Four Reasons You Should Partner With A Carwash Design Specialist
In Canada, starting up a carwash is a lucrative year-round business. According to 2018 stats by IBISWorld, Canada has 3,181 carwash businesses, generating a combined $473m in annual revenue.
The first step is to find an integrated engineering and design firm to help you develop your blueprints and site plans and get them approved by the municipality. It is important that they offer a wide range of services: civil engineering (site planning); electrical, mechanical and structural engineering; permitting support and professional project management.
While there are thousands of design firms across the country, only a handful have the background and experience to be considered carwash design specialists.
There are several reasons why you are best served by partnering with a firm that counts carwash design as part of its core expertise.
1. You will likely require a custom design.
For the most part, there is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter design template for independent carwashes. While the large national fuel and carwash brands may have a set design standard to work from, the majority of independent carwashes are designed from scratch. An experienced engineering and design firm are able to apply the lessons they have learned on previous builds to your project, expediting the process and eliminating headaches.
2. Specialists know municipal site requirements inside-out.
Every design begins with a site plan. The size, placement, location, and orientation of your property will largely determine what your municipality will allow you to build.
Carwashes fall under the category of vehicle-oriented use (meaning, customers largely stay inside their vehicles). The development department will have very specific requirements governing site access as it relates to vehicular traffic. This includes ingress (entering a property), egress (exiting a property), stacking (how and where vehicle lineup to enter the carwash) and traffic flow (how the vehicles navigate the site).
Municipalities will also have strict rules governing servicing and hookup to infrastructure. This includes electrical and water service as well as stormwater and discharge systems.
The regulations and requirements can vary dramatically from one municipality to the next. Experienced firms that specialize in carwash design have generally worked across the country. Their understanding of permitting requirements minimizes mistakes and oversights that can send your design back to the drawing board.
Experienced design firms know what questions to ask the municipality before the design work begins.
3. They know how to design your building to meet all equipment needs.
Your building needs to stand up to a harsh, caustic environment where water pressure, dampness and chemical exposure are an everyday occurrence. A carwash design specialist understands this and will engineer your building for long-life and durability.
They know the various equipment manufacturers and are familiar with the structural and hookup requirements involved. From conduit and underground piping to sediment pits, water treatment systems, and sanitary discharge systems – the top design firms have worked with it all.
“An experienced design firm can provide guidance on what you need to put in, the why’s behind it, and strategic advice on where things need to be placed for maximum efficiency,” explains Devin Mahaffey, a partner with Calgary-based CTM Design.
Mahaffey says that municipalities will typically want to control both the quality of discharged water and the amount of water you can use. Although very few municipalities currently require the control or reduction of water consumption, as time passes more and more are implementing requirements such as water reclamation.
“Owners can stay a step ahead by including a sediment pit or oil-grit separator to treat wastewater,” Mahaffey says.
4. They can be a valuable resource between you and the equipment suppliers.
There are seven major manufacturers of automatic wash systems based in Canada. Mahaffey says all have minor differences that can drastically impact the building design. Some are mounted on rails anchored to the wall. Others involve a cage design where rails are anchored on the floor. Some use onboard dryers, while others have a separate dryer mounted at an exit door. And of course, there are obvious differences between touchless and soft cloth systems.
There are a number of additional factors that can affect your choice in equipment and wash bay footprint. An experienced design firm can help you determine what is possible before you get too far down the path with a particular supplier, only to realize their system will not work on your site.
“We’ve been exposed to all of this. As experts, we know the various vendors quite well, and can help owners with the consultation process,” Mahaffey says.
Choosing a carwash design firm.
When choosing a design and engineering firm, be sure to ask if they have built carwashes in your city or town, and if they are familiar with the type of system you are planning to install. Make sure they offer all required design services in house. Also, ask about their approach to project management. How do they keep projects on schedule and on a budget? How do they keep you informed at all stages?
By choosing the right design firm, you can ensure your facility is designed to meet your needs – and is set to help you clean up – for years to come.