General building construction

Within this very broad category we find projects that include residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. Residential construction produces buildings for human habitation, including single-family dwellings, condominiums, multifamily townhouses, flats and apartments and high-rise apartment buildings. Depending on the project’s complexity, such work is usually designed by architects, owners or builders themselves, with construction performed by contractors who hire specialty subcontractors as needed; some of this work may be built by owners themselves.

Commercial construction includes retail and wholesale stores, markets and shops, shopping centres, office buildings, warehouses and small manufacturing facilities. Examples of institutional construction are medical clinics and hospitals, schools and universities, recreational centres and athletic stadiums, governmental buildings and houses of worship and other religious buildings. Architectural firms usually take the lead in the design of commercial and institutional facilities, with assistance from engineering firms for such specialties as structural and electrical elements. Because this type of work is usually more complex and time consuming than residential construction, owners usually engage general contractors to perform the field construction; subcontractors usually provide specialty services such as plumbing, painting and electrical work.

Often categorised separately from general building construction, industrial construction is a special segment of the industry that develops large-scale projects with a high degree of technical complexity. Such endeavours result in facilities that manufacture and process products; examples include steel mills, electric power-generating plants, petroleum refineries, petrochemical processing plants, ore-handling installations and heavy manufacturing factories that produce such products as vehicles, rolling equipment and various kinds of large machinery. The engineer, rather than the architect, usually assumes the lead responsibility for the designs of these kinds of projects. Often the owner selects a single entity to provide both design and construction services under a ‘design–build’ contract and works closely with the design professional to assure that the owner’s special requirements are met.