The hard fact is the price of steel has increased by almost 60 percent since 2007, and economic forecasters predict it will continue to escalate throughout this year. To remain competitive, self-storage developers and builders are looking outside the established construction model for new methods and products.
The Hybrid Building
In response to the skyrocketing cost of steel, Rabco Corp., Winter Garden, Fla., has engineered a hybrid single-story building using wood framing and partition members. “A year ago, if someone had said we’d be considering using lumber, we would have told them they’re crazy,” says President Buster Owens. “But with the downturn in residential construction throughout the United States, the price of wood is way down.”
The building exterior and roof system will remain steel. Buyers will have the option of a standing-seam roof system or a screw-down type, and the exterior will be sheeted in pre-painted Galvalume and Rabco’s standard pier and header system. The piers and headers can have either a field-applied textured finish or a pre-painted finish.
The building consists of standard 2-by-4 and 2-by-6 interior lumber frame wrapped with steel. “It looks like a metal building on the outside, but is basically all wood on the interior,” Owens says. Rabco’s construction reduces the amount of steel used to build a facility. “If lumber stays at the price it is now, it could be a 20 percent savings,” he adds.
Lumber for building is widely accepted, especially in the Northwest, Southwest Canada, British Columbia and areas where logging is big industry, Owens says. However, the major disadvantage is repercussions from fire departments. “Depending on the municipality, there may or may not be some issues with the fire department.”
Is Wood an Option?
Wood, long a staple in the building trade, is making its presence known in self-storage, says Tarik Williams, vice president of TLW Construction Inc., a Mesa, Arizona-based general contractor specializing in self-storage.