Commercial storage units provide an offsite “garage” for people who need more property space. A unit can be large enough for a motor home, or smaller than a residential garage. The units might be part of a complex and rented out by the owner. Or they might be sold as condo units. Those who wish to build commercial storage units will need to follow certain steps.
Familiarize yourself with industry associations through which you can find information, contacts and references. Links to associations are included under Resources.
Learn more about the industry and its suppliers and vendors. Attend the Self-Storage Expo, held annually, or participate in the online forum, Self Storage Talk. Links to both websites are included in Resources.
Locate land for the commercial storage units. The land must be zoned appropriately. Contact a real estate professional who specializes in commercial properties and is familiar with your area. You will want a location with easy access and preferably highway visibility.
Commercial financing is typically more difficult to secure than residential financing, and will normally require a large down payment. Contact local lenders that handle Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. This can include local banks.
Hire a qualified architect. Storage complexes can be built from slump-stone, or they may be framed buildings with aluminum siding, or portable, prefabricated structures. The location of your project, considering climate and material availability, will help determine the best type of structures to build.
Use the associations listed under Resources to contact general contractors in your area. Contact the Better Business Bureau and a local contractors board to help verify the contractor’s qualifications.