What Is The Difference Between Commercial and Industrial Construction?

There is a popular misconception that the construction industry is just about building houses and businesses.

The reality is that within the construction industry, there are several different types of construction that a company can specialize in.

Two of the most significant categories are commercial construction and industrial construction.

Although similar, there are some significant differences between these two categories.

Industrial construction refers to the construction of a business that deals with manufacturing goods, like manufacturing plants, power plants, refineries, and solar wind farms.

Commercial construction refers to constructing a business or venture to gain profit.

Commercial buildings include restaurants, retail centers, hospitals, distribution centers, private schools and universities, sports facilities, and grocery stores.

People outside of the construction process will see little difference between an industrial construction site or a commercial construction site.

But to people inside the industry, the two have several key differences, each with its own challenges. And for them, it is easy to spot the difference.

Read more about how to overcome remote work challenges in the construction industry.

In the article below, we will talk about several key differences between commercial and industrial construction.

Table of Contents



Designs will differ for industrial and commercial construction

Commercial and industrial construction differences start at the beginning of the building design phase.

Commercial buildings house service-oriented businesses, so the floor plans for their facilities must promote foot traffic and tenant satisfaction.

Aesthetics, interior and exterior, also play a vital role in commercial design, whether you're building a shopping mall or a big box store.

With industrial design, the focus is on coordinating manufacturing and distribution.

There will be an extra emphasis on functionality as well.

With industrial structures, logistics will always be more important than aesthetics, and the designs will center around efficient production and industry safety standards.


Finalizing The Project

Finishing up your project is also very different when it comes to commercial and industrial construction.

Before a commercial building owner can open their doors when construction is done, they must finalize permitting and occupancy requirements that meet and satisfy their local guidelines.

It is unlikely that you will ever need the approval of anyone other than your local planning and zoning boards with commercial properties.

With industrial facilities, however, you must get approval from your local boards and meet permitting requirements and building codes that comply with numerous standards set by local, state, and federal agencies.


Site Planning

Every construction project begins with a detailed analysis of the physical environment.

This includes selecting the building location, site size, lot boundaries, and traffic patterns, whether industrial or commercial.

Office buildings and retail spaces depend on easy access for clients and customers, plenty of parking, and friendly pedestrian amenities.

On the other hand, an industrial site will need to plan for 24/7 shipping and receiving, access to major highways, and proximity to airports or train stations.

Supporting Infrastructure

The supporting infrastructure will differ between commercial and industrial construction

Commercial construction infrastructure lays out a pattern of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical connections to the various offices, retail stores, and shared public areas.

The centralized network is designed to operate according to the needs of the tenants.

Industrial infrastructure requires heavy-duty installations to support specialized equipment, meet industry regulations, and maintain demanding production requirements.


Project Management

Established vendors and tenants are crucial to success when building shopping malls, supermarkets, or business parks in a commercial project.

A general contractor working on a commercial project ensures their project is successful by coordinating subcontractors and suppliers to meet their established goals.

Industrial construction often requires materials and workmanship that go above and beyond commercial projects.

On-site equipment assembly, custom fabrication, and large-scale installations with heavy equipment are a few things to consider for industrial buildings, making it more challenging.



Beginning new commercial construction projects or industrial projects requires foresight of possible problems and their solutions.

An excellent industrial construction company with years of industry experience with various construction types will be aware of these potential problems and be able to solve them on time.

STEVENS is ready to help you start your next industrial construction project.

We have over 75 years of operational experience while working to deliver the high-quality construction services we are known for.

We proudly serve clients in the manufacturing and industrial, energy and power, oil and gas, and government markets, building a proven success track record.

Click the button below for more information and to start your next construction project with STEVENS.


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About The Author


I'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for the esteemed STEVENS company. As someone passionate about crafting captivating content, I take great pride in creating pieces that highlight STEVENS' capabilities and communicate the depth and breadth of their outstanding work.

In my role, I'm constantly striving to develop messaging that resonates with our clients and effectively showcases the exceptional work that we do here at STEVENS. I believe that communication is the key to success, and I work tirelessly to ensure our marketing efforts are engaging and informative.

When I'm not working, I often spend time with my three wonderful children. Becoming a dad is one of the best things that has happened to me, and I love every moment I get to spend with my wife and kids. You can also find me in the gym, trying to better myself, and I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or checking out local parks.