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Residential Architect vs Commercial Architect: What’s the difference?

When most people think about architectural design, tall buildings and skyscrapers come to mind, but commercial architecture is only one type of architecture design. There are many different types of architects to suit different purposes and design briefs. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the key differences between a residential architect and a commercial architect.

Target audience

Residential architect: Each architect caters for a specific clientele. Residential or domestic architects work with home owners and individuals to provide a complete solution including design, management and construction.

Commercial architect: The target audience for a commercial architect are usually large organisations that are building a non-residential space. Their objective is to design a structure like a shopping centre, or retail store that will entice the general public to visit.

Requirements of the structure

Residential architect: A residential space is designed for people to live in. They usually have fewer rooms and each room is designed to fulfil the needs of the resident to provide comfort, and safety. 

Commercial architect: A commercial property usually has many rooms such as a storeroom, shops, offices, conference room etc, which is why it can be quite challenging for the architect to consider the use of each room and design accordingly.


Residential architect: A residential architect needs to consider all the safety standards of a residential structure. This includes the safety of staircases, attic spaces, plumbing and electrical lines.

Commercial architect: Commercial architects need to consider the safety of a lot of people in a particular space, at any given time. The safety of all the rooms and spaces being used by the public will need to be well thought through to ensure everyone is safe at all times.

Creative freedom

Residential architect: Residential architects usually have the freedom of creativity from their clients to design something that is unique and bespoke to them.

Commercial architect: Commercial architects usually have limitations to their designs. Their designs and plans would be based on the style, budget, client requirements and also will be considering the surrounding environment and neighbouring buildings.

Whether you are interested in designing a new home or looking for commercial building opportunities, choosing the right type of architect for the job is important.

Although there are some similarities between a commercial architect and a residential architect, the key differences are what makes them specialists in their area and to be able to design a building that is fit for purpose.

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