When you’re building a new church, the parking lot may be the furthest thing from your mind. It’s much more exciting to think about the architecture and design of the building. But sufficient parking is vital. If members or guests can’t find a parking spot, they may simply leave.
Here are some tips for planning the parking lot of a church.
Know the Minimum Parking Ratio for Your Area
The parking ratio is the number of parking spots in proportion to the number of seats in your church. So for example, if your church has 600 seats and 200 parking spots, the parking ratio would be 3:1. This ratio may also be calculated by square footage instead.
Municipalities generally set the minimum parking ratio based on the type of building. Churches may be classified as a religious facility, place of worship, or something else. Refer to your area’s code for details. You’ll likely end up with even more parking spaces than the minimum, but it’s good to be aware of those requirements so you can be sure you’re following the building code for a church.
Use Your Seating Capacity As a Starting Point
The seating capacity for your new building will tell you approximately how many parking spaces you need, once you factor in occupants per car. Most likely, you have a mix of couples, families, and single people arriving in each car.
LifeWay Builders recommends having one space for every 2 to 2.5 people who will be at the church at the same time. You may go higher or lower on this number, depending on your unique situation, but it’s a good starting place and will give you an average to work from.
Consider Activities Other than Worship Services
Most churches have other activities going on at the same time or close to their worship services. For example, you might have Sunday school classes, fellowship time, or services with closely overlapping start times. This translates to extra people in the parking lot. Take that into account when you’re planning parking. Consider the occupancy of your classrooms, fellowship halls, and other rooms in your church, as well as the maximum capacity of the sanctuary.
Factor in Handicap Spots
Although churches are not required by law to be handicap accessible, most churches strive to accommodate people with disabilities. It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with guidelines for handicapped parking spaces from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA National Network website has a comprehensive chart to help you determine how many of your church’s parking spots should be handicap accessible. Refer to this chart when planning for your own parking lot. Additionally, one-sixth of all handicap spots must be van-accessible.
Parking Spot Dimensions
Once you’ve figured out how many parking spots your church needs, you will have to plan out the dimensions of the spots. Your local government might have guidelines to follow for this as well, so be sure to check local building codes. Generally, though, the standard size for a parking space is 9 feet by 18 feet, according to LifeWay Builders.
Handicap accessible spaces have minimum dimension requirements from the ADA:
- Standard accessible spaces: minimum 8 feet wide with a 5-foot access aisle
- Van accessible spaces: minimum 11 feet wide with a 5-foot access aisle, or 8 feet wide with an 8-foot access aisle.
Also make sure you are marking handicap spots and their access aisles appropriately so that it is clear to drivers which spots are accessible.
Let Your Builder Guide You
If all of this information seems overwhelming, let your builder help you navigate the process. They will be familiar with the building codes and they have experience planning every aspect of new construction. These guidelines are presented to help you think of the types of questions you should ask and the things you need to be considering as you build your church.
Once you’ve finalized the details of the building project, your thoughts will likely turn to other details like furnishing the building. When you’re ready to purchase seating for your church, consider ChurchPlaza’s chairs. Our goal is to support your church through the highest quality seating and related products. Learn more about our mission to protect your ministry.