What is the difference between Commercial and Residential Construction? If you are considering taking on a project that involves residential or commercial construction, it is important that you know the differences between the two before you start.

Even though the answer may sound simple to most people, you may be surprised to know how distinct that these 2 construction types really are today. With that being said, let’s get started by defining each construction type.

Definition of Commercial Construction

Commercial construction can be described as buildings that are constructed solely for the purpose of commercial use. Some of the most commonly known examples of construction buildings.
include retail stores, business offices, and schools.

Definition of Residential Construction

Residential construction can be described as buildings that are constructed solely for the purpose of people to live in. Some of the most commonly known examples of residential constructions include houses, apartments, townhomes, and all other types of residential structures.

Construction Materials

Materials for Residential Constructions

The materials used in building a residential structure usually differ from one residential project to the next. However, there are some basic similarities in these types of projects, too. Therefore, when a contractor starts building one of these structures, the materials that they use is timber frames. Timber is essential in residential constructions for a number of reasons including the following:

Timber is used in the reinforcement of the structure since it is sufficient enough for smaller construction projects. Timber is the Most Cost-Effective

Materials for Commercial Constructions

The materials used in building commercial constructions are relatively the same. . However, the materials used are normally based on the types of projects that’s being built. In short, as a general rule, commercial construction jobs require contractors to use steel frames. Steel frames are critical in these types of structures for the following reasons.

Steel is used in the reinforcement of a commercial structure since it is stronger support for the larger buildings. Timber materials are not strong enough to support large buildings, especially since they can easily collapse under the heavyweight.

Steel materials are used because they are malleable materials, and they can easily sway back and forth with high winds. Timber materials are not malleable so they do not have this kind of flexibility.

Additionally, when you review these materials and the above construction rules, you need to know that they are not sketched in stone. Instead, the materials in both residential and commercial projects are subject to change. For instance, in some small residential homes, steel frames may be preferred or essential for more sound and strong support. Therefore, timber is not always a standard choice for residential constructions.


The cost comparison between residential and commercial construction can also vary greatly. With commercial construction budgets greatly overshadowing and exceeding the expense of a residential home, residential construction is normally always seen as the lesser cost of the two. And, here are some primary reasons why:

  • Steel materials costs are much higher than timber cost
  • Due to tight deadlines of commercial projects, contractors must hire and pay for premium and the most skilled and experienced resources
  • Commercial Permits and Stricter Regulations will cost more to obtain and administer.

Permits and Regulations

As referenced above, the permits and regulations requirements for a commercial structure are a lot more strict than the residential permits and regulations. Unlike residential structures, the rules and codes are not as stringent. Also, each state and municipality is different so the commercial contractors must be highly skilled and experienced in understanding and following through with these requirements to ensure the project deadlines are met on time.

Typically, you may also want to hire someone who is familiar with even the most minuscule part of the regs. Specifically, those commercial regulations can stop a commercial building structure from going up sound and successfully.

Required Equipment

The equipment used in a commercial building and residential structure are also vastly different in specialization and in type. The requirements for a commercial structure are a lot more in handling large hefty projects. For instance, when you need some timber or steel materials to be moved from one place to another on a commercial job, you may need one or more cranes to remove steel materials from the grounds.

Project Deadlines

The project deadlines for a commercial business are hard deadlines. So, it does not need to be moved. This is not always the case for residential construction jobs since these projects can have more leeway.



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