How much does it cost to build a parking garage?
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Build a Parking Garage Cost Guide
Updated: August 17, 2022
Having enough spaces to park in is a serious issue for businesses, cities, and downtown areas. The more visitors you have to an area, the greater the need for adequate and accessible spaces that will fit a specific number of cars. A parking garage makes a good choice for meeting parking demands because by building in levels, you can fit more cars in a set amount of square footage than you could in the same square feet in a surface lot. Every company has different car park needs and car types, so the parking structures vary in shape and materials to accommodate the different needs.
The national average price to build a parking garage ranges from $7.5M to $12M with most people paying around $9.75M for a 150,000 sq.ft. multi-level parking garage above ground. The lowest costs associated with this project are $150,000 for a 30,000 sq.ft. surface lot. The highest costs are $20M for a 250,000 sq.ft. multi-level parking garage on two underground levels and two four-person elevators.
Costs to Build a Parking Garage
|Parking Garage Construction Cost
|National average cost
Traditional vs Precast Garage Cost
The vast majority of parking garages built today use precast materials. Most garages use precast concrete pillars and forms, but some luxury garages and urban garages can also use precast brick and other decorative forms. Precast pillars and forms are less expensive and easier to build with, although they require transportation to the site, cranes, and heavy equipment to lift into place. Using precast forms means the garage can be built more quickly than if the concrete was poured, set, and cured on-site, which could stretch out the project’s length by days, weeks, or even months. Since precast is the most typical option, the rest of the prices in this cost guide will refer to precast instead of traditional garages.
The cost per space will be different in precast and traditional garages. The average precast parking garage cost per space is between $19,500 and $26,000 and $31,500 to $42,000 for a traditional garage. The car space can be anywhere between 300 and 400 sq.ft. The most common size is 340 sq.ft.
|Average Price per Space (Labor Included)
|$19,500 - $26,000
|$31,500 - $42,000
Parking Lot Costs per Square Foot
The average parking garage construction cost per square foot depends widely on the type of parking lot being built. Building a precast parking lot is around $50 to $80 per sq.ft. The most common price is $65 per sq.ft. The cost ranges depending on the area where you live, with cities typically having higher overall costs.
|Precast Cost (Labor Included)
|$2.5M - $4M
|$5M - $8M
|$7.5M - $12M
|$10M - $16M
|$12.5M - $20M
Parking Garage Cost by Number of Levels
Depending on the type of car park you’re building, whether it’s single-level, automated, or multi-level, you can expect to pay a price of $14,000 to $30,000 per space. The most common type of car park is multi-level garages because you can save on space by having several levels where cars can park. Small, single-level garages limit the number of cars that can fit, but construction expenses can be lower because the foundation does not need to support the weight of the higher level.
|Number of Levels
|Cost per Space (Labor Included)
|$14,000 - $20,000
|$19,000 - $30,000
Single-Level Parking Garage
Single-level garages have an average price of $14,000 to $20,000 per space to build. They are less common than either surface lots or multi-level lots. This is because they are significantly more costly to build than a simple surface lot, while at the same time, you cannot fit nearly as many cars into the area as you could by giving it more levels. That said, they are possible to build and do not need to have a foundation designed to support the weight of additional levels.
Multi-level garages are the most expensive ones to build, with a typical price of $19,000 to $30,000 per space. Although they are more expensive to build, multi-level garages are probably the most common type and the most frequently seen and used. They average five levels but can be several levels higher or lower, depending on your needs. Building a multi-level parking garage requires strengthening the foundation to support the weight of the upper levels.
Parking Garage Prices by Location
Based on the cark park location, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $50,000 per space. Building your lot or garage has varying costs depending on where it is located. This can include the type of city or area, urban areas being more expensive to build, and the location on, above, or underground. All these come with different costs that affect the overall price. Below is a table with the average price of building a garage based on the location.
|Cost per Space (Labor Included)
|$1,500 - $10,000
|$25,000 - $50,000
Surface Parking Lot
Surface lots can be very economical to build, providing you start with a mostly flat or cleared lot. The surface parking cost per space that does not require significant tree removal, soil compacting, or leveling is around $1,500. However, if you need to cut and clear trees, rip up old pavement, or have significant clearing or leveling to do, your costs can climb to $10,000 per space. Many people find that $5,000 per space is the average price.
Underground Parking Garage
The average underground parking garage cost per space is $25,000 to $50,000. Every level below the ground you go down increases your total expenses more. Going down one level raises costs by 20%, while two levels double the price. Going down further increases pricing even more. Most people rarely build garages below ground, but if space is an issue, one to two levels below ground is recommended because, after that, costs rise to prohibitive levels.
