8 Types of Commercial Construction Projects

Published Categorized as Construction
Types of Construction

There are several types of commercial construction projects that contractors can be tasked to develop, build, and oversee. These types of projects pertain to the building of structures intended for business or commercial purposes. Unlike residential construction where you deal with homeowners and their architects, commercial or industrial construction deals with corporate representatives, including a team of architects, engineers, and designers.

The eight most common types of commercial construction projects are restaurants, retail, grocery stores, shopping malls, medical facilities, office buildings, hotels and lodgings, institutional buildings, industrial structures like factories and warehouses, and sports facilities.

Read on and learn more about these different types of commercial construction projects, including what makes each of them unique and how they are different from each other. While certain aspects of these projects are similar to each other, they also have different nuances.

What Is Commercial Construction?

Commercial construction is a broad sector of construction that encompasses a multitude of projects. Some of the most common commercial construction projects include restaurants, retail facilities, medical facilities, and office buildings.

We have listed eight common types of commercial construction projects. But this number is not set in stone. For some contractors, there are seven. Some contractors also categorize their construction projects differently.

1. Restaurants

Restaurants are not just places where customers come to eat. They also project a total brand experience, where customers spend 30 to 90 minutes to get away from their daily routines and enjoy a different atmosphere. As such, a restaurant’s branding is important, and a good designer, architect, or contractor is instrumental to its success.

Local permits and regulations are also critical to this type of project. It is also important to have an understanding of safety protocols and electrical planning, especially for the kitchen area.

Moreover, when it comes to restaurant chains, successful construction involves conforming to the corporation’s established guidelines. Meanwhile, for individual establishments, the construction and development team has to come up with an innovative and unique approach to provide customers comfort and employee versatility.

2. Retail, Grocery Stores, and Shopping Malls

Retail stores can either be smaller stores within a shopping mall or a store that’s large enough to include stand-alone stores. When it comes to retail stores with multiple branches or locations, it is important to consider branding and consistency. So when corporate flagship stores get a design update, this is rolled out to the other locations, and contractors have the challenge of keeping true to the new construction design and aesthetics.

For retail stores, grocery stores, and shopping malls, the goal is for customers to visit them frequently or regularly. So the contractor’s challenge is to renovate or construct an overall attractive building with an interesting layout that also promotes the fluid movement of people. The look of the inside and outside of the establishment has to be welcoming.

3. Medical Facilities

This type of commercial construction project includes places like hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, laboratories, rehabilitation centers, physical therapy centers, and even buildings that deal with the pet population. Medical facilities are different from other types of construction because they require intensive planning for plumbing and electrical configurations and much diverse but critical equipment.

Places like hospitals also feature a lot of rooms, yet ease of navigation and movement for patients, personnel, and even potentially life-saving equipment should always be on top of your head.

Overall, accessibility is much more important in medical facilities than any other type of building. When you develop such a project, you need to be aware that all segments of society are likely going to use it.

4. Office Buildings

Office buildings can be very diverse. The scope of this type of commercial construction project can range from small business office spaces to functional facilities, office complexes, to skyscrapers owned by major corporations from any industry. These skyscrapers can house an interesting mix of businesses within its vast framework.

The type of business occupying the building could mean setting it up in a unique fashion, as opposed to just using a cookie-cutter approach. At the same time, construction necessities like fire escapes and bathrooms must also address vital access concerns. The larger office buildings could also contain everything from hair salons to standard offices.

5. Hotels and Lodging Facilities

This type of commercial construction project focuses largely on the hotel and motel industry. Building these lodging facilities involves meeting certain special requirements, like room sizes, fire exits, privacy and sound-proofing, and thoroughly planned out electrical and plumbing works to make sure there is an equal distribution of power and water to each room.Another important aspect is fluidity and ease of movement, especially in terms of traffic to and from the elevators.

For hotels and other lodging facilities, business owners usually go for the more experienced contractors. This is because quality construction is critical, given that customers or guests spend much more time in a hotel than they do retail stores. And when they do, they expect luxury and utmost comfort.

