Many people will have experience of some level of building work in their home – from small repairs through to full scale refurbishments. However, building or construction projects for a business are actually very different to manage than they would be for a residential property.

Here we look at the main differences between residential and commercial building projects, with advice on how to achieve best results.


Although budget is likely to be important in both cases, you may be willing to invest more in certain aspects of a residential project to achieve a desired style or look. This compares to the end result you might attain from a commercial build – for which you might not expect or need such an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Similarly, the level of finish you might expect from a commercial project to one in your home might be quite different. When carefully planned, there may be fewer unexpected areas of expenditure in a commercial build, which may make it easier to stick to the initial budget and avoid large overspends.


The size of a home building project is usually much smaller than a commercial project. It can therefore be more difficult to keep control of the budget when it comes to a commercial build, as if the price of something increases, this is likely to be multiplied.

Having said this, there may be some economies of scale involved in buying for a commercial project as you will inevitably be buying multiples rather than single items.


When well-managed, contracts around commercial builds are usually tighter than those involving residential works, with greater penalties for contractors when it comes to delays in the project. Although the size of a commercial build may be larger, a contractor will usually allocate a dedicated team to a job so as to avoid any penalties involved with delayed delivery. This can avoid significant lapses in deadlines, allowing the business to plan more effectively.

Form and function

Commercial builds often have a greater emphasis on function than residential projects. Planning for a commercial build will therefore need to consider usage of areas and rooms carefully. It will also be necessary for building regulations and health and safety to be considered to a greater degree than in a household project.

However, some of the level of detail that you might agonise over in a residential project, particularly around design, look and feel, would not need to be considered so thoroughly in a commercial build. For example, you may choose the same flooring throughout a commercial property, which may make it easier and quicker to make decisions.


Where a refurbishment is taking place, it will be necessary to think about where staff will work whilst works are being undertaken. This can of course impact productivity and profitability over the period of time the build is underway. It may be possible for a temporary working area to be created to allow staff to remain on site. Although all parties involved will want to avoid significant delays in completion, having a contingency plan is always sensible.

A Chartered Building Surveyor ensures that there is someone looking out for your interests during all stages of a commercial building project. Importantly, when project managing a commercial build or refurbishment, this can help to ensure that budget and timescales are adhered to, and that the quality of works meet the expected standards.

For more information or to speak to us for advice on a commercial building project, please get in touch.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
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Telephone: 01254 260196
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Telephone: 01200 320040
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Telephone: 01524 899850
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Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR