Car Wash Development from Scratch – the Ins and Outs - Misc. AU
Car Wash Development from Scratch – the Ins and Outs

Car Wash Development from Scratch – the Ins and Outs

Car wash Developments can be a rewarding business to build and operate. But where do you start and what are the key components to a successful car wash operation?

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Offer and Site

One of the first decisions you will have to make is the type of wash offer you want to operate and this goes hand in hand with the site you may have in mind. Good research in local competition may help determine the type of wash offer service that is lacking or is in high demand. A recent client told me that their community Facebook page rated self-serve car wash as one of the top 5 answers to the question "what business would you like to open up in our area?" Having a clear direction and understanding of your offer and how that type of wash offer operates is the first and most important piece of the puzzle.

The site you select must be in a location with high traffic or accessibility to suit your target market for your wash offer. Site due diligence research is a must. By this, I mean looking into the suitability of the site in relation to local council regulations and site constraints. Find out the zoning of the site to see if car/vehicle washing is a permissible/allowable development. In many cases, this won't be listed specifically as use but keep a lookout for "service stations", as vehicle washing is an ancillary use to this and is therefore allowable. What are the surrounding developments? Are there nearby residential properties that could restrict your hours of operation? Site constraints such as easements, floor space ratios, heritage, environmentally sensitive area, bushfire prone area etc. you can appreciate are all pieces of important information needed in the section of your wash site.

Car Wash Design


The key component is common to all wash offer design in-vehicle flow and Traffication. Management of your customers access to the site, vehicle queuing/movements/storage within the site and safe egress from the site must be at the forefront of your car facility design from the concept stage. Not only is this important from an operational perspective but in order to get the Council and Local Road authority's tick of approval, you need to demonstrate that your development will not impact the local road network. An easy, safe and stress-free wash experience for your customers will bring them back again and again.

Size Matters

Having suitably sized wash bays and plant rooms is another key factor in your car wash design. Wash bays that are too big don't maximise your site potential and designing them too small means the self-serve customer is getting a better wash than their car or even worse your equipment does not fit!! The poor old plant room can be an afterthought in the design process and the biggest headache during construction. Keep in mind that although it is usually tucked away and never seen by customers the humble plant room houses your critical equipment. It must be suitably sized to allow service and maintenance but also comply with building codes such as 2.1m minimum floor to ceiling height and 1.0m minimum clear paths of egress between equipment and exit door. With the tightening of building regulations throughout Australia, remember, compliance is key.

Promote Clean

In simple terms, your wash facility is selling "clean" and this is critical in both design and operations. Whatever your build, selection of materials and finishes that are easily cleaned and endure are important. Whether it be epoxy grouting to your tiles or specialty acrylic render to your block walls, final selections will mean that through the life of your wash facility you can maintain the image of "clean" without costly remediations and upgrades.


How do get all the decisions and designs right? You are not alone. The ACWA is a great start! They can point you in the right direction to real-estate agents, equipment suppliers, designers and more importantly like-minded businesses that have wash industry experience with knowledge to share. Working with people you resonate with and who have the industry know-how will go a long way in providing advice that will help you turn your wash dreams into wet reality.

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