Everybody has stuff but not everyone has the space to store their stuff in their living space. From hand-me-down furniture to holiday decorations to antique cars, self-storage facilities offer the typical American a place for his or her overflowing possessions. Because of Americans’ love of stuff , the self-storage industry is a booming business, raking in $22.6 billion in revenue per year, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based Self Storage Association. Safety, abundant space, flexibility and years of maintenance-free service make metal buildings a smart choice for selfstorage facilities. Typically pre-fabricated and pre-engineered at a steel-building plant, metal structural elements are shipped to a work site where they are quickly and easily erected.
Expansion also is easier with metal than with alternative building systems because end walls can be removed when additional square footage is required. Th e end walls then can be reused, which is a testament to metal buildings’ sustainability. Safety is another selling point. The fire risk in steel buildings is very low, which can translate into lower insurance costs. Metal buildings also