Startup Considerations for a Self-Storage Facility

Have some general questions regarding these:

a) For those that have built one…what would you consider to be an adequate size for a tract of land?

b) I’d prefer not to have something that is continually manned by a person. Instead, keypad entry to a sliding gate via password for individual renters.

c) With regard to utilities….don’t you just need electric, (for the gate and illumination of signage/security lights)? I don’t see a need for water. How expensive is it to bring electric on-site?

d) How cheap should you be looking to get the land for?

e) Found this pre-fab manufacturer:

Wondering if their pre-fab approach is the way to go…or if making yourself would be better.

Thanks for your consideration,

Mike, there is a national association of storage building owners that has a really useful website.

Unfortunately, I can’t remamber the name of the association, but a little time spent googling should find it for you.

I would think that you’d want to offer some heated units. They merely need to be kept above freezing; not warm enough to llive in.

Check your local laws. I wouldn’t think you’d need to have a restroom on site, but you never know about what the local authorities might think is necessary. If they require one, and a porta potty won’t do, then you will need water. You want to know that before you start moving dirt around and putting in utilities.

I work for a civil engineering company and have done a few self storage sites. The tract just needs to be big enough for the buildings, drives, a fence and some parking out front for a Kiosk. Depending on your local planning board you may need to detain your stormwater on site then you’ll need room for that too.

One of our clients used Tractie for their buildings and most use automated Kiosk that do everything. None of them had bathrooms.

Yes I would also recommend offering some heated units.

I don’t invest in self-storage units currently, but it is a form of investing I am considering down the road several years from now.

Go to, search for ISBN # 0977157806 (just type in 0977157806 and search) OR lookup How to Invest in Self-Storage, by Scott Duffy at another bookstore. I read the book and its very good. It’ll give you a good intro into the business. It’s a business that is not discussed much, but offers huge ROIs if you buy right. Storage units around my area rent for a higher rate than apartments on a per square foot basis, and all you’re renting out is a basic metal shed. So in reality — that is hard to beat. I think Scott, if I recall correctly, made a lot of money in the tech boom in California during the late 90’s and has invested in self-storage since. Check it out.

Thanks for the recommendations…that helps.

I’ve always been accustomed to developing and building my own stuff in the construction trade…so the uniformity and economies of scale with these is pretty appealing.

But numbers gotta work :exclaim



According to my CPA,the avg self storage has a ROI of 39% since he does the books for a few of them in SoFl. Says great investment especially since very low over head.

You may want to consider 2 fulltime or 3 part time employee mix. You need toi maintain the grounds and keep up on payments. If people do not pay you need to lock them out of the complex and lock the storage. Some places has access hrs from like 5Am to midnight, others 24/7.

As for water, you will need it. Think SPRINKLER SYSTEM for fire… So get your bathroom ready but employee use only and no customer acess there…

Also depending on your area, in SoFl, many leave space for boat storages where people can just park along fences there boats or RV’s


I didn’t even think of the fire suppression system.

I looked at the storage places I drove by today, and they all have hose bibs.

Well, yes, of course they do, because the owner of the storage is going to have to do some cleaning on an on-going basis or the place will soon look like a slum.

Some of the clients are going to leave nasty messes. You aren’t going to sweep up a spilled gallon of Karo syrup, or some drunk’s big steaming pile of puke.

The nicer ones have small bits of low maintenance landscaping, and it really makes a diffference in how they look, which means it will make a difference in obtaining customers. That takes water.