6. Institutional Buildings

Institutional buildings include high schools, colleges, universities, libraries, and learning centers. For Trumbull-Nelson Construction Company, there’s no typical institutional construction project. These institutional projects still vary widely, with so many diverse aspects to them, like the issue of land use and the possible environmental impacts.

There are also contractors, like WG Powell, who lumped institutional projects with commercial projects. They classify this project as buildings that include project sizes, and these include clinics, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping centers, retail stores, warehouses, stadiums, sports facilities, manufacturing plants, etc.

7. Industrial Structures

Industrial structures include factories and warehouses. Companies that manufacture certain products or produce items every day need facilities to make them and to store the raw materials they need. They would also need large spaces to accommodate massive machines or equipment, as well as a large number of workers.

These buildings may therefore require high ceilings for heavy machinery, large rooms with good ventilation, and anything else that would make it easier to address safety matters.

There are many industrial facilities that have specialized building requirements, such as shipping docks, raised ceiling heights, equipment planning, and heavy machinery. Yet another necessary planning issue is a matter of safety.

8. Sports Facilities

Sports and athletic types of construction projects can cover or include fitness centers, stadiums, arenas, and even school facilities like gymnasiums and play areas. These structures are different because they serve a rather unique purpose, and they have a specific design factor.

While you don’t have to worry about making separate rooms for the building, you need to plan out seating that could accommodate many spectators. Other than specialized seating such as bleachers, equipment planning is also vital.

Stadiums, gyms, and arenas are equipped with sports machinery that athletes and students can utilize. Safety is also a critical aspect of planning such as athletic facility projects.

General Types of Construction Projects

Commercial construction projects are just one type of construction projects in general. Broadly speaking, construction projects have three categories: private construction, state construction, and federal construction. Commercial construction falls under private construction projects.

Private Construction Projects

Private construction projects are those construction projects that are controlled, commissioned, or owned by private parties. These private parties can be corporations, homeowners, individuals, other business entities, privately funded schools, non-profit organizations, public traded companies, and private hospitals, among others. Any project that is not for the government is private.

A private construction project can come in any shape and size. As such, there are also different subcategories of private construction projects, depending on the character of work performed on them. Commercial construction is one of these subcategories.

Commercial Construction

Commercial construction pertains to the construction of any structures or buildings for commercial purposes. There is a wide variety of commercial construction projects, including skyscrapers, restaurants, grocery stores, sports facilities, hospitals, shopping centers, private schools, and universities.

Industrial Construction

This is a small segment of the construction industry, and projects include manufacturing plants, power plants, refineries, and solar wind farms. Sometimes, the term “industrial construction” is interchanged with “commercial construction.”

Residential Construction

Residential construction entails construction work on a residential facility with less than three units or a single-family residence. A residential facility with several units is more aptly considered an apartment complex, and this would more likely be categorized as a commercial project instead of a residential one.

Similarly, a condominium would be considered a residential construction project if you are working on a single unit, but if it’s on an entire complex, the work would be considered commercial.

State Construction Projects

State construction projects pertain to projects funded or commissioned by a city, municipality, country, public school board, government board, or any government entity, and they can take any form.

These projects can be pretty traditional ones, like the construction of a courtroom or a public school. Or they can be rather sophisticated, like the construction of a highway, bridge, or sewer line.

Federal Construction Projects

Federal construction projects are the same as state construction projects. And like state projects, federal projects can take on various forms. They can be as traditional and simple as courthouses, flood control structures, and other government buildings. Or they can be rather complicated.What makes these two types of projects different, however, is who owns or controls the project site. It is not the entity that funds the construction. This means that if work is done on a building owned by the state using federal funds, it is considered a state project.

Commercial Construction Projects and General Contractors

As mentioned above, commercial construction projects are undertaken by the private sector.

Commercial construction projects are for the construction and sale of business structures like retail centers, offices, warehouses, and industrial buildings. Developers, business owners, and managers hire general contractors to construct or remodel and oversee their commercial buildings.

