Commercially rented space may have to be customized to fit a tenant’s needs. The leaser and the landlord will negotiate who will design the space, do the work, when it will get done and who will pay for it. The lease clause that addresses these issues will be titled ‘Improvements and Alterations

Tenant improvements can range anywhere from a new coat of paint and flooring to a complete design-build of a Grey Shell (or empty space). It is important to have an idea of the costs to design, permit and construct your space in order to develop a budget that can account for unforeseeable complications.

Below are some basic tenant improvement cost guidelines for a space, including costs to design, permit and construct:

  • Carpet and paint for an existing unoccupied space: $5 – $7/sf

  • Carpet and paint for an existing occupied space: $8 – $10/sf

  • Minor remodel of an existing unoccupied space (50% or less): $15 – $25/sf

  • Major remodel of an existing space: $50 – $70/sf

  • New construction on a warm shell space (restrooms/lobbies already built): $50 – $65/sf

  • New construction on a cold shell space (no restrooms or lobby yet): $60 – $75/sf

These prices are for typical building standard improvements. Special requirements and high-end finishes will result in higher costs. Another category of expenses that tenants need to anticipate, referred to as FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment). Typically, the tenant improvement allowance is not allocated to cover FF&E – so budget for these expenses.


Below are some basic FF&E cost guidelines for office tenants:

  • Office Furnishings: $0 – $35

  • Systems Furniture (Cubes): $1,500 – $5,000/cube

  • Cabling: $1 – 2.50/sf

  • Moving Costs: $1.00/sf and $350/cube

Because of the large variation in types of spaces and the tenant’s unique needs, it is best to enlist the assistance of a qualified construction manager with a clear understanding of your project details. At Creative Builds, we have a proven record of completing commercial construction projects on time, on budget and with the highest quality standards, and have extensive experience in the commercial construction market. Our process works, but we’ll let our projects speak for themselves!