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Self-Storage Facility Renovations: Choosing Improvements to Yield Bottom-Line Results

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When looking for a more substantial change, however, façade enhancements are required. Cementous and engineered synthetic panels can be attached to existing exteriors without jeopardizing the integrity of the waterproofing. To keep costs in check, avoid modifying the structural system of the building in anyway. Assessment and re-engineering of the structure are costly and lengthy processes that will quickly consume the value gained by remodeling.

The addition of windows, accent texture and colors, sweeps, and reveals can all add notable curb appeal. Never underestimate the value of well-placed lighting to give a facility an after-hours facelift. Well-designed landscaping can also provide a boost, but use it sparingly. If not properly maintained, landscaping can have a negative effect, and maintenance costs can quickly exceed any added value.

Unit-Mix Modifications

Self-storage owners may have experienced a shift in clientele’s storage needs and wish to respond with a unit mix that’s better suited to their demographic. Modifying a mix can be an effective remodel. As mentioned earlier, displacing tenants rarely has immediate, positive financial results, so a remix needs to be done with careful consideration. Demand and revenue need to be analyzed, and it can be challenging to identify the ideal configuration.

Relying on metal-framing subcontractors or architectural teams to provide layouts for unit-mix remodels can be inefficient and extremely time-consuming. Demand is currently high for these services, and the smaller the project, the less attention it warrants. Typically, architects are more focused on form than function; efficiencies may play second fiddle to aesthetics.

Likewise, subcontractors are in such high demand that the turnaround time for a unit mix is several weeks. A specialty contractor with years of experience and expertise can develop layouts based on region-specific historical data in a BIM (building-information model) platform, which provides instantaneous feedback of efficiencies, unit ratios and square-foot-cost analysis. Even the most basic management software can report occupancy rates based on unit type. This historical data is key in anticipating needs and making forecasting decisions.

Renovations don’t have to be extensive to yield bottom-line results if they’re undertaken with a focus on adding value. Consider your options carefully, then proceed with the ones that will give you the best value for the dollars spent.

Nick Zent oversees the design and preconstruction efforts for P.B. Brown, which provides general contracting, design-build, conversion and buildout services to the self-storage industry. Nick has a unique blend of academic and real-world experience, with a bachelor’s of science in construction management and a graduate degree from the NewSchool of Architecture and Design. While working for a general contractor in Southern California, he established one of the most advanced BIM (building-information modeling) departments in the nation, completing more than $4.6 billion in construction projects. For more information, e-mail; visit

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