.

  12. Tom,
    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!

  13. 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

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  15. Mitesh,
    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!

  16. We have built hotels in the past but have never built higher than 4 story to keep our construction cost lower with wood framing; however we have a piece of property we would like to develop and are thinking to go up 5 or 6 floors; how much extra cost do you think it is to go with a 6 story building versus a 4 story building?

  17. Joe,
    Thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately, RSMeans data doesn’t tell us anything about the occupant load in the buildings it derives its data from. In fact, it doesn’t even tell us the square footage of the buildings – only the price per square foot. So it’s anybody’s guess as to if these buildings are densely populated or not. It would be a great study, but no doubt a considerable undertaking to extract the kind of data you are looking for. If you do happen to come across that kind of information, we hope you swing back by the blog and post it for our readership. Thanks!

  18. Dean,

    Thanks so much for the support you bring to us out in cyber space! I’m an integrator that specializes in Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (high bandwidth fiber optics) deployment in commercial buildings. GPON is becoming a pretty critical things today to future proof our buildings. After over 8 years dealing with GPON I have been able to developed some fairly sophisticated models related to the basic building specs I deal with. I would like to further fine tune them by being able to go the other way around and predict size and cost of the building based on the number of people targeted to populate it. I have plenty of cost per square footage data, yet I would like to have some more clarity with respect to square footage per person as well as what additional percent of the total square footage used to accommodate the people, can be used to estimate the size of the general areas. A low, mid and high estimate of square footage per person would be awesome.
    Thanks so much for any information you can provide in this respect and please take care!….Joe

  19. Lee,

    While that cost will depend largely on what you are planning to do inside the building, it’s also an unusually tall metal building, so there’s no doubt a steep premium on the construction cost that wouldn’t be reflected in typical construction cost index data for buildings of this type. Assuming you are just asking about core and shell space that could be used for a warehouse, and only a single slab-on-grade floor (with a 99′ ceiling), you would probably be looking at between $200 and $300 per square foot – possibly more. This would really be a specialty building – I’m curious as to what the use is. I highly recommend you speak with a metal building manufacturer to validate the steel package. Then you could line item estimate the other components so you could aggregate the net costs.

    If you are in need of an A/E team with expertise in metal buildings and all of the structural and MEP engineering that will be necessary, please let us know and we would be happy to discuss how we can get you a building designed and permitted within your budget. Thanks!

  20. All,
    What would be the cost model used for a building used in manufacturing that is 90’X95’X100′. Masonry the lower 15′ and “Butler-Style” remaining 85′. Including HVAC. Atlanta, Ga. area.

  21. John,
    It looks like you have a very detailed program. The RSMeans data doesn’t speak well to renovation projects, but we have decades of experience with exactly the kind of project you are describing. We will have Don Eckols, our Regional Director of Architecture in charge of our Texas studio, reach out to you directly and follow up. Thanks!

  22. could you tell me the cost per square to remodel a two story commercial building in down town Houston the first floor has about12 interior walls to be taken out no load bearing walls though it is 9000 square foot approximately half of the area is going to contain 12 small offices 10 small cubicles 2 small storage rooms and 3 small meeting rooms and one 587 square foot open room and off of it a 230 square foot room the middle is going to be open basically . there is a 100 foot wall to create a hallway between the offices running 100 feet long . the 2 nd story is 6100 square feet there is 6 areas 25 feet x 30 feet of the light weight cement cut out that has to be re-poured . the 2 nd story is going to have 15 foot x 10 foot x 10 high chain link storage spaces .there is no demo to be done on the 2 nd floor . new A.C. and H eating on both floors a dual electrical service a main disconnect with sub-panels and new wiring and plumbing through out both floors . thank you

  23. Julie,
    Thank you for your question. There is actually another post that I wrote which outlines construction costs for residential housing. You can find that by following the link here:

    In that post, you will find that the construction cost per square foot for housing in your region is approximately $200 per square foot. So your project cost for the construction of the building would be approximately $800,000. This would not include any of your site demolition, site development, land, finance or soft costs. It is also based on an index pricing of median construction costs, so depending on your level of finish it can vary above or below that benchmark.

