How much does a new office cost?

COMUNiTI How much does a new office cost?

How much does a new office cost?

Starting a new project is always exciting—coming up with ideas, looking at what other people have done, thinking of all the great new things that you will have. And then the inevitable thought comes: How much?

Like any project, building the office of your dreams is going to cost money. That cost can vary, but one thing is for sure: you can’t buy champagne on a beer budget. 

You will often hear rates thrown about. Someone might tell you, “Oh that will be about $x/sqm,” without clearly understanding what you want to achieve. This is little more than a wet finger guess.

So, how do we determine how much your project is going to cost?

There is a range of considerations that impact the final cost of your project. We’ve outlined them below for you, to help you gauge how much of an investment your project is going to be.

The size and scope of your project are huge factors in how much your investment will turn out to be. Here are two ways it happens:


1.      The total office area will directly influence the $/sqm rate.

The larger your space, the more cost efficiencies you will achieve. The costs of high-value investment spaces like receptions, boardrooms, kitchens, and comms rooms are spread across the total office space.

Let’s look at the opposite scenario for a clearer picture. Smaller tenancies still needs these high-cost centres but often fewer of the open plan work area’s, which by nature cost less, meaning that In the totality of the project, there are fewer of the small investments, offseting the big-ticket ones.

2.      The layout of the workplace contributes to the $/sqm rate.

If you require lots of meeting rooms and offices with minimal open plan areas, your total project cost will rise. This is because of the number of walls and doors to be built and the necessary alterations that will support this layout.

More walls, mean more changes to the air-conditioning systems. Often, this also requires additional supplementary systems to provide fresh and cool air, relocation of light fittings and installation of additional sprinkler heads to ensure that the place adheres to fire safety standards. Much of these cost implications are “unseen” costs—they hide in the ceiling!


This is typically where the champagne taste on a beer budget comes into play. 

An office space is often leased in a “made good” state—new carpet, ceiling tiles, painted walls, etc. From here, we need to consider how much of this existing fitout we will change. For example, we ask:

  • Are we going to remove ceilings, expose services or add feature ceilings?
  • Are we going to remove sections of the carpet tiles to lay ceramic tiles in the entry, a more durable finish such as vinyl in the kitchen area or a plush carpet in the boardroom?

All of these alterations to the existing finishes have a direct cost impact.

And then we consider the choice of finishes and materials to construct your office with.

  • Do you want stone benchtops or laminate? 
  • Are we going to paint the walls with standard grade paint or clad them with proprietary finishes, wallpaper or specialist paint finishes?

There are various material options and each selection will influence your total project cost.

Furniture is also a large contributor to the bottom line of your office fitout cost. Workstations come in all shapes and sizes and with numerous accessories. You can even have them in electronically height-adjustable varieties. Task chairs can range from $100 to more than $1000, and then there are the loose and occasional furniture pieces for the kitchen, breakout areas and reception.

The options are endless and the style that you prefer will determine your cost direction.


The last major influence on the cost of your project is time. Let’s break it down into two points:

  • Timeline. The price depends heavily on how quickly you need to complete your project. You may be looking at escalation costs if the project needs to be designed within a compressed timeframe, or a double shift if the build time needs to be sped up.

  • Hours. Some parts of the project may have to be done during out-of-hours to reduce disruption to other building tenants. This can incur additional costs. It will depend on where your office is located and the guidelines imposed by your landlord.

Many variables influence the cost of your office fitout project. But by creating an accurate scope, agreed level of finish and an expectation of time, we can arrive at a clear estimate. This can be further verified by developing a cost plan with a builder or by engaging a Quantity Surveyor early in the design phase.

Ultimately, you should look at it as an investment, and not merely as an expense.

You spend more time in your workplace than you do in your own home, and so do your employees. Your new office will be your second home for the next 5, 7, or 10 years. So it’s good to invest in getting the right workplace for your team.

Your people are the most expensive asset in your business, and workplaces are built for them. Create an environment where they can thrive and your business will thrive too. It makes good business sense.

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