Construction Corner is a Q&A column committed to answering reader-submitted questions regarding construction and development. Inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I own a carwash and would like to get into the storage business. What is the best way for me to determine my unit sizes when designing my site? --Larry in St. Louis
Competition and market analysis! Unit sizes differ so greatly depending on region that the only true way to determine what to build is to see what units your competitor is renting and how fast he is renting them. There are a couple of ways to go about this. First, check with competitors within a 10-minute radius of your site. See which unit sizes are sold out and which ones they are pushing with incentives. This will give you a good idea of which sizes are being rented and how you should design your site.
In many cities and counties, building layouts are a matter of public record at the local building department. Use this to your advantage to determine what your competition found through market research and what he built. In a perfect world, your site would have all 5-by-5s. This philosophy is based on what is called a "bankers mix," which simply means more money is generated by renting out two 5-by-5 units than a single 10-by-10. Of course, this is based on whether 5-by-5s are selling in your area, so do your research thoroughly before deciding on your unit mix. By using these methods, you should be able to come up with a mix that will fill your site quickly at the maximum rent, without having many vacant units left over.
My contractor told me I should install cantilever gates vs. the traditional sliding gates. The cantilever gates seem to be much more expensive, and I can't get a good answer as to why I should go that route. Any suggestions or advice would be helpful. --Richard in Buffalo, N.Y.
A cantilever gate is great when limited horizontal space restricts the movement of a traditional sliding-gate system. Another factor to consider is climate. A sliding gate can suffer when snow and ice collect on the gate track, sometimes breaking the chain or burning out the gate operator. Living in Buffalo, I can see why your contractor is steering you toward a cantilever solution. A cantilever gate is immune to snow on the ground; it is vertically lifted above the snow to allow easy access. It would be a wise investment to spend the extra money now. It will save you a lot of time, aggravation and money down the road.
Construction Corner is contributed by Tony Gardner, a licensed contractor and installation coordinator for QuikStor, an industry security and software provider since 1987. For more information, visit www.quikstor.com.