Choosing buildings may seem simple, but there are a number of variables to consider. If your quotes are coming in with wide variation, dig in and find out why. Consider the long-term effects of your construction type on maintenance and insurance expenses. For example, steel buildings are less costly to insure than wood-frame ones.
After you decide on a building layout, you’ll need to hire a site engineer to ensure it functions with the drainage on your site. It’s imperative you have a properly drained facility. In my experience, this is one of the most common mistakes on existing sites.
Some owners/developers will often serve as their own general contractor. However, on larger projects or those that are complex, it’s a good idea to hire a general contractor to oversee construction. If you do plan to be your own general contractor, it’s imperative you work with qualified subcontractors.
No matter what you have on paper for that grading plan, there will always be issues. The grading and concrete contractors can make or break your project, and problems with the foundation or grading/drainage are not easily remedied. A classic mistake is after the foundation is installed and the concrete contractor is paid, your building erector shows you all the mistakes that were made. At that point, you no longer have any leverage to make the necessary changes.
When I talk to existing self-storage owners, I always ask what they regret from their last project. The No. 1 item is they wished they made the front of their project and office nicer. Don’t skimp on this item. Remember, you’re not just building to compete in your market today, you’re making sure your new project is competing well into the future.
You may see some opportunities in your market to get into self-storage, but be sure you fully review all aspects of your project. Work with experienced people, and they will help guide you to a quality project without repeating the mistakes others have made. Self-storage isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s a methodically slow business where diligence and hard work pay off in the long run.
Jamie Lindau is a self-storage owner and the director of marketing and product development at Sun Prairie, Wis.-based Trachte Buildings Systems, which designs, manufactures and erects a full line of pre-engineered and customized steel self-storage systems, including single- and multi-story, portable storage, interior partition and corridor, and canopy boat/RV. For more information, call 800.356.5824; visit www.trachte.com.