High-rise buildings photo taken from below

Residential vs Commercial Structures: How Are They Different?

As you go round the city, you may notice some ads for residential and commercial spaces for rent, buy or lease. Have you ever wondered, apart from their purpose, what makes these two types of structures different from each other?


Residential and commercial structures use materials. Generally, the residential market relies on wood for the materials of the frame they use during construction, especially for townhouses and single-family homes. Meanwhile, those who are building commercial structures usually use a steel frame.

One of the most common reasons for this difference common material choices is the cost of the materials. The average homeowner may not be able to afford the use of steel beams for the construction of their house, while owners of commercial structures would be more willing to invest in more expensive materials.

Since commercial constructions are usually happening at larger scopes, commercial builders typically need to have an established relationship with suppliers of construction materials to ensure that they get to do their job consistently. A tenuous relationship or a breakdown in the chain that builders have with their supplier can lead to a lot of problems for commercial constructions, like the supplier providing insufficient materials or entirely cutting off their supply.

Equipment and personnel

Around the world, mansions are being built on a daily basis, but even the largest of them might be dwarfed by the construction of a commercial building. The larger construction size would need the use of a crane, and other larger and heavy-duty equipment that are not ordinarily found in a residential construction site. Using larger equipment safely and efficiently would, in turn, require hiring properly-trained personnel to operate them. Meanwhile, most residential jobs do not require as much equipment and workforce.

Permits and codes

Contractor checking information on his tablet

Any kind of construction should adhere to specific codes and obtain the necessary permits from the local government where they are building their structure. However, the main difference between these structures is that there are more permits required for the construction of a commercial structure and more codes imposed on it as well. The stricter regulations can mostly be attributed to the various aspects that have to be taken into consideration regarding a commercial building’s makeup.

For one, commercial buildings need to consider safety factors for more elaborate electrical and IT connections, as well as the development of parking lots or larger parking garages. Commercial elevator and commercial stair design should also take into account heavier traffic and more strenuous use. In general, the safety precautions that a commercial structure needs to have is greater than those of residential ones.

Work Pace

Any kind of construction has to be completed as quickly as possible. But, since most businesses are moving at a much faster pace and have a larger investment in their structure than usual homeowners, the expectation for the completion of a commercial construction is set at a higher level and quicker pace than that of a residential construction.

Residential and commercial builders have very different specialisations. While any of these spaces can be converted to serve the purpose of the other, each has attributes that are specific to what they were initially built for. After all, a residential structure is a living space made for comfort and security, while a commercial structure is a place of business that needs to foster efficiency and productivity.

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