Parking Lot Costs by Material
Every material for car parks comes at a different price, which varies between $1 and $7 per sq.ft. Many materials can be used, but surface lots are most commonly paved in asphalt. This material is a good combination of inexpensive and durable, making it a popular choice. However, it is possible to pave parking lots with other materials, which can influence their costs. Here is how much you can expect to pay for each lot material:
|Cost per Sq.Ft. (Labor Included)
|$2 - $5
|$2 - $8
|$3 - $5
|$4 - $7
|$7 - $13
Chip Seal Parking Lot
The concrete parking lot cost per sq.ft. ranges from $2 to $5. for the material only. They are less common but can be found in some southern areas. While concrete performs better in warm climates than asphalt, it may require more maintenance in cold climates, as the cold can cause it to crack and break apart. It can be colored and shaped, so it makes a nice choice for private lots. When installed in ideal conditions, concrete is very durable and low maintenance. If it’s sealed regularly, it can last 20 to 40 years.
Permeable Paver Parking Lot
A parking lot made from permeable pavers costs between $2 and $8 per sq.ft. to install. This lot material is porous, eco-friendly, and lightweight, making it easy to install. One of the biggest advantages to installing permeable pavers is they require much less maintenance than asphalt or concrete over time. They are also a fairly cost-effective material to use, which is ideal given their longevity compared to other common parking lot materials.
Gravel Parking Lot
Also known as decomposed granite, gravel is the cheapest paving material with a price of $3 to $5 per sq.ft. They consist of three to four layers of gravel for drainage, with a top layer for aesthetics and to hold the cars. Gravel lots are very heat-resistant but not suitable for colder climates, especially areas with high levels of rainfall. While they are cheaper to install, they are very high maintenance and need fresh gravel replenished every few years. This requires heavy machinery that often increases the overall price of the lot. However, when properly maintained, gravel lots can last up to 100 years.
Concrete Parking Lot
The concrete parking lot cost per sq.ft. ranges from $4 to $7. for the material only. They are less common but can be found in some southern areas. While concrete performs better in warm climates than asphalt, it may require more maintenance in cold climates, as the cold can cause it to crack and break apart. It can be colored and shaped, so it makes a nice choice for private lots. When installed in ideal conditions, concrete is very durable and low maintenance. If it’s sealed regularly, it can last 20 to 40 years.
Asphalt Parking Lot
Asphalt is the most common material for car parks, with an average price of $7 to $13 per sq.ft. It is lower in maintenance than gravel but less expensive than concrete. Asphalt is more suitable for cold conditions because it doesn’t crack easily and melts the snow faster due to the darker color. However, when installed in areas with high temperatures, asphalt can take several years to cure and may potentially soften and lose its shape. Asphalt can be tinted or colored for private lots. It is possible to get higher quality material that wears longer in busy lots. When they are maintained regularly by cleaning and yearly washing with a hose spray, the typical lifespan of asphalt lots is 12 to 25 years.
Parking Garage Construction Cost Breakdown
The average price of a parking garage is $9.75M for a 150,000 sq.ft. multi-level garage built above the ground. Out of this price, 20.1% to 25%, or around $3.5M, is labor expenses. Material cost comprises 35% to 40%, or around $4.1M. The remaining 10% to 15%, or around $1.2M, is for the use of machinery. The remaining 10% to 30% or around $950,000 covers the finishing and soft costs involved in the process. The type of structural system used and materials have the greatest impact on your project’s costing. This includes choosing precast forms, cast on-site concrete forms, or steel forms. It also includes choosing between a short-span structure that costs less but fits fewer cars or a long-span structure with higher costs but more cars.
|Part of Project
|Percentage of Total Cost
|Structural Engineer Fees
|1% - 20%
|5% - 10%
|5% - 10%
|8.9% - 10%
|10% - 15%
|15% - 20%
|20.1% - 25%
|35% - 40%
Before you begin any work, make sure you have all the necessary permits in place. The process starts with calling utility companies to mark the areas where their lines are buried, so no damage is done to them during the work. Once this is done, any existing surface must be removed to the subgrade layer, which can be used as a base if it is in good condition or replaced with a new one. Similar to building a house, a base is laid out and compacted, after which the precast columns are set in place. Then, asphalt 9 or concrete is poured and compacted with heavyweight vibratory rollers. Once it dries, the structure or the skeleton for the upper level 10 is placed using precast panels, girders, wall panels, stairs, and slabs. The precast elements are lifted and placed using precast concrete lifting anchor systems. This process is repeated for every level. Depending on the type of ramp and elevator systems you want to include, they can be installed during the construction of the garage. After the main work is done, all that is left is to start doing the finishing touches. This includes marking the lot’s lines, adding bumpers, signs, sensors, and similar additions or decorations. Overall, the time needed to build a structure is usually between 6 and 24 months, although it can take longer depending on the size of the garage.
