We know the word. We say the word and we understand the word. But when we say the word “construction,” what does it really mean? Not surprisingly, the root word of construction is “construct”. Construct means to build. Therefore, from sandcastles to a pillow fort, to blocks, to a house of cards: it is all considered construction.

In the world of engineering, however, the word construction is generally associated with larger structures such as houses, businesses, roads, railways, warehouses, or power plants. Construction in the engineering sense then is the activity of putting together different elements using a detailed design and plan to create a structure for a certain location.

To explain, there are several parts that come together in a construction project: an owner purchases a property for a specific purpose, architects and engineers design a structure to meet that purpose, the contractor creates a plan to implement the design, and oversees the process of the builders doing the work.

There are three main types of construction – buildings, infrastructure, and industrial. Within each of these large umbrellas of construction, there are many subcategories.

Type #1 – Building Construction

Buildings include both residential and commercial. Furthermore, building projects may involve renovations on existing buildings or building from scratch. Again, these buildings may be residential or commercial. Commercial construction refers to the construction of a business or venture that is done with the sole motive of gaining profit. Overall, commercial buildings cover many different types and sizes of projects. For example, it may be a small storefront or a large skyscraper. In addition, the buildings have a wide variety of purposes. For example, a commercial building could be:

  • stores
  • restaurants
  • medical offices
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • stadiums
  • university
  • recreational facilities

The owners of these buildings are typically not experts in construction but are knowledgeable about the purpose of their building. Consequently, it is important they use this knowledge to hire professionals to design what meets their needs. Sometimes they may hire specialty engineers or architects for a very specific type of building.

Type #2 – Industrial

Simply put, industrial buildings are factories or other large premises primarily used for manufacturing or storing raw materials, goods, or services for economic purposes. By and large, the first industrial building was considered to be in 1790 when Samuel Slater kicked off the US Industrial Revolution and opened the first textile mill. Today, industrial construction projects include:

  • warehouses and distribution centers
  • showrooms
  • refrigeration
  • oil refineries
  • pipelines
  • power plants
  • research and development centers
  • biotechnology
  • nuclear power plants
  • steel mills
  • manufacturing plants
  • telecommunication
  • chemical processing

Frequently, flex industrial buildings are designed to meet a wider variety of functions under one roof. For instance, this could be an office with a warehouse and a showroom in one facility.

Another key point is that commercial buildings and industrial buildings have key differences. Location, zoning, permits, regulations, inspections, purpose, infrastructure, interior design, finishes, scale, time, funding, engineers, designers, laborers, and management will all look different in an industrial project from a commercial project.

These projects are usually more large-scale and typically have more technological complexities than just a building project. They need experienced and specially trained designers, engineers, tradesmen, and laborers. Often, professionals use the latest innovative technologies in the building process. Accordingly, the owners must be highly involved in the development of the project and be sure all the safety and functionality guidelines are met. As a result, they often choose to work with a designer-builder so that the entire project is consistent across the board. Because of all the complexities, owners are much more likely to choose professionals they have previously built a positive working relationship with in the past.

Type #3 – Infrastructure

Infrastructure construction and civil engineering build large facilities for use by the wider community. Many of these projects take several years to complete and may remain in use for decades. Infrastructure or heavy construction includes public works such as:

  • mass transit
  • roads
  • highways
  • railways
  • water distribution and purification systems
  • wastewater management
  • aviation
  • sewage treatment plants
  • power plants
  • damns
  • tunnels
  • drainage systems
  • telecommunication systems
  • bridges

Infrastructure takes a long time and a lot of money. Typically, these projects are publicly rather than privately owned. In addition, they need some sort of government sponsorship due to the cost, time, and community impacts. In particular, they also use public property or public services such as water, power, and transportation networks. Finally, they can be a high risk for private companies to take on independently. They might be funded by the government agency through taxes or bonds. Sometimes a large infrastructure project with be a public-private partnership.

This type of construction has a great deal of mechanization that has replaced some of the operations previously done by laborers. The builders, engineers, and laborers for these projects are generally highly specialized. there are thousands of specialties and specialists that must come together in a precisely organized fashion to build something as complex as the Hoover Dam or the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

What Does it Take?

These are the three major types of construction. Each of them is different from the others based on several factors. The financing, contracts, and the kind of professional oversight vary from one type to another. Often, one central company manages the overall project in all types of construction. This company must oversee hundreds or even thousands of subcontractors providing different services.

We understand the importance of being sure your building projects are up to codes and standards. No matter which type of project you have, at SCS Construction, we are happy to help you plan for success! Call us at 317-272-0129.

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