By Rob Wright
When self-storage owners move into the final stages of building a new facility, the construction crew becomes critical. Why? The erection of the buildings is the final piece of the puzzle. Everything accomplished up to that point—finding the right site, lining up the financing, completing the building-code and permitting processes, preparing the land, choosing the building manufacturer and management team—is all for the end goal of getting the facility up and running. In the end, it comes down to the construction crew.
It’s up to the crew to get the buildings up and operational on schedule. Delays can mean lost revenue for the owner. The sooner units can be leased, the better. For this reason, the choice of construction company is critical. Those who have been in the business a few years probably have established relationships with companies on which they rely. But what about those new to the industry or who have had a bad experience in the past and want a new option? Realistically, an owner doesn’t have a lot of choices; but the decision he makes can have a significant impact on how soon his property is profitable.
Independent Crews vs. Pools
An independent construction crew (a dedicated crew for a single company) can provide complete professionalism and dependability on a project; but there are challenges to consider. First, an independent crew may not be available when an owner needs it. It can run into weather delays or other unforeseen events that keep it on a job site past the anticipated completion date. On the other hand, it may finish a job early and attempt to move on to an owner’s project before he is prepared. Second, not all self-storage buildings are alike, so there’s the possibility the available crew will not be familiar with the owner’s particular building design. In that case, crew members may have to undergo on-the-job familiarization training, which can result in delays as well as frayed nerves.
Someone once said there is strength in numbers, and that adage applies appropriately to construction crews. Having a pool of 10 to 20 crews available rather than relying on a single team goes a long way toward getting buildings up on schedule and keeping a nervous owner happy. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances prevent an owner from knowing exactly when he will need a crew; but when the time does come, he needs to move quickly. One of the advantages of having several crews available is schedules can be shifted and teams moved around to accommodate individual project needs.
There are also advantages when crews are tied to the manufacturer providing the buildings. To begin, manufacturers can ensure their crews are properly trained, certified and experienced at erecting their particular products. Familiarity breeds success—there is no time or effort lost on learning how to erect an unfamiliar building. Should new construction techniques arise or equipment or tools be upgraded, crews can be made aware of them in a timely manner. Finally, if engineered drawings are changed, the crew is the first to know about it.
A manufacturer’s crew is a part of a team of professionals dedicated to making sure things run smoothly on site. The team generally includes an inside sales rep, a project manager who coordinates things from the manufacturer’s plant, and an on-site field superintendent to supervise the construction process through completion. There is no need for the owner or manager to ride herd on the crew. When the construction phase is completed, the superintendent conducts a walk-through with the owner to ensure everything is completed to his satisfaction.
Any reputable manufacturer will have warranties on its products as well as the work of its crews. This means the company is accountable and stands behind its work. If construction or maintenance issues arise, they will be addressed appropriately.
In construction, the more options an owner has available, the smoother his self-storage project will be. Pools of construction crews and manufacturer-trained teams are just two of the possible advantages he should seek.
Rob Wright is director of construction management and customer support for BETCO Inc., a single-source manufacturer of self-storage buildings since 1984. The company offers engineering design, manufacturing of all metal-building components, shipping and construction. For more information, call 800.654.7813; visit www.betcoinc.com.