How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash?

by Steve Smith; Updated September 26, 2017

Building a car wash business takes a lot of work and research. Of course, you can find companies that will do it all for you at a cost. Pre-designed car wash plans are available, as thousands of them have been built. However, you need to be sure the pre-fab car wash is suited to the location and area where you want to build it.

Time Frame

It will take anywhere from six months to a year to build a car wash. It depends on the size of the car wash you intend to build and the extent of the alterations to the site that are needed. In some cases, additional sewage and drainage facilities are going to be needed to handle the volume of discharge.

Types

There are two types of car washes you can build: fully automated and unattended car washes that run 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and full service car washes. Some automated car washes are simple concrete block structures with a spray hose that is operated by the consumer. A structure like this could take a minimum of six months to build, including time to acquire the property and permits, as well as construction. The highly complex automated drive-through washes usually include a vacuum station and require an attendant.

Size

The average car wash is at least 1000 square feet and as much as 2500 square feet. The largest car washes are built on a lot that is about an acre in size. Small, self service car washes can be built on lots that are a quarter acre or less. That includes the parking areas, room for vacuum stations and signs.

Process

To build a car wash you need to first find a lot, then check the zoning regulations. You do this by contacting the town or city municipal offices in the town or city the lot is located. You need to apply for a building permit and will need to present plans or engineering drawings of the car wash you want to build. Once you receive all the necessary permits you need to contact a construction company that specializes in building car washes. Make sure they have references and can show you work they have done in the past. You can find blue prints for car washes through an engineering company, or do a search for plans online.

Considerations

Building a car wash involves a big investment of anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. Many operators finance this through a bank, instead of putting up their own money. The cost could increase depending on the price of the lot you want to build on. There are many ways to get the job done, and if you have a winning business plan, the task of finding an agreeable lender is much easier.

About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.