If you are wondering about the cost to build a cool store, below we have broken down what is involved in the final price. We are confident that investing in a new cool store for your operation is a worthy decision, though the reality is that it will require a significant financial investment. If it is the first cool store you’ve built, or if it’s been a while since your last cool store project, then you may be wondering how much you will need to spend.

As a broad estimate, it will cost you between $600-$1,800/m2 for your cool store. The final cost will incorporate several components, which we’ve done our best to break down for you below.

Overall Building Size

A larger building will mean a higher overall cost, due to the materials required for the building’s structure, such as the framework and shell. However, the overall price per m2 will come down. We have detailed the three factors most important in establishing the final size below.

It is worth noting, though, that the overall building size won’t impact the cost as significantly as some of the features we’ve listed further down.

Storage Volume

Possibly the most crucial factor in determining the size of your cool store is deciding on the volume of goods you want to accommodate. Once you know the full capacity, there will be many ways to set out your cool store to house your goods.

The ways to manipulate the size are through the building’s height, its footprint, or a combination of both. In general terms, it is more cost-effective to store higher than to make the footprint of the building larger. Although, when you start increasing storage height, you need to also factor in the fire rating implications.

Building Height

The starting height for a bin store will typically be nine bins high, with allowance for the steelwork and refrigeration. For a racked store, it is most cost-effective to go to three pallets high – but this height varies between racking suppliers and whether or not you are running a robot or shuttle.

The building height can be increased or reduced to optimise your storage requirements, but, it is vital to futureproof the store for growth.


Obviously, the larger the floor area, the higher the cost. However, there are ways to plan your footprint to make it work for you without significantly increasing the price. It is possible to optimise the layout of your operation after considering the land size you are working with and the resource or building consent restrictions.

The way we like to approach the layout is to consider your unique operation; including how your produce moves through the store and other cool chain requirements. Meeting on-site and understanding your specific process gives us the best opportunity to come up with a design that works best for your business and adds the most value.


The cost of the concrete foundations is affected by multiple factors; the size of the steel members, the height of the stores, and the ground conditions.

Another factor to consider when it comes to your foundation is the reinforcing you use. It is vital to use reinforcing that is most suitable for the size of the slab, the maximum weight of the final, fully loaded cool store, and the ground conditions as mentioned above.

Fire Rating & Proximity to the Boundary

The distance your cool store can be from the boundary will affect the corresponding fire rating requirements. Typically, the closer the building to the boundary, the more intensive the fire rating requirements. The higher the requirements, the higher the cost of the final build.

Refrigeration & Power

The cost and type of your refrigeration system will primarily depend on the type and volume of goods you are storing as well as your cool chain requirements. There are many different refrigeration options, of which we have a base-level understanding. To ensure this essential element is handled with the expertise it requires, we can put you in touch with providers who can design and commission a system for you. They will also be available to maintain and service it once it is operational.

Refrigeration costs vary in cost from around $250/m2 for smaller units, up to $450/m2 or more for larger industrial units.

Depending on the size of the refrigeration unit required and its location, there is a high possibility that a new or upgraded power transformer and associated cables will need to be installed.

Upgrades to the power transformer can set you back up to $400,000 and in some cases where we have undertaken large industrial developments, the cost has reached $1m. It does pay to note that in most situations, the local power network contributes to this cost, and in some cases will pay for the entire upgrade.

Other Special Features

Depending on the details of your operation, you may require one or more of the following features for your cool store. We’ve broken down how these impact the cost to build a cool store as follows:

SmartFreshTM Technology

With the increasing need for SmartFresh, all the stores we build are capable of implementing SmartFresh.

There are unique and innovative ways of making part of your store, or even just your staging room, compatible with SmartFresh. It can sometimes be as easy as installing a custom-made PVC curtain!

The cost of a Smartfresh tent can start from as little as $5,000.

Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Storage

Depending on the type of goods you produce, you may wish to install CA rooms. Due to the change in the construction methodology for these types of cool stores, CA stores do mean an increase in price. The overall cost of this feature will depend on the size of both your development and the CA rooms.

As an estimate, CA rooms will add a further $300-$500/m2 to your project.

Staging Rooms & Loading Docks

Although both staging rooms and loading docks will add a cost to your project, we recommend that you seriously consider including these options in your build.

The primary benefit of both a staging room and loading dock is the increased efficiency they provide. Factoring these options into your project from the beginning will be much more cost-effective than choosing to add them after the project is complete. It is also worth considering the cost efficiencies they may bring if you do decide to invest.

Including a staging room in your build can cost as little as $400/m2.

The cost for your loading dock will vary depending on how many vehicles will need access to your store. Other factors impacting this cost include the complexity of required groundworks and how the dock will be accessed from the cool store. Generally, a starting point for a single loading dock would be around $30,000.

Canopy Areas

Depending on what produce you are working with and where you are geographically in the country, a canopy may be required for standing down your fruit overnight. Providing a covered space for loading and unloading trucks in season is another benefit. There is also the  bonus of having a covered area to store bins in the off-season.

Its width and depth drive the cost of a canopy, but, as a rule, they start at around $600/m2.


The numerous factors and cost impacts you need to consider when building a cool store can seem somewhat daunting at first glance. However, at Tuatara Structures, we have the knowledge, experience and skills to present you with the best option for your business.

We will work with you to prioritise your needs and work to your budget so you are aware of the cost to build a cool store for your operation. We are also happy to carry out an obligation-free feasibility study for you. This study will give you a greater understanding of the cost to build a cool store that is right for you and whether it is workable for your business.

If you’d like further information about how we can help you with your cool store project, give us a call on 0800 600 750, or complete an enquiry form.

We look forward to hearing from you!