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Investing in Self-Storage Renovation: 4 Improvement Projects to Consider

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Project 3: Explore Re-Skinning

Re-skinning is a low-construction, invasive-free, cost-effective way to reinvent tired self-storage buildings. The concept is attributed to Patrick Reilly, president and CEO of Urban Self Storage Inc., which operates 60 facilities in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Like many owners of older properties, Reilly was looking for a way to change out the wood hallway components and hollow-core doors at one of his sites. He’s reskinned several of his older sites.

As an option to provide a facelift to older, first-generation facilities, re-skinning is appealing on many levels:

  • It improves the site aesthetics that are vital to attracting and keeping new renters.
  • It’s a timesaver. Typically, an entire hallway of steel doors can be installed in a day.
  • Many of the surprises typically encountered with a remodeling job are eliminated because there are no major structural changes to be made.
  • Inconvenience to the customer is minimal. Because the new doors are installed over the existing ones, their unit contents are never disturbed. (As a side note, many re-skins use swing doors, which typically cost less to purchase and install, rather than roll-ups.)
  • The facility owner is able to sidestep the myriad of potential liability issues when it comes to switching out doors and exposing stored belongings.

A re-skinned hallway at Urban Self Storage***

Project 4: Bring in Portable Units

Some self-storage operators have existing land and would like to expand, but adding another building may not be feasible due to costs, location or zoning restrictions. This is where portable units come into play. You might expand onto a large, unused parking lot or into areas where you wouldn’t typically build permanent structures. Relocatable storage units allow more flexibility than traditional structures and can be an attractive, cost-effective alternative to new construction. Here are some of their benefits:

  • Easy to move around a property
  • Immediately ready to be rented
  • Offer security and convenience
  • Can be classified as equipment so they can be depreciated over seven years

Seek Opportunities

Some cities, counties and states are now offering incentives to businesses that make property upgrades. These include reimbursement grants for interior improvements and building development. Contact your city’s program manager to see if the government offers a façade-improvement or development-incentive program.

When tackling a renovation project, always keep the customer in mind. Consider all aspects of your facility, from the curb to the doors, hallways to unit mix. Older facilities can compete successfully with newer ones. Reshape the impression your property makes on customers through these smart upgrades.

Leeann Fleming is the director of marketing for Janus International Group LLC, a global provider of self-storage doors, hallway components, portable storage and mezzanine systems. For more information, call 770.562.2850; visit

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