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Designing Self-Storage Sites for Maximum Security

By Ken Carrell Comments

When it comes to designing a secure self-storage site, there are many factors to consider including building layout, office safety, gate and camera placement, lighting and more. With just a few simple design changes, you can make your facility much better protected.

Building Layout

One of the biggest factors in designing a secure site is the layout of your buildings. Placing structures around the perimeter of the property gives you better security than simple fencing. A typical fence is about 7 feet high, whereas the back of a single-story building is anywhere from 12 to 14 feet high. By putting buildings around the perimeter, you get a fortress-style layout, which means any security breaches must occur at entry and exit gates.

If you can’t design your facility in a fortress style, it’s perfectly acceptable to use fencing around the perimeter. Just remember that most municipalities don’t like barbed or concertina wire, so using that on top of a fence is out of the question in most cases. A design I use on a lot for fences and even gates is a spear-point top. The top of the picket is flattened and shaped into a pointed tip. While the point isn’t very sharp, it makes it harder to climb over and provides an intimidating look.

One facility I designed in Newark, Calif., uses a combination of buildings and fencing on the perimeter. We installed 8-foot-high masonry walls where we didn’t have a building to secure the area.

Interior Elements

There are other security-enhancing design elements that can be used inside your self-storage buildings. For example:

  • Straight hallways vs. those with corners prevent hiding places for would-be criminals.
  • If your facility has more than one floor, require customers to use their key code to access their floor. This prevents people from visiting areas that don’t apply to them.
  • Large doors with windows create a greater sense of security, as they allow people to see the building.
  • Many facilities today also have wider hallways so the area feels spacious as well as safe. A typical 5-foot-wide hall has been replaced with a 7- to 10-foot-wide hallway.

More developers are also installing a facility-wide speaker system to pipe in music and create a two-way communications system. This allows customers to call the office if they need help or feel uncomfortable in any way. At a facility I designed in Fontana, Calif., we installed an intercom system in all the buildings with interior units. Customers told the owner it was one of their favorite features of the place.

Office Safety

It’s also critical to design the management office with safety in mind. As with any business that deals with cash, robberies are a concern. While you can’t totally prevent them, you can do your best to discourage this from happening at your property.

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