Parking Lot Striping Cost by Type of Sign
The price of striping a parking lot is $0.20 to $0.30 per linear foot for a standard 4-inch line. If you add thicker lines, you can pay up to $0.65 per linear foot for 12-inch lines. The parking lot striping cost per sq.ft. ranges between $0.20 and $1. This means that to paint around 50 car spaces, you can expect to spend between $350 and $800. Most painters will use 100% acrylic water-based traffic paint to get bright, durable markings that won’t fade under traffic. Chlorinated rubber, thermal plastic, or oil-based paint may also be used, although these are not often used for car parks.
If you want to add different shapes like directional arrows, letters, pedestrian crosswalks, stall numbers, car stops, curb paintings, or handicapped logos, they come at an additional price which is priced individually based on the shape. Some companies have a minimum fee, while others charge 20% to 50% extra if the area has never had lines. If the weather is dry and sunny, the lines will dry in around 4 hours.
|Type of Sign
|Cost (Labor Included)
|$0.20 - $0.65/linear foot
|$0.50 - $1.50/linear foot
|$1.50 - $3.50/number
|$2 - $4/letter
|$10 - $30/each
|$15 - $25/each
|$25 - $30/each
|$50 - $75/each
Automated Parking Garage Cost
Building an automated garage lowers the price per car to around $16,000 to $24,000 per space. On the surface, it appears an automated garage using robotic technology to park cars is costlier than traditional garages, but this is false. Automated garages need less space per car. They also do not require ramps and driving spaces, so you can fit more cars into the same space. You have more spaces per garage, so overall costs can be higher, depending on the garage size.
Parking Garage Maintenance Costs
A budget for total operating and maintenance costs for a garage is around $400 to $600 per space per year, depending on if you have a surface lot or a garage. Like any building, a garage has regular maintenance costs. This includes regular inspections, patching cracks and potholes, fixing or addressing structural cracks, waterproofing, and regular maintenance for electricity and other utilities. To lower the maintenance pricing, you can opt to install photovoltaic cells or energy-efficient lighting on the roof of the garage.
Make sure to do routine preventative maintenance like sealing decks and replacing caulking and joints to avoid higher structural costs over time. You can use several forms and online checklists to assess the current condition of the lot and if any areas need your attention. If needed, you can also consult a qualified engineer to discuss the maintenance and repair needs of the lot.
Repave a Parking Lot
Parking lot paving cost per square foot averages $1 to $7 depending on the material. Most surfaces require repaving, which is a normal part of its regular maintenance over a lifetime. Some larger lots may get a prorated price per sq.ft., while some smaller lots may pay a higher per sq.ft. price. The frequency of repaving depends on the type of material you have, the climate, and the type of structure. If the weather is mild and the lot covered, you won’t have to repave the lot as often as you would have if the surface is exposed to the elements. The cheapest type of lot to repave is gravel, but it requires repaving most frequently. The most expensive material to repave is concrete.
Enhancements and Improvement Costs
Parking Garage Elevator
The average price for a four-person elevator is around $40,000. However, prices can go from $18,000 for one person to $65,000 for elevators holding six people. Any multi-level garage needs at least one elevator to facilitate guests getting to and from their cars. There are several types of elevators: cable driven, hydraulic, geared traction, chain driven, gearless traction, and pneumatic. All have different designs and operating systems that make them suitable for particular projects, with the most common ones used being hydraulic and pneumatic elevators. Permits, fees, and inspections may also be needed for the construction of a garage elevator.
Photovoltaic systems have starting costs of $100,000 for canopy systems and can get more expensive for larger garages. Garages often have high overhead with indoor electrical lights, an elevator, and other operating costs. Installing a photovoltaic energy system helps offset these costs. These systems can also be used in lots to offer shade and to charge electric cars. Your exact expenses are mostly driven by configuration because these are individualized projects. In general, expect a single solar panel to be priced between $250 and $600 installed.
Parking Lot Sensors
Most car park sensor systems come at the price of $20 to $200 per sensor. The exact price depends on the number of vehicle detection sensors needed and the software services the infrastructure will use. Some smart systems can have costs going up to $400 per installed sensor. The sensors improve the ability to track parking use and time efficiency as drivers can know how many and which spots are free. The installation and delivery are included in the price per unit, and the sensors are usually installed within one day.
