The Detailed Cost Breakdown to Building a New Parking Garage

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When finding a location for a new construction project or when expanding, it’s easy to feel limited by parking needs. The average lot requires 300 square feet per car.

If you expect much traffic at all, it’s frequently not affordable to buy enough land for a flat lot! It’s also often more expensive in the long run.

Building a parking garage instead comes with some sizable up-front expenses, it’s true. However, investing in a high-quality parking structure now will enable you to capitalize on parking needs in the future by charging an entry or exit fee.

If you’re one of many developers in this position, you might be wondering by now: “How much does it cost to build a parking garage?”

Here’s the breakdown:

Land

If you want to construct a 300-car one-level parking lot, based on a low-to-average estimate of 300 square feet/car, that’s 90,000 square feet—minimum.

Cost varies by state, but on average, commercial property prices in the United States are rising, leaving builders wondering how to get the most value out of their land, especially considering it’s not always an option to find a lot big enough to accommodate the main building along with a large parking lot.

So long as local zoning allows it, the best way to do this is by building upwards. In most cases, this allows you to nearly multiply the number of parking stalls you can fit by the number of floors you build. (“Nearly,” as the shape of your design will factor into the total surface area available.)

Consider that across three stories, you might fit that same 300-car garage in a 30,000 sq. ft footprint!

Materials

While the materials needed to build a parking garage are economical, industry professionals advise that any material can easily become expensive if it isn’t used correctly. 

The largest concern is that people could be injured if a structure fails partially or completely when cutting costs. A less obvious issue is that you’ll be racking up maintenance costs one after another if your construction isn’t up to snuff.

Here are the costs of the major materials used in building a parking garage and how to avoid problems.

Concrete

The primary material used to build the average parking garage is concrete. It’s an affordable, common material, but don’t make the mistake of thinking just anyone can mix or apply it correctly. 

Do your research and find a trusted construction company near you to do your paving and rest assured that you’re building a garage that functions safely and will turn a profit year after year.

Electrical and Plumbing

You—or more likely, vendors you hire—have to run electrical and plumbing through your parking garage to keep up to code.

Specialty Parking Garage Materials

Other major costs will be the things that make a parking garage a parking garage: all the traffic signs, kiosks, booths, gates and so on to control traffic and collect payment.

Construction Equipment

Construction equipment can be a significant expense to undertake. The good news is, you might not have to buy it.

If building parking garages is something you plan on doing often, you’ll want to purchase or rent construction equipment. If you’re planning on hiring a construction company or companies, though, the cost will more than likely be factored into what you pay for labor, which could translate to savings.

Labor

Now you have all the materials to build…you clearly can’t just throw them in a pile on your land. You still need workers!

How much you pay for labor depends on a few things, including the going rate in your area, any state or local laws that might put you in a unique situation, and most significantly, time. 

So how long does it take to build a parking garage, then? Unfortunately, there’s not an easy answer—This is far too variable.

Things like weather, material availability, and the design of your parking garage will affect the build time, but different crews also build at different rates, even if they’re the same size. You’ll want to make a specific build schedule with your subcontractors. 

Here’s an idea of what you’ll be paying for:

Wages

Wages are the first expense that comes to mind when considering labor, but this isn’t necessarily the cost you should consider. The subcontractors you hire will be tasked with maintaining their workers if you plan on outsourcing the build—and if you’re managing your own crew, you probably don’t need this article!

Still, it’s good to be up to date on local wage laws, and especially on the fees, you’ll be charged by your vendors. If you don’t have enough budgeted for labor, your project could simply not be finished!

Insurance

Building definitely isn’t the safest profession out there!

For that reason, paying for construction involves the cost of liability insurance, either paid directly by you or rolled into what you pay contractors.

Other Costs

Other costs associated with labor could include things like safety equipment, portable bathrooms, water, and food, as some common examples.

Again, how many of these costs you’ll pay directly depends on who’s managing your workforce, and on local laws and regulations.

Do It By The Book

Doing it by the book is always important if you don’t want to pay large fines and lawyer bills down the road.

When building a parking garage, though, it’s especially necessary to pay attention to rules and regulations. This may sound obvious: Concrete is very heavy, and so are vehicles, so a parking garage in use weighs literal tons—and tons…and tons!

As clear as that weight might be when building a garage, it’s easy, especially for a layperson, to confuse strong materials with overall structural integrity (for example, when party-happy residents hold prohibited events in parking garages).

Weight alone is a strain on a parking garage, especially when loaded past capacity. Factor in natural wear and tear and the possibility of natural disasters and other mishaps, and even the world’s very best construction starts looking a little flimsy.

To avoid the possibility of a tragic expense, dedicate a portion of your budget to hiring a legal team to navigate the system, and for rigorous inspections.

Overall Expense

All of this wrapped together runs about $50-$80 per square foot, meaning that you can expect to spend $7.5-12 million in the United States for a standard, roughly 150,000 square foot parking garage build. 

This average may or may not cover the cost of what you want to do, so always create a detailed plan and budget before you begin your projects.

Get Started on the Right Foot

With the proper effort, a parking garage in the right location is a great investment. People won’t stop needing parking as long as there are places to drive to, so if you do this right, it’s hard to go wrong.

Now’s the time to start calling industry professionals who can help you get the job done right. In Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, get a free paving quote today and be one step closer to making your ideal parking garage a reality.

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Dan Kirksey
Dan Kirksey

Dan is an asphalt paving contractor and has been helping business owners and homeowners with their asphalt and concrete projects throughout Maryland for over a decade.

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