What is commercial construction? Everything you need to know for 2024

If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you might think all contractors deal with building new homes or renovating existing ones. But residential construction is only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s everything you need to know about commercial construction–and why you shouldn’t hire a residential contractor for your commercial project.

The main types of commercial construction

Not all construction projects–or contractors are equal. There’s at least three different types of construction and each requires a contractor with a unique skillset:

  • Residential: if you’re new to the construction world, this might be the type you’re most familiar with, thanks to HGTV (which does put rose-colored glasses on the process to begin with). Residential contractors cover single-family residential properties. Residential construction can encompass building new homes or home renovation.
  • Industrial: industrial renovation may be the least well-known type. Whenever an industrial-grade building, such as a factory, distribution center, or production plant, is constructed or needs renovated, you’ll want a contractor who specializes in industrial construction.
  • Commercial construction: this type encompasses all buildings used for commercial use. This can include healthcare facilities, retail stores, restaurants, and apartment buildings…though we’ll go into more detail about this in the next section.

Technically, there could be other types of construction (and subtypes for these three), but these are the types most people will come into contact with. One of the first steps to a successful construction project is identifying which type your contact falls into and partnering with a specialized contractor.
So, what is commercial construction?

commercial construction shot

As we previously mentioned, commercial construction involves buildings used for commercial use. There are many different uses for commercial buildings, though almost all require clients or customers and staff using the building. The types of projects a commercial contractor takes on includes:

  • Healthcare facilities
  • Retirement homes
  • Apartment buildings
  • Office spaces
  • Retail properties
  • Restaurants
  • Industrial buildings, from smaller projects like auto repair shops to bigger industrial complexes, such as factories
  • Wellness buildings, such as yoga studios

These projects can either involve constructing new projects, such as building a new Starbucks location, or renovating old spaces, such as transforming an old office space into a doctor’s office.

As you can imagine, the requirements for a commercial construction project will look different than for other types of construction. Here’s everything you need to know about before, during, and after a commercial construction project:

Before starting a commercial construction project

Before diving into a construction project, it’s a good idea to select a contractor who specializes in commercial construction, such as Carlton Building Services. A residential contractor might be great at what they do, but they won’t understand the process–or how to get the right permits–like a commercial one.

You also want to make sure that the contractor is good at what they do. Watch out for green flags such as:

  • Good reviews online
  • Their quote is about the industry average, not way lower
  • You can easily communicate with them and trust them
  • They have work experience with the type of project you need done

During a commercial construction project

Once you’ve selected your contractor, it’s time to get started. Make sure you outline the scope and have a written contractor with your contractor.

Since you chose a reputable contractor you trust, it is ok to give over control of the project for them. Your job isn’t to manage a construction site. That being said, it’s a good idea to keep up-to-date with the project and stay cognizant of the work being done…and if the project is staying within budget or not.

After a commercial construction project

Once the project is done, a commercial contractor will work through it with you to create a punch list. A punch list is a list of the last to-dos. They usually include small tasks, like fixing up a paint job, not something which could change the scope of the project, such as adding a wall to a space.

The construction team should also clean up the worksite, though you might want to hire cleaners to come in one last time before you’re open for business.

Commercial construction is a different type of project than the typical residential projects you see on HGTV–and it should be treated like one. Make sure to work with a qualified commercial contractor like Carlton Building Services.

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in repairs, maintenance, renovations, remodelings and build-outs for a variety of clients in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake areas. We have years of experience handling projects in the retail, office, and healthcare space and would love to work with you on your next project!

To learn more about our services, check out past project highlights or contact Carlton Building Services to see how we can help with your next project.

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.