    EVstudio has a team of experts in multi family and condominium housing, so if you would like to discuss architecture and engineering services for your project, we would love to speak with you. Thanks and best of luck with your project!

  24. Hi there about how much would it be to build 3 condos in Evanston Il? 1500sqft residential unit 1. 1500sq ft residential unit 2 above. And a 1000sq ft sunken storefront (basement) commercial condo? There would be a teardown of an existing 1 floor structure. Thanks!

  25. Hi Alex, thanks for your inquiry – happy to help if I can. Based on your description, with two story masonry in Ft. Lauderdale, I would start with a conceptual budget range of $150-$175 per square foot. Realistically, it should come in on the lower end of that, if not even lower, due to the fact that your lower level is primarily unfinished and is really under-building parking. However, I may be making assumptions there on the purpose of that parking and the level of finish, so I err on the conservative side for the purposes of a conceptual budget. So, a rough ballpark based on around $150 would be around $2.5M. We do a lot of office/retail work across the country, and are NCEES and NCARB certified, so we would be happy to speak with you more about working with you as your Architecture and Engineering team for your project. Just let us know if you are at that point in the development process, and we can plan for some time to discuss further. Thanks Alex and best of luck on your next steps!

  26. Hello Dean,
    Thank you for all the usefull information and advice you provide.
    I am looking for a square foot cost for budgeting purposes of a two story retail building with parking at first floor and showroom space at second floor. Approximately 8,200 square feet of showroom space at second floor with a 125′ x 65′ footprint and about 20 parking spaces on first floor. Typical masonry construction. Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  27. Frank,
    Thanks for reaching out. You mentioned an 8-plex, which sounds like residential units? or would these be office condos? In either scenario, for your location, I would expect construction cost per square foot in the range of $110-$150 depending on the use/occupancy you are looking for. For a low cost project as you described, I would expect towards the lower end of that range. EVstudio has design experts in both multifamily as well as office and retail, and we have an office in Texas that serves the region. We would love to speak with you more about your project and see how we can assist you in developing the design and construction documents for a project that meets or exceeds all of your financial objectives. Please let us know if you are interested in a free initial consultation and we can have our Regional Director in Texas, Don Eckols, reach out to you. Thanks!

  28. I am considering building a two story eight plex in edinburg texas plans are to keep it as a low cost project could you tell me what you think the sq ft price will be for const only

  29. Jessica,
    Based on your scope description and location, I would say being in the ballpark of the $50-$70 per square foot would be a very reasonable starting point. That scope runs a little lower in other parts of the country, and substantially higher in downtown core highly dense urban areas. I hope that helps!

  30. Thanks for your reply! Yes, I figured it wasn’t as easy w/ renovations. At this time, just looking for some market data on average costs. From research I’ve done, I’m finding prices vary depending on region but I found data from Chicago & New York saying ( $ / ft² Gross internal floor area ) for Chicago: $50-$70/sf; New York: $75-$110/sf for a “minor” renovation. Does that seem on par with what your team is finding for renovations of an office building in Boston area (Burlington, MA)?

    Scope of renovations to include:
    New paint & carpeting
    Installing new/reused workstations in a reorganized floor plan
    Relocation of a network room
    Renovation / upgrade of bathrooms
    Renovation/possible relocation of kitchen/conference rooms
    Updating filing areas & possible relocation of copy rooms
    and Adding new collaboration work areas
    Thanks for any feedback.

  31. Jessica,
    The data doesn’t easily translate to renovations as there are so many variables in a renovation that make every project totally unique. From systems to finishes, a renovation can be as extreme as rebuilding a building from the inside out, to simply putting in new carpet and paint…and everything in between. If you could let us know more about the renovation, the proposed use/occupancy, the existing conditions of the building, the desired level of finish, and the location of the project, we can provide some ballpark conceptual numbers. Also, if you are in need of a fully integrated architecture and engineering design team, let us know – we’d be happy to help!

