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: My husband and I are thinking about purchasing some land to build our first self-storage facility. The area I live in is not very populated, and there are many open spaces for sale. What would you recommend as an economical building layout? Should we build several out buildings or one, large multistory facility that is climate-controlled? Space is not the issue; we just want to be able to offer our tenants the best possible location for their treasures.
--Christina in Lake Havasu, Ariz.
A: If you have the space, "bunker"-style buildings would probably be the preferred construction for your facility. In your climate, you don't have to worry about extreme snow and fluctuating weather conditions. Most tenants like the convenience of being able to drive up to their units. In addition, you could add breezeways at intervals in your out buildings to create low-cost interior units. The overall expense of running a facility like this is considerably less than a climate-controlled facility. Before you make a decision, though, check to see what your competition is doing, how it is working for them, and what you can do to better to grab more tenants.
Q: I am interested in installing three or four cameras on one of my buildings, but there is no easy way to get conduit from the office to this building. I do have an underground 1/2-inch conduit from the office to the building, but could not fit enough coax wiring through it. Do you know of a solution that would work other than wireless?
--Gordon in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
A: This is a common problem older facilities face when they wish to upgrade security or other portions of their site. There are products that can use a single CAT-5 cable and control up to four cameras (one camera per pair). This is made possible by using a pair of transceivers and video baluns.
A receiver is connected in the office via coax cable from your digital video recorder or multiplexer to a single CAT-5 cable. That cable is run to the detached building, where it is connected into a powered transmitter with four RJ-45 ports. Baluns are then connected between the individual cameras and the transmitter. Caveat emptor--I have seen mixed success with this solution. It is essential to keep your camera runs under 1000 feet, and the CAT-5 is inherently more susceptible to interference than coax. It would be less expensive, however, than trenching and running new conduit for coax.
Tony Gardner is a licensed contractor and installation manager for QuikStor, a provider of self-storage security and software since 1987. For more information, visit www.quikstor.com.