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Building an Expensive-Looking Self-Storage Facility Without All the Expense

By Steve Hajewski Comments

As you read the trade magazines, you probably can’t help but notice that the bar has been raised for self-storage. Some large multi-level facilities have lobbies that look like those of high-end hotels. But the reality for most new projects is far more modest. Across the United States and beyond, basic single-story buildings with a low-pitch roof remain the workhorse of the industry. Economic to buy, easy to build and adaptable to the available land, the majority of sites use these buildings.

As storage developers look to build in more prominent locations geared toward commercial or retail development, planning commissions are requiring them to step up their game to build more attractive sites. This isn’t a bad thing, as curb appeal can be an important factor in your customer’s decision on where to rent. The good news is with the right planning, those value-oriented, single-story buildings can still play a major role in an attractive site. With that in mind, here’s a look at some approaches to achieve a high-end look without breaking the bank.

Buy the Land Right

Before we talk about the buildings, let’s back up and consider the land purchase. As you look for land, prices can be all over the board. Location is critical, but also consider the value of existing infrastructure. For example, if you need to build a pond for storm-water retention, you could be looking at expenses into the tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the extra time to engineer and excavate. A more expensive parcel of land with infrastructure in place may actually be less costly overall.

One pitfall a developer can face in buying land is to go too far into the process without having an accepted offer in place. You don’t want to close on a land purchase until you’re certain the municipality has granted A parapet wall like this one at Self-Storage of Brookfield in Wisconsin extends beyond the roofline to create the illusion of a more substantial building. In this example, faux windows and a combination of brick/stone panel have also been applied to the end wall. permits to build. Don’t spend any significant amount of money on site design or engineering until you have an offer to purchase accepted by the seller, and you give yourself enough due-diligence time to arrange details such building plans, permits and financing. Check with your local municipality to determine the permitting timeframe. It will probably take longer than you think.

Add a Façade

One of the easiest ways to dress up a basic building is to add a façade to an endwall. These can also feature parapet walls (those that extend taller than the roofline) to give a building more visual interest or conceal a roofline. Some common finishes to apply at an endwall are faux stone, brick or stucco. When choosing a finish, consider the maintenance expense over time. Additionally, consider the weight and its impact on your foundation design. Faux brick works with a floating slab, but real brick would generally require a more costly foundation design.

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