Types of Commercial Building Construction


Commercial building construction can imply anything from renovating an office building to the construction of a brand-new airport. The following article details the different scales and types of commercial building construction and how to determine what is best for your project.

When planning for commercial building construction, you must consider the scale and type of construction appropriate for the project. The three scales of commercial construction are small-scale, medium-scale, and large-scale; each varying in the number of workers, equipment, and time needed. The five major types of construction are as follows: fire-resistant (Type I), non-combustible (Type II), ordinary (Type III), heavy timber (Type IV), and wood-framed (Type V), with each type differing in the materials used and their respective level of fire-resistance.

The three scales of commercial construction: small-scale, medium-scale, and large-scale 

Small-scale commercial construction largely involves renovations and repairs. The process does not take very long and a smaller amount of workers and equipment is needed than on other scales. Renovating an office space or café, repairing an existing structure, and building a free-standing retail location are all examples that would fall under this category.

Medium-scale commercial construction involves upgrades, expansions, and complete builds from the ground up. The upgrades and expansions are more complicated than what would be considered a small-scale construction, an example being something like adding new floors to an office building. Naturally, this type of commercial construction requires more equipment, workers, and time to complete. 

Large-scale commercial construction is exactly what it sounds like—large in scale. These types of projects are major undertakings that are funded by major commercial development companies and government agencies. Examples of projects of this magnitude would include building skyscrapers, airports, roads, stadiums, government buildings, etc. For these projects, a massive crew is required, as well as a lot of state-of-the-art equipment. These types of projects can potentially take years to complete.

Five different types of commercial building construction

  • Type I: fire-resistant 

These types of structures are made of the most fire-resistant materials, such as steel beams and poured concrete. They have the highest level of safety and are designed to withstand flames for up to four hours. Skyscrapers and parking garages would fall into this category.

  • Type II: non-combustible

These types of structures are similar to Type I, as they are built of much of the same kinds of material. However, they rank a little bit lower in terms of safety and durability because they may utilize some materials that aren’t as fire-resistant, and they also do not typically have fire-resistive coatings. Modern schools and shopping malls tend to fall into this category. 

  • Type III: brick-and-joist (ordinary)

Structures in this category have exteriors made of materials such as masonry, concrete, brick, and other non-combustible materials, but their interiors are often constructed out of wood. This type is typically referred to as “ordinary,” as it is the most common type of commercial construction.

  • Type IV: heavy timber 

This category describes structures that are mainly made out of large, heavy beams of wood, typically connected by metal plates and bolts, but older designs may utilize traditional mortise and tenon joinery. The exterior can still employ non-combustible materials, but the main structure is solid wood. Despite being made of wood, these structures can be fairly fire-resistant, as the wood beams are extremely thick and resilient. This type of construction can be seen most often used for churches, lodges, and barns.

  • Type V: wood-framed

This is another one of the most typical types of construction and is actually seen a lot in residential construction. Wood-framed construction does allow for combustible interior materials, though it still needs to meet certain fire safety standards. This type of construction is extremely common for small homes.

Which type should you choose for your commercial building construction project?

The type of construction you want to utilize for your commercial construction project depends entirely on what you are building. Different types of structures have different standards that need to be met in terms of fire resistance and durability. For example, a parking garage is obviously not going to be built with a wooden frame, and you wouldn’t necessarily want to build a shopping mall entirely out of heavy timber. If your building requires both combustible and non-combustible material, you may need to consider building a firewall in order to separate the two different types of construction. This is typically accomplished with a thick concrete wall.

Make sure your commercial construction project is done right

Commercial building construction is a major undertaking that requires some serious planning and consideration. The first step is having a solid understanding of the type and scale of the project. Contact Remington Builders Group today to begin your commercial building construction project!

How do I know if a commercial contractor is right for my type of construction project?

It is recommended to look into a contractor’s portfolio to make sure they have experience with the specific type of project you want to hire them for. Don’t be afraid to ask them directly about their previous projects!

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