Four Types of Construction Projects (And Their Subtypes)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The construction industry is responsible for employing a large number of people and is a significant source of revenue for the government. Due to its large size, the industry contains various types of projects. Understanding these different project types can help you decide whether to pursue a career in this field. In this article, we list the four different construction project types and their subcategories.

4 types of construction projects

There are different types of construction projects, which reflect the evolution of modern construction processes and their safety requirements. For many professionals and technicians in the construction industry, the type of construction project generally refers to the actual facility under construction. There are four different categories of construction projects, which reflect the diversity of project types and their unique requirements. Here's an explanation of the types of construction projects to help you learn more:

1. Sector category construction projects

This categorization refers to the buildings or facilities that are part of the construction project, including:

Residential

Residential construction projects primarily help to address the housing needs of society. They also often store supplies or equipment temporarily or permanently. The two basic types of residential buildings are single and multi-family houses. Single-family homes typically house one family, while multi-family houses can be condominiums, apartments, and townhouses. Private individuals typically fund these projects for their use or for sale. Residential projects typically include utility work, like electrical and plumbing system installations in the rooms, particularly the kitchens and bathrooms, for comfort and functionality.

Commercial

Commercial construction addresses the needs of commerce and trade. It consists of various structures, including office buildings, banks, schools, hotels, shopping malls, stadiums, universities, theatres, courthouses, government buildings, hospitals, and other facilities where people can gather. The sizes of these projects often vary depending on their purpose. They may be small, such as in medical offices, or large, such as high-rise office buildings or football stadiums containing thousands of people.

Commercial buildings are significantly costlier than residential buildings. They may take three years or more to complete. Their funding can be a private, public, or combined private-public partnership.

Infrastructural

Infrastructural or civil infrastructural projects are usually massive construction endeavours, including roadways, bridges, tunnels, dams, railways, and airports. They are generally complex and costly undertakings that require a high level of engineering competency and understanding. Due to the high cost and specialization requirements of these projects, their primary funding source is typically the government or large financial institutions.

They require careful planning to accommodate heavy use by vehicle traffic and other transit systems and to withstand natural forces such as weather or water. They may also require special planning to provide structural stability and support for other structures such as tunnels through mountains.

Industrial

Industrial construction refers to the sector of construction responsible for creating manufacturing premises. Examples of facilities under this category include manufacturing plants, oil refineries, electrical generating facilities, chemical processing plants, steel mills, and pipelines. This sector also requires support from companies with vast resources and sufficient construction and engineering expertise. Designing and constructing the building components also requires a strong understanding of the intended business' needs to ensure structural integrity and functional capacity across every facet of the building project.

2. Ownership construction projects

You may also categorize construction projects by their owners. In the construction industry, the owner is responsible for financing the project and selecting professionals, such as engineers, architects, and contractors, to contribute. Ownership of a construction project is crucial, as it determines the federal and provincial laws that apply to that project. It also determines the contracting policies that guide the project and the insurance for the labour and builders on the construction site. The main categories of construction projects by owner include:

Private residential

Private residential construction generally involves building a facility for residence with a few units, usually three or four, or constructing a house for one family. The owner of such projects is usually a single individual or a family. The owner acquires the piece of land for the project and oversees the construction activities, including installation of services, such as electricity and plumbing, either directly or indirectly.

Common private residential houses include townhouses, condominiums, and single-family homes. During the project's construction, the contractor may place a construction lien on the property, which is a tool that ensures the contractor and all subcontractors receive payments for work that they do.

Private commercial

Private commercial construction is the process of erecting structures for commercial purposes. It consists of various building types, including restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, skyscrapers, sports facilities, hospitals, private schools, and universities. Buildings with more than four units also belong to this category, as the owner typically rents out the extra units to make money. This category also contains industrial construction such as power plants, manufacturing plants, solar wind farms, and refineries, as this operates similarly to commercial construction regarding payments. Contractors may also insure their payments with a lien.

Public projects

Private parties to a construction project include individuals, homeowners, corporations, and other business entities that aren't the government. A public project is any construction undertaking by the government either at the federal, provincial, or territorial level. The government typically controls these projects through an agency that represents them at any of these levels. The original agency is generally the owner responsible for financing the project, though they may receive aid from other agencies. Examples of public projects are courthouses, public schools, hospitals, military facilities, government offices, and sophisticated projects like bridges, highways, and sewer lines.

Related: 13 Jobs within Construction to Consider

3. Building occupancy construction projects

Building occupancy refers to a building's purpose and the acceptable number of occupants. Local jurisdictions determine what specific areas are suitable for construction within a city or town and the acceptable number of occupants in a structure at a time. The different types of construction by building occupancy include:

  • Assembly, Group A: A building where people can gather for civic, political, travel, recreational, educational, religious, or social purposes. Examples are theatres, halls, libraries, restaurants, cafes, and schools.

  • Care, treatment, or detention, Group B: A facility for individuals who require special care or treatment due to cognitive or physical limitations. Examples are penitentiaries, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages.

  • Residential, Group C: A construction project that provides potential inhabitants with a place to sleep and live. Examples are dormitories, hotels, lodging houses, and motels.

  • Business and personal services, Group D: These facilities enable users to perform business transactions and render and receive professional and personal services. Examples are banks, hairdressing shops, dental and medical offices, and police stations.

  • Mercantile, Group E: A facility that serves the purpose of displaying goods, wares, or merchandise, such as markets, stores, shops, and supermarkets.

  • Hazard industrial, Group F: This category contains buildings for assembling, fabricating, manufacturing, and processing sufficiently combustible and flammable goods and raw materials. It includes three main divisions, high hazard industrial or Group F, Division 1, medium hazard industrial or Group F, Division 2, and low hazard industrial or Group F, Division 3.

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4. Fire protection construction projects

A fire-resistance rating is a safety measure that helps to calculate a structure's ability to withstand a fire. Depending on its construction material, it applies to specific materials, building elements, or the entire building. The various types of construction projects by fire resistance are:

  • Fire resistive: A facility that uses non-combustible materials like concrete and protected steel to provide up to four hours of fire resistance. Examples of buildings in this category are high-rise buildings, hospitals, and commercial projects.

  • Non-combustible: This facility also uses non-combustible building materials such as tilt slabs and reinforced masonry walls to provide about two hours of fire resistance. Examples of construction projects in this category are mid-rise office buildings, schools, and hotels.

  • Ordinary: This construction project uses non-combustible materials for its external walls, while internal elements can be from combustible materials such as wood. Examples are warehouses and some residential homes.

  • Heavy Timber: This uses thick lumber for structural elements, such as columns and beams, to provide a few hours of fire resistance. Common buildings in this category are churches, small commercial buildings, and warehouses.

  • Wood-framed: The structural elements in this type of construction have covered or uncovered timber. The overall structure has very minimal fire resistance. Residential homes typically fall under this category.

Related: How to Become a Quantity Surveyor (in Four Easy Steps)

Importance of construction project types

Understanding the various construction project types can help professionals select the relevant and suitable materials for a project. It also helps determine the local regulations that guide the project so professionals can work within the boundaries of these regulations and stay on schedule. Knowing the type of project owner also helps professionals understand who's legally responsible for payments and the site itself.

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