About 86% of respondents remodel commercial projects, with the top three projects being offices, retail, and health care locations. Many offer to do light commercial work as a favor to their residential clients. Only 16% of our Reader Panel actively pursues the commercial market. The most common advantage of commercial work, our readers say, is the freedom of working in an empty space. Disadvantages are more varied: They include politics, late payments, evening and weekend hours, and difficult site conditions.
What is the biggest difference between the commercial and residential work that your company performs?
"There are three major differences. The first is work hours. On commercial projects we work evenings and weekends to limit the interruption of the business. The second is quality. Commercial projects tend to be about speed and cost. The quality of materials and labor are usually not up to the level of residential projects. The third is client relationships. In residential projects, clients are emotionally attached to their homes and excited about the projects."
R. Shane Moore, Moore Kitchen & Bath, San Francisco
"Commercial requires much more site protection and general conditions work to isolate our work area from the continued operation of the business."
Jim Kastenholz, Total Home, Chicago
What are the advantages of commercial vs. residential projects?
"Commercial is easier in that we are not disturbing someone's lifestyle at home. We don't have to ensure water and power are on or meticulously clean up at the end of the day."
Chris Keith, Keith Construction, San Lorenzo, Calif.
"Commercial customers want you in and out as soon as possible, so the projects seem to move along at a faster pace. You also seem to have greater leverage because they know that you will perform more to their liking if the funds continue to flow."
Jack Palatella, Palatella Builders, Huntington, N.Y.
"Commercial work is often repeat business -- a restaurant chain or owner of multiple properties will often call back the same people who serviced them before. This results in sales without selling."
Larry Tyson, Clarksville Builders, Fulton, Md.
What is the biggest obstacle to doing commercial work?
"Commercial jobs take 30 to 60 days to get paid, because of the billing cycles of commercial accounting."
William P. Schiebler, WPS Associates, Auburn, Mass.
"Politics! You're working with multiple higher-ups in the company. All have their own ideas and want it done their way. There tends to be a lack of agreement between most professionals."
Skip Locke, The Locke Group General Construction, Vale, N.C.
"Working in high-rise buildings is a pain -- especially getting materials and equipment to and from the jobsite. We usually add 20% to 30% to the estimate for the added inefficiency of workmen."
Lynn Monson, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, St. Louis Park, Minn.