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Creating and Managing a Self-Storage Construction Timeline

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By Ryan Rogers

Proper creation and management of the construction timeline is critical to the fruitful completion of a self-storage project. Mapping out the timeframe early in the development process will allow you to determine essential project milestones for all team members and plan your facility startup. Using your team’s unique experience and expertise to guide the sequence of events will help you position the project for success.

While the construction timeline will help keep the project on track, it’s important to recognize that it’s fluid guideline, not a rigid measuring stick. Getting team buy-in on the project’s goals from beginning to end is what will ultimately ensure a timely completion.

Start Date

At the onset of a new development, it’s important to have a concept of the overall project duration. This will allow you to set dates for critical milestones such as building-permit issuance and project completion. These signposts have implications beyond that of the construction timeframe—they provide a guide for loan closings, staff hiring, operational procedures and more. Each project will have unique conditions, such as building aesthetic, size, etc., that add complexity to the schedule.

The construction process is multifaceted and requires a diverse team of subject-matter experts. Gathering the team early and facilitating open dialogue will establish a precedent for communication, collaboration and problem-solving. Integrating your architect’s design schedule with your contractor’s construction timetable will allow you to determine a projected start date via the building-permit issuance. This will in turn allow you to build your master schedule and determine the project completion date.

Sequence of Work and Critical Path

With a project start date determined, your general contractor will be able to provide expert input on construction activity and sequence of work to best accomplish your goals. While he’s developing the project schedule, the contractor will identify the “critical path”—the necessary sequence from start to finish—that determines the time needed for completion and measures the most time-consuming tasks.

Along this path, milestones will be identified. Common ones include the mobilization date for construction, the completion of foundation and steel erection, installation for underground utilities, and building dry-in, including installation of the roof, exterior skin and weather barrier. Each milestone is a choke point for the next sequence of activities. For example, interior mechanical and electrical installation can’t begin until the building is dried. This work must be completed before the start of interior finishes.

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