Often times, with commercial property ownership, comes renovation. Whether one wants to upgrade or update their building, they will often wonder how much the  renovation will cost. Costs vary depending on several different factors including the building’s location, codes, & labor/material costs. Unfortunately, in construction, unforeseen complications can often arise changing the estimate even if the project is already in process. By taking the time to understand the factors involved in determining the price, one can get a better sense of where the project may land on the cost spectrum.


Below is what you need to know in order to understand your estimate:


Building Location

Differences in labor, building codes, and renovation costs can vary as much as 70% based on location. For example, the most expensive place to renovate within the United States would be New York City.


Building Use

  The use of the building impacts the materials, equipment, and structure concerns. For example, a building that does not not need to be temperature-controlled will cost less per square foot in comparison to one that requires special equipment and electrical requirements. Depending on the use of the building, different cost factors will come into play.  Materials for hallways and other high-traffic areas are best chosen based on durability rather than aesthetics. The wrong materials may be cheaper, but will quickly wear out under normal use, causing unnecessary repairs and frequent maintenance.

Building Codes

Building codes need to be taken into account when renovating a commercial building. Several factors will determine what codes apply to your building such as: environmental, energy, and handicap accessibility. Building codes and local ordinances are constantly evolving and changing it is important to keep up to date with all of the changes to avoid fines.


Historic District Compliance

If your building is in a historic district, there may be additional codes that need to be taken into consideration. Renovating in a historic district does not necessarily mean it will cost more, but it may require additional due diligence.


Controlling Costs

While renovation costs can be determined by outside factors, owners can maintain control of their renovation project through strategic planning and management. It is important to hire the right partners, set a proper scope, and consider market factors when renovating a commercial building.


Although it is natural for someone to wait until last minute before planning to renovate, waiting until the building is in critical condition is often the more expensive approach, waiting too long can make the difference between refurbishing an existing fixture or replacing the fixture. By planning ahead one can prevent some of the surprises that tend to come with renovations. Below are several steps to eliminate some major surprises:

  • Property Condition Assessments- Having your A/E firm perform a detailed inspection of the buildings conditions minimizes unforeseen conditions. A visit allows the team to view the conditions and make note of any exceptions to as-built drawings.
  • Selective Demolition-Even the best as-built drawings will vary in details from the construction. Selective demolition allows a team to get a peek behind the walls to see what they will be up against once construction begins.
  • Hazardous Material Survey- Asbestos, lead-based paint, mercury and other industrial chemicals are some hazardous materials regulated by the EPA as well as state and local regulators. A hazardous material survey may be required prior to construction in order to make smart decisions and minimize expenses.
  • Unforeseen Conditions Contingency- The best plans cannot entirely prevent surprises during construction. Planning on surprises will ensure that your project stays on budget. Allowing 5%-15% of the total project allowance will allow the property owner to stay on track.
It is important to establish in-depth project needs to get an accurate cost estimate. When available, use as-built drawings to provide insight for the planning and estimating process. As-built drawings provide a clean and concise view of how the building was constructed, thus giving a better understanding of what an architect or engineer will find behind the walls of the building prior to renovation.When it comes to commercial renovation, it is absolutely essential that the right renovation partners are hired. A team with experience, knowledge, and expertise in the industry can help minimize any surprises while providing you with an accurate estimate of renovation costs.

At DCS,  we go beyond meeting your current needs, by fulfilling your long-term vision. Have any questions about commercial renovation costs? Contact our experts today to discuss your project.