Inside Self-Storage

JUN 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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If you're a self-storage owner developing a new project, you're going to have a team of experts to help you find the right property, design it, obtain zoning approvals and build it. These people will perform 90 percent of the heavy lifting, but that still leaves a critical 10 percent that falls on your shoulders. If you don't do your job, you might find yourself behind schedule, over budget and unsatisfied with the end result—not to mention you might have limited your future profit. You're certainly not expected to be an expert in every aspect of development, but you do have to provide your input, ask the right questions, make choices and provide ongoing coordination. To do this, you need to do your own research. You'll need to spend time with your team of professionals to learn and understand the options that'll make your facility special. Your Team The four key members of your development team are your civil engineer, architect, industry consultant and contractor. If just one of them is even slightly inexperienced, you'll often run into construction delays, expensive change orders or an inferior product. These experts are often chosen based on a recommendation or simple meeting, but to qualify them, you must conduct an extensive interview to get a true handle on their experience and what they consider important. Ask what isn't included in their services and what they'll need from you or others on the team to be successful. Obtain a list of the last five storage facilities they designed or built. Then visit a couple and interview the owners. Ask if the person met the schedule and budget. Also ask about the quality of the work, supervision and coordination and what could have been done better. Of course, find out if they'd hire the person again and what would they do differently on their next project. Take notes! Qualifying each expert takes significant time, even weeks, so build your team before you even start looking for land. Visiting existing self-storage sites and talking with the owners or staff will help you develop a list of design features you like and items to include in your project. Make sure regular meetings are included in the experts' contract. These will allow you to be part of the decision-making process. You can even require meetings prior to and during the design of certain features. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. One architect might suggest a minimalist office while another advises to build oversized—and neither might be right for your project! You need to review many design items with your experts and consider what's right for you based on their input and your research, including what you liked when you visited other facilities. Design Costs and Details I can tell you story after story in which making development choices based on price rather than experience led to nightmares, including months of delays and cost overruns in the hundreds of thousands. There are many factors that come into play when determining design costs including project location, regulations, land features, size, competition, etc. For many projects, the civil engineer's site-plan and regulatory-approval process cost from $40,000 to $60,000. The building designs by the architect cost from $80,000 to $140,000 ($2 per square foot, plus or minus). It's important you present all your personal preferences to your designers up • Required permits • Building layout • Offce design and features • Unit layout • Site access • Signage • HVAC system • Building type and color scheme • Design schedule • Climate control • Hallway and ceiling design • Kiosk • Landscaping • Street view • Door sizes • Security measures Overseeing the team, design and expenses By Marc Goodin An Owner's Guide to Project Planning Items to Discuss in Planning Meetings 22 ISS I June 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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