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Grey Shell, White Shell, Warm Shell, Cool Shell

Grey Shell or White Shell? Warm Shell or Cool Shell?

When looking for a commercial space to lease or buy, you’re likely to run across the term “shell.” In particular, commercial listings might include the term “cold, grey shell” or “warm, white shell.” 

What does that mean?

Shell terminology makes sense, as these facilities might be little more than four walls and a roof. While a shell sounds like a new build, that’s not always the case. Occasionally, a building owner will demo an interior that suited a former tenant to entice a new one. 

Grey shell might also be referred to as cold shell or cold, grey shell. These buildings have the least amount of finish. Likely, the space will need lots of additional work – drywall and connecting HVAC, electrical and plumbing, just to name a few.

The interior may have to be constructed, including offices, bathrooms and other features. 

On one hand, this allows a buyer or a tenant the ability to create a custom space exactly aligned with their needs. But on the other, it can be a big investment to build out a space. 

In general, the distinction between cold and warm shells can be determined by whether or not the building has operational HVAC. A warm shell is heated – the cold shell is not.

White shell, or sometimes warm or warm vanilla shell spaces, are more turn key.  It’s likely to have completed bathrooms, finished drywall, or lighting. Warm vanilla shell buildings are ready to move in, or nearly ready with just a few aesthetic improvements. 

Warm shell often appeals to retail, where extensive plumbing or electrical changes aren’t needed to get the business up and running. But for something like a salon with unique plumbing demands, grey shell might be the better option. 

Tenants should carefully think about up front costs, long-term needs and the amount of customization needed in a space to determine which “shell” is right for them. 

Contact Nick Chaussee for more information on local listings for lease or sale.