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Self-Storage Construction Benchmarks and Targets, From Day One to Facility Completion

By Benjamin Burkhart Comments

Now you’re ready. This is the easy part, right? It only took a year of planning to get to this point. Surely the challenges of site selection, feasibility, survey, partnering, dealing with the bank, design, politicking, submitting plans, redesigning, resubmitting plans, approvals, amendments, bidding, dealing with the bank, negotiating, dealing with the bank again, requoting, renegotiating, hiring, banking, accounting and getting the approvals was the hard part! Or not.

“The most common comment I hear when comparing self-storage to other types of construction is ‘It’s just a self-storage building,’” says Warren Bishop of Southeastern Design & Construction Inc. in Hope Mills, N.C. Bishop has built everything from churches and office buildings to single- and multi-story self-storage projects. “But self-storage construction requires the same expectation of planning, quality and time management as any other project to ensure a good, quality build,” he adds.

You’ve worked diligently to get to this point, but now is the expensive part. As the first ounce of dirt begins moving and the contractors descend, you, the self-storage property owner, will be in high demand. Managing your team and project will require lots of energy and time, attention to detail, and focus on benchmarks and targets. This article provides a broad, typical construction timeline while underscoring that every project has its own unique demands. I’m dividing our plan into four sometimes overlapping segments: site work, pads and concrete, buildings and finish. First, let's talk about ground zero.

Day Zero

A good general contractor (GC) will keep your job moving in the right direction according to the demands of your project. This may be you or a contractor you employ. But as the owner, you are still the enforcer of the golden rule of construction, “He who holds the gold, makes the rules.”

A great facility begins with a solid foundation. Pictured: Community Self Storage in Powhatan, Va.***Your first step as CEO of your building project is to orchestrate your team in the same direction. A pre-construction meeting with all members of your team is a crucial first step. Those attending this first gathering should include your site-work contractor, the GC, foreman, key subcontractors, design professionals (i.e., architect and engineer), and any local officials with authority over your project commencement. This is the time to set expectations of your contractors, review contracts and payment triggers, make sure all permits are in place, post specific permits, formalize your timeline, and make sure everyone is on the same page according to your goals.

You want to avert surprises with this first meeting. You want the professionals to do their job, but you also want to make sure all the Is are dotted and Ts crossed when it comes to permits, access, authority, contracts, specs and expectations. Ultimately, you sign the checks and pay the bills. Be clear with those in your employ about what you require for acceptance and payment, as well as your expectations for progress before payments are made. Be sure you’ve aligned your funding-source requirements with contractor expectations, and you fully understand the process of lien waivers and funds requests from lenders or investors.

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