There are a lot of critical details involved in building a self-storage facility, and without proper guidance, it’s easy to make mistakes. Sometimes these blunders can be extremely costly and even fatal to the mission. That’s why it’s so important to assemble the right development team from the very start. The people you hire to help you plan and execute your project will impact its timeline, costs and quality.
Self-storage construction doesn’t involve any rocket science, but it’s still highly specialized. So, don’t wing it. Hire a team of competent professionals. Following is a list of who should be on your team and the important roles they play.
The first team member to hire into your development team is a feasibility expert. This person’s job is to determine if self-storage is viable in the location you’ve selected. Make sure they have industry experience and good references. You’ll want a thorough, honest evaluation before you make a significant investment in land. Once this person has determined there’s sufficient demand for you to move forward, they’ll recommend the self-storage unit types and sizes that’ll be most successful in the market.
You can’t build self-storage anywhere you want. You’ll need confirmation from the local government that it’s allowed on your parcel. Once you’ve confirmed it’s an acceptable use, it’s time to call in a civil engineer, who can supply you with a survey of the property.
This is important, as it shows you information about your lot such as setbacks, easements, and existing or possible driveway locations. The engineer will also determine how much of the property is usable, the grade level of buildings and driveways and, in most cases, how to create a stormwater plan.
Many local review boards now require that an architect be involved in self-storage facility design. This professional is an exceptionally valuable team member, especially if you’re designing a class-A project. Just make sure they’re familiar with this industry, as our product is unique and has requirements that differ from those of other commercial and residential buildings.
It’s smart to hire an experienced, qualified general contractor (GC) who’s familiar with bringing self-storage facilities to life. This person manages the project timeline and coordinates with all the subcontractors that’ll be involved in the building process such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and asphalt and concrete suppliers. To save yourself a lot of headaches, find a GC who shares your time, cost and quality goals.
When it comes to selecting a metal-building supplier for your project, find one that specializes in self-storage. Check their references. In addition, doing a site visit on the company’s new and completed developments can provide insight to the quality of their work. You’ll see how well their buildings hold up over time and what kind of maintenance you could be looking at in the future.
Before requesting quotes, consider the many options for walls, facades, roofs and interior systems. Figure out what you want your self-storage building to look like and the materials you want to use. Many providers have structural engineers on staff who are responsible for approving the building plans and can help get you started on the design. This is why it’s important to get them involved early in the development process.
You might use different suppliers for smaller components such as doors and hallways. You’ll want someone from these providers to be part of your development team as well. The same is true for your security provider, which will assist you in choosing and installing the access-control system and other technology. They can make recommendations regarding placement of conduit and cameras, for example.
In addition to the people listed above, you’ll likely interact with a number of government officials on your self-storage project including building inspectors, the department of transportation and even the department of natural resources. These individuals will be responsible for a variety of checklist items such as building permits, zoning approvals and building-code compliance. Reach out to them early so you can be prepared regarding the timeline and expenses associated with construction.
Because there are so many pieces to the puzzle—and so many people assembling it—it’s important to keep everyone on your self-storage development team focused on the same big-picture goals. Trust, communication and camaraderie are all essential. In the end, if you hire the right team of professionals and remain proactive as the owner, your chances of creating a successful project are much higher.
Bethany Salmon is a marketing-content manager for Janus International Group, a global provider of self-storage doors and hallway systems, relocatable storage units, facility-automation solutions, and restoration services. To reach her, call 866.562.2580 or email [email protected].