Every development requires a certain amount of common area, and each operator has a different preference. Do you favor a spacious rental office with lots of room for merchandise displays, or want little more than a door and front desk? Is it important to provide packing and moving supplies to your customers? Is the profit margin from merchandise sales worth giving up the rentable space? The answers to some of these questions depend on the marketing strategy for your particular location.
Does the customer’s perception of quality require a large rental office? Are your target customers so budget-conscious that a large office sends the wrong message? These are questions that affect how much of the total area will be used for the rental office/common area. Although this is an important consideration, it is not the factor that has the greatest effect on layout efficiency.
Most self-storage layouts are based on a 5-foot grid system, and a 5-foot-wide corridor is standard in the industry. While narrowing the corridor to maximize storage space may result in more rentable space, customers may not appreciate the more restrictive corridors. Instead, the focus should be in minimizing the linear feet of corridors on each floor plan.
A unit mix with an average unit size of 120 square feet will be more efficient than a unit mix with an average unit size of 90 feet. Since every unit requires frontage on a corridor, a smaller mix with more units will naturally require more linear feet of corridor. Whether a space measures 10-by-10 or 10-by-30 feet, it has 10 feet of frontage on a corridor.
A 5-foot-wide corridor for a 30-foot-deep unit has a ratio of corridor width to unit depth of 5:30, or 0.167. Compare this to a 5-foot-deep unit on a 5-foot corridor, which would have a ratio of 5:5, or 1.00. A 5-foot-wide corridor with units on both sides effectively cuts these ratios in half; therefore, double-loaded corridors should be used wherever possible. Remember, the higher the ratio of corridor width to unit depth, the less efficient the unit-mix layout.