Because a storage owner sees his property daily, he may miss signs of deterioration. “A large percentage of your storage renters decide whether they want to rent from you based on the curb appeal of your facility,” says Brian Byrd, vice president of sales and marketing for Landvest Corp. in Wichita, Kan. “To combat the unintentional blinders that you often wear, you need to have a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly checklist of items that need to be evaluated.”
Items on this checklist should include things such as exterior lighting, drive maintenance, signage, bollards, doors and more. This list will help an owner or manager focus on specific items to assess. “Keep in mind that the items you are reviewing need to be items that can be seen from the street and within the property. Curb appeal continues on the inside of the property as well,” Byrd adds.
Buildings, drives, fencing and landscaping are the visual priorities in exterior maintenance. The other priority must be roofs and the prevention of damage from water, says Donna May, president Cross Metal Buildings Inc., Bulverde, Texas. “Ratty-looking flowerbeds, trash against fence lines and clumsy or inoperable gates signify that the owners or managers don’t care, and potential tenants will go somewhere else for that reason alone,” May says.
The buzzword of the day is “green,” so know that your landscaping will be appreciated, says Dave Stefano, president of Norfolk, Va.-based D. Stefano, Building & Restoration Inc. “Keep it green and flowering, and everyone will be happier.”
Landscaping can break up long, plain views of your project as it becomes part of the architecture. Plants and bushes may also hide rodent traps and unattractive areas like dumpsters or parking areas. Remember to properly irrigate and fertilize everything you’ve planted.
“Landscaping is often a customer’s first impression of the facility and is the feature of the facility they like the best, or draws their eyes the most,” Byrd says. If neglected, it can also become the worst feature of a property. Keep bushes trimmed, eliminate weeds and replace plants immediately if they die.
Fencing provides security and makes an attractive statement. Several kinds of fencing—chain link, brick wall, wood—can create solid and secure barriers. A steel ornamental fence with the proper base material and coating should require only moderate rinsing to remove dust and dirt buildup, says Mark Meek, president of sales and marketing at Ameristar Fence Products, Tulsa, Okla. Heavier dirt buildup, mineral deposits, bird droppings, etc., can be removed using a non-abrasive detergent cleaner.
Quality fence coatings will not mar or scratch easily, but if the surface is impacted forcefully by a sharp steel object that exposes the base material, a surface repair may be necessary, Meek says. In this case, the affected area should be smoothed with a fine-grit sandpaper, cleaned and dried. Coat the fence with a zinc-rich primer, then with UV-resistant touch-up paint of the same color and gloss as the factory coating.