In the world of commercial real estate, the term “white box” is often used by real estate brokers and landlords to define the level of finish a space has prior to a tenant’s office remodel or tenant finish. However, it is an imprecise term. White box is often synonymous with vanilla shell, lit shell, plain vanilla shell, plain vanilla box, warm vanilla shell, warm vanilla box, warm white box and warm white shell. A typical white box space has no dry walled partitions, no electrical trunking of traditional flooring. The space may have ceilings, and a basic air-conditioning layout.
Honestly speaking, every landlord has a slightly different interpretation of White Box. I have seen space that have been completely stripped out, no ceilings, no aircon, whilst certain building managers will leave basic electrical services, ceilings and aircon services.

There are mixed opinions on “white-boxing” a space, in an attempt to make the space more lettable. One of the obvious issues for a new tenants is that their initial set up cost will be higher than a pre-fitted out space, as two of the biggest expenses in an office fit-out is the electrical installation and air-conditioning system. The upside is that the incoming tenant has the opportunity to create the ideal office layout that offers enhanced productivity and efficiency in space utilization.

Upon your lease termination, your landlord may require you to white-box the space. It is therefore important to understand exactly what the landlord requires, and what parts of your fit-out you can leave in place.