  32. Hello, I’m wondering if you have any data on average costs / SF to renovate an existing office building (our project is ~25,000 sf, 2 stories). All the data here seems to be for new construction. Any additional data you can provide for renovation / commercial interiors projects would be helpful!

  33. Hi Jonathan,

    Thank you for your inquiry. As a conceptual budget parameter before having a schematic design of any kind, you would want to budget anywhere between $150 – $180 a square foot for construction costs of the building in your location. Obviously, that number would be tightened up substantially once a full program and schematic design could be developed for the site.

    I have written another post related to construction costs for Multi family projects that would be very relevant to what you are looking to do:

    Condominiums and apartments are very similar in nature and program. Also, the mixed use nature of your program is very consistent with this project type and is typically built into those numbers. The bigger questions lie in the level of finish you are looking to provide in the condominiums – are these boutique luxury units or economic affordable units? Also, does the tenant finish for the commercial/restaurant space need to be considered, or are you planning on a core and shell to be finished by the tenants?

    This is exactly the type of project in which we have a depth of experience and a studio of experts, and we would love to speak with you about how we can work with you on the architecture and engineering. Please let me know if you are looking for a design team and we can plan for some time to discuss further. Thanks!

  34. Hi Dean,

    I recently purchased a mixed use building in Central, Iowa. The building is 2 stories with the first story leased out to 5 commercial tenants. The 2nd story contains 11 residential units. Along with the purchase I have a 14,000sq ft lot just to the west of building that already has all the concrete work done.

    I am exploring the option to put another mixed use restaurant and condos. I plan on building a 5000sqft restaurant and roughly 10 condos ranging around 1200sq ft. I would anticipate selling the condos to get some of my investment back. Also, the city is willing to kick in a generous amount to get the project started.

    What kind of costs should I estimate for such a project? (considering I already own the land)




  35. Simon,
    You’re most welcome – it’s my pleasure to help! In general, pre-fabrication is going to be a more economical approach, but bear in mind that it comes at a different kind of cost. In order to pre-fabricate, the building must be very simple in form. Little to no articulation in massing and floorplan, yielding a very boxy structure. This works well for certain uses, like warehouses, or single use occupancies like a temporary classroom building or a community hall for example. What this means is that it has the potential to compromise your ideal program and force you into a geometry that may not be ideally suited to your uses. Sometimes this causes more space than necessary, or an arrangement of spaces that can be compromised (square peg in round hole so to speak). Additionally, the final outcome may be a building that is not as aesthetically appealing as a custom design can provide. This could result in suppressed real estate values in the long term (that really depends on the area you are in). So be sure to weigh those factors, because a more economical building in cost per square foot may result in hidden intangible costs 9or reductions in overall value) in the bigger picture. In either scenario, your initial budget of $125/ft. may be a reasonable starting point for your location and end use. It’s lower than the chart shows for your general area, but you can get away with much less for classroom spaces than for a finished class ‘A’ office space. Best of luck and if you are in need of an A/E design team that has a high level of expertise in educational spaces as well as music spaces, we’d love to talk to you more about your project. Thanks!

  36. Firstly, thanks for providing such informative responses to many people you may never even work with…I am setting up a 2 story (1k sq ft per floor) music school/rehearsal space in Fort Lauderdale FL. Our GC is a close friend and will work below normal cost for us. We are hoping to keep the finished build at $125/ft. My question is are we better to go with a pre fab construction or modular and then build out the HVAC and interior etc or is it more economical to go wood frame or concrete on our own from ground up?

  37. Senthilkumar,
    I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you seeking the relative decrease in costs as a building gets taller? I’m not sure there is consistent data to establish a rule like that. Outside of the obvious economy of scale, there are just too many variables to consider that would render a % rule of thumb inaccurate. It would only be meaningful to discuss this in the context of a specific building in a specific location. Let me know if you have a specific project you’re referencing and we can discuss further. Thanks!

