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.
Q: Are there any advantages to being an owner-builder? What are some pitfalls to avoid?
--Kevin in Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: With the wealth of self-storage information available online, the idea of being an owner-builder is becoming more popular. To be a successful owner-builder, you will need two things: time and experience.
You must be able to dedicate the time needed to manage such a project. A self-storage facility can take several months to a year to complete, depending on the scope of the project and location. Taking into consideration your other obligations, this may not be possible.
If it is, make sure you have the experience to bring the project in on time and on budget. You don't necessarily need to know how to handle every part of the project, but you do need to be able to work with subcontractors and the city's building department for permits and inspections. Consider using one of the many computer programs that help you manage your time and resources, such as Microsoft Project. If you don't have the experience, it may be best to leave the project up to a general contractor that specializes in the self-storage industry. One of the great advantages of being an owner-builder is the potential to save thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars that won't be going to a contracted builder. Be warned, however, that those savings can disappear quickly if the time and experience to complete the project do not exist.
Q: What is the best way to protect a security system from lightning damage? Is there anything that can be done during the initial installation?
--Wayne (city and state not provided)
A: Depending on what part of the country you are in, protection from lightning damage can be critical. Proper grounding and bonding during installation of the equipment is key to preserving your system. This may include using separate ground rods at your keypads or other exterior equipment. Some companies offer products that have lightning protection built into them or offer separate devices that can be placed in-line between interior and exterior equipment. Consult with your security installer or electrician to find out what they are doing to protect your equipment. Note: No product or installation is lightning-proof. Even the best of protection can be defeated by an intense lightning storm; but proper grounding and equipment can greatly reduce your chances against damage from a lightning strike.
Tony Gardner is a licensed contractor and installation coordinator for QuikStor, an industry security and software provider since 1987. For more information, visit www.quikstor.com.