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How Big Do You Need? Calculating Square Footage | Commercial Main N State

When I first meet a company that is looking to either renew, expand or relocate the first step in our meeting is determining how they are using their current space and how will they continue to use their space as their company continues to grow. As businesses hire personnel it's common to find that they crammed their staff into a layout that is not designed for their growth. This leads them to believe they need more space. That is not always the case.


Efficiency Vs. Square Footage


Many times throughout my career I have represented companies in finding the right commercial real estate space for their company. We can see five different 2,000 SF suites and I often hear "this seems more than 2,000 SF" or "this is not enough space". This is very common as every space is built differently from basic shape to the interior build out. 


So when it comes to deciding for sure how a space will work for you, the first step is to come up with Program Notes. Program Notes outline your requirements; how many offices, conference room, kitchen vs. kitchenette, copy room, number of cubicles and don't forget file cabinets. Once this is outlined the square footage of each is then decided. With having Program Notes an architect can easily "fit" you into a space and see if it will work accordingly for you based your needs but also your operations flow.




TypeNumber NeededDimensionsApprox. Size (SF)Total SF
Office Space:    
Large Offices                         -  
Medium Offices                         -  
Small Offices                         -  
Expansion Offices (For future employees)                         -  
10' x 10' cubicle                         -  
8' x 10' cubicle                         -  
8' x 8' cubicle                         -  
8' x 6' cubicle                         -  
Future Cubicles                         -  
Circulation for Cubicles (20%)                         -  
Space for file cabinets within open area                         -  
Subtotal: Office Space                         -  
Other Areas:    
  Reception Area                         -  
  Conference Room @ 25sf/person                         -  
  Kitchen/Break Room                         -  
  Server Room                         -  
  Storage/Filing/Copy                         -  
  Subtotal: Other Areas                         -  
Add 35% Circulation                         -  
Total Usable SF                         -  
Total Rentable SF (add 15% load factor)                         -  


The above spreadsheet is a great place to start. Many people forget to add a Circulation calculation to their square footage. Without adding a Circulation calculation you will not be able to move about your office and would probably cause some issues. Also if you are moving into a mid-rise building there is a different between Usable SF and Rentable SF (the additional space one is charged for common areas such as common washrooms, elevator, stairs and hallways). The Usable SF total gives you a starting point of the square footage your company needs to operate - this is the number to start your focus and search on.


As with everything this is a beginning point - a way to truly understand and have a grasp of your commercial real estate requirement. Your commercial real estate broker can assist you to dissect your space requirements. I hope this spreadsheet offers some assistance in understanding your space needs.


Any questions or comments please leave them below!


If you are interested in meeting to discuss your space requirements as your company expands, relocates or renews please contact me!

Kristian Lee (88 Posts)

Kristian is a licensed Illinois Commercial Real Estate REALTOR since 2003 working with small to medium sized businesses locally and nationally as well as owners of real estate from office, retail to industrial at Village Commercial. in Frankfort, IL. Kristian specializes in branding each property he represents through different marketing tactics, boots on the ground and the latest technologies gained from his experience. For each tenant representation assignment he becomes his client's "in-house" broker walking them through the process from initial meeting till occupancy. He is the founder of Commercial Main N State, a blog and VBlog providing tips and market rental trends to small businesses on #CRE. He currently on the Board of Directors of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors®

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