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Finding The Magic Rate for Commercial TI’s & Finishes Selections

This week one of my IDBA coaching members asked for the going rate for commercial TI’s and finishes selections.

This same question has been asked multiple times by a variety of designers, so I thought it’d be a good subject to dive into with you.

Now, the reason why these designers asked for a square footage price is that builders, developers, commercial real estate brokers, and contractors (aka people involved in real estate) all base pricing on square footage.

Here’s the quick answer: since every job is different there is no standard number, sorry.

The good news is you can still find a number that works for you so you get paid and ensure you’re a part of the team.

Where do you start?

By figuring out what the job is AND then provide a quote.

HINT: You can convert what you do into a square footage price.

One of my coaching members and I discussed 18,000 square feet of TI. The client needed a couple of good conference rooms, a nice lobby, a nice guest bath up front, and then the rest of it was pretty much a sea of carpeting.

With this information, if we were to create a number like $150/ foot, she’d have $27,000 to actually get the job done and that’s actually pretty good for what they’re asking for her to do.

Now, why wouldn’t you charge a standard $150/foot work in a different situation?

Imagine if it were a dentist office that’s 1,800 square feet, with five exam rooms, a lab, a couple of bathrooms, a break room, a business office, and a lobby. Now, this is a totally different story and there’s a lot of detail all packed into a small space.

So, if you were to $150/foot on that you’d only be at $2,700 and that wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t even come near covering your time!

Here’s how to create a quote based on square footage, you want to:

  • First, figure out what the job is: what the scope of the job is and how long it’s going to take you to do it multiplied by your internal hourly rate so you know what the fee for the whole job is.

[(Scope) + (Time)] X (Internal rate) = (Fee to complete the job)

  • Next, divide that fee by the square footage to get the kind of number that they’re looking for so that they can include you in the job and you get to be part of the team!

(Total to complete the job) / (Square footage) = (Quote to share with client)

If you find yourself in a place where opportunity is knocking, but you don’t know what steps to take or what to do to ensure you make the most of it, then let’s talk!

We’ve set time aside exclusively for you to meet with an IDBA Coach to help you gain clarity of what might be in your way or stopping you from fully realizing your greatness in business and as a designer, and the next best step for you to take to make your visions into a reality.


Until then, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth!

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