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How Much Will It Cost to Drywall an Office Space or a Retail Location?

Getting an accurate cost for a big drywall job is not simple. For those who aren’t familiar with construction estimating, trying to put together a budget for a commercial remodel or new construction project for can be a daunting task. The only option facilities coordinators may have is to ask a contractor to quote them a price and even then they may have no idea of whether or not the price is fair. Price and quality of work both come into play, it’s a delicate balance. The information below should help the average facilities manager / coordinator understand the basics when it comes to the cost of drywall work.

Understanding this process can help prepare you to accept or reject a drywall commercial contractor's quoted price. We'll discuss two types of jobs, large drywall jobs and small patches or remodels.

Estimating the Cost of Large Drywall Jobs

First let us discuss business, commercial or office remodel or construction projects that are more than just one or two conference rooms, executive suites or simple phone booths. Those projects may be a tenant improvement, a remodeling or a rebranding. They would require more than 50 sheets of drywall. Most contractors will price these based on their standard square footage rate. The first thing they will do is determine how many sheets of drywall will be needed for the entire project. Contractors have various methods of estimating total sheet count, but for the facilities coordinators and administrative assistants, the most accurate way is to measure all the walls and ceilings and figure the total square footage of the area to be covered with drywall. Do not take out areas for windows and doors unless they are more than 50% of the area in question. You will have scrap waste from window and door areas but you need to buy the same amount of drywall regardless and cut out window openings and doorways.

15' by 15' room with 8'ceilings
Wall A    15'x8'=120ft2
Wall B    15'x8'=120ft2
Wall C    15'x8'=120ft2
Wall D    15'x8'=120ft2
Ceiling    15'x15'=225ft2
Total Square Footage    705ft2

Estimators can then take your total square footage number for the entire job and multiply this by the contractor's square footage rate. Labor prices vary from state to state and city to city. Business and retail companies should expect to pay more in labor for rooms with high ceilings, tricky angles, or decorative soffits. Don't expect to get these square footage rates for a one room job or small remodel. Most Contractors will not quote based on their standard footage rates unless the job is more than fifty sheets. The example above of a 15' x 15' room, requiring only 16 or 17 sheets of drywall, would not receive the square footage quote unless it is part of a corporate suite or hospital or school with three or four rooms this size.

Commercial contractors have different square footage rates for labor based on their company and their abilities. Contractors may have local area drywall supply stores from whom they order material. Some commercial contractors chose to use "The Home Depot" or "Lowes" since these big box stores have prices very competitive to that of local material supply shops. Material supply shops may offer discounts to contractors to court their business, but there is quite a bit of competition in the market.

How do you estimate small drywall jobs for offices ?

Small jobs may refer to an office remodel such as adding a closed office for his new business associate, or a conference room for the corporate headquarters. Most commercial and industrial contractors will determine the amount of material needed for the tenant improvement and then figure how many days it will take them to finish the project. This of course is a very objective decision that sometimes comes down to more or less a guess by the contractor based on his previous experience. Small commercial remodel job will quote at a much higher square footage rate than an entire office or retail location.

For example, the work cited above requires only 16 to 17 sheets of drywall. However, it would take at least three days of labor to hang, tape and texture this one room project. 

Get more than one quote.

In any situation it is good practice to do research on companies and get more than one quote. A minimum of three quotes on any one commercial job will give you a good feeling for the local prices from commercial licensed contractors. More important than simply trying to find the cheapest price, speaking with more than one company allows you learn more about your remodel project than you may have known to start. One general contractor or plumber or electrician may recommend something that another company had not considered. Also, by speaking to more than one company you can get a feel for who may be more reliable. The best and most reliable contractor may not always be the cheapest but his experience may help you avoid unnecessary hassle and headache. Use your judgment when deciding who to hire as it can make a big difference in the details of the finished product. Using others' references is a good way to judge a commercial and professional, licensed contractor. A company's reputation is best appreciated after they finish a project and hard to grasp beforehand. Therefore, it is good to talk to those who have used the companies in question to see what their entire experience with these companies has been.