4 Differences Between Retail and Commercial Construction

There are many different types of commercial construction. It’s such a broad field because technically any type of construction that is meant to be used by a business rather than an individual or a governmental body is commercial. This umbrella term can include storefronts, restaurants, office spaces, warehouses, hotels, malls, and any number of other buildings. 

Retail stores are a type of commercial construction that we see often here at DESCCO. There’s almost always a business in the area looking to update an existing space, move into a new one, or build one from scratch for a brand new company. It’s an exciting time for business owners, but also a very stressful one, because undergoing a construction project can be very daunting! When you know what to expect, however, things often become much less overwhelming. Here are some of the differences between retail construction and other types of commercial construction.


Real estate’s favorite saying bears significant weight in the construction industry as well– location, location, location. Few things are more important when planning a new commercial space as where you choose to put it. Each subtype of commercial construction has an ideal location that would suit its needs best– an industrial warehouse space, for example, would be conveniently located near major highways and other transportation arteries to allow for the flow of products in and out of the facility. 

For retail spaces like boutiques or shops, it is similarly important to be in areas that see a lot of high traffic, but you want that traffic to be drivers and passersby who might stop in to buy something! Main roads and highways are good spots, as are existing shopping centers.

Space Usage

The type of people who will frequent a commercial space is also a major defining factor in what the space’s construction process looks like. A warehouse that will be populated mainly by shift employees, for example, is much different than an office building that will be full of corporate employees every day and may occasionally host clients and other important visitors. These types of commercial construction, in turn, are both different from retail construction, which has to be able to accommodate high volumes of customers who may have any range of different needs and requirements to be able to use and navigate the space. 

This can affect everything about how your space is built, from the lights and appliances you choose to the size of the lettering on your signage. A properly built retail space will be able to accommodate nearly every customer who comes through the doors, as well as the employees who work there on a regular basis!


Every type of construction, no matter where it’s located or what its purpose is, has to align with certain regulations in order to receive necessary approvals, certifications, and licenses, usually from the town or city where a space is located. Like location, these regulations all vary based on the type of construction in question. Restaurants, for example, have to set up their kitchens in very particular ways that are standardized in order to maximize food safety.

In retail construction, most of these regulations have to do with building codes to make sure the structure is safe for occupants and doesn’t obstruct things like vehicular traffic outside. You’ll also probably have to meet certain other safety requirements like fire codes, and take into account that for your customers and employees, certain signage and accessibility regulations will need to be met to allow everyone to get the most use and convenience out of the space. An experienced commercial contractor with engineers and architects on staff, like DESCCO Design and Construction, will be familiar with the requirements in your area and can help to guide you through this process so that everything will be easily approved.

Costs and Delays

The different requirements and building processes of the different kinds of commercial spaces mean that each one is subject to its own set of cost parameters, and is vulnerable to its own kinds of delays. This isn’t to say that retail construction is more or less expensive or more or less prone to hold-ups than any other type of construction, only that they each have their own unique needs.

Retail construction, for example, often covers smaller spaces than warehouses or malls, automatically bringing costs down, but may be prone to delays caused by backorders or shortages, since they feature more specialized materials than a space that rarely hosts customers. It’s important to find a construction company that is familiar with these different ins and outs when it comes to commercial construction, as they can plan accordingly to help keep a project on budget and on time.

Retail construction is something that takes many years to truly master, and as a business owner looking to create a new space, you’ll need all the help you can get from an expert commercial construction company like DESCCO Design and Construction! If you’re interested in discussing an upcoming project, you can contact us today for more information.