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Office design decisions & your build out budget

Office design decisions & your build out budget

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Building out a new office space can be overwhelming—not to mention costly—but can transform an organization if done correctly. Every decision from office layout to the selection of materials and fixtures can impact a company’s bottom line and overall success. JLL released today its 2018 U.S. and Canada Office Fit Out Guide, a report that compares build out costs across three different office styles in 59 markets to give tenants a sense of how seemingly small choices can affect a fit out budget in a big way.
“Our clients are consistently coming to us with questions about how to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to office fit outs,” said Todd Burns, President, JLL Project and Development Services. “This guide allows us to share our business intelligence data to provide occupiers with benchmark costs to help them make informed real estate decisions.”
Which space option is best for you?
Today’s office environment is evolving in response to a dynamic workforce and shifting office needs. Successfully delivered office fit outs can increase productivity, attract high-value talent, impress clients, drive collaboration and achieve long-term success. However, office styles are no longer a one-size-fits-all. These three styles range in both floorplan and cost:
1. Progressive: Average cost to build – $152.23 per-square-foot
Progressive style offices are the fastest growing office category and feature an open office floorplan with 100 percent bench-style seating and no enclosed offices. Design heavily favors multi-use space and common areas for collaboration. Project budgets tend to be light on hard costs due to minimal dividing walls and private offices. However, progressive spaces typically have higher technology expenses due to more connected conference and collaboration areas.
Example tenants: Technology companies, start-ups, progressive corporate offices
2. Moderate: Average cost to build – $158.23 per-square-foot
The majority of current U.S. offices are built in a moderate style. These offices lean towards an agile floorplan with 10 percent of the space dedicated to enclosed offices and 90 percent open floorplan with reasonably sized workstations. Design also includes a healthy mix of conference rooms and two to four multi-use spaces throughout. Project budgets are comparably average on hard costs due to moderate use of dividing walls, but benefit from saving on open floorplan space. Not surprisingly, moderate styles offer a blend of benefits that come with both progressive and traditional spaces.
Example tenants: Semi-modern office users, corporate offices transitioning to more efficient models
3. Traditional: Average cost to build – $177.06 per-square-foot
Traditional office styles have a private office heavy floorplan with 30 percent enclosed offices and 70 percent open floorplan with large workstations and no bench seating. Design includes several traditional conference rooms and one collaboration space. Tenants can expect to maintain privacy but miss out on increased efficiency opportunities. Project budgets tend to have the highest build out costs as a result of costly private office furniture and high-walled workstations. However, tenant factors are comparatively small due to lessened need for common areas.
Example tenants: Law firms, traditional financial companies
Beyond office style, there are a handful of additional dynamics that can impact space design and overall cost. JLL’s Office Fit Out Matrix compares the above office styles with space quality and complexity to display how these decisions can influence the cost per-square-foot.
Space quality and complexity evaluates the physical design elements of an office and accounts for the quality of selected finishes and improvements, complexity of space upgrades and design work and amount of technology additions.
“A lot of people might not realize how the smallest decisions around things like lighting, fixtures and quality of materials used can add (or shave off) thousands of dollars,” said Burns. “In a progressive style space, for example, using high complexity elements can be an average of $66.10 more per-square-foot than using base complexity.”
State of the office construction market
2017 was a pivotal year for the construction sector and the office real estate industry. Construction costs rose three percent in 2017 and are expected to continue climbing in 2018 and beyond. Office leasing fundamentals are pivoting as new construction deliveries begin to outpace leasing demand. Tenant improvement allowances spiked nearly 10 percent in the latter half of 2017, outpacing rent growth.
Specific to the office fit out conversation, rising materials costs (+3.0 percent year-over-year) and construction labor rates (+3.4 percent year over) continue to affect project budgets. An uptick in labor wages is expected to endure through 2018 as the shortage of skilled construction labor persists. The current unemployment rate is 4.5 percent and job growth in the industry remains flat. Demand for construction and building materials will also remain strong as the industry pivots towards adaptive reuse, renovation and fit out projects in 2018.
To learn more about the state of the construction industry, download our year-end 2017 U.S. Construction Update.
For more information on how location, office style and space design can impact the cost of your office build out, check out our 2018 U.S. and Canada Office Fit Out Guide.
JLL Project and Development Services is a leader in the development, design, construction and branding of commercial real estate projects for the world’s most prominent corporations, educational institutions, public jurisdictions, healthcare organizations, industrial facilities, retailers, hotels, sports facilities and real estate owners. Ranked No. 4 in Building Design + Construction’s 2017 Construction Management Giants survey and No. 5 on Engineering News-Record’s 2017 list of Top 100 Construction Management-for-Fee Firms, JLL’s project management team comprises 5,420 project managers across 51 countries and is actively managing $35.7 billion under construction.
About JLL
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2017, JLL had revenue of $7.9 billion and fee revenue of $6.7 billion; managed 4.6 billion square feet, or 423 million square meters; and completed investment sales, acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $170 billion. At the end of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of 82,000. As of December 31, 2017, LaSalle had $58.1 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit


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