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Self-Storage Construction: Structural Piers and Headers

Chip Cordes Comments

For most investors, self-storage is a return-on-investment (ROI) business, requiring minimization of development, operational and maintenance costs. These are just a few of the many reasons today’s self-storage projects consist of metal buildings and are aligned for easy access while achieving maximum land utilization.

In early years mini-storage was considered “land banking,” or a way to pay the mortgage and taxes on land until urban sprawl caught up with the surrounding area. Once stabilized, most projects quickly became cash producers and provided ROI greater than the sale of the land for an alternate use.

Americans bought more, requiring places to store it all. Mini-storage transformed in the 1990s into self-storage (better public awareness), and most recently into storage centers with retail mixed-use projects. Through all these transitions it has always remained an excellent method of acquiring ROI.

Metal Buildings Lead the Way

The Self Storage Association indicates that more than 2 billion square feet of storage-related buildings have been built or converted in the last 30 years, with more than half completed in the last eight years. This growing demand for buildings of perceived value, yet economical to build, was at the forefront of the storage industry.

The use of metal buildings quickly rose as the material of choice for the construction of these projects. Defining factors include short lead times, quick installation, minimal costs and, above all else, an inexpensive method of construction acceptable to the expanding customer base. Manufacturers of components and value-added engineering companies expanded nationwide to keep up with the increasing demand of self-storage. The search for economy of scale was on, and metal buildings and components was leading the charge.

Now, more than 20 years later, the use of metal buildings and related components is widely accepted for the self-storage industry. A design of vertical metal cee studs, horizontal zee- style purlins, and a metal roof is considered standard for many of today’s projects. Roll-up doors with matching building trim provide aesthetic variance from the standard metal building. The use of galvanized pre-painted steel for exposed components adds durability and longevity to the project’s appearance.

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