I need to store my possessions – where do I start?
There are various options when it comes to choosing what will suit your needs. The first things to decide are whether you are after storage or self storage, what type of access you need, how long you need to to store for, and whether your possessions require any type of specialist storage.
What is self storage?
In a literal sense ‘self storage’ offers the opportunity for you to store and access your possessions when you want to so. The term usually implies a commercial unit based facility where you rent a room or locker and are the sole key holder. However if you take self storage to be about access then there are other options available.
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What type of access do you need?
If you are looking for 24/7 access you need to be specific in your search. Some self storage unit companies offer 24/7 self storage however it’s usually extended office hours for the all but the largest facilities. If you are not concerned about renting a high end unit but 24/7 access is important you might be better off looking for container storage or a non trade listing (like a garage or outbuilding) that allows you your own key and flexible access arrangements.
You also need to consider how you are going to load / unload your possessions – and how often you want to do it. Commercial facilities are more likely to allow you to drive right up to the storage space and many of them offer trolleys or even forklift trucks for you to borrow. If you use a non-trade space it is likely that you will have to make arrangements with the owner which is obviously not ideal if you are intending to access items regularly. However, if you are storing for a long time and just need things stashed away this can be fine, and often a good value alternative to using a commercial facility.
With bulky furniture or other large items it’s important to consider whether the access is as large as the storage area itself (i.e. if you are thinking about using a loft or basement it may look like a big space but the access may be via a corridor, door or hatch).
In terms of location, most people search and find storage and self-storage within 7 miles of where they live (i.e. they like to ‘store next door’!) which is why neighbourhood storage is becoming increasingly popular.
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What do you need to store
When considering what type of storage or self-storage facility to go for, it’s important to consider the items that you are storing. Household goods and sports equipment are usually durable and can be stored in a variable climate but you wouldn’t want to put soft furnishings or paper based items anywhere that is not damp proofed so look for a storage unit, warehouse, damp proofed container or inside a house (rather than a basement or garage).
If you are a small business it might be interesting to look at a non-trade alternative to commercial options depending on what you need to store (e.g. we have a number of ebay traders that have outgrown their own homes and rented a neighbour’s garage to store their stock.) For larger companies or for valuable stock however, a commercial option would offer more security. In terms of document or archive storage, many of the larger commercial self storage and warehouse storage companies offer specialist climate controlled rooms, often with sophisticated computerised filing systems.
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Types of Storage Facility
Self storage units offer flexible, do-it-yourself storage i.e. the facility to store your items in a clean and secure, 24/7 monitored environment. You pay per size of unit for a set amount over a specified (or ongoing) time period. If you are moving abroad or moving home, or maybe doing building works or living in to rented accommodation it’s a great way to store your household items. For business customers, the access arrangements, security and convenience of self storage units (free parking, CCTV and pinpad access etc) are key to making it an attractive option. In addition many self storage companies offer specialist climate controlled and computer archive systems for document storage.
Another feature of many self storage units is that the customer is the only key holder – the management of the facility are not able to access the unit. Popular unit sizes include 10×5 (10 feet wide by 5 feet (1.5 m) deep) which is about the size of a large walk-in cupboard, 10×10 (the size of a child’s bedroom), 10×20 (one-car garage), 15×20 and 20×20 (two-car garage). The storage units are typically window-less, built out of corrugated metal, and locked using a padlock. A controlled access facility may employ security guards, CCTV, individual unit door alarms and some means of electronic gate access such as a keypad or swipe card.
Container Storage (Shipping containers)
In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of places that offer container storage – this is because they offer excellent secure and dry storage which is becoming increasingly popular, and are relatively easy to install on forecourts or level ground. Container storage might now be found on farms that have diversified the use of land, warehouse forecourts, in outbuildings on country estates and at the premises of other businesses that offer them as an extra service to existing customer (e.g. removals companies). A shipping container is a container with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling so offers ideal storage. A typical container has doors fitted at one end, and is constructed of corrugated weathering steel. Containers were originally 8 feet (2.44 m) wide by 8 feet (2.44 m) high, and either a nominal 20 feet (6.1 m) or 40 feet (12.19 m) long. They can be stacked up to create different levels.
Containers are watertight and sealed when closed – but it’s important to ensure your possessions are dry when you put them in to avoid moisture being locked inside. Look out for containers that have been treated internally with damp-proofing spray as this will help to reduce the risk of contamination.
Container storage is suitable for most things – including small to medium sized cars. Site are generally well secured and covered by CCTV. Insurance is not obligatory at most sites but you should check with the owner.
