We Simplify Obtaining a Construction Loan

Obtaining a loan to build a new carwash, gas station, or c-store can be daunting. Work with a partner who has done it before, understands the nuances, and has the right resources to ensure certainty of execution.


Acquiring a loan to build a carwash, gas station, or c-store can make a difficult goal that much harder in comparison to obtaining a loan to purchase an existing site. A construction project involves more parties and requires careful documentation management between the contractor, subcontractors, engineers, developer, title company, construction management firm, and others throughout the entirety of the project. Since the building isn’t available for collateral, there’s also more lending risk to overcome. Lenders are cautious about the unforeseen expenses and loan increases that are inherent in the unpredictability of construction. Potential issues could arise at any point in the project, from the start of construction all the way through obtaining a certificate of occupancy and opening to the public. Plus, even after the site is fully constructed, repayment of the loan is based on projected income versus proven historical operating performance.

All of these variables can make it challenging to obtain construction loans.


From the purchase of land to the finishing touches, a construction loan provides funds for a range of expenses when you build your carwash, gas station, or c-store.

Here are the items usually covered by a construction loan:

  • The Cost of Land
  • Pre-Development Soft Costs Including Architects, Engineers, and Others
  • Construction Permits and Fees
  • Building Materials
  • Contractor Labor
  • Major Equipment
  • Closing Costs
  • Construction Contingency
  • Interest Reserves

Types of Construction Loans

Entrepreneurs seeking to obtain a construction loan have five main loan types to consider. Each one has its individual pros and cons, which you’ll have to align with your construction project’s specific needs. You can expect a loan-to-value (LTV) between 65% and 85% with amortizations of up to 25 years using the following construction loan options.

The SBA 7(a) loan program is one of the most popular and versatile loan options provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They generally require lower down payments. SBA 7(a) loans can ease the financial burden on entrepreneurs building a carwash, gas station, or c-store because longer repayment terms exist compared to many conventional loans. As long as the proposed business meets SBA eligibility requirements, repayment can be based on projected income instead of historical cash flow, making the SBA 7(a) loan an ideal option for carwash, gas station, or c-store construction. Lenders are also drawn to SBA 7(a) loans because the SBA partially guarantees the loans, which lowers the associated risk.


The SBA 504 loan program is another type of loan offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) designed to provide long-term financing to entrepreneurs and small business owners. The 504 loan differs from the SBA 7(a) loan in that entrepreneurs may only use it for real estate acquisition, construction, and fixed asset purchases versus the wider range of purposes the 7(a) loan covers. SBA 504 loans also have a much higher cap that can exceed $16 million for a single project compared to the $5 million 7(a) loan maximum. Two loans are included in a 504 loan: one from a bank and one from a Certified Development Company (CDC) that is guaranteed by the SBA. If you have a larger construction project, the 504 loan might be better suited to your goals.


Conventional loans are offered by banks and credit unions without a guaranty from a government agency like the Small Business Administration (SBA). Conventional loans often have a faster approval process than government-backed loans, which can be especially advantageous when time is of the essence in securing the property or commencing construction. Obtaining a conventional construction loan, however, often requires a larger down payment and a stronger borrower credit profile. Weigh your specific needs, financial situation, and risk tolerance to determine if this is the best option for you.


Some construction projects might not be a good fit for a bank for one reason or another. A borrower could have troubled credit history or could merely be prioritizing speed of execution above all else. We can arrange a construction loan from a private bridge lender and then look to refinance it with a permanent loan from a bank once construction is complete.


For construction projects in rural areas, the USDA B&I program can be the perfect loan for a borrower. It allows high leverage like the SBA loan programs, but doesn’t use up any SBA eligibility. It can be used for non-owner occupied projects as well. However, keep in mind that only specific areas in the United States are eligible for these loans.

Speak with the PetroCal team to discuss the financing options for your construction project.

Obtain Construction Financing with PetroCal

With decades of construction lending experience and a vetted lending network, PetroCal specializes in arranging construction financing for special purpose properties like carwashes, gas stations, and c-stores. Our unique advantages offer entrepreneurs expedited loan processing, risk mitigation, and invaluable guidance for certainty of execution.


