Industrial vs. Commercial Construction: What Sets Them Apart?

Author Chris Cook Read bio
Tags: construction
Date: May 8, 2023

If you own, manage or direct a commercial property, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to opt for industrial or commercial construction

This can have major implications for your bottom line and it’s important that you understand the key differences between the two in order to make an informed decision. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a comprehensive look at industrial vs. commercial construction – from materials and methods used to cost and time requirements – so that you can get a better feel for what sets them apart. 

Industrial and Commercial Construction Explained

Industrial and commercial construction are two distinct types of construction projects. Understanding the differences between the two is essential for anyone involved in the construction industry.

Industrial Construction

Industrial construction involves the creation of facilities that are designed to handle complex and specialized processes. These facilities are integral in the manufacture, production, and distribution of products or materials that help support and drive industries, making them an essential aspect of many economies.

From factories to power plants, these structures require intricate planning and precise project management to create spaces that are not only safe but also practical and efficient in promoting industrial growth. 

Despite the demanding requirements of industrial construction, the results are often awe-inspiring, with buildings that are not only visually impressive but also serve as an important and enduring cornerstone of many industries.

Commercial Construction

Commercial construction involves the creation of buildings that accommodate commercial institutions such as offices, healthcare clinics, hospitals, stores, and schools. 

While the term “commercial construction” can include industrial construction, it primarily refers to the construction of business and retail establishments. From small-scale office buildings to large-scale strip malls and hospitals, the size and scope of commercial construction projects can vary greatly. 

Regardless of scale, commercial construction requires detailed planning, materials, and expertise to create structures that meet the needs of the intended business and its customers.

Construction of a commercial building


Key Differences

Here are some of the most important differences between industrial and commercial construction:

Design and Layout

When it comes to constructing a building, understanding the differences in design and layout between industrial and commercial structures is crucial. 

Commercial buildings are typically intended for businesses or other service-oriented activities, while industrial structures are built to accommodate manufacturing or production processes. As a result, the design and layout of each type of building must consider unique features and operational considerations.

In commercial construction, focus is placed on creating an aesthetically pleasing space that is inviting to customers and easy to navigate. Industrial construction, on the other hand, requires a focus on functionality and efficiency, while also taking into account safety measures and heavy machinery requirements.

Materials and Construction Methods

While commercial buildings tend to focus on creating aesthetically pleasing designs with a focus on the customer experience, industrial buildings prioritize functionality and durability. As such, the materials used for these two types of buildings can vary significantly.

For instance, commercial buildings often feature:

  • Large glass windows
  • High-end finishes
  • Designer fixtures

Contrastingly, industrial buildings may incorporate:

  • Heavy-duty steel beams
  • Concrete
  • Corrugated metal siding

In terms of construction methods, commercial buildings may utilize more traditional techniques, while industrial buildings may prioritize modular construction or prefabrication due to the sheer size and complexity of these structures.

Regulatory Requirements

When it comes to building codes and safety requirements, it’s important to note that industrial and commercial construction projects face different sets of regulations.

For industrial construction sites, the following are necessary to ensure safety:

  • Permission from local zoning boards,
  • Adherence to strict guidelines set at the local, state, and federal levels.

These measures are necessary to ensure the safety of those working on the construction site and those living nearby.

Zoning laws are particularly crucial for industrial construction projects because they dictate:

  • How far the completed facility must be from residential areas,
  • To protect the safety of individuals in those communities.

With these measures in place, both industrial and commercial construction projects can operate with a high level of safety and assurance for all involved.

Cost and Timeframe

Commercial buildings tend to be smaller in scale and more focused on aesthetics, while industrial buildings require specialized equipment and materials for their unique functions.

This can result in longer construction timelines and higher costs for industrial buildings. Several factors impact the construction budget and timeline for each type of building, such as:

  •  materials used, 
  • labor costs, and
  • the complexity of the project.

As such, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of what’s driving the costs and timelines for your specific construction project.

By working with experienced professionals who can help you navigate these complexities, you can ensure that your building is constructed efficiently and cost-effectively while still meeting all necessary standards and regulations.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or need to update an existing structure, we can help. Contact us now for commercial construction services.