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: I recently purchased an old self-storage facility that has a
long, single building with two stories. There is no elevator or lift of any kind,
so the previous owners were restricted as to how they could market and rent those
second-floor spaces. I would like to take down some partition walls upstairs and
start renting those units for more money; but to do that, I will need some form
of elevator. What do you recommend as an inexpensive solution?
—Gary in Billings, Mont.
A: There are a couple of ways to go in this situation, though the direction you choose may be dictated by your local building department. A traditional elevator car can be very expensive and is probably not required for this application. There are companies that tailor lift systems specifically for the mini-storage industry. These systems are usually much less expensive than a regular passenger elevator. Please note, there are differences between a system that carries cargo only and one that also carries people. Be sure to consult your elevator company with your specific requirements when shopping around. (For information on possible vendors to assist you, visit the online buyer’s guide at www.insideselfstorage.com and click on “Lifts & Materials Handling.”)
Q: I own what I feel is a very nice
facility; yet I have had several tenants tell me it is too cavernous, and they
don’t feel safe when inside. Without seeing my building, do you have any
suggestions to make it less foreboding and tenants feel at ease?
—Cindy in Apple Valley, Calif.
A: Lighting is going to be near the top of your list for improvements. Are hallways well-lit and bright, or are there dark spots with dull paint or walls? After lighting, there isn’t anything like a surveillance-camera system to make tenants feel safe. You can choose to put cameras in only the common areas and on the exterior of the building(s), or strategically place them in the hallways.
After cleaning up the lighting and adding cameras, consider installing a comprehensive paging/music/intercom system throughout the facility. Music makes tenants feel like they aren’t alone when inside your building. The paging system allows you or your manager to quickly call tenants when they are on site. The intercom makes tenants feel there is someone close by if necessary. All of these elements will not only increase your tenants’ ease while on site, but will provide a great way for you to market your facility to new customers.
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.