Why Is Commercial Construction Distinct From Residential Work?

by Grace Motley

If you've never dealt with a commercial construction project before, you may wonder how different the job could be compared to residential work. Commercial construction company services differ significantly in terms of the physics involved, legalities, and customer requirements. Let's look at each of these issues and how a commercial construction company usually elects to handle them.

Physics and Engineering Concerns

Commercial structures tend to come in a couple of types. You'll often see ones that are flat and wide, such as malls, shopping centers, and big box stores. Other commercial structures are often at least a few stories tall.

The flat variety faces engineering issues from how their roofs are designed. In regions that get heavy rain or snow, the load on the roof can pose a number of engineering challenges.

A taller building often encounters plumbing issues. In particular, it can be challenging to get water up to more than two stories without the assistance of pumps. Likewise, the taller a building is, the more it has to be engineered for stability toward the top.

One major difference between commercial constructions and residential projects is the use of different materials. While you'll see a lot of wood used in most residential work, commercial construction largely uses materials like concrete and steel.


Numerous legalities pop up during commercial construction work. You'll likely have to commit to a stricter set of commercial zoning and building standards. Especially in places with laws designed to enforce energy efficiency and reduce waste, you may have to submit additional compliance packages to regulators before your project is done.

If your commercial structure is likely to create problems for neighbors, you may have to either obtain an easement or try to reduce potential nuisances. Mitigation measures might include installing walls to minimize sound and barriers to reduce traffic speeds.

Customer Requirements

A commercial structure oftentimes has to meet certain standards. For some customers, these are driven by industry requirements. Others might have to comply with franchise or brand standards.

Typically, a commercial building is more customized than a residential one. Folks from a commercial construction company frequently spend more time discussing concerns with architects, designers, engineers, and contractors. As revisions are made, these have to go through compliance processes. Also, the customer has to stay in the decision-making look. Simply put, commercial construction company services providers can face more particular issues regarding construction than residential work.