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How Long Does an Office Space Buildout Take?

For employees and managers alike, an office buildout is an opportunity to modernize and improve shared work areas while prioritizing productivity and comfort. From welcoming reception areas to state-of-the-art conference rooms, your office space should communicate your unique vision and company values.

Excited to get started on your perfect office space buildout? Although you may have a vision of your ideal office, it’s a long road from conception to completion. So how long does an office space buildout take?

Here’s everything you need to know about planning and organizing your office buildout.

The Basics

Generally speaking, an office buildout may take anywhere from a few months to a year depending on the project. We recommend budgeting more time for projects that significantly alter the space, whereas cosmetic updates are typically less time consuming.

Let’s start with a couple essential data points that will help you determine the scope of your buildout:

- What is the current space? If you’re relocating to a new office you need to determine the current state of the space. Are extensive repairs necessary before you start? Is there existing infrastructure you want to keep or need to replace? Envision how your needs fit into the existing space.

- What is the extent of the project? After scoping-out the space, determine the extent of the work that needs to be done. Are you installing major updates? Is the work mostly cosmetic? Create a to-do list to help quantify the amount of work that needs to get done. This will help you develop a tentative timeline and gauge your initial budget.

Shell vs. Second Generation Spaces

Shell Spaces

A shell office space is an empty unit or space within an existing building. Generally, these spaces are bare-bones and require a large amount of work to transform them into a working facility. The benefit is that shell spaces are a blank canvas and offer more opportunities for customization.

Shell office spaces often require:

- Floors

- Ceilings

- Drywall and insulation

- Hardware

- Electrical systems

- Plumbing systems

- Cosmetic changes

- Furnishing

Second Gen Spaces

Second generation office spaces are already outfitted with structural elements and basic electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. Instead of installing architectural elements, these buildouts focus on the aesthetic components of a work space.

What to Expect During the Buildout Process

Securing a Property

If you’re moving to a new location, you need to finalize your lease with the landlord before work begins. During this process you’ll acquire approval for your proposed changes to the space. In light of this, we recommend hiring a project manager before signing the lease. This way, your project manager can assess the space and estimate the cost before you commit to the space.

While negotiating for your new space, it is always beneficial to discuss with your project manager necessary changes that will be done in the space. Having an idea of any major electrical, mechanical, or plumbing changes can allow for greater leverage in lease price or tenant improvement allowance. It’s also a time where you can request the landlord to take care of these requirements.

Creating the Design

The next stage of the buildout process is finalizing your design preferences. This may include architectural elements in more extensive buildouts, or may focus on cosmetic changes and interior design elements. During this phase you may need to request a building permit from the city if you’re making major changes to the property. After selecting a contractor to complete the work, it’s time to break ground and move to the construction phase.


Once construction is underway, your space will begin to transform. If your project involves lots of structural changes, the construction phase will likely take at least a few months. Although offices that undergo a major makeover may take longer, the payoff is bigger. If you’re focusing on cosmetic changes, the work may be done in a couple months or even a couple weeks depending on the products and labor availability.

Creating Your Dream Space with Buildout Pros

At Buildout Pros, we provide quality office space buildouts to clients across the country. We value end-to-end transparency, and focus our attention on communication and collaboration with our clients. From initial design services to construction and beyond; we work with our clients to create spaces that are functional and beautiful. Plus with our access to an extensive network of professionals across the country, we provide ongoing maintenance and service support to our clients. Our commitment to client satisfaction, on-site organization, and high-quality builds sets us apart. Interested in making your dream space a reality? Contact us today to get started.

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