Planning A Mini-Storage Complex

Pre-engineered mini storage building

This article is devoted to helping you plan your own Mini-Storage Complex, featuring advice on location, lot-size, mix, floor-plans, and more! It is also designed to prepare you to communicate your requirements, when you get in contact with your metal building systems manufacturer.

Location, Location, Location!

Locating the Perfect Spot

There are a number of factors that determine a superior location for your mini-storage complex. Zoning is always an issue. You must make sure you understand the restrictions on the type of building and business that you intend to bring with you to a given location, and that there is no conflict with mini-storage.

The list below and at left has been around for years, and turns up in numerous articles on the subject. The list at bottom right is from Erik Hermes’ article, “Insight to A Great Site,” which appeared in “Inside Self Storage” Magazine in 2005.

Good Location Great Location
  • On an arterial street
  • Easy to see
  • Traffic count minimum of 20,000
  • High density of homes
  • Few competitors within 3 miles
  • Next to an apartment complex
  • On a major intersection
  • Easy to access
  • Minimum traffic count of 30,000
  • High density of homes in growing area
  • No competitors within 3 miles
  • Next to high activity retail or restaurant

Lot Space: Size MattersPurchasing land in a great location may cost you double what it costs in another location. However, you will make you money back much faster if you opt for the “great” location, and you will be well on your way to bringing in greater profits.

According to Hermes, a minimum of 40,000 rentable square feet is required to warrant an on-site manager. 40,000 rentable square feet requires a plot of at least 2 to 3 acres. Nowadays, we are at the point with technology where sites may be fully automated and un-staffed, meaning you can get away with starting even smaller. Multi-storey operations are also an option. In any case, make sure you do your research. Inside Self Storage is an exceptional resource that can help you get started.

Below, we list the number of rentable square feet that can be fit on lots from 2 to 5 acres in size, using single storey units.

  • 2-3 Acre Plot: 40 000 Rentable Square Feet
  • 3-4 Acre Plot: 60 000 Rentable Square Feet
  • 4-5 Acre Plot: 80 000 Rentable Square Feet

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Size & Mix of Units

The percentage of storage units of each size, offered at a given location, is known in this industry as the 'Mix' or 'Unit Mix'. Your optimal mix truly depends on the demographics of your local market, along with the type and amount of local competition you face.

In Site Layout and Unit Mix, Victor Lopez suggests hiring an experienced property manager, as a consultant, to help you establish a baseline mix. You can do this, or you can also conduct your own research, gathering local data about the average income, education level, housing conditions, etc, and then comparing the data with usage statistics from Inside Self, or another market expert. Data can be obtained from local utility companies and real estate companies, to name a couple of sources. If you invest in research, you are guaranteed to make more money. It’s that simple.

Sample Mini Storage Floor Plans

In our sample floor plans, we have used a starter “average baseline mix,” devised by Dan Curtis, in his article: Unit Mix Menagerie. BARE IN MIND: your optimal mix depends on your local demographics. You may even want to build in phases, adding more units once you have a better idea of the demand for each size of unit in your locale. The mix in these floor plans is just to get you started – to give you a little visual inspiration, and help you picture the layout of a typical complex.

Approx. Plot Size Approx. Rentable Square Feet (SF) Baseline Mix Used:
2-3 Acres 40,000 SF 15% (5 x 10)’s,

40% (10 x 10)’s

25% (10 x 15)’s

10% (10 x 20)’s

5% (10 x 25)’s

5% (for fast expansion)
3-4 Acres 60,000 SF
4-5 Acres 80,000 SF

Climate Controlled Units

40% of the self-storage market demand climate controlled units, and it only makes sense to provide customers with what they want! Rent for climate-controlled units averages 25% to 60% higher, and yet costs an average of 10 cents per square foot (Curtis, 2004), yielding you a healthy return on your investment. Again, demographics will dictate just how many units you want to equip with climate control.

Getting in Contact with a Manufacturer

Once you’ve determined your location, along with the size, number, and mix of units you wish to erect, it is time to get in contact with your manufacturer. Be sure to discuss your own custom requirements, and any accessories they may offer that can enhance your operation.

We recommend that you use our FREE ONLINE QUOTE SERVICE, as it will put you in contact with multiple, top-level manufacturers, who will provide you with high-end project proposals at factory-direct prices. Our form is quick and easy to use and requires no commitment. These suppliers will be competing for your business, so it is in their best interest to offer you top quality service and excellent prices.

Sample Mini Storage Complex Photographs

The aesthetics of your Mini-Storage Complex also play an important role in attracting customers. We have collected a series of Mini-Storage photos for your perusal, and to inspire your own designs. Metal building systems manufacturers are highly flexible and look forward to meeting your custom requirements and specifications! See the commercial photo gallery page for larger images

Mini Storage - 01

Metal Self Storage Buildings

SelfStorage Buildings

Steel Mini Storage Building
Mini Storage Systems Self Storage Building Manufacturers
Mini Storage Building Manufacturers Self Storage Building

There are plenty of accessories that can be added once your complex has been erected, and there are just as many articles out there to tell you which ones are worthwhile. Be sure to make the most of the broad range of mini-storage market research that is available to you, and ensure the success of your enterprise!

For Additional Information

If you plan on preparing your own site and foundation, and if you plan on erecting your buildings yourself, we suggest you consult our Steel Building Buyers Guide. If you will be hiring a general contractor or a construction team to handle things, make sure that someone from your team will be present on delivery day, to check and receive your order.

Author: Conrad Mackie