What’s the Difference?

Perhaps you’ve wondered about this question.  Maybe you’ve never thought about it.  Either way, the difference between residential and commercial construction is a good question.  The answer is a lot more than you’d think.


Defining Commercial and Residential Construction

residential construction            Commercial construction is building for commercial purposes. Stores, offices, and schools are all examples of commercial construction.

Residential construction focuses on buildings people will live in.  Homes, apartments, and housing complexes are all forms of residential construction.

This is the difference between the two at the core.  There’s a lot more to it, however; each type of construction has very different methods and specialties.   There is a lot of crossover between the skills, but a specialist in residential cannot simply do commercial if he’s never done it before.  Allow us to break it down.


Construction Materials

commercial construction            While every construction project will use different materials, the types of materials used are different.  In residential construction, the house is usually constructed around a timber frame.  Because residential buildings are smaller, they need less reinforcement.  Timber suffices for the structural needs and is more cost effective.

A commercial building tends to be much larger, however, so it needs more support.  A timber frame would collapse under the weight of a commercial building.  For this reason, commercial construction prefers steel frames.  It’s stronger and supports large buildings better.  It is also more malleable than timber, allowing tall buildings to sway just a little bit, which makes them better able to stand up to high winds.

These are not hard and fast rules, per say. Depending on the style of residential home, sometimes steel is preferable, or even necessary to use, while very small commercial buildings can make use of a timber frame



This is a big one.  It may seem obvious, but the differences in costs can be surprisingly large, even for buildings of similar size.  Commercial construction is always more expensive.  Steel is more expensive than timber, obviously, but there are other factors as well.  Commercial construction tends to be run on a tight schedule, so the workers need to be more skilled in order to meet those deadlines.  That makes their work more expensive.  The two types of construction also have different permits and regulations required of them and this significantly changes the costs.

And speaking of regulations . . .


Permits and Regulations

Compared to residential construction, commercial regulations are much more strict.  The materials, building methods, electrical and plumbing systems, and even how they can be designed are all very strictly regulated.  These regulations also vary significantly between states, or even between towns.  Commercial contractors have to know the regulations very well if they want their company to succeed.

While residential buildings still have to follow building codes, the regulations are simpler.  The buildings are smaller and simpler in design (usually), so there are far less factors to consider in building them.


What does MW Do?

MW Construction handles both residential and commercial.  We have experts in both types on staff, but our particular specialty is in managing teams.  We minimize the number of subcontractors on a project to avoid confusion, but the ones we do hire are always the best.  Our management experience allows us to find the best combination of teams as well as keep everyone on the same page.  This allows us to minimize construction times on all projects.  You’ll have your building done faster and of better quality than any of our competitors could hope to offer.  They’ll last longer and be of better quality.

So, if you’re looking for a contractor, whether residential or commercial, look no further than MW Construction.  Get in touch and find out how we can help you today.