When a company is just starting up, or moving into a commercial office building, there must be some building preparation. Yet companies are all very different from one another, so it can be difficult to know what an occupant is going to want in its commercial space. There are easy items that will switch between tenants such as furniture, trade equipment and fixtures. Yet even some options of flooring, wall paint, interior walls and restroom fixtures might change for industry specifications or company branding. So to accommodate change and construction process, contractors start by converting a space to a white or vanilla box. But what is commercial office white box construction?
A “vanilla (or white) box” typically means a building’s interior space has been prepared prior to a commercial office tenant’s renovation. It represents the building’s unfinished interior prior to construction of commercial interior walls (besides code-required wall placements), finished flooring, fixtures, wall painting, etc. A vanilla box is within a finished building exterior, including working electricity, roof, concrete floors, and more. The vanilla box is ready for TIs (tenant improvements) to be executed when the landlord and occupant are in agreement and ready for this phase.
There is actually a lot of work involved in executing a white or vanilla box – and it is often under rush expectations. Office landlords frequently want space turned into a vanilla box as soon as possible to make offices available for new occupants to want to sign a lease. The occupants can then turn the space easily and quickly into the finished, renovated office to fit their requirements.
Even though a vanilla box looks “unfinished,” there are still many important requirements to turn a space into a vanilla box. For example, the building will require:
- Roof and basic ceiling
- Exterior walls
- Building permits and licenses
- Heating, cooling and ventilation
- Restrooms and drinking fountain
- Access or escape (stairs/elevator)
- Basic lights
- Hot water
- Any other code requirements
In order to obtain new commercial office building occupants, landlords frequently may try to draw them in with a building construction allowance for renovation interior improvements. These budgets are typically for construction, instead of tenant industry-specific equipment or furniture.
Essentially, commercial office white-box, or vanilla-box, construction includes all items going into preparing office space for the basics before the occupant moves in. After the vanilla box stage, the occupant can complete the space to their requirements to be ready for day-to-day business.
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