Residential vs. Commercial Contractor: What’s The difference?

If you’re a developer who is thinking about adding commercial projects to your repertoire, consider this: when it comes to residential versus commercial construction, there are some key differences to note. Read on to find out some of the pros and cons, and how to prepare for each step.

Planning A Commercial Construction Job

Right off the bat, you may need to take some new steps to locate commercial contractors. While residential projects can often be a result of word of mouth referrals and local advertising, commercial construction projects generally take more active searching to find the right fit. Here are a few methods we like:

  • Reporting Services: These databases aggregate open bids and can be a great place to start looking for contractors in your area. 
  • Commercial upgrades: If your project will be a smaller remodel job on existing businesses, larger commercial companies often pass on due to size and mid-sized commercial contractors (usually found outside of “major” cities) can be a perfect fit.
  • Find companies that fit your need: Ask yourself – are there experienced commercial contractors near me? Connect with more established contractors with a portfolio similar to the project you’re considering. 

Bidding Commercial Jobs

Once you’ve nailed down the details of your commercial construction project, how can you collect bids? Acquiring bids for commercial projects is going to look different from residential bidding. The process inherently involves more red tape due to the size, and you may need additional resources to handle quoting. Many companies find they need to invest in a commercial construction specific software to streamline bidding and ensure accurate quotes. 

Depending on the scope and funding behind the project you may need to do a combination of open and closed bidding. With closed bidding, you can reach out directly to any and all specific commercial contractors near you to acquire a detailed bid. With open bidding, it can be great to utilize services like to acquire a broad range of commercial contractors without limiting the field to those you know, or who spend the most on advertising.

You’ll also need to become informed about the differences in building code – including things like how to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act, fire and safety codes, OSHA, and strict materials regulations from the EPA. Knowledge of these requirements will help you review the bids you receive from an informed perspective.

Materials and Service

Like residential jobs, your bidding contractors need to provide accurate materials/cost quoting and timelines. On larger commercial jobs, your contractor is likely to be working with a lot more vendors – which means more details to juggle and firmer deadlines. While a homeowner may be unbothered by unexpected delays, commercial projects are less forgiving. The materials themselves will be different as well, often involving steel and concrete instead of lumber. Finishes like flooring and roofing may require less experienced commercial contractors to develop contacts with new vendors. Don’t forget to make sure that your selected contractor has acquired appropriate insurance and adjust your warranty policies to handle any service issues that may pop up after the project is finished.

How Do I Find a Commercial Contractor Near Me?

When you’re looking for a commercial contractor, consider the differences we discussed. Ask your potential contractor questions. A reputable, experienced company should be able to walk you through their process. If you’re in the Hendersonville, NC area, Dunlap Construction is your source for both residential and commercial construction needs. We have years of experience on both sides, providing quality construction serves to a wide range of clients. We are honored to be a trusted partner on many commercial construction projects throughout Western NC and look forward to talking to you about your next project. 

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