Believe it or not, prospective occupants seeking a new commercial building are not always seeking a “finished” interior space. In fact, most of the time, they are not. So why not, and what are the alternatives?
There are actually several different stages or options for commercial building space and reasons to want them. One of these options is what is called a “grey shell.” A grey shell represents a building space with the following elements: Unpainted and unfinished walls, Fewer walls or dividers than finished space, Unfinished sprinkler system, Incomplete ceilings (without final/lowered height and ceiling tiles), Unfinished duct work (but HVAC in place), No electrical or plumbing complete throughout the space, Point of connection for sewer, and Unfinished floors.
So what are the specific reasons commercial tenants might prefer a grey shell over a previously finished space?
Even residential realtors know that prospective home buyers have a hard time envisioning, and consequently purchasing, a home that someone else has heavily decorated and is currently living in. Therefore residential realtors recommend home sellers to move out and paint their walls white. This allows prospective buyers to more easily envision the home the way they would want and decorate it for themselves, where to place their furnishings, etc. The same goes for commercial building spaces – a business wants to be able to envision their own company within its walls and overall space as opposed to only seeing someone else’s business there.
Branding (among other things) represents a business’s overall image and representation in its three-dimensional space. This is especially obvious with retail businesses or restaurants – these types of businesses present their locations in specific, visual manners for attraction to their customer base – as well as (hopefully) comfort of their employees. Therefore, businesses have to be able to “brand themselves,” or be true to their own brand, within the commercial space. This often involves official architecture and interior design specs which have to be met. And it’s easier to meet these specs construction-wise from a grey shell than a previously finished commercial building space.
A previously finished commercial interior space means, to some degree, an older space. And even if the construction work was completed fairly recently, there’s always the chance that it was built from older studs from another building site demo, or other construction materials for example – especially if you don’t know the builder who did the work. Meaning that you just don’t know how old a space truly is. Whereas if you build new, you do.
Environmental and health concerns
Older buildings often equate to health concerns. Obviously there aren’t many buildings out there with asbestos anymore, but that is not the only older building material with health implications for tenants. More and more older construction materials have been proven to have health devaluation on people who have been exposed to them over the long term. If employees are showing up to work day-in/day-out, you don’t want their health to suffer on behalf of the building itself. Likewise with environmental concerns. More and more tenant businesses are demanding commercial spaces built with environmental safety and materials in mind.
Meeting exact specifications
Have you ever been house shopping and tried to imagine retro-fitting your specific furniture or room elements into the new, smaller or disproportioned room in front of you? The same happens in commercial building shopping. Can the building truly be transformed accurately for a tenant’s specific requirements? This is a very valid question. Why try to squeeze office needs into a space that just won’t accommodate them, when you could build new on top of a grey shell to meet your exact specifications and requirements?
Have you ever been in a building where multiple rooms had obviously different temperatures and air flow – despite being on the same thermostat? And where some rooms were just a lot more “stuffy” than others? Imagine a builder taking a previously finished interior space and attempting to quickly and successfully move elements such as walls, ventilation, electricity, plumbing and tech into new, totally different arrangements. Although builders do this every day of the week, this isn’t always as ideal or smooth for final construction as it would be from starting with a grey shell and building from the ground up. This just makes for better overall construction and finishing for the tenant.
Concerns about future conversions
It’s one thing to want a commercial space a certain way now, but many business owners know that that’s not enough. Business owners, executives, their architects and builders know that companies want to plan for growth. And business growth means growth in other respects as well – such as staffing – and of course, space. It’s easier to plan for the future in a commercial space environment starting from a grey shell than one already finished for a previous tenant.
Making everyone happy
Because these factors are sought after by tenants, then they are demanded by landlords as well. Landlords want to cater to their markets – which means building or renovating commercial spaces which will be in demand. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander, so to speak. And not only might the heads of a tenant company prefer a grey shell over a previously finished space for these reasons, but the employees will prefer to have a say in the matter as well. Meaning that staff will feel more appreciated if their input is requested for designing their new work space – both the business space overall, as well as the staff’s own personal spaces within.
For these reasons, it can be valuable for contractors to convert commercial building spaces to grey shells before finishing to meet tenant requirements – for both tenants and landlords.
Want more? Read about Buildrite’s renovation services.