What is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Construction?

Comparing residential construction to commercial construction is like comparing apples to oranges. There are apparent differences between the two, such as their size and uses; however, when you get down to the bones of the project, you can see that there are quite a few differences between the two different types of structures and the way the projects are carried out.

By better understanding the needs and differences between residential and commercial construction, you can be better prepared for your project. It also demonstrates the importance of working with a builder who specializes in either residential construction or commercial construction.

Types of Residential Structures

Residential construction encompasses a wide variety of structures, ranging from detached homes to rows of townhouses. Single-family homes are the most common structure we associate with residential buildings. Other types of residential structures include smaller-scale multi-family developments, ie: duplexes, triplexes, etc.

Types of Commercial Structures

Commercial buildings are typically larger and more complex than residential structures. Commercial structures can range from small single-story structures to large multi-story complexes. They include office buildings, retail stores, warehouses, factories, and other types of business or industrial buildings.  These structures are also designed to accommodate customers and vendors/suppliers and may include features such as displays, storage areas, loading docks and more. We also refer to larger-scale multi-family building projects as “commercial” structures.

  • Office buildings
  • Apartment/condo structures
  • Retail space
  • Storage units
  • Industrial buildings
  • Large-scale multifamily housing

What are the differences between residential and commercial construction?


Codes and Permitting

While adhering to codes and permitting is a significant part of both the residential and commercial construction process, commercial properties most often have to meet stricter regulatory standards.

When you compare commercial construction and residential construction projects, you will find that they have different rules and permits for:

  • Designs
  • Documentation and Drawings
  • Engineering
  • Construction techniques
  • Building materials used

A construction company specializing in residential or commercial construction will be able to expertly navigate the codes and permits associated with your build project to ensure there are no interruptions in your timeline. Also, if they are experienced working in the area where you are building your structure, they will better understand local regulations and permit processes.


Building Materials

The type of building materials used will depend on the type of structure being constructed and the purpose it will serve.
While the building materials used will vary from project to project based on design and functionality, there is often a contrast between the materials used to construct commercial buildings and residential buildings. For example, residential structures typically use lighter and more cost-effective materials like timber frames.

Commercial structures often require heavier materials such as steel and concrete as they have larger and more intricate designs.


Site Selection

Residential construction typically requires a smaller area than commercial construction, as the structures are often smaller and are used for living rather than business purposes. When selecting a building site for residential construction, factors such as access to utilities, proximity to schools and other amenities, local crime rates and zoning regulations should be considered.

Additional factors such as access to roadways, traffic patterns, and other nearby businesses are considered for commercial construction.

Time and Deadlines

Timelines play key roles in residential and commercial construction, as families would like to move into their homes, and businesses want to start welcoming customers as soon as possible. Residential projects typically have shorter timelines, while commercial projects may require more time to complete due to their larger size and complexity.

No matter the project, deadlines should be established and adhered to in order to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.


Design Customization

Residential construction typically allows for more design customization, as the structures are built for living purposes rather than business purposes. This can include features such as custom cabinetry, flooring, and other decorative elements that are tailored to the homeowner's preferences. Commercial construction may also allow for some design customization, but it is often limited as they need a more standardized design.


Your Ideal Company and Contractor

When it comes to residential and commercial construction, choosing the right contractor for the job is important. An ideal company should have extensive experience in the type of construction that aligns with your project. In addition, the contractor should be knowledgeable about local building codes and regulations and any special requirements that may apply to the project.

For example, Stretch Construction specializes in commercial construction projects. We also have extensive experience working on residential properties. So, if you have any questions about your commercial or residential project, contact our team.

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