  38. Normally(Not every time) the Tall building elemental cost will increase floor vies. so, could you tell me the ratio.
    example: assume 50 storey building each 5 or 10 floors increasing the some percentage of elemental cost so want know the percentage…?

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  40. Michael,
    Thanks for your inquiry. Based on the limited information you provided, we can only go with really general indexed unit pricing. With that, I’d say plan for approximately $150/sq.ft. for the finished office space, $40 for the structured parking and $80 for the open warehouse space. So your project woul fall in the neighborhood of $14M-$15M. Plus or minus maybe 20% based on a wide variety of factors. This is a project type that EVstudio has a great deal of expertise in and we’d be happy to discuss this project further with you if you would like. Just let me know how we can help you take the next steps. Thanks!

  41. Hi Dean
    Please give me an estimate for construction cost per square Ft for an four story 50,000 Sq ft office building ,four story parking garage 60,000 Sq Ft warehouse facilities in Hollywood Florida.
    This is Free Trade Zone project.

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  43. Travis,

    Thank you for your inquiry. We have actually worked on a similar program for a baptist congregation in Denver, and we also have two mixed use projects for the Christian House of Prayer currently under construction in central Texas, so we’re very familiar with the project type.

    Assuming that rework and remodel scope to the existing space is minimal, you should be able to safely budget between $160 and $180 per square foot as a starting point. So, for a 24,000 sq.ft. Steel two story addition with a brick exterior and reasonably nice finishes on par with a church facility, you would be looking at between $3.8M and $4.3M. This would be complete and turn-key with the exception of furnishings. Be aware, however, that an addition of that size will affect the site and increase the occupant load of the existing building. The result may be additional parking requirements, augmenting the restroom facilities, looking at egress (halls, elevators, sprinkling) and a host of other requirements from your jurisdiction.

    We have experience with this project type, and would be happy to discuss your program with you. We can provide everything from schematic designs to permit ready construction documents with all of the required engineering for religious facilities throughout the country. Once the site and program can be worked out at a conceptual level, budget estimations can get considerably more accurate.

    Let me know if you would like to discuss your project further and we would be happy to help. Thanks!


  44. We are in the preliminary stages of submitting costs to obtain a grant to build a daycare/religious education center for our church. What do you think the average SF cost would for for our building?

    12,000 SF per floor (2 story)
    Structural steel frame
    Brick exterior to match church and surrounding area
    Classrooms/daycare on first floor
    Large open reception hall and kitchen on second floor

    This project is located in SE Indiana near Cincinnati. Any help would be appreciated.


  45. RE,

    This sounds like an aggressive project, and I would highly encourage you to work with a development consultant. I will e-mail you separately with the group that we work with and hopefully they can assist you on your budget breakdowns. We would be very interested in speaking with you about your architectural and engineering needs for the project.


  46. Dean:

    Great responses and information you have provided. I need your assistance in laying out a construction development budget.
    I have an estimate total budget cost of around 400 million but need to break down the specifics for the investors. I have researched budget templates online but don’t know which one is the best to utilize. The development is a multi-use development. I look forward to receiving your feedback.



  47. Dante,

    Unfortunately, neither I nor RSMeans (the source of my data) have any information on operating costs for buildings. This would obviously be highly variable anyway given the management, design of the building (netzero, etc.) and intended use of the facility. That would best be handled by breaking down a line item pro forma for all of your operating costs and would be very specific to your project.

    During design, we typically have many discussions about these very issues and make design decisions based on a life-cycle cost, which includes operating costs, as opposed to an initial cost. The result is that most of this information is vetted out in the design process.

    Best of luck with the project, and if we can help you in any way on the design side, please let me know. Thanks!


  48. Dean, thanks for all of your assistance. Is there any resource online that can provide a cost estimate of operating a 2-4 story building, say after it is constructed. Sorta like a operating costs guide that takes into account all the general expenses and taxes due on the structure, monthly quarterly annually?

