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Key Differences Between Commercial and Industrial Construction

People outside of the construction industry won’t see much difference between an industrial construction site and a commercial construction site. But to people inside the industry, there are several key differences between the two, and each has its own set of challenges. And for them, it is easy to spot the difference.

The construction industry is often mistaken for being a one-size-fits-all industry, but this isn’t the case. There are various types of construction a company can focus on. Two of these construction types are commercial and industrial. While these two types are similar, they differ in a few notable ways. For example, with commercial construction, the clue is in the name. It refers to a project built to generate money. Great examples of buildings that come under the banner of commercial buildings include but are not limited to:

  • Hospitality venues such as bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants.
  • Retail outlets like shopping centres and supermarkets.
  • Arenas for sports and music purposes.

Industrial construction is very different and refers to the creation of buildings for the production of goods. This broad term includes but isn’t limited to the following:

  • Power plants, both using fossil fuels and clean energy such as tidal, solar and wind.
  • Resource refineries
  • Manufacturing facilities.

When comparing the two, there are several differences, each has its own set of challenges. Let’s have a closer look.

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Design Phase

Commercial and industrial construction are distinct from one another right from the get-go. For instance, commercial buildings are created for service-oriented businesses and facility floor plans must be created to withstand heavy foot traffic and the satisfaction of the end user. Aesthetics, the way the building looks both interior and exterior, are also important considerations when designing commercial premises. 

On the other hand, industrial construction focuses on the coordination of manufacturing and distribution, with an emphasis on facility functionality. Logistics is at the heart of the industrial design process with safety standards and production efficiencies as core considerations.

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Before construction commences on any project, several factors need to be taken into account. Some of the things that should be scrutinised include:

  • The size of the plot and its boundaries
  • Traffic around the plot
  • The physical environment of the chosen plot

Commercial buildings rely on the ease of access for people visiting. Other considerations to think about are potential parking opportunities and other amenities in the area for pedestrians.

For industrial facilities, the primary consideration has to be shipping capabilities. Access to major roads and in some cases rail and airports are necessary.

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Supporting site infrastructure lays out amenities onsite including electrical and plumbing connections. It also includes HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Both industrial and commercial projects are the same in this regard and this network of amenities is designed around the needs of the facilities user.

Within commercial facilities, these layouts service the likes of retail outlets, office spaces and shared public areas. Industrial infrastructure requires apparatus capable of supporting heavy equipment that can maintain demanding production requirements and meet industry-specific needs and regulations.

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Again different. Within the realms of commercial construction building infrastructure along the lines of business and retail parks and shopping centres, it is the end tenants along with general contractors that make things happen.

A general contractor working on a commercial project makes sure their project is completed successfully by working hand-in-hand with trusted subcontractors and suppliers to meet the needs of the facility.

With industrial construction, in so many cases the project requires materials and workmanship that go above and beyond commercial projects. On-site equipment assembly, custom fabrication, and large-scale installations are a few things to consider in an industrial construction project, making industrial construction projects a little more challenging.

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Finally, project completion differs when it comes to commercial and industrial construction. Before the owner of a commercial building can use the premises must satisfy their local council guidelines.

With industrial design, however, you have to get approval from your local council, but you also have to meet requirements that comply with national and industrial health and safety guidelines.


When embarking on a new construction project, whether it be a commercial or industrial one, it will require extensive preparation and an understanding of possible problems that may occur and how they can be overcome. 

A good industrial construction company with years of industry experience will be aware of any potential problems and how to solve them.

FSC is ready to help you get started on your next construction project. Our team has extensive experience performing a wide range of superior-quality construction services. We service a plethora of commercial and industrial sectors with a proven track record for delivering customer requirements.

Discover how we can assist your business in its next construction project by contacting FSC today.

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