Residential and commercial construction may contrast each other in more ways than you think. Starting with the basics, let’s delve into what factors make these two types of construction significantly different.  

The Basics

Residential construction centers on buildings that are designed for people to live in. Examples of residential properties include single family homes, multi family homes, condominiums, and townhouses. Residential construction may also include remodeling, additions, and renovations to homes.  

Commercial construction, on the other hand, refers to developing buildings for – you guessed it – commercial purposes. Examples of these properties include office spaces, industrial buildings, retail stores, schools, and all types of businesses (malls, grocers, restaurants, etc.). There is a wider range of properties in commercial construction since it refers to any structure used for business, and it also includes remodeling, additions, and renovations to these properties.   

The Differences 

  • Materials 
    • With residential construction, homes are typically made with a timber frame. That is because timber is cost-effective and ideal for smaller buildings that do not require as much structural reinforcement. Commercial projects, on the other hand, are bigger and more complex by design, meaning that they require sturdier materials. That’s why commercial construction usually involves concrete or steel frames, which are stronger and more durable than wood frames. Steel is especially important for taller buildings like skyscrapers. The pliability of the steel allows these structures to withstand the stronger winds they face higher in the sky. For both residential and commercial properties, the materials may of course deviate based on requirements, style, and functions. In some cases steel may be preferable for a residential building – take a barndominium for example! In other cases a timber frame may be used to construct a small commercial building. 
  • Equipment 
    • Due to the larger scale and complexity of building commercial properties, they require some different equipment to carry out construction. This commercial construction equipment is typically larger, more expensive, and more specialized to accommodate building features and infrastructure like elevators and parking garages. Think of heavier machinery such as cranes and earth moving equipment like bulldozers, which need to be operated by professionals to maintain site safety and proper project completion. While some lavish homes may require larger pieces of equipment, most do not need industrial-scale tools for construction. 
  • Permits and regulations 
    • Before starting any construction project you’ll need to check regulations and codes to ensure you’re in compliance. Generally, commercial construction has much stricter regulations. After all, there is a lot more to consider with commercial properties and they must consider restrictions around mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as building approaches among other factors. There are also stricter specifics around safety in regard to elevators for handicap accessibility, for example.  Residential construction has less complex regulations, making them easier to follow. The nature of residential buildings being smaller and less complicated in design contributes to the ease of compliance. 
  • Costs
    • Residential construction can actually be more costly than commercial construction in many cases. Prices can vary with commercial projects due to aspects such as whether equipment is placed in a facility or if specialized drains are used. Cost increases in residential construction can often be associated with additions such as fine finishings, more floor levels, or hidden rooms. 
    • Funding residential and commercial construction also differs. Businesses with bank financing, the government, and developers will typically finance commercial construction projects. Then, in a bidding process those funding the project will hire contractors to oversee the construction. Residential construction properties are, in most cases, financed by a homeowner with a bank loan. However, residential funding can also come from the government, nonprofits, and insurance loans. Unlike the commercial construction funding process, residential projects do not involve a bidding process. 
  • Process
    • The cost and financing of construction projects can play a major role in the building process. With residential construction, financing may fall through or stall more often than with commercial construction. This leads to a delayed construction process for many instances of homebuilding. While finances are not typically an obstacle for commercial buildings, challenges can arise from attaining materials or permits. Commercial construction projects typically go up faster as there are tighter schedules and workflows in place. Further, construction at a faster pace for commercial projects is associated with reduced labor costs and investment, freeing up more room for profit and creating a heavy incentive for faster building processes. The building process for residential construction involves more customization compared to commercial construction. Homeowners pick and choose features based on preferences and are involved in changes throughout the construction of their home. Commercial projects generally have a set plan from the start with less room for personalization.  

Metal Solutions designs and constructs steel buildings for both commercial and residential purposes. Some of our recent work includes offices, car dealerships, grocery stores, hotels, barndominiums, and warehouses.

As an experienced general contracting company, Metal Solutions serves as the point person for your design and construction needs, eliminating the headache and hassle of managing multiple parties. Visit our website to learn how we can help you build your next residential or commercial project.

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