Taking Up Space: Rentable vs. Usable In Commercial Real Estate

November 23, 2015

When you’re evaluating an opportunity in commercial property, one of the first things to consider is the total rentable square feet. And, though this may seem like a straightforward feature to estimate, the answer may not be a simple one.

Rentable square footage not only includes the usable square footage in the specific rented space, it also includes a portion of the building’s shared spaces.

The usable square footage is the portion of the property you actually inhabit. In the case of a full-floor or multi-floor lease, everything inside of the windows on your floor (or floors) is considered usable square footage. For tenants in apartments or offices that only occupy a portion of a floor, usable square footage is considered the space inside your suite, including the area taken up by doors and any structural columns.

In addition to the rentable square footage, tenants are also expected to pay for their usage of any common areas, such as the lobby, janitor’s closets, shared restrooms or hallways.  This increase in rentable square footage above the actual square footage is called the common area factor, or add-on factor, and it’s usually somewhere in the 10-15 percent range. Carefully consider the common area factor as you evaluate your commercial real estate options, so you know exactly what you’re getting — whether as an investor or a tenant.

What’s more, it can be helpful to make direct comparisons of several commercial properties. Evaluate the common area factor across buildings, and look at the floor dimensions or shape. These features can impact the amount of usable square footage and cause variations in the cost per usable square foot across buildings. The right opportunity will have a bottom line that fits your budget as well as your business or lifestyle needs.

The professionals at Intelica understand the ins and outs of leasing commercial property and have the technical skills to help you evaluate your options in the current marketplace. We can provide the information and assistance you need to make an informed move. Contact us today.