Is it Cheaper to Build Up or Out?

A big question when constructing a building for the first time, or adding on, is whether to build up or out…

Some of the fees’ contributing factors here include the cost of labor and regulations for various construction types, for everything from building out to low-rise to high-rise construction. In some cases wood frame construction is permitted, which can keep costs lower, depending on area of building and occupancy. However wood frame construction is not permitted in areas requiring non-flammable construction, which increases costs. 

Cheaper to Build Up or Out

By building up rather than out, you add square footage to the building without increasing costs for foundation and roofing additional materials. Meaning you practically double (or multiply by however many floors you want) your occupation space. Of course building up means you also save costs on the size of the lot you choose (especially when expanding lots out may not be readily available). A great deal of vertical space can be fit when building up in a narrow lot space rather than building out which means expanding often in expensive commercial or not-for-sale property.

There are other advantages as well to building up rather than out. Building up allows contractors to customize entire floors more easily if desired. That is, with less space, more companies can afford an entire floor to be fit to their liking, without worrying about having to share space with another company. Of course any office space can be customized, however smaller companies may find it more attractive not to share a floor. Also, separating offices by floors can be quieter for occupants than having more offices or stores side by side in a built out scenario. Multi-story buildings also might have more impressive exteriors size-wise than single-story, and landlords can charge additional fees for signage (such as on the top of a multi-story office building). 

There are however some advantages to building out rather than up. For example there is some attractiveness to being closer to the parking lot, particularly for businesses serving customers with disabilities. Also, more can be done for higher or more attractive ceilings in single-story buildings rather than multi-story, such as skylights or custom vaulted ceilings.

Generally it is cheaper to build up than out, however factors that can cost more in some vertical cases can be expanded elevator shafts and more complicated HVAC systems when building up. Over twenty story buildings can really impact the costs, as opposed to less than twenty story buildings, due to these and additional factors.

Want to know more about commercial construction? Read about identifying the best commercial construction firm in Atlanta.