When assessing office space, it is essential to evaluate both the rent and the expenses related to preparing the space for your needs. Estimating the total cost of your office remodel or build-out entails considering several variables, many of which are determined before signing the lease.

With our extensive project management experience in Austin’s office build-outs, we have identified the five key factors that have a substantial impact on project costs.


1. Condition of the Office You Plan to Remodel or Build Out

The condition of the space being renovated significantly affects the cost of your office build-out. Understanding industry terminology facilitates effective communication with contractors, project managers, and brokers during budgeting. There are two pre-project conditions to consider:

Second Generation (“Second Gen”) Space

Previously occupied spaces are often move-in ready, with most buildout work already completed. Known as renovations, these projects involve moderate levels of work and funding, focusing on visual enhancements like painting and carpeting, with occasional minor adjustments to plumbing or electrical systems. Existing spaces typically require a smaller budget compared to shell spaces.

Shell Space

Newly completed office buildings are delivered in a “shell” condition, allowing tenants to customize the space without existing structures. These “capital improvement projects” involve significant modifications to aesthetics and infrastructure. Companies seeking complete customization, such as Google at 500 W 2nd, often prefer shell space. Shell space generally requires a larger budget compared to existing space due to extensive renovations.


2. Size of the Space You Want to Remodel or Build Out

Project size directly influences costs, with larger projects being more expensive due to increased material and labor requirements. However, economies of scale are evident in buildout projects, resulting in a lower cost per square foot as space size increases. Fixed costs and bulk supply discounts contribute to the favorable price per square foot for larger projects compared to smaller ones.

For more about budgeting for your project cost, check out our article: Cost to Build Out Office Space: How to Plan and Budget


3. Quality of the Finishes You Want in Your Office Remodel

The selection of finishes has a significant impact on project costs. Choosing high-quality wood over laminate, for example, will result in different expenses. Your preferences for finishes will determine the budget allocation towards higher-quality and potentially more costly items.

Law Firm with High End Finish Out | Austin Office Remodel

An example of a high-end law firm finish out that AQUILA’s project managers have coordinated.

Law firms prioritize high-quality finishes, including large desks, wood accents, and premium finishes in client-facing areas. They allocate a higher budget to create a sophisticated environment. In contrast, small tech companies, often consisting of recent college graduates, prefer simpler finishes and concrete floors. With limited client interaction through phone calls and video conferencing, they prioritize cost-efficiency in their workspace finishes.


4. Office Layout & Amenities in Your Office Remodel

The office layout you choose has cost implications. Layouts with multiple private offices, conference rooms, and break rooms provide privacy but increase build-out expenses due to additional walls and wiring. On the other hand, an open floor plan reduces costs by eliminating extra walls and wiring. Adding amenities like break rooms and conference rooms can also raise expenses.


5. Timeline of Your Office Remodel

Thorough and early planning is crucial for a successful office buildout. It allows for careful contractor selection, design decisions, and material procurement, resulting in a superior outcome within budget.

Late initiation or major mid-project changes can lead to additional costs. To maintain project efficiency and financial control, it is important to have a preliminary project schedule outlining key milestones and critical paths.


Ready to Get an Estimate?

Calculating the cost of your office remodel or build-out involves multiple variables. While these factors provide a valuable starting point, it’s important to note that they don’t cover every aspect. For more comprehensive insights, we recommend referring to our detailed guide: “Ultimate Guide to Building Out Office Space.”

If you’re ready to proceed or desire more information about the process, we encourage you to reach out to our project management team today.

Ready to start building out your office build-out budget? Download our Office Build-Out Budget Calculator


Get your free Office Build-Out Budget Template here.


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Dustin Hogzett | Commercial Project Management in Austin, Texas | AQUILA Commercial

Dustin Hogzett

As a project manager with AQUILA, Dustin leads and manages fast-track and task-critical design and construction projects.

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