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Building Self-Storage: Creating a Harmonious Design Team

Donna May Comments

Reflecting on my schooldays, sitting in music-appreciation class learning about harmony, tempo and rhythm, I’ve thought the elements of construction are like writing and performing music. They both bring together different components to a central point, harmonizing them in order, setting tempo, following the rhythm through to the crescendo and, voila! It’s a building.

Each individual and organization has their own reasons, a personal song, for building self-storage. The budget, investment return required and the time frame are all taken into consideration to create a financial plan for the project. Once the final criteria are defined, the idea is ready for development. The developer finds the right conveyance to bring the owner’s idea to life, writes the melody to reflect the goal and describes the process to achieve it.

Writing the Score

Preparations start by finding a location with potential to achieve the goal. As part of the investigative process, engineers are hired to find out what restrictions and fees are associated with the land and its intended use. Governmental control (and cost) may be anything from simple building-code compliance to an almost unimaginable headache. Competition is analyzed, and the result may dictate necessary levels of service and curb appeal, as well as rental rates.

Demographics of the population and traffic patterns determine rentable square footage and unit mix. This investigation reveals how the project should be designed. The developer then directs the general contractor and design team in creating the most marketable, cost-effective, highest-quality facility that meets the owner’s financial and time criteria. Design (the written music) and construction (the orchestral performance) are fashioned to support the developer’s melody.

Any number of working relationships may be negotiated between all the parties involved in a construction project. The design team may work independently for the developer, or the general contractor may be responsible for the design as part of its services provided to the developer. The components of design-build construction set forth below are a typical pattern of interaction between the parties.

Orchestral Members

The design team is comprised of the architect, who has ultimate responsibility for the coordination and work of all parties; a civil engineer; a structural engineer; and one or more mechanical engineers. They also incorporate the work of surveyors, landscapers, environmentalists, etc. These services may be contracted individually by the developer or general contractor, or they may work through the architect.

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