The four key types of construction include residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure, which covers nearly every construction project. That said, there are still important details about the type of construction, like whether the project is publicly or privately funded. Read on for more details about how to identify which kind of project you’re working on.
The 4 main types of construction
For many folks in the construction industry, the type of construction project refers to the actual facility being constructed. These are simply:
- Residential buildings, like single and multi-family homes
- Commercial buildings, such as offices or warehouses
- Industrial facilities, like factories or large-scale production facilities
- Infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, airports, or sewer systems
Classifying projects this way gives you a sense of the function of the facility as well as the techniques and equipment that may be required for construction. These main types of construction cover the vast majority of projects, and many companies and contractors are specialized to work on a specific sector.
Other types of construction
While classification by building type can be useful in understanding a project’s ultimate goal, other systems of classification offer more insight into the legal requirements and risks of construction. There are several other common ways to classify the various types of construction, including:
- Fire resistance
- Building occupancy
- Project owner
We have details about all of these different classifications below.
Buildings are often classified by their fire resistance rating, which is a safety measure used to calculate the structure’s ability to withstand a fire. These standards are found in the Building Construction and Safety Code produced by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Fire resistance rating can be applied to specific materials or building elements, or to buildings as a whole based on the materials used.
The fire resistance ratings apply to structural building materials, including those used on exterior and interior bearing walls, columns, beams, girders, trusses, and arches, as well as floor, ceiling, and roof assemblies. Here are the main types of buildings according to fire resistance rating:
- Type I: Fire resistive. All building materials are non-combustible, providing 3-4 hours of resistance to fire. This type of construction is typically found in high-rise buildings, commercial projects, and hospitals.
- Type II: Non-Combustible. All building materials are non-combustible, providing 1-2 hours of fire resistance. This construction is used in mid-rise office buildings, hotels, and schools.
- Type III: Ordinary. Ordinary construction provides 0-2 hours of resistance to fire. Exterior walls are constructed of non-combustible materials, like brick, while the interior structural elements may be combustible. This is typically found in warehouses and some residential homes.
- Type IV: Heavy Timber. Heavy timber construction requires exterior walls to be non-combustible, providing 2 hours of fire resistance, with the interior made of solid or laminated wood without concealed spaces. This is often used in churches, small commercial buildings, and warehouses.
- Type V: Wood Framed. Wood framed buildings have walls, floors, and roofs made of wood, providing little to no fire resistance. This type of construction is common in residential homes.
Apart from the obvious safety concern for public officials, property owners, and occupants of the building, compliance with fire resistance codes will also affect the construction companies actually creating the structure.
In a building project, the material fire resistance requirements will typically be found in the construction specifications provided in the contract documents. As a result, these classifications are important for contractors and suppliers to understand and follow to ensure they meet the contract requirements. If a contractor substitutes unapproved materials, whether for cost savings or ease of use, they could end up breaching their contract, having to correct their work, and even paying damages.