Republished with permission from The List Self Storage Newsletter
By Jano Montoya
The benefits of engaging a contractor early in the self-storage development process are abounding. Pre-construction services are not limited to budgeting and project scheduling, and can encompass a wide range of value-added services. Here are three key qualities to look for when selecting a contractor for pre-construction services:
1. Above all, experience in building self-storage is critical. While product type isn’t overly complicated, there are elements of self-storage design and construction which cannot be overlooked. Underwriting a project is typically based on a very thin margin, and cost and/or schedule overruns can quickly derail cash flow models, taking months—possibly years—from which to recover. Experienced builders will not only know what problems to avoid, they’ll know which features and materials perform better.
2. Look for a level of sophistication in your builder. Design firms don’t generally focus on a single product type unless it’s a market large enough to sustain the firm through cyclical ups and downs. Self-storage hasn’t historically been one of those markets; there simply isn’t enough revenue. A specialized self-storage builder can work closely together with the architectural firm, adding substantial value to the design process. Some have observed that architects are typically more artistic than engineers. Form has priority over function in many building types; however, in self storage, this cannot be the precedence. Efficiency and optimization need to be the objective in every design session. A sophisticated builder will be able to provide feedback to the design team to optimize efficiency for maximum revenue potential.
3. Lastly, engage a builder who has strong relationships with specialized subcontractors. Self-storage construction is in high demand these days. As developers rush to get their projects built, an experienced builder who has a good working relationship with the major trades can be very beneficial when establishing critical milestones, scheduling the delivery of long lead materials and creating an aggressive but realistic overall project schedule.
Jano Montoya is co-owner of P.B. Brown LLC, a general contractor specializing in commercial and industrial construction. After graduating from San Diego State University with a civil engineering degree, Jano worked for a large construction company in California for 12 years. He and Paul Brown launched their own general contracting firm in Florida in 2011. Since starting the company, Jano has overseen more than 4.5 million square feet of self-storage renovation and new construction. The company assists self-storage owners in all phases of development including entitlements, design and construction. For more information, visit www.pbbrown.com.