Commercial jobs and residential jobs are two different beasts. For one, the regulations that govern the two are vastly different. But the differences don’t stop there: you’ll also need to manage them differently. If you’re used to one or the other, switching it up and putting in bids for the other may take some getting used to. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take on both commercial and residential jobs if you’re so inclined, but many general contractors find it easier to focus on one or the other.
Know the Legalities Involved
National codes governing residential housing regulations are different than those governing commercial spaces. Know what’s expected of the finished building before offering a bid or estimate on the job. Can you meet those obligations? If so, go for it.
Local and state regulations may differ, too, based on your locations. You might need a specific type of license to complete residential work in a given jurisdiction, for example, and another to work on a commercial property. Know what you need to have in place before you start the job.
Double check with your insurance company about any differences, as well. You may need to change, upgrade or carry additional insurance when working on a commercial business or residence, and vice versa.
Can You Deal with Your Clients?
Communicating with clients on residential jobs versus commercial projects can be very different. While you should always conduct yourself professionally, you may have a little more leeway in how you communicate with residential clients, especially if they’re staying in their home while you do the job. You might be able to give them an update, for example, by popping your head into another room, while a commercial client may have a board of trustees to answer to and need updates and correspondence in written form, no matter how seemingly inconsequential. Learn – and expect – the typical differences in commercial and residential client communications.
Hone Your Skills
Commercial gigs are generally more large scale than residential jobs. Hone your skills for speed and precision when working on commercial gigs to get the job done on time, at or under cost and with the same level of quality you would offer a single residential gig. Have a plan in place for completing the job on time.
On the other hand, you may feel more relaxed on a residential job site since you’re not expected to complete as tall of an order. Don’t use this as an excuse to slouch while working. Put in the same amount of expediency you would on a commercial site to get the job done on time or ahead of schedule.
Volume doesn‘t excuse shoddy workmanship, so treat every part of a commercial job with care and attention. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would be satisfied with the quality you’re putting in: if not, it’s time to re-evaluate your place on the jobsite.
Alternatively, remember that residences are just as important as commercial gigs. If you can’t deliver the level of quality you’d be happy to live with, decline the job.
Residential Vs. Commercial Contracting
Residential and commercial contracting have some big differences, but also, similarities that make it possible for you to take on a variety of jobs. Remember to deliver the level of quality you can stand by, update your clients in an agreed-upon manner and frequency and strive to be the best contractor you can on any given job, regardless of whether it’s commercial or residential.