    Your per square foot estimate provide build costs. Where can I find estimates on operational costs? Hope that’s not asking too much but I am trying to get an idea of the numbers involved so I can pitch my project for financing to an investment banker and the state of illinois venture fund.


  49. Ilkka,

    Thanks for your question. To date, we don’t actually have any current data from RSMeans for buildings over 24 stories. However, the general rule is that there is a continued cost savings due to economies of scale up to about 80 stories. At that point, vertical circulation and other building systems start to dominate the cost of construction and cost per square foot begins to climb. I also don’t have any data for regional construction costs in other parts of the world, but we would expect the same relationship between number of stories and construction cost in any market.

  50. Hi Dean,
    what You write about what happens to costs up to 24 stories is interesting. Now, what happens between 24 and 40? Most of all: foundation, core and structure, facade, stabitity extra cost, elevators & other safety measures, HVAC? How do these costs per br-sqft (or sqm) vary. Another thing is the percent of net leasable area (the efficiency), but I’d like to focus on the brutto cost first. Thank You!
    Best regards,
    Ilkka Korpi,
    Helsinki, Finland

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  52. Hi Dante,

    Thanks for your inquiry. I would definitely advise you to start with a conservative budget, then qualify it as you develop the design. For the Chicago area, you are correct, right around $200/sq.ft. is the “average” cost per square foot. This is based on the average for the costs across many line items for many buildings. You mentioned modern design, and often with that comes a premium, depending on design features and finishes. To be conservative, you should plan on a 10%-20% premium for higher end modern finishes, or other elements that lend themselves to the modern appeal (that may also offer sustainable benefits as well). So, with that said, you could be as high as $220-$240/square foot. Of course, “modern” carries a lot of definitions, and sometimes, a stark, industrial look can achieve a modern aesthetic and be afforded at a discount, yielding perhaps $190/sq.ft. Those finishes will close the gap between.

    I hope that helps! We hold licenses in architecture and engineering in several states across the country, and have done projects in Illinois. If you would like to discuss your project further, let me know and we can certainly help out with everything from front end programming and conceptual design to final permit ready construction documents.


  53. Hi Dean,

    I’m an entrepreneur with a dream and a plan (no money but working on that). I used RS Means to price out a concept building I want to either build or renovate an existing building.

    Just curious if I should use the $201.18 per sf rate in the above chart to build out a 2-4 story modernist type digital printing, training and corp office for my company here in Chicago. I know there are land costs, etc.

    The drawing in the website is just a draft concept. I have a location in mind but no property, etc.

    Thanks for publishing your blog!


  54. Hi Dean –

    How much additional per square foot cost would be added to build in a remote area of Texas (Laredo)? Thanks


  55. Edgar,

    Could you give us some information on the systems you are inquiring about? You’re sort of asking “how long is a piece of string”.
    Would need to know your location, the building type, the building size, stories, etc. and some information on level of finish, extent and function of various systems.


  56. what would be the approximate costs (products + installing and commissioning) per sq.ft. for office building systems like :


  57. Ahmed,
    Thanks for your comment. From what you described, you will likely be between $150 and $200 per square foot, if the location is in fact, in Texas. As you can see from the post, regional differences can be significant, and skew the data. You can also see our post on Hotels and Motels here: It does not cover up to 14 stories, but it will give you a sense of the industry for up to 7 stories. Couple that with this post for multi story construction, and you will find that the cost per square foot goes down with more stories. I conservatively would add in another 25-30% because you described the project as a high-end project. Obviously, you could spend significantly more yet, depending on finishes, but at that point, it would be better to program the project in more detail to better understand the cost drivers. If you would like to discuss the programming or design of your project, let me know and we would be happy to work with you.

  58. Dear Dean Dalvit
    I know you from your friendly advises on construction cost per square foot for hotels.
    I enjoyed your compassionate help to people they need clear answers I also would like to ask you that how much would be construction cost of a 5 star hotel in a dry area like Texas.
    The hotel is steel structure, 14 story, and the total area of the construction 15,000 square. I would be appreciated if you could help me to know about rough estimate of construction cost per square feet on a EPC contract and turn-key completed including furniture.
    Best Regards.
    Ahmad bayat.

