(4-min read)

One of the popular misconceptions about construction is that its all building houses and businesses. In fact, the construction industry differs even with regard to the commercial construction industry versus the industrial construction industry. Because we are a provider of both of these services, we at Cowen Construction thought we’d break down the difference between the two to reveal the cornucopia of variety that exists within the construction world.

What Commercial & Industrial Construction Have in Common

While industrial construction and commercial construction have their fair share of differences, they do have a few commonalities that are important to mention. The most significant commonality is how they differ from residential construction. Residential construction only has to do with the building of dwelling spaces typically within areas that are specifically zoned to accommodate such structures. Residential construction includes houses, duplexes, apartment buildings, condominiums, and the like. Industrial and commercial construction has to do with the structures not dedicated to housing. While “industrial” typically refers to the creation or storage of a product, “commercial” refers to an organization solely dedicated to turning a profit—often with transactions occurring at these locations. Both of these have their own unique construction needs.

Commercial Construction

So, what would be considered “commercial construction” and not “industrial construction”? For the most part, commercial construction services are needed for the creation of client-facing structures. Commercial construction is needed to build stores, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, movie theaters, and other buildings where transactions occur. Not to be confused with residential construction, hotel construction would be considered commercial construction because these are hubs where a service is offered for a fee.

Another distinguishing feature of commercial construction is its enhanced need to be aesthetically pleasing to customers. Many commercial buildings require inviting designs and architecture to welcome customers into their stores and other establishments. Whether this is an interesting-looking restaurant or a store’s elaborate front window display, the lucrative design would fall under the classification of “commercial construction.”

Industrial Construction

If commercial construction builds the store where the merchandise is sold, industrial construction builds the factory where the merchandise was manufactured. Some gross-goods companies may have distribution facilities that blur the lines of industrial and commercial construction. Still, industrial construction has more to do with building to the demands of industrial manufacturing operations and less to do with providing customers with a pleasing aesthetic. In fact, a good differentiator between an industrial building and a commercial building is whether or not the company intends for customers ever to see it.

Industrial construction is building with the purpose of creating or storing products that are later sold to the intended customer elsewhere. While this means that aesthetically pleasing designs are largely an afterthought, industrial construction projects have just as exacting requirements. These buildings that will be used as factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and the like must be built to accommodate large-scale production and distribution of nearly every item imaginable for decades. 


Whether your company is in need of commercial construction or industrial construction services, the building professionals at Cowen Construction can help.

Learn more about the Tulsa, Oklahoma based construction professionals from Cowen Construction today.