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Common Storage Facility Improvements and the Cost of Construction.

I was recently asked if there are rules of thumb for self storage construction costs or if I just get bids. My tongue and cheek answer is yes. Yes, there are rules of thumb, and yes, I get bids. To explore this idea, I thought I'd discuss a couple very common renovations that we perform at our storage facilities. Specifically, we will look at fencing and camera systems lots in this post.


Having put up fences and gates in multiple storage facilities throughout the country at 10 to $12 per linear foot, I didn't hesitate to share that information with a couple of my students. I have put them up at multiple locations in New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina and always fell within that price range.


Here's where things got sticky though. Two of my students were looking to have fences put up at their newly acquired properties in the Midwest (Missouri and Indiana). What they found

though is that this line item was going to cost them two to three times more than we expected. Now, some of that increased cost was relative to specific circumstances at their sites. For example, they were installing fencing over existing concrete, which is clearly harder than installing a fence into a grass field. But, that's not nearly enough double or triple the price. What we found out was that these inflated price was due to a regional difference. Clearly, this was a learning lesson for all of us. Despite the rule of thumb, even when you think you know all the answers to the questions, like I thought I knew about fencing costs, if it's a new area or a new market ALWAYS confirm what you think you know by getting bids before you buy a property.


You do not need definitive answers, but you do want to call the contractors for a ballpark quote. If you explain, “Hey, I'm looking to buy a property in your area. I don't want to take up too much time because if I don't close, I don't want to have wasted your time. But, I'm looking at putting up a six-foot chain-link fence with three strands of barbed wire and a 30-foot slide gate. Can you give me a ballpark price per linear foot for what you guys normally charge?”


Another common improvement that we implement at our storage facilities is the installation of Camera Systems. This is one area where it is VERY easy to over pay and may hope is that this little primer will help you avoid doing just that. I'm a big fan, in many instances, of using the $800 to $1,500 camera systems that you can find on Amazon. The systems come with eight to sixteen cameras and a one or two terabyte DVR.


My personal preference is to use Power over Ethernet (POE) camera systems, especially if you don’t have power in the buildings yet. Doing so means you do not have to get a dedicated electrical outlet for each camera. You just need one power source where you're going to set up and store your DVR. Then, the ethernet cables that run from the DVR to the cameras transmits the video signal as well as provides power to the cameras.


By combining these affordable camera systems with this streamlined installation process, You

are looking at a full camera system for $1500 to $3,000 depending on how basic or robust of a system. This is a big price difference compared to the CCTV closed caption TV security

surveillance companies! You know the ones, that drive around town with their special painted vans and have commercials on radio and TV. Someone's got to pay for those fancy Vans and massive marketing budgets so if you go with a company like that, you can easily spend $10,000 or more for a system that performs no better than the one I outlined above.


My hope is that this article will serve as a good introduction to some of the common construction costs that we run into in the self storage industry. Clearly, we've just scratched the surface here. Perhaps I will do a more robust “Construction Budget” sometime soon.


I further hope that you are finding some value in my storage musings and would love it if you'd post comments or questions below. And please be sure to subscribe below so you don't miss out when the next post goes live!

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