Building a Parking Garage Cost [Labor & Materials]
Building a parking garage is a great way to fit a lot of vehicles in a relatively small area. If you are planning to build (or have already built) a large commercial structure, you might want to consider how much it would cost to build a parking garage instead of a traditional parking lot.
Generally, the total price of building a parking garage will depend on the size, the location, and the materials you use in its construction. However, the national average cost of building a parking garage is just about $9.75 million.
Keep reading to learn more about the different factors that influence the total cost of building a parking garage.
What is the Average Cost of Building a Parking Garage?
While how much building your specific parking garage will cost depends on many different factors, the average price range is anywhere between $7.5 and $12 million.
The national average price is $9.75 million. Depending on how things play out, however, your total cost could be anywhere between $150,000 and 22 million dollars.
Apart from size, whether you use a precast or traditional lot is the biggest factor when determining the initial price of a building. With a precast lot, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50-$80 per square foot.
If you choose to build a traditional lot, that cost increases to anywhere from $75 to $150 per square foot.
Here are some average costs of precast and traditional lots, based on square footage.
|Square Footage||Precast Lot||Traditional Lot|
|50,000||$2.4 - $4 million||$3.75 - $7.5 million|
|100,000||$5 - $8 million||$7.5 - $15 million|
|150,000||$7.5 - $12 million||$11.25 - $22.5 million|
|200,000||$10 - $16 million||$15 - $30 million|
|250,000||$12.5 - $20 million||$18.75 - $37.5 million|
In addition to size and lot types, several other factors will also influence the price. These include whether the lot is on the surface or underground and the type of material you use to construct it.
What Are the Differences Between a Surface and Underground Garage?
There are advantages and disadvantages to building both on the surface and building underground. Surface garages are great if you’re not too worried about height, while underground garages are good if you are looking to conceal the structure as much as possible.
Surface Parking Garages
If you are starting with a clear, flat lot, building your parking garage on the surface can be very economical. Typically, the cost per parking space for a surface garage is anywhere between $1,500 to $10,000.
This depends on how much preparatory work you need to do, such as removing trees. On average, however, expect to spend $5,000 per parking space if you’re building a surface garage.
Underground Parking Garages
Underground parking garages may look more aesthetically pleasing, but they do come at an increased cost.
When building an underground parking garage, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per space, and each additional level underground you go will increase the total cost.
You will typically only be able to go one to two levels beneath the ground when building an underground parking structure. Anything more than that is likely to raise your total cost significantly, and possibly even to prohibitive levels.
What are the Best Materials to Pave a Parking Garage with?
Most commonly, parking garages are paved with asphalt because it is an inexpensive, durable material.
However, there are several other materials that may work well, depending on what kind of climate you live in and how much you’re looking to spend.
Generally, parking garages are paved with asphalt, chip seal, gravel, or concrete. Each material comes at a different cost, and each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Paving with Asphalt
Many people choose to pave their parking garages with asphalt because it’s cost-efficient and low-maintenance.
Unlike some other materials, it doesn’t easily crack in colder conditions. It’s also better for melting snow and ice compared to concrete, due to its darker color.
While asphalt is great for colder climates, it can soften or lose its shape when installed in hotter environments.
If you live in a temperate area, you will probably want to install it in the fall or winter months to give it the proper time to cure before things heat up in the spring.
Asphalt typically lasts between 10-30 years before it will need to be laid again. Be sure to clean your asphalt regularly to ensure the longest lifespan possible.
Paving with Chip Seal
You may have heard chip seal referred to by several different names, including
- Tar and chip
- Seal chip
This material is made with crushed stone and aggregate, with a coating of asphalt, river rock, slate, brick, or granite on top.
People often choose to pave parking garages in colder environments with chip seals because of its rough top surface, which provides a lot of traction for vehicles when driving in icy conditions.
Depending on which materials it’s made from, chip seal can sometimes cost less than asphalt. However, it is significantly more sensitive to high-traffic areas and the general elements.
Because of this, it has a shorter lifespan of around 10 years.
Paving with Gravel
Gravel is the cheapest paving material available, usually costing under $2 per square foot. It’s perfect for warmer climates because it’s very resistant to heat.
However, gravel is not very resistant to the elements in colder climates or areas that see a lot of rainfall.
To pave a parking structure with gravel, you’ll need to lay 3-4 layers for drainage purposes. Then, finish it off with a nice, even top layer.
Many people choose to pave with gravel because of its low installation cost. But, it is also one of the highest-maintenance paving materials available.
You’ll need to lay a fresh layer every couple of years to maintain gravel’s appearance and integrity. However, when cared for properly, it can last for decades.