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Warehouse storage is a popular option for people who do not need to access their belongings for set periods of time i.e. during a temporary move abroad or a move into rented accommodation during a house move. Items are packed into wooden crates and then taken to the warehouse, tagged with an ID and stored for the pre-arranged period. The items can be packed at a person’s home and then taken away or else brought to the warehouse by the customer themselves. A crate is typically around 6x7x5ft but sizes vary between companies.
Many storage facilities that have spare space in a warehouse or forecourt will offer vehicle storage for either commercial vehicles or farming equipment. You can also rent a private driveway as a longterm parking option if you need to store a car when you are abroad or have to take it off the road (plus you can also fit most medium sized cars into shipping containers). Please note that for non-trade storage, the vehicle must be covered by its own comprehensive insurance as it will not be covered under the Storenextdoor policy.
For classic cars look for a specialist facilities that can offer temperature controlled warehousing and even onsite mechanics. Specialist car storage facilities often offer a pick up and deliver service as well.
There are various sites around the country that provide secure, private, off-road, open air storage for caravans and motorhomes. Look for facilities that are accredited for caravan and motor home storage from the national accredited body. The accreditation is called CaSSOA, and there are three types available depending on criteria the applicant has to pass, which is Bronze, Silver or Gold seal. For more information see the CaSSOA website.
Managed storage (pick up and deliver storage)
There are number of national companies that operate on a local level to offer a pick up and deliver service although the difference between this and warehouse storage is that you are unable to go and pick up your items yourself. Your storage is booked and managed online i.e. you order a number of boxes to your home or office, pack them up and they are taken away. When you want them returned you send an online request and the boxes are picked up and delivered back to your door.
Many companies that offer self storage units, warehouse storage and ‘pick up and deliver’ storage offer special discounted rates for students and operate out of university and college campus at the beginning and end of the academic year. Non-trade neighbourhood storage can also be a cost effective way to split the cost of storage over the summer.
Store with a neighbour (non trade storage or ‘store next door’!)
If you need to store sports equipment, a motorbike or bicycle, robust furniture (not soft furnishings) or even a car, garages are ideal. Typically owners allow 24/7 access. We also see garages in great demand by small businesses who are looking to store stock. If you are lucky enough to have one listed in your neighbourhood it could be a great alternative to commercial storage.
Basements are great for security but are not always dampproof so take a good look round when you go and visit the storage space. If the basement is underground will need to put your stuff on pallets in order for the insurance to be valid. This is to protect against frost or water damage. The person who owns the space should provide either pallets or raised flooring for you.
Spare room storage
Any room inside an owner’s home is great in terms of security. Spare rooms are usually spacious and can offer great ‘price per sq ft’ value compared to commercial storage. As long as you’re happy to make arrangements to access your stuff with the owner (probably not ideal if you want to get it too frequently) this could be a great alternative to warehousing. Ideally the room will be lockable.
Lofts make excellent storage spaces as they are usually insulated, dampproof and very secure. You can get great price per sq ft’ value compared to commercial storage rates. The only limiting factor can be the access and the size of the hatch or door into the space. If is highly advisable to visit the storage space and take measurements before entering into a contract with the owner.
Forecourt or driveway storage
You can also rent a private driveway or forecourt as a longterm parking option for a campervan/motorhome, or if you need to store a car.
For many of the larger self storage unit facilities it is compulsory to take out insurance when you store your possessions and details will be provided by the commercial storage company as part of your storage quote. Removals companies and ‘pick up and deliver’ companies are obliged to be covered by their own insurance but you should check the terms and the extent of the cover (i.e.whether it covers the content cover for the storage period as well as the transportation). For container storage it is usually left to the discretion of the person hiring the unit however there may well be liability insurance that covers the access area (but not stored items).
Rules and Banned Items
For Trade listings, please contact the self-storage business owner for details but the list is likely to be similar to the one below. For private or non-trade listings you are not allowed to store anything very valuable, illegal, stolen or that might cause damage to the space owner’s property. This includes:
• drugs, cigarettes, tobacco and tobacco products, wines and spirits;
• explosives, combustibles and fireworks, hazardous chemicals;
• money, furs, precious metals, jewellery, precious stones;
• non-ferrous metals;
• deeds and documents (bonds, securities, loan notes, title deeds and other financial information);
• liquids, foodstuffs;
• mouldy, infested items;
• stolen or illegal goods; and
• any item with an individual value in excess of £500 (subject to separate agreement with Pavey/Aviva).
Inventory of stored items
It’s always a good idea to make an inventory of your stored items in case of a dispute of an insurance claim. Ideally you would take photos, include a valuation list and keep the inventory updated.
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This is a copy of the article Guide to Storage and Self-storage at http://www.storenextdoor.com/resources/guide-to-storage-and-self-storage/
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