Commercial Construction

Commercial construction is a critical sector of the United States economy since construction not only makes money by itself but also enables other businesses and industries to do the same. Perhaps even more importantly, commercial development shapes the streets that the American people walk on every day. From Anchorage to Chicago, commercial building projects are undertaken by thousands of skilled commercial general contractors each year. ETI Construction is proud to call itself one of those commercial contractors. But what makes this essential industry run, and how do we define commercial buildings in the first place? Let’s explore the differences between commercial and residential construction, then look at the industry as a whole and the way contractors run it.

How is Commercial Construction Different from Residential Construction?

Some construction firms have the resources to take on both commercial and residential construction projects. However, it is equally likely to find that commercial contractors and residential contractors specialize solely in their niche. This is because there are many differences between these kinds of projects. Commercial construction tends to be on a much larger scale, requiring extensive planning to complete. Commercial construction is often funded by loans. Since the site is larger on average, project managers in the planning stage must consider vaster pools of resources for allocation and a larger number of vehicles. In addition, the needs of these projects may call for specialized equipment. Residential construction, on the other hand, tends to be smaller and sometimes funded by mortgages. Residential projects tend to require less specialized equipment. It is difficult for contractors to take on both kinds of projects unless they are particularly prepared.

The Basics of Commercial Building Projects

The definition of commercial construction is any construction project dealing with buildings and spaces for non-government entities. This is an enormous umbrella that includes new buildings, renovations, remodels, rebrands, upkeep, and more. Commercial construction is not limited to any singular project size or range of sizes. Ambitious commercial skyscrapers dotting a city’s new skyline and humble replacements for HVAC systems in a two-room office are both commercial projects that contractors take on. It is worth noting that commercial and residential construction, while defined differently, are not always mutually exclusive. In expansive urban centers, and even some small town squares, the ground floor or first few floors will contain commercial spaces like storefronts while the upper floors house residents. This, however, requires a combination of permits and approvals that is not always feasible for project stakeholders and contractors to acquire.

One of the unique challenges in commercial development is the need for local knowledge. A commercial building plan will likely already factor this in before any shovel strikes dirt and the first beam is laid. Construction that does not match the needs of its locale may doom the commercial venture before it even begins. One of the largest influences is climate. Chicago commercial construction looks vastly different from Miami commercial construction because Chicago is a much colder and less humid environment. In Chicago, walls require more insulation. Commercial general contractors can afford to use materials that are less resistant to water damage and mold. This is to say nothing of regional architectural codes, municipal safety regulations, and the voiced opinions of residents who will pass by and interact with the building daily. To gain success, commercial contractors must understand the needs of their environment.

How Do Commercial General Contractors Work?

Commercial contractors hold many simultaneous roles in the construction process. A licensed experienced contractor can guide you through the steps to establishing your new commercial space. Most prominently, they coordinate all management of the building process. All pre-construction planning with clients and stakeholders, legal compliance measures such as acquiring permits, communicating with vendors for material acquisitions, contacting and hiring subcontractors, and handling the day-to-day logistics of the work site are all duties that fall under the contractor’s purview. The true value that you purchase when hiring a general contractor for your commercial project is peace of mind. Commercial general contractors have expertise in answering all of the questions that would take time and effort for other people to address. Even considerations that may not be relevant for months, let alone years, like the interior design of the building, can be coordinated through the commercial contractor’s network of designer connections. 

The process of getting to work with the general contractor is through a series of bids. First, you issue a request to either the public or a selected group of contractors. The commercial contractors will contact their subcontractors to gauge interest and to start considering their bids. Then, the subcontractors return to the general contractor with their bid offer and any questions they have about the project’s documents. Contractors then select the subcontractors based on their bids for each trade skill. This all makes it into the formal bid that the contractor submits to the project owner. The owner selects which commercial contractor they want to lead the project, beginning the negotiation process. When the final price is determined, everyone signs the contract and the general contractor finalizes which subcontractors will work on the project. It may sound complicated, but the commercial general contractors are the ones sorting out all the details during the process.

The Best in Chicago Commercial Construction 

ETI Construction has led the Chicago commercial construction industry for two decades – and counting. We have a full roster of clients for whom we have completed major projects in a wide range of industries, including higher education and healthcare. When you work with ETI, we intend to make you feel heard. We won’t shuffle around any of your contacts, and you will always communicate with the same members of our team. While our experience completing commercial development projects is extensive, it is not our sole defining feature. We love supporting our community through pro bono nonprofit work, school visits, and intentional business practices. We stand on a reputation of integrity and transparency. Feel free to get in touch and introduce yourself. If you have a commercial construction project in mind, ask for a quote today.