The Next Level
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Tyson Hermes and Erik Hermes|
|Posted on: 09/01/2004|
The Next LevelMultistory gives self-storage development a lift
By Tyson Hermes and Erik Hermes
The self-storage market has begun to saturate in many areas of the country. As a result, developers have found it necessary to put facilities on premium property. New developments on highly visible, easily accessible sites are able to contend with the competition by providing something many first- and second-generation facilities cannot: convenient, modern amenities. These do come with a catch, however: cost. Developers may ask themselves, “How do you justify a traditional self-storage development on a high-priced, 5-acre site?” The answer is simple: Don’t use 5 acres. Build up, and use less land.
The premium for multistory construction is only slightly more than that of traditional single-story facilities ($1 to $2 more per square foot, depending on the market and topography). The money spent on elevators, stairwells and sprinkler systems can be offset by less roofing, insulation, asphalt paving, storm-water systems, fencing and land. Amenities that appeal to tenants—such as automatic sliding-glass doors at entrances, motion-sensor light switches, rounded hallway corners, and digital video recording—can be added at relatively little cost. Finally, the high-profile look of a multistory facility is more appealing to many planning commissions. It has enabled developers to petition municipalities that have previously said they would “never” allow self-storage.
The success of a multistory facility doesn’t come easily. It starts with a good plan on a great site. There are code considerations, design necessities and increased responsibilities that come with multistory construction. There are also key criteria that should be met. Not all of them are critical, but the ideal site would meet as many as possible.
Easy access, dense local population and a lack of competition help make a facility a success. Some things to look for in a site are:
Many important code-related questions can be answered quickly with the help of a construction manager familiar with the self-storage industry. Some things to ask are:
Once local authorities accept the site plan, it’s time to work out the design of the building. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Make the facility inviting and easy to use. The following items should be considered:
Phasing. With traditional self-storage, the facility can be constructed one building at a time. This is called phasing. The ability to construct the facility in phases allows you to limit your investment and risk. The unit mix can also be adjusted to match the market as new buildings are completed. With multistory facilities, phasing is not possible, as the entire shell of the building must be completed on the first day of operation. Thus, more cash is required in the beginning for the additional working capital. In addition, the unit mix and layout should be planned very carefully because adjusting the units later can be costly.
Schedule. Drawing preparation, permit processing and construction time are longer with multistory building. Allow four to six months for drawing preparation and permits and eight to 10 months for construction. The schedule varies greatly depending on the municipality’s familiarity with multistory selfstorage and the building system selected.
Manager’s Responsibilities. Multistory buildings are more complex than traditional self-storage and, therefore, add greater responsibility to the manager’s role. This includes checking wet and dry sprinkler systems, maintaining elevators, inspecting and maintaining smoke detectors in elevator shafts and ducts, maintaining hallways and stairwells, and securing the facility at the end of each day.
Operating Costs. Multistory buildings may experience higher operating costs, including utility costs (gas and electric). This depends on the amount of heating, cooling and lighting in the facility. Elevator maintenance, sprinkler maintenance and yearly inspections may also be higher.
Multistory self-storage is beginning to fill a niche that has not previously existed. With proper planning, a good manager and cooperation from local municipalities, multistory facilities can be built in communities and cities previously unwilling to allow self-storage. This is done by literally taking self-storage to the next level.
Tyson and Erik Hermes are brothers and owners of Hermes Construction Co. Since 1980, they’ve specialized in the design, development and construction of self-storage facilities. For more information, call 859.781.7198; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.hermesconstructionco.com.