News 7 May
Commercial vs Residential Construction: What’s the Difference?

You may already know this (or you may not), but commercial vs residential buildings make up two very different types of construction, for a multitude of reasons. They differ both in the way that they are constructed, as well as in the way they are regulated. However, there are some forms of residential buildings that could be seen as a commercial building.

We share some insight into commercial vs residential construction, and what the differences are between the two.


Commercial vs Residential Building

A commercial building is used for commercial purposes. It is generally used for offices, shops, schools, factories etc. A commercial construction company needs to understand that a building might house various business types within the same structure and design.

Contrast to that, a residential building is usually a home or building with a primary purpose of housing people to live in it. Residential construction comes in many forms, including single family homes, duplex and townhouses. A multi-residential apartment complex is commonly mistaken as a residential building, however as it is used to lease property, it is regarded as a commercial building.


Key Differences Between Commercial vs Residential Construction

There are a few major differences between commercial vs residential construction regarding style and building techniques.

Plumbing tends to be more advanced and extensive in a commercial building (including a multi-residential apartment) vs a residential building. Each floor generally requires multiple bathrooms and kitchens. Electrical work can also be very complex in a commercial building. For instance, a commercial building will likely require more power outlets, lighting and a strong data connection to house a large number of companies, staff and tenants.

While it is possible to construct a home with a steel frame, most residential homes are usually wood framed. The strength of the wood cannot support a multi-level building, which is why commercial buildings (including multi-residential buildings) tend to use a concrete and steel structure combination.

Commercial projects often require a larger team, more expensive equipment, more detailed plans and additional overhead costs compared to a residential home. The construction process of a commercial building is usually more in depth and a number of stakeholders and decision makers are involved in this process, for example, an engineer, architect, project manager and superintendent.

It is often said that more there is more freedom and heart in a residential project, as owners of the homes tend to see it as a more personal reflection rather than a functional building.


Building Codes

Another major difference between commercial vs residential construction are the building code requirements. Under the Building Code of Australia, there are a number of building classes that apply to residential and commercial construction.

Class 1: Houses that are typically standalone single dwellings and horizontally attached dwellings, for example, a townhouse. It can also be a guest house or hostel with a total area of all floors that does not exceed 300m2 and where no more than 12 reside.

Class 2: Apartment buildings containing two or more sole occupancy units (a room or part of a building for occupation by one occupant).

Class 3: A residential building (other than Class 1 or 2) for a number of unrelated persons, for example, a boarding house, hotel and backpackers accommodation.

Class 5: An office building.

Class 6: A shop or other building used to sell goods or services by retail directly to the public.

Class 9: A building of a public nature, for example, a hospital, community hall and aged care building.

Commercial and multi-residential buildings will follow the Building Code of Australia, Volume 1, Classes 2 to 9, and residential buildings (plus sheds/carports/swimming pools) will follow Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume 2, Classes 1 and 10.


Want to Know More About the Difference Between Commercial vs Residential?

If you would like to know more about the different between commercial vs residential and construction and what it means for your upcoming project, our team can answer your questions. Give the Solutions Built team a call to or send us an email to get in touch.

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