General contractors may work in several sectors of the construction industry, like both commercial and residential construction. However, some general contractors may only service select ones, so when deciding on a commercial contracting firm, it is best to ask them first what kind of industries they cater to.

General contractors may also avail of the services of subcontractors to work on a project if they don’t have the proper amount of workers or knowledge in a specific field of the project, such as plumbing.

Levels of Commercial Construction

There are plenty of commercial construction projects, but there are also various levels of construction. The quotation for your construction project and how it is handled depends on the scale of the project. You can do projects into any of these three different scales of commercial construction.


Small-scale commercial construction projects include structure updates, office space redesigns, and building repairs. Jobs that fall under this level are typically less costly, and they require minimum personnel from the contractor’s side. Business rebranding, extensions to a structure, opening up of spaces, and any form of facelift to an office space or building also fall under small-scale construction.


Medium-scale construction projects include remodel of commercial buildings, building restructures, additional structures or expansions, or other projects that are more time-consuming than small-scale projects. This is because, over time, buildings start to lose their stylish look and their freshness. They also start showing signs of wear and tear.


Large-scale commercial construction comprises those projects that start from the ground up. The construction team will work with a developer or an architect to create a new structure that is based on the vision of the business owner. Large-scale construction projects require a lot of preparation, time, and development to ensure a successful outcome.

After acquiring the land and the zoning codes, contractors can start with the construction of the commercial building. Some other elements may infringe on the development, such as the demolition of an existing structure on the land.

Various Commercial Construction Project Classifications

When you look into the different types of commercial construction projects, you will find that the answers may vary and the list is not definite. Some contractors, like design and construction company The Bannett Group, Ltd., classifies commercial design and construction projects into four different types:

  • Out-of-the-ground – Also called new construction, this type of commercial construction project refers to any work that starts from ground zero. Whether it’s an undeveloped parcel of land or one that you intend to raze, you start with a clean slate. New build challenges include the design and construction of a building.
  • Renovations – Renovations or retro-fits are projects that involve improving an existing structure. Many clients are looking to modernize the look of their building or facility, while others are more concerned about taking advantage of newer, more efficient materials and technology. Still, others choose to go green and be environment-friendly.
  • Design-to-suit – Also called fit-outs, these projects are typically on rental or leased spaces. Clients typically want to update these spaces and to make them suitable for their needs. Depending on the amount of the project and the lease duration, a landlord or developer may contribute financially to the tenant’s fit-out.
  • Expansions – Expansions involve having an excellent location but cramped facilities. Contractors are engaged to help business owners efficiently add on to their space to give their growing business more room to operate. In this case, it is the contractor’s goal to conduct the expansion with the least amount of disruption to ensure business continuity.

The Importance of Knowing the Different Construction Project Types

It pays to be knowledgeable about the different types of commercial construction projects if you are interested in getting into the construction and development industry. Knowing the kinds of construction projects will help you know about the various laws that govern each of them. Rules and regulations, as well as requirements, are significantly different for each type of construction project.

For instance, bond claim laws and mechanics lien requirements are drastically different depending on the project type. Aside from these, labor laws and contracting rules are also different for each project type.

Knowing the legal requirements is the only way you could be compliant with the law. It allows you to obtain the proper permits, too, and know how to go about expediting the process if you can. Because, let’s admit it, for one to succeed as a contractor, you will have to know whom to approach. You will need to build a network of connections.Compliance, after all, is one of the first things you need to get out of the way when you embark on new projects for a client.


In the construction industry, the kind of project that you have agreed to undertake can vary, depending on what particular commercial structure the client wants you to build. A particular type of project would require you to consider particular aspects of construction, too. Surely, some of these job aspects will be similar to those of other types of the project, yet each still has its different nuances.

Moreover, each type of project has its own set of legal requirements and permits that you would have to be in compliance with. You will have to comply with all of these before you can proceed to the next phase of your construction project.


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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