White Box Building for Landlords and Tenants

Stores, office buildings, strip malls - retail and commercial spaces all have to be prepared for tenants before they are move-in ready. It is one thing to construct the building - preparing for tenants is another issue. Landlords and tenants expect a certain amount of preparation for store or office space even before they discuss plans for finishing. Hence landlords typically hire contractors to do “white box” building, to get a space ready for tenants to see before agreement to lease.

This is considered white box building because the contractor is building what is referred to as a white box, before finishing is executed for the tenant. A white box, sometimes called a vanilla box, is a space with the necessary basics completed; a space executed to the point where a tenant is not ready to move in, but can visualize how their office or store finishing will fit within the space to be ready for business.

For a white box interior, previous tenant finishing must be gutted and cleared for the future potential tenant. Whether this is a new or previously used space, it must be cleared to the point of having:

  • exterior walls
  • unpainted, or basic white, interior, code-required walls
  • restrooms and drinking fountain
  • elevator for multi-story buildings
  • basic plumbing
  • hot water
  • basic lighting and electrical
  • HVAC
  • doors and windows
  • concrete floors
  • basic ceiling and roof
  • emergency access/escape
  • any other code or licensing requirements
White Box Building for Landlords and TenantsBut a white box building or space does not include: tenant wall coverings such as wall paper or custom painting; furniture; custom lighting or other fixtures; custom plumbing fixtures; interior (non-load-bearing) walls; signage; custom flooring; industry- or trade-specific equipment. Essentially, white box buildings do not include anything customized or decorative. However the tenant finishing does not have to come entirely out of the tenant’s budget; it is customary for tenants and landlords to negotiate for some budget allowance from the landlord for tenant improvements and finishing. White box building means implementing all of the necessary basics in a space for lease. Once they are completed, prospective tenants can look at the space and make their decisions about future potential finishing. Want to read more? See Buildrite's renovation construction services.