When you need a firm with a proven track record of successfully financing the construction of carwash, gas station, or c-store projects, rely on the PetroCal team’s expertise to help achieve your business goals. We become an extension of your team to truly understand your short- and long-term vision.

“Reuven Birnkrant saw our potential and fought for our car wash all the way. He was instrumental in finding the right bank and even convinced the VP to come see our building site when other brokers wouldn’t give us the time of day. Once the bank saw our plans and our location we got two thumbs up! Reality is that Reuven pulled it all off and he was a huge help in getting us to close on time.”
-New-to-Industry Carwash Operator
Riverside County, CA

Construction Transaction Highlights

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  • Ground-up construction of an express carwash for a new-to-industry operator
  • No cash injection was required as the borrower already owned the land
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  • Land acquisition and ground-up construction for major brand gas station, carwash, and franchise c-store
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  • Build-to-suit financing arranged for a net leased, major brand, corporate c-store operator

Flexible Construction Financing Options

We can arrange a multitude of financing structures exceeding $1 million to meet your construction project’s financing needs. Our vetted network of lenders understands carwash, gas station, and c-store construction opportunities when others may not, ensuring that you obtain the most favorable lending terms with our support.

For example, there’s a variety of loan options available from conventional commercial, SBA 7(a), SBA 504, bridge, and USDA B&I to meet your unique circumstances. We offer small business loans for those operating fewer than five locations and middle market loans best for operators of larger portfolios. We can accommodate construction on leased land or contaminated sites, shortened timeframes, or smaller down payments. Rely on us to pair you with the right loan that aligns with your short- and long-term financing goals.

How to get Started with Construction Financing


When seeking construction financing, it's essential to address several critical questions regarding your eligibility and project requirements. Lenders typically assess your down payment capability, the stage of permitting your project has reached, the total project cost, and your outside sources of income to determine your qualification for financing. These key details will serve as the foundation for identifying the most suitable financing options for your specific needs.

Since construction projects are unique, they also require these additional items:

  • Business Plan (including sections on the business opportunity, services provided, trade area, competition, marketing plan, and management)
  • 36-Month Projections (with the first 24 months broken out by month and including assumptions to the projections)
  • Project Cost Breakdown (including all soft costs and hard costs along with all bids, quotes, or estimates if any exist)
  • Feasibility Study (if available)
  • Construction Plans or Drawings
  • Lease Agreement or Purchase Agreement/Closing Statement for Subject Site

Selecting the right site for your carwash, gas station, or c-store construction project is a critical decision that hinges on factors like visibility, accessibility, competition, and zoning.

Look for areas with heavy traffic, but remember that not all traffic is created equally. High-speed roads might not provide sufficient time for drivers to slow down and access your carwash or gas station. To attract customers consistently, consider proximity to daily trip generators like grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, and schools. These destinations encourage customers to combine their errands, making your business a part of their routine. Additionally, it's vital to understand local zoning laws and regulations that govern your chosen site, ensuring compliance to avoid potential delays or rejections. Focus on properties zoned for commercial or business use, and ensure that your selected property offers sufficient space to accommodate your plan. This careful consideration during the site selection process will set the stage for a successful business venture. Once you’ve identified your site, bring it to us for a complimentary site evaluation to determine its viability.


Carwashes, gas stations, and c-stores are unique retail developments. A dedicated designer who has experience in these industries is invaluable to maximizing the functionality of your land and the overall success of your business. Look for architects, engineers, and contractors with a proven track record in similar projects and a thorough understanding of local building codes, environmental regulations, and site-specific challenges.


Obtain the construction financing you need to start your newest business venture. Contact us for a complimentary consultation to determine the viability of your project. We’ll work with you to collect all the necessary paperwork to complete your loan file when building a carwash, gas station, or c-store. Review our loan process checklist for carwashes or for gas stations to understand which documents and financials you’ll need to organize.

Then, we’ll source loan options from our nationwide network of lenders so you can receive the most favorable terms available in the marketplace today.

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Yes, I’d like a consultation with PetroCal to evaluate my site

There are many moving parts when building a new carwash, gas station, or c-store site.
Allow us to bring certainty of execution.
Count on PetroCal to expertly navigate you through the complex financing process and secure a construction loan for your site.
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