  59. Hi Dan, Thanks for your comment. While the basis equity amount in the current building, and the market conditions in your area play heavily into the economics of the pro forma, you are generally correct in that 40 floors would certainly be less per square foot to build new than a mid-rise building of the size you currently have. The existing building sounds like it is limited in its ability to remodel cost effectively, and that expanding upward may be infeasible based on current design and structural systems. It is always a challenging decision when it comes to demolishing a building to build higher and better, and it would require a good bit of analysis to demonstrate that the delta between the value of square footage in your location and the cost to build it is great enough to make it a sound investment of development dollars. However, this is exactly how our cities are built over time and when the old buildings have lived their useful life and are no longer economically viable, new buildings replace them.


  60. Hey,
    I own a condo in Chicago. The building is in a prime location. The property is having trouble maintaining value because of market conditions and poor initial design that causes unfavorable opinions. The thing is, we own an additional 2800sf of air rights. The garage only goes up 2 floors, so above that would be available. If you times that by 40 floors, that would be considerable. So, my question is; Economy of scale tells me that we can start from sratch and build higher with more space per unit. I am wondering if this would make sense for a developer? Right now it is a 19 story midrise that was built in the 70’s. A much more modern design would bring a higher per square foot price because of the ideal location (me thinks). I am hoping that a residential building of 40 floors would be a little cheaper per square foot, is that safe to assume? I am trying to do the math to see if something like this is viable. I would think the condo board might take a closer look if I could prove that it might be worth doing.

  61. Hi Zach, Thanks for your comment. These figures are for Hard costs only. In a pro forma, the soft costs will have to be in addition, as well as land costs, financing, etc.. If you are looking into a project, we would be happy to discuss it more with you. Thanks!

  62. I’m not sure that I can agree on the profit that you’re laying out there, but I appreciate the notes on cost items.

  63. Dear Jose: There are other architectural issues that push the price per sq ft higher, but don’t forget the construction firm owners and their associates (e.g., civil engineers, mechanical engineers, concrete chemists, accountants, lawyers, etc.) need to net (e.g., after income taxes) a minimum of 60% profit, otherwise, they cannot stay in business.
    Specific other issues for medical buildings:
    -special permits and design requirements for medical and lab needs
    -need for an elevator — very expensive to construct and permit
    -disabled access (e.g., ramps for wheelchairs, gurneys, wider doors, emergency room access and exits)
    -x-ray room construction requirements
    -fire overhead sprinkler systems
    -larger laundry rooms
    -delays cause increase in repayment with compounded interest on the loans, due to fire marshal and other departmental permit processing and inspections
    -need for structural stability stress tests for earthquakes, etc.
    -if federal or state funds are used, usually there is a requirement to hire union workers and pay union wages

  64. Hello Jose,

    The construction cost per square foot is the direct costs for the building inistial construction, from the foundation to the roof, and including interior finishes, but not movable furniture, fixtures or other equipment that have no permanent connection to the structure of the building or utilities. So if the total costs to build a 10,000 square foot building was $2,000,000, then the cost per square foot would be $200 per square foot.

    Operations costs are entirely different expenses, but are also often expressed in terms of square feet. These are annual expenses necessary to run the building. Typical operating costs will include maintenance costs, common utility costs, insurance, security, trash removal, property taxes and any other operating expenses that the building may have. If the total annual expenses for that same 10,000 square foot building was $60,000, then the operating cost would be $6 per square foot (per year). These costs fluctuate from year to year and are typically passed on to tenants in a triple net lease. It is important to understand these costs in a rental scenario as they are added to the base rent (which is also expressed in terms of square feet) to get to a total gross rent figure.

  65. Dear Sirs

    Could you please tell me what’s the difference between “price per sq.ft construction”? And “price per sq.ft operations” in medical plaza buildings?


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