Paving with Concrete
Concrete is one of the most expensive materials to pave your parking garage with.
People in colder areas typically prefer asphalt to concrete, but it is often more popular in warmer areas because it does not soften as much when temperatures are hot.
Just like asphalt performs better than concrete in colder climates, concrete is generally preferred in warmer climates.
Concrete is more susceptible to cracks and breaks, and will need significant maintenance in cold temperatures to prevent this from happening.
When installed in a warmer climate, and with proper maintenance, concrete is very durable and can last up to 40 years.
Average Cost of Paving Materials
|Material||Average Cost (per sq. ft.)|
What Do I Have to Prepare Before I Start Building?
As with any building project, you need to be sure you have all the necessary permits, accounts, and registrations before you start any kind of construction.
You’ll also need to contact your local utility companies, especially if you’re building an underground garage, so they can mark the areas where any sewer or electrical lines are.
Once all of the logistics are taken care of, the surface will need to be leveled. Any trees, plants, or grass will need to be removed, and the base will need to be compacted.
Once you have taken care of all the legal aspects and leveled your lot, you are ready to begin pouring your pavement and constructing your garage.
What Other Fees Are Involved?
As you probably know, there are many additional fees to consider when you are building a parking garage. These include structural engineer fees, architect fees, contractor fees, and more. Here is a breakdown of everything you should expect to pay.
- Structural engineer fees. A structural engineer is responsible for creating gravitational support and lateral resistance for your parking garage. Their knowledge, skills, and calculations are important any time a tall structure is being built.
- Finishing fees and soft costs. Both of these things refer to costs that bring the project to completion, such as taxes, insurance, and initial maintenance costs.
- Architect fees. Architects are the ones responsible for designing the layout and structure of your parking garage.
- Materials and equipment. This includes anything you will need to clear the lot, build the structure, or use to add the finishing touches to your parking garage.
- General contractor fees. Any building project needs a general contractor to oversee construction. They will typically handle every aspect of the project for you, and everyone on-site will likely report to them.
- Labor costs. This includes payment and insurance for anyone who is working on building your parking garage, such as construction workers.
How Much Will Each of These Fees Cost?
Each of the fees listed above will contribute to the overall cost of your project. Here is how much of the total cost you can expect to pay for each.
|Type of Fee||Estimated Percentage of Total Cost|
|Structural engineer fees||20%|
|General contractor fees||15-30%|
Recurring Costs to Consider
While the bulk of your expenses will come into play when you’re first building your parking garage, there are some recurring costs that you will also have to take into account.
These costs include striping, which will have to be redone every 1-2 years, and regular maintenance.
Striping and Line Work
Striping is necessary for any kind of parking garage. While lining out parking spaces is not very expensive, additional line work such as stenciled numbers, letters, and handicapped logos will cost you extra.
Here is a cost breakdown for some of the kinds of line work you may need in your garage.
|Type of Work||Average Cost|
|Lined parking spaces||$0.20-$0.60 per linear foot|
|Stenciled numbers||$1.50-$3.50 per number|
|Letters or words||$2.00-$4.00 per letter|
|Stop signs||$15.00-$25.00 each|
|Handicapped signs||$25.00-$30.00 each|
Assuming your line work is done while the weather is dry, it should be ready for use in approximately four hours. Avoid doing this work in the rain to prevent the lines from running or fading.
Regular and Yearly Maintenance
Like any structure, your parking garage will need regular maintenance to stay in good condition over the years. Regular maintenance you’ll need to do may include:
- Patching cracks or potholes in the pavement
- Electrical/lighting maintenance
- Safety inspections
- Finding and fixing any structural problems
While the cost of these maintenance tasks will vary based on several different factors, you can generally expect to pay somewhere between $400-$600 per parking space each year on maintenance.
While this cost may seem high, parking garages are great sources of income and generally won’t cost you much additional money once the structure is complete.
How Much Do Parking Garages Make Per Year?
Especially in large cities, parking garages make a significant profit each year. Most parking garages charge either an hourly or daily rate to anyone who parks inside, and when you multiply that by the number of spaces you have, you’ll see just how much money you can make.
Depending on factors such as the amount of use, the price of space, and how long your patrons stay parked, your garage could make anywhere from $100,000 to $2,000,000 per year on average. While maintenance costs may be high, the profit will be well worth it.
Building a parking garage is not an inexpensive endeavor, but it can generate a lot of income for your business once all is said and done.
Before you start building your garage, make sure you have a realistic idea of what you’ll be spending, all the proper permits and registrations in place, and the right people for the job. You may be interested in our guide on CNC routers.