Considerations and Costs for Adding Boat RV/Storage to a Self-Storage Property

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By Caesar Wright

Boat and RV owners love to relax and travel with their "toys," and this mode of recreation appears to be on the rise. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, RV ownership in the United States is higher than ever, with the number of RV-owning households growing to 8.9 million in 2011 from 7.9 million in 2005. A whopping 8.5 percent of U.S. households now own an RV. This is good news for operators of self-storage facilities.

Because many communities have restrictions against parking boats and RVs on the street or in driveways, storage operators have an excellent opportunity to meet the resulting demand for space. If you’re looking for ways to bring in new revenue, consider adding storage buildings or parking for boats and RVs.

Smart facility operators not only provide storage for these massive vehicles but a host of complementary services. Before you can reap the rewards of this market, however, you’ll need to think about the type of storage to offer, the costs involved and the amenities you’ll provide. Following are considerations for a smooth ride into the world of boat/RV storage.

Unit Type and Size

Operators who have extra land can add a standard storage canopy and generate revenue for boat and RV storage.The economics of the local area are a significant factor in deciding the type of storage you should provide. Your offering can be as basic as large, outdoor parking spaces or as comprehensive as fully enclosed units. It might be something in between, such as an open or three-side canopy. But most of today’s vehicle enthusiasts want to protect their investment with covered structures.

Keep in mind that in addition to the vehicle itself, many customers desire space to accommodate add-on fixtures such as motorcycle racks, tow bars, air-conditioning units, etc. They may also want to store other expensive toys they use when they go on adventures such as jet skis, snowmobiles and others. While some customers will be willing to rent another unit for these items, many will only rent storage that can meet all their needs in a single unit.

When determining the best unit size, consider the cost to build versus potential income on a per-square-foot basis. For example, a 14 -by-40-foot unit consumes 560 square feet of land. You could use that land for several traditional storage units, so you’ll want to gauge market demand to determine if boat/RV-storage buildings will be more profitable for your business than basic self-storage.

The Four Types

There are four main types of storage for boats and RVs, and each has advantages and disadvantages for you and your tenants. It’s fair to assume the more substantial the structure, the more expensive it will be to build. It will also provide more protection and security to the very expensive vehicles stored within.

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