What is White Box Construction?

When a business is going to move into an office building or strip mall, it has to start with something. Since no two businesses are alike, it is impossible to predict exactly what the next commercial tenant is going to want in its office or store space. On an obvious note this applies to the specific furniture, fixtures and even trade-specific equipment a tenant may want. However even the locations of interior walls, types of flooring, wall colors, bathroom fixtures and custom ceilings are dependent on a resident company’s brand or industry-targeted tastes. Therefore commercial tenants expect to start with just the basics; what is called a “white box.”

What exactly is “white box” construction? The term typically means a commercial building’s interior space, usually for an office or store, before the tenant’s remodeling. Therefore it is an unfinished interior prior to most of an office’s interior walls (except code required walls), finished floors, paint, fixtures, etc. In a white box, the exterior has attributes such as a finished exterior, roof, concrete floors, electricity and more. “White box” means it is ready for TIs (tenant improvements) to be executed when ready.

Although it seems to be a minimum output, a lot of work goes into achieving a ready white box, and it is typically done quickly. White boxes are in demand by commercial landlords who want to make a unit available for a new tenant as quickly as possible. With a quickly developed white box, a tenant can turn around and likewise quickly develop it into any of a wide range of personal specifications.

White Box ConstructionAlthough we may think of the space as “unfinished,” there are still important requirements for a completed white box, such as:
• Basic lighting
• Hot water
• Restrooms and drinking fountain
• Building permits
• Required licenses
• Exterior walls
• Doors and windows
• Roof and basic ceiling
• Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
• Access/escape for elevator and stairs
• Any other code requirements

Often the building owner will attempt to lure new commercial tenants with an allowance for construction and interior improvements for TI. However these allowances are typically focused on construction, not tenant equipment or furniture.

Simply, white box construction is all that goes into preparing a commercial building for the basics necessary for a tenant move-in, before the tenant finishes the office or store to the company’s own specifications. A white box does not allow the end company to conduct its normal every day work, but it allows the company to finish the space to their own exact necessary criteria before being open for business.

Want more information? Read about BuildRite’s preconstruction services.