By Caesar Wright
When it comes to developing a successful self-storage facility, it’s often the small details that create big problems and cost big money during the building process. Steer clear of potential pitfalls by avoiding these 10 common building mistakes.
Mistake 1: Purchasing a Site That’s Off the Beaten Path
Everyone wants a deal, but buying land because it’s cheap may not be the best deal in the end. If your property is hidden behind more prominent real estate or is too far from your customers, your deal won’t be such a good one after all. For your facility to be a success, it must be visible and on a heavily traveled street, preferably on potential customers’ commute to and from work. A highly visible site will also reduce advertising costs.
Mistake 2: Locking in a Budget Before Getting a Geotechnical Survey
In the budget phase, self-storage builders and investors often use an earthwork allowance to establish financing. Don’t skip the geotechnical survey. It will reveal the suitability of the soil for this type of construction and if allowances are needed for undercutting footings or stabilizing the soil. The cost of the survey varies, but it can help you avoid costly delays and budget overruns.
Mistake 3: Reducing Viable Rental Space With too Many Driveways
Not every unit needs exterior access. Wider buildings with interior corridors can reduce the amount of real estate used for driveways so you can have more rentable units. People will travel up to 100 feet on an inside corridor, but no tenant should have to turn more than once to get to his unit. Plus, the corridor becomes a dead end if it exceeds 20 feet without an exit door. Interior hallways also provide an excellent opportunity to phase in climate-controlled space.
Mistake 4: Not Using a Standing-Seam Roof
Some owners will consider a screw-down metal roof or asphalt shingles for their self-storage buildings. Screw-down roof panels attach directly to the building with drilled-in fasteners. As the panels expand and contract with temperature, the drill holes elongate and allow water to seep into the building. This is bad news for owners and tenants.
Standing-seam panels “lock” onto clips without any drill holes. Fewer holes mean fewer leaks. A standing-seam roof may cost about $1 per square foot or more, but will outlast the others by 10 to 20 years.
Mistake 5: Failure to Hire a Professional Design Specialist
Some owners seek the advice of an architect to design their facilities. But only a self-storage design and build professional will help you maximize the rentable space and avoid costly mistakes. With a few small adjustments to the building plans, a qualified industry design-builder can fit 10 percent to 30 percent more rentable space, while conforming to all zoning and building codes. This additional space goes straight to the bottom line.