Parking Lot Bumpers
A garage bumper is priced between $23 and $75, depending on the materials onto which they are installed. They can also be called curb stops, bumper blocks, wheel stops, or chocks. Bumpers are designed to increase the safety of vehicles by preventing them from going out of the designated space. A bumper can keep the lot organized and protect the vehicles by blocking contact with other structures like high curbs, walls, or posts. The bumpers are usually colored differently from those used for marking the spot, although they don’t have to be.
Parking Lot Pay Machine
Parking lot pay machines cost from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the features you want to include. Though different machines come with unique options, you can typically split them into two categories: gated and non-gated parking payment systems. In gated systems, you can either have a flat-rate system or a full-featured one. Using a flat-rated system is much more cost-effective because you only need one parking kiosk at the entrance or the exit.
For non-gated parking lots, there are a few different ways to set up payment. Some of the more common options include printing out “pay and display” tickets for each car, a pay-by-space system, a pay-by-license system, or a phone parking payment system.
License Plate Reader
Automated license plate readers (ALPRs) typically cost between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the quality of the system and any additional features. At their core, ALPRs offer an efficient way for parking lot owners to scan hundreds of license plates in just a minute. Once this information is captured, the data can be translated into information about the vehicle. This allows lot owners to charge tolls and fees to anyone who does not pay when they park. Features that impact the overall cost of ALPRs include the capability and speed of the camera and how quickly the data is translated at the optical character recognition (OCR) facility.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. You need a permit to build a parking garage, and in most areas, you also need to submit plans to the city for approval and work within city ordinances for building.
- Parking business. If you choose to build a lot or garage as a revenue source, many investors start with one lot and expand with others to grow their business and profits. There are many opportunities for this with office buildings, retail centers, malls, mixed-use facilities, concert venues, stadiums, and other highly populated areas.
- Land cost. You also need to consider the land’s price. If you own the land, you need to develop it first. Otherwise, you may need to purchase or lease enough land for the project.
- Location. The location can impact the price to park and the price of constructing a garage or parking lot. Urban areas have higher prices to build but higher revenues, while areas prone to natural disasters need to worry about structural integrity costs.
- Parksmart certification. This certification recognizes high-performing, sustainable garages. Its purpose is to encourage the use of innovative strategies in parking facilities by awarding points based on three categories: technology structure design, programs, and management. Both new construction projects and existing structures can receive this certification.
- Mechanical ventilation. Open parking garages have natural ventilation, but covered garages need mechanical ventilation that complies with the International Mechanical Code. This can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the parking garage.
- Sprinkler systems. Open parking garages do not need any sprinklers because they are open to the sky. However, enclosed spaces need sprinklers installed to protect the space. This typically costs between $1 and $3 per sq.ft. of sprinkler system installed.
- How much does it cost to build an underground parking garage?
The underground garage construction price ranges between $25,000 and $50,000 per space. This means that to build a 500-space underground garage, you can expect to spend between $12.5M and $25M in total.
- Why are parking garages so expensive to build?
The price of garages is so high because of all the planning, labor, and materials required to build them. If the garage is underground, the costs increase drastically because of all the excavation required to start building it.
- How long does it take to build a parking garage?
This depends on the building style, material, size, and location and can take months to a year to complete.
- Is owning a parking garage profitable?
In general, yes, but it depends on the area and how much demand there is for parking.
- How many parking spaces per 1,000 sq.ft.?
You need to factor between 300 and 400 sq.ft. per car, so 1,000 sq.ft. would be enough room for roughly three car spaces.
- How much do parking lots make?
Garages generate a great deal of revenue for the owners. However, the exact amount depends on the number of cars, overhead costs for the garage, the amount of use the garage gets, and the parking rate in that area. Congested areas without many places to park in can charge more per space than areas that have a lot of parking. Depending on these factors, rental revenues per garage can range from $15,000 to $2,000,000 per year.
- How many cars can a parking garage hold?
A good rule of thumb is every car needs between 300 and 400 sq.ft., depending on the layout and traffic flow. This means that a 150,000 sq.ft. garage could reasonably hold between 375 and 500 cars. The two main types are short span systems with a column on every three spaces and long-span structural systems with columns spaced 60 feet apart. Typically, each stall in long-span systems is 300 to 340 sq.ft. in size, while in short span structures, the size is 330 to 400 sq.ft., so there are fewer spaces in total.