Once you’ve narrowed down the location for your next Chiropractic office, determined how much space you need, and worked with a real estate professional to find a few offices that fit your needs, you’ll need to make a decision between these spaces.

When weighing your options, consider the following key criteria to guide your decision:

  1. Will you be able to function and flow in the space? We always adhere to “Form Follows Function”.
  2. Can you afford the cost(s) required to make it into the space that will best serve and portray your image?

There are several types of spaces. Understanding the following space types and conditions will help you have an informed conversation and prompt you to find out exactly what is being delivered to you.

Condition of Space

The conditions of space you are looking at will determine a lot about your potential costs, as well as the timing you need to prepare the space to be occupied. There are typically three types of space: Gray Box, White Box and Existing/As-Is.

Gray Box

Grey Box New Office SpaceFirst, we will talk about “Gray Box”, also known as “Raw” or “Black Box’. This is space that has never been built out and has no or minimum infrastructure (i.e.: none of the following: mechanical HVAC {Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning} system, plumbing, and electrical service).

This space requires the most amount of work and time to be ready for move-in, BUT it also receives the largest tenant improvement (TI) allowance and is a “clean slate” to design the best layout with minimal compromises. We typically see this type of space in a professional office building.

White Box

Vanilla Box New Office SpaceNext, we will discuss “White Box” or “Vanilla Box”. This space may have never been occupied, or has been occupied but had a wide open plan, like a retail shop, or has been recently gutted to “start-over”. The biggest difference between a Gray Box and a White Box is that the white box has the infrastructure in place.

Since infrastructure is a large part of the cost of the build-out, the TI allowance is typically less for these buildings. The space usually requires less time to design and build out, though you do have to work around the existing restroom locations, unless you want to pay to move them, which is not recommended.


As Is New Office SpaceThe last space, which is the most common, is an “Existing” or “As-Is ” space. This is a space that has definitely been occupied.

Very often we see this space has little or no TI allowance (i.e.: they will replace a low cost item, such as the carpet). Our suggestions for this type of space is (from a space plan versus cost perspective) if you can reuse 90% or more of the existing structural space (minor construction) and all you want to do is finish changes, then this is typically a great deal.

Remodeling an Existing/As-Is space can cost more than building-out a White Box , because you have to rework structure for it to work for your function and flow. If you need some major changes to make it work, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Though every situation is different, I will say that if the space is in the right location and you can cover the costs of a remodel, then it will be worth it. And, in some cases, we have seen the landlord give a generous TI allowance for spaces that need a significant amount of work.

Chiropractic Waiting Room

How will the space be delivered – and what does it need?

Now that we have tried to explain the different general types of space, ultimately you need to be very clear with the seller or landlord on what is “included” and what is not included. What we have described is a broad and “typical” explanation, but it is not the building industry “standard”. There are so many variations.

If you are considering a Gray Box/Raw space now, what will be done before you lease or buy it? For example, will the electrical panel be provided? Is there a floor – or is there only dirt that needs a floor poured? If it’s a White Box, is the plumbing only stubbed up and you need to provide the toilet? Is there a ceiling and lights (do you want to keep them or replace)?

If it is Existing/As-Is space and you need an X-Ray room, you need to think about what is the existing electrical panel capacity. Is the restroom current ADA code? And when was the space last remodeled and permitted as you may be required to bring the restrooms up to code. These are big ticket items that have nothing to do with the form or function.

For a lease, how much is the Tenant Improvement Allowance?

Now that we have given you an overview of space conditions, you can better compare the TI amount the landlord offers for each space further. We encourage you to explore our article on Tenant Improvement (TI) Allowance. This construction allowance can vary between $0 and $150 per square foot. If you know what you want and how much it should cost (before you sign the lease) you have a better position in your negotiations and determining if there is anything extra you want provided by the landlord prior to using the TI allowance. This amount can make a difference in the final cost of your building the space, and can be a good negotiation point when talking with the landlords.

Weighing all the costs together

Beyond the location and parking, you have to know a few more things than upfront cost to weigh the overall cost of a space.Will you and your team will function well, will the space be able to accommodate your image and culture, and finally can you afford the updating and the on-going expenses.

At CrossFields we make it simple for our Chiropractic clients by guiding them through all of the details of weigh all of these costs, and beyond. We would love to connect with you and share the CrossFields difference in one of our no obligation Complimentary Consultations.

Ready for help? Schedule a Complimentary Consultation today!

Carolyn Boldt

With over 30 years of experience, Carolyn has gained complete understanding of every aspect of the commercial interior industry. Her experience includes turnkey, full-service architectural interior design; extensive program development studies (PDS), feasibility studies, design programs , planning studies and space planning; development of facility standards and master plans; creative impact statements for retail, hospitality and corporate; graphic identity packages; sustainable design; as well as complete facility start-ups and relocation management.

She has a Bachelors of Science – Interior Design, University of Texas at Austin, 1980, is a Registered Designer, a LEED Accredited Professional, NCIDQ Certified, and Professional Member of IIDA/International Interior Design Association and GAIDP/Georgia Association of Professional Interior Designers.