Commercial Building Design


Constructing a commercial building requires careful thought and planning. The size of a typical commercial building probably will require larger beams, more square footage of floor space, and room for a variety of activities beyond homebuilding. Creating a commercial building design mandates knowledge of building materials beyond the scope of home building. Metal structures, for example, can require large sliding doors or trusses for roof construction that span a hundred feet or more. Good research, along with guidance from experts, will make it possible for an individual to design a solid building.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial design books
  • Building magazines
  • Sketch pad
  • Measuring tools
  • Copy of building codes
  • Review commercial design books and building magazines. Make sketches of features that stand out on buildings that have appealing designs. Design a commercial building by first envisioning a general shape. Picture the exterior covering next. Envision the structure with a metal, wood, brick or glass exterior or any combination of materials. Study the surrounding business neighborhood and view other commercial buildings. Design a building that will blends with the surrounding neighborhood, since market value will be affected by the "look" of other buildings.

  • Measure the foundational space allowable for the building. Sketch the foundation and basic first floor area in detail. Add other floors with accompanying details later. Draw the basement area with storage or drive-under garage space. Sketch the first floor with main offices or retail space, bathrooms and storage. Sketch a building-entrance foyer at the front sidewalk. Include parking in front of the building and auxiliary parking lots nearby.

  • Figure out how many floors the building will have. Design the exterior and interior floor plan for all floors. Sketch the placement of windows and doors on the exterior facade. Place stairwells in the blueprint to incorporate one stairwell section extending upward from floor to floor. Include room for an elevator shaft for a multistory building as well.

  • Review books and magazines to determine an exterior covering for the building. Base the materials on the allowable budget, but include a small amount of high-end materials to balance a plain exterior. Include lots of glass on the front of the building only, perhaps mixed with less expensive wood or brick on the sides. Give the exterior a designer look by using color, textures and a variety of materials. Avoid designing a boring metal building or covering a building with faux wood siding: these approaches tend to appear cheaply made.

  • Design a roof that complements the rest of the structure. Create a flat roof, A-frame or hip roof, for example. Keep in mind that the roof's shape will determine much of the architectural style of the structure. Plan to use metal trusses in a design that will span a broad roof area. Incorporate metal vs. wood for maximum strength, since the roof likely will hold components for heating and air conditioning systems as well as walking-around room for maintenance workers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you begin designing, contact local authorities about building codes and restrictions and how the building will be utilized. Gain information about septic or sewer issues the designer of the building must consider. Discuss traffic flow and parking issues with authorities as well.

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