Successful Self-Storage Construction Begins With Communication

Self-storage construction management is an all-inclusive responsibility that entails meticulous organization in addition to knowledge of complex building procedures and relationship development. Successful construction practices begin with strong communication efforts between the client, contractor and designers.

January 27, 2009

4 Min Read
Successful Self-Storage Construction Begins With Communication

Construction management is an all-inclusive responsibility that entails meticulous organization in addition to knowledge of complex building procedures and relationship development. Successful construction practices begin with strong communication efforts between the client, contractor and designers.

Construction managers must set the tone for these relationships, maintaining the process from the beginning phase to post-construction. The following explores these essential steps, from budgeting to construction phases, as well as why construction managers are earning such a high degree of praise in today’s building industry.

Constructing a Successful Budget

A budget sets the stage for the project, allowing all parties to operate with the same baseline. An overall budget is maintained by the construction manager and includes all aspects of the project, from land acquisition to the completion of the contract warranty. In addition, the construction manager should generate a document that identifies cost implications, responsible parties for each step of the project, and bonding and insurance costs.

Another aspect to consider when budgeting for a project is an owner contingency. In the construction world, contingencies serve as protection against possible financial emergencies and any unknowns that may arise. Construction managers should have contingency funds available, since most financial institutions do not allow for additional expenses to the project. Weather conditions, fluctuations in material costs, code changes and shifts in administrative needs are all out of the construction manager’s control, but they can add significantly to the bottom line of a project.

In addition to the owner’s contingency, the contractor contingency should also be included in the initial budgeting phase. These funds would be allocated to handle excess costs not identified in the design process. The contingency percentage is based on the size of the project; generally a percentage of up to 10 percent would be allocated.

This value would be included in the guaranteed maximum price. The contractor contingency applies to the contractor’s costs only. Changes made by the owner will alter the contract cost, thus creating a “change order” to the guaranteed maximum price. Be sure to receive proper documentation and/or contracts for any use of this contingency.

Maintaining Timeframes

Pre-construction planning and timelines are as vital to the outcome of a project as the budget. A construction manager must consider several facets when setting a timetable, taking into account labor, material, equipment and budget.

Proper scheduling will deter downfalls such as unavailable resources and waste of labor that would ultimately send the project over budget. Make note that an accurate time schedule will create a smooth construction process; adversely, improper scheduling can thwart progress.

Creating Productive Construction Teams

Selecting an appropriate team for a project may be as complex as the project itself. Construction managers develop relationships that will strengthen the success of the project. Three key factors are important to the success of this task: team, trust and communication. If one or any of the three components is not in place, the team begins to break down, causing potential errors, extra costs and unhappy customers.

When selecting the architect and/or engineer, it is essential that the following items are on their list of priorities:

  • Safety

  • Function

  • Quality

  • Completion date

  • Aesthetics

  • Location

  • Maintenance costs

  • Financing

Don’t be tempted by low bidders when choosing a contractor. Instead, make sure the chosen one addresses all of the above. When receiving a low bid, make sure to research the source and ask questions. The bidding contractor should have a strong reputation for maintaining schedules and budgets.

Important Phases of the Project

Three major phases of a project serve as integral elements of the construction process:

  1. Pre-construction

  2. Execution

  3. Post-construction

Construction managers must monitor progress, provide coordination and ensure success throughout each one of these phases. The adequate completion of each phase will include, but is not limited to, controlling timeframes, costs, quality and safety.

Prior to breaking ground on a project, construction managers should have the following issues identified and in process:

  • Preliminary estimates

  • Recommendations through value engineering

  • Plans for the project schedule

  • An updated and refined estimate

  • Prepared bid packages

  • An organized cash-flow schedule

  • Prescheduled meetings with subcontractors and vendors 

During the construction phase, the construction manager provides administrative support as well as project management through meetings and oversight of accounting records. He should also monitor progress as well as oversee onsite safety performance and quality control. Finally, his responsibility also includes obtaining all necessary permits.

Once the project is completed, the construction manager must administer warranties, supply operation and maintenance information, and provide all project documentation to the client.

By adhering to the phases above and making sure these procedures are incorporated in an effective plan, a construction manager can ensure that every project is a success. Although the overall construction process may seem overwhelming, following this outline should aid in finding the right path toward productive project management.

Jerry Kingwill is principal of Cobb Hill Construction Inc. in Concord, N.H. To reach him, call 603.224.8373; e-mail [email protected]; visit

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