The whole purpose of the due diligence process is to discover any potential problems with a storage facility and to discover any hidden problems, as well as verifying any and all information that you have acquired during the process in order to confirm your decision to move forward, or not, on an acquisition or month to month rental. That being said, here’s five major areas one should inspect before moving forward with storage rentals or outright facility purchases.
In colder climates, it’s pretty common to consider storage facilities with indoor or heated options. Newer facilities like this Extra Space Storage in Chicago will likely not run into issues but in any case, you’ll probably want to know a backup plan is in place should the heating derive from electricity. Since this means backup generators, you should inspect the area surrounding the generator, as well as the generator itself, checking for cleanliness and maintenance upkeep. If purchasing a self-storage facility outright, look at the maintenance logs to make sure that they are up to date and that it’s being started on a regular basis, i.e. twice monthly. An indication of not being run on a regular basis would be excessive black carbon around the exhaust. Have a discussion with the building engineer/maintenance personnel to find out more about the upkeep.
Check the log on the ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) to determine that it is functional and being tested regularly.
Depending upon the age of the storage unit and its locale, the roof can be a major expense if it damages your expensive personal property. Visually inspect the roof to look for soft spots, stains and areas where the membrane material has pulled away from the roof surface. Also, look at the flashing (metal caps) affixed to the perimeter of the roof to see if it is pulled away, excessively dented or destroyed.
Be sure to look at ceiling tiles and/or hard lid ceilings on the floor directly below the roof for stains and/or wet spots. Ask the top floor tenant(s) if they have experienced any leaks.
Fire Sprinkler System
If the building is sprinkler system equipped, find out if they are on recall and if so, are they scheduled to be replaced. If the building is not sprinkler-ready, are there any ordinances requiring the installation of fire sprinklers by the local fire code. It is a good idea to find out if there is any pending code changes coming up in the near future that would impact you in the requiring of sprinklers in the building.
Storage units that are in particularly dry areas, like Dallas, Texas would have sprinkler systems to retain fire that got outside of storage units.
There are many things that self-storage facility owners can do to protect their foundations from deterioration, sagging and cracking. Sure, you may not park semis inside a unit, yet having poor foundation or exposed rebar could be potentially hazardous. Therefore, always inspect the foundation inside, outside and everywhere else to make sure nothing seems uneven or cracking excessively.
In Close: As-Is Condition is No Excuse
No matter how young or old your storage facility is, you’ve no doubt spent a lot of money hiring specialists to repair or inspect items like the steel siding, heating unit, or doors. Although a lot of these types of things do require the attention of a specialist, you should still double check anything before renting storage units or buying the building outright.
Having a safe haven for stored items is extremely important to the new renter. However, you should ask to see any units offered by any monthly storage rental place to assure 100% compliance with building codes.