In this post of our content series, “How to Start a Self-Storage Business,” we will investigate how to create a site plan for your facility. By this point, you have done your due diligence by networking within the storage industry. You have chosen your ideal property. And you have secured financing. Now it’s time to figure out what you want your property to look like. The goal here is to maximize space utilization and operational efficiency.
To lay out your site plan, you need to research and understand the local zoning regulations, building codes, and any other legal requirements that govern the construction and operation of self-storage facilities in your area. Plus, it is important to find out just what type of property and site conditions you are dealing with. Of course, you will also need to conduct market research to determine what size and type of storage units will do well in your area. Once you have checked off all those boxes, you get to the fun part of creating your layout. It’s amazing to see just how much revenue-generating storage you can fit on your property!
Review local zoning regulations and ensure to find out the required setbacks, parking ratios, building heights, and other zoning criteria. Some areas may have specific zoning districts or restrictions for commercial or industrial uses, which may include self-storage facilities. By now, you should have already checked the local zoning laws and regulations to determine if self-storage businesses are permitted in the intended location. Now it is time to begin to understand the other local zoning regulations and restrictions to help you plan your site layout.
Contact the local planning department or visit their website to obtain information about land use and permitted commercial activities. To find out the specific requirements for self-storage facilities, talk with local authorities or planning departments to verify compliance and obtain necessary permits. Here are some common permitting and zoning aspects to consider:
1. Conditional Use Permits: In certain zones, self-storage facilities may require a conditional use permit. This involves going through an application process and demonstrating that your business will meet specific criteria or conditions set by the local planning department or zoning board.
2. Building Permits: Obtain the necessary building permits to construct or modify the self-storage facility. This process typically involves submitting detailed plans, specifications, and engineering documents for review and approval. Inspections may be required during various stages of construction.
3. Signage Permits: If you plan to have signage for your self-storage business, check local signage regulations and obtain the necessary permits for installation and display.
Conduct a thorough site survey to understand the topography, soil conditions, drainage, and existing infrastructure (such as utilities, access roads, and parking). Also, be sure to note any environmental considerations, such as wetlands, protected areas, or potential hazards. Make sure that the property has access to electricity, water, and sewer services. And plan for utility connections, including electricity, water supply, drainage systems, and waste management.
Determine if there are any environmental regulations or assessments required for your proposed site. This may involve evaluating potential impacts on the surrounding environment, such as stormwater runoff management or hazardous material storage. You may also want to consider the availability of internet and phone services for your office. Figure out the placement of utility lines, meters, and equipment, ensuring they comply with local regulations and accessibility requirements.
It is important to note that these requirements may or may not impact you. It all depends on the the type of storage you choose for your self-storage business. Relocatable storage units, for example, are a flexible option that can fit within areas that are otherwise unbuildable due to regulations.
Determine the number and types of storage units you plan to offer. What will your customers be storing? Consider loading docks, security measures, and customer parking. Indicate the flow of traffic, pedestrian pathways, and any required accessibility features. Think about what other amenities you may need, such as office space. Or, if you plan to run your facility with a third-party remote management system, you may not need an office.
- Begin by conducting thorough market research to gain a deep understanding of the self-storage industry in your area. Identify the demand for self-storage facilities, existing competition, occupancy rates, and any specific market trends. What is the optimal mix based on market demand and your target customers?
- Determine the size and types of storage units you plan to offer. Define the types and sizes of storage units. This can include options such as small lockers, medium-sized units, or larger spaces for vehicles or specialty items like boat and RV storage. Multi-level buildings and climate-controlled storage are also features to consider when space is limited, or the climate is extreme. Again, look at the local needs of your target market while making these decisions.
- And remember that self-storage businesses can offer a variety of storage units. When there is an existing building on site, one option is to add different sized relocatable units along a fence line to create additional (revenue generating) rentals. And adding smaller, 8 x 5 units can work with boat/RV storage, so users can store their accessories safely.
- Get the required business licenses and permits for your self-storage business. This may include general business licenses, sales tax permits, and other applicable licenses. Incorporate security measures, such as fencing, gates, surveillance cameras and lighting. Did you know you can place relocatable self-storage units to create a fence line on your property? And that new “fence line” will generate revenue. Be sure that the facility’s design meets accessibility requirements, including parking spaces, ramps, and pathways compliant with local building codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Here is the fun part! You can either do it yourself (pro tip: Google Earth measurement tool works quite well), or work with an architect or storage container manufacturer. This is when you sketch a site plan for your self-storage business. Be sure to check if there are any existing architectural drawings or survey plans of the site. Include accurate measurements, labels, and dimensions for all elements, such as storage units, driveways, parking spaces, landscaping, and buildings. If you work with an architect or design professional, be sure they specialize in commercial or industrial projects. Look for someone with experience in designing self-storage facilities or similar types of projects.
Look at elements such as the site dimensions, any existing structures or features on the land, and your specific requirements for the layout and design. You can also provide any sketches, photos, or references that convey your vision for the project. Also look at things like access points, traffic flow, building placement, and parking areas. For example, 20’ drive aisles with a 30’ turning radius is accepted for self-storage businesses. Your designer will create a layout that optimizes the available space, maximizes the number of storage units, ensures efficient circulation, and incorporates necessary amenities. Review the design carefully, paying attention to the placement of storage units, office spaces, and other facilities. Provide feedback to the designer, highlighting any changes or modifications you would like to see.
Create a clean and presentable version for documentation and future reference – including all drawings, blueprints, and any other documentation required for construction and obtaining permits. Once you have your site layout, be sure to run it by a professional to ensure compliance with all relevant codes and regulations. Be sure to get any necessary permits before proceeding with construction.
When starting a self-storage business, the easiest and most cost-effective choices can be the most solid. The future of storage is looking good, and it feels like it’s going to continue to grow. Whether you do the research yourself or get some help from industry experts, the more information you gather, the better prepared you’ll be. We hope you enjoy our content series on, “How to Start a Self-Storage Business.” In no time, your site will be transformed into a revenue-generating storage business!
At the core, Boxwell uses a hands-on approach to business that is carried throughout everything we do. When we need to talk, we pick up the phone. If there are questions, we demo our product. And when we’re intrigued with something new, we try it. If a team member needs help, we offer it. When our community needs support, we lend our resources. With compassion and innovative ways of “thinking outside of the box,” anything is possible. That’s our culture.
When building Boxwell, Rod Bolls set out to create a company that prioritizes a balance between working hard and playing hard. He aligns a strong business model with a strong team and a sustainable work environment. To achieve an ideal company culture, Rod nurtures every relationship. For example, this includes customers, partners, vendors, local non-profits, neighborhood sports teams, and museums. Our products include drive-up self-storage units, relocatable self-storage units, portable storage containers, moving containers, and restoration containers.
Boxwell units can help you increase your business’ revenue-generating space with units in a variety of sizes, including our new 10 x 20 units and our 8 x 20 units. Our portable containers and relocatable self-storage units are flexible, stackable, and beautiful! Boxwell is here to ensure that our products help you achieve your business goals.