Designing, planning and completing a commercial build differs significantly from a residential project, whether you wish to construct a series of warehouses, extend your facility outward or upward, or commence a new development from scratch.
For many of our clients, the most difficult part is getting started, understanding considerations such as on-site risk management, compliance with building standards, and working out how to begin working on a design based on sustainability, best practice construction techniques and the finish you want your commercial structure to achieve.
In this guide, we work through every aspect step by step, explaining how the construction process works and why project management is key.
The Contrasts Between Commercial and Residential Construction
Commercial construction refers to any building project that is intended for business use – that could include:
- Renovating disused warehouses or facilities.
- Erecting new office buildings and shopping malls.
- Constructing a parking area.
- Extending existing business premises.
- Developing residential accommodation as a rental investment.
While the primary contrast might appear to be in the budget and size of the development project, there are multiple key differences to be aware of.
For example, commercial buildings may require framing built from steel or concrete for durability instead of wooden frames within residential construction projects. They also need different power connections, especially for large-scale commercial units or buildings erected for heavy industrial use.
The planning rules and inspection process are also very different, with commercial builders needing to comply with stricter regulations around electrical safety and building materials, with the scale of the build dictating the types of equipment and machinery necessary for a construction team to carry out the work safely.
Establishing Your Commercial Construction Project Scope
Generally, there are three types of commercial construction:
- Small-scale construction projects typically involve modifying or extending an existing building, such as retrofitting an interior or adding additional outbuildings or units.
- Medium-scale commercial projects could include building retail stores, smaller office buildings or substantially changing existing commercial structures.
- Large-scale projects normally refer to building premises such as hotels, office blocks, high-rise buildings or multi-unit shopping centres.
The type of building project can influence your budget, the time required to complete the construction, the expertise you need from project managers and crew members, the contractors with the capacity to finish the build, and the materials we might suggest for maximum efficiency.
Industry Trends to Be Aware of in Building Design
Smart cities, sustainable materials, technology in computer-aided design simulations and using less equipment that generates fumes are all big focuses in the construction industry. They may be crucial for commercial construction projects utilising grants or planning permission based on environmental criteria.
Experienced commercial contractors can discuss your objectives, budget and requirements during the bidding process to propose solutions that ensure your finished construction project is at the cutting edge of building design.
How to Improve the Sustainability of Commercial Construction Projects
The ideal approach is to assess each step within the project before construction begins to evaluate the tools, equipment, machinery and materials being used. For instance:
- Groundworks might be economised by organising daily responsible waste removal as foundations are dug to minimise the use of space and resources.
- Incorporating advanced energy efficiency measures into the design of the building could mean that post-construction, it commands less cost to run.
- Using high-quality fuels, locally sourced materials and consolidating transportation can all deliver cost efficiencies while making your construction project more sustainable.
Even on small-scale projects for small business clients, there are multiple scenarios where an accomplished project manager can spot further opportunities to add value.
Project Managing a Commercial Build
As all commercial construction companies will agree, construction project management is vital to a successful outcome, working strategically and systematically to coordinate the workforce on-site at any one time, the allocated equipment, site inspections and regulatory checks, and verifying whether construction plans are running to schedule.
Below, we’ve summarised some of the most important factors, whether planning large-scale projects to build a new premise for commercial purposes or needing a medium-scale build to move forward with your business.
Complying With Regulatory and Safety Standards
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets standards for commercial construction sites to protect workers from accident or injury, with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 a relevant piece of legislation all commercial projects must comply with.
In addition, site owners must have valid planning permission and adhere to building regulations that cover everything from fire safety to structural stability, sound insulation to ventilation, and drainage and waste disposal.
During the planning stage, we review all construction projects to assess whether these regulations are being met and make recommendations where processes, schedules or layouts need to be revised to remain compliant.
Implementing Robust Quality Control Processes
Introducing quality controls can mitigate a huge range of the common pitfalls that delay construction projects, usually where materials or vital equipment are not available at the right time, resources are of the wrong density, size or colour, or phases within large-scale projects are not checked and ticked off before work progresses onto the next project.
As experts in all types of commercial construction, we devise custom quality control policies that prevent these issues, setting tolerances and criteria to ensure all work meets your expectations and achieves the necessary results.
On-Site Risk Management
Risk management is imperative to meeting the HSE requirements we mentioned, where construction managers will conduct regular checks, looking at PPE, moving vehicles, delivery management, supply chains and provisions made to protect workers at height, using high-heat equipment, or exposed to fall risks, trip hazards, or vibrations.
Commercial construction planning should include these measures from day one, providing an audit trail of assessments conducted, measures put in place, and inspections completed.
Finally, once your commercial build has been completed, a reputable construction team will provide post-construction services, walking you through the structure, evaluating the quality of the finished work, and collating a list of any revisions required, often referred to as the ‘final fix’ in residential construction projects, before your new building is ready to operate.
During this stage, any certifications required can be arranged and finalised, assuring you that you have the documentation needed to demonstrate full compliance with all applicable standards.
Professional Assistance With Commercial Construction Planning
We hope this guide clarifies some of the most important areas of planning commercial construction projects and shows why precise, detailed planning is essential to finishing your construction on time, on budget, and according to your specifications.