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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Page 31 of 51

By the time you've finally received all the approvals for your new self-storage project, it'll likely have taken two to three times longer than you anticipated. To top it off, you'll probably have agreed to additional requirements from the city and now have to work the added expenses into your budget. Still, you're ready to build. Next, you'll need to hire a general contractor (GC) or prepare to be your own. For this article, let's assume the latter. To ensure success, it's helpful to understand the common mistakes made by other owners and developers, so you can avoid their building blunders. Here are some pitfalls to watch for during the construction process. Grading The single biggest mistake I see people make when building self-storage is failing to have proper site grading. Though you likely have a grading plan from a licensed civil engineer, once you determine final grades at your property (there are always field changes to be made), you'll determine if the plan will work. What you're looking for is enough pitch to drain water correctly. Water should flow off your pavement to a retention pond, for example. If you're using asphalt, you'll want it to drain at a 1 percent pitch. If you have a concrete drive, you can reduce the slope by half. The greater the slope, the better for drainage. Many self-storage owners and developers also regret not installing underground storm drains, including pipes from the gutter spouts. This costs more, but you'll always be happy you did it in the long run. Speaking of grading and dealing with precipitation, a related mistake is draining water to the north side of buildings in any icy, cold climate. You don't want water to pool and freeze there. Underground Conduits Failing to properly plan and install the underground conduit is another major error. This sounds like a minor item, but it's extremely important. The first line traveling from your office to your storage structures is for power. Normally, you'll need at least a 1.5-inch conduit going to each building, so you have power for outdoor lighting. If your site is climate-controlled, you may need a larger pipe. If you're phasing your project and don't know which building you might put up next, you'll want to oversize the pipe and make sure the conduit extends beyond the first-phase pavement. The next conduit layout you should work on is for your camera system. This low-voltage wire must be in a separate conduit from the electrical pipe to reduce interference. The last conduit you'll need is for the access system and keypads. Its location will be determined by the location of your gate system. Gate Placement Poor gate placement is another common mistake. The ideal spot will allow customers to be off the road while entering their code. The gate itself should be at least 12 feet in front of the keypad so there's a better chance tenants won't run into it. Customers should be able to access the office or kiosk, if applicable, and have room to turn around and leave without going through the gate. If you plan to install a gate now or sometime in the future, always plan the exact location in advance. This could Common building blunders and how to avoid them By Jamie Lindau 6 SLIPUPS TO AVOID For a self-storage project to go smoothly, a lot of planning and preparation is involved. Challenges are a given, so it's about minimizing costly miscues. Here are six mistakes commonly made by self-storage developers. Do everything in your power to avoid them. Source:, "The Dirty Half-Dozen: 6 Self-Storage Development Mistakes to Avoid," by Steve Hajewski Failing to consult with the right professionals at the right time Failing to buy the right land Being 'old school' Setting unrealistic timelines Underestimating Mother Nature Making assumptions Learning From OTHERS' MISTAKES 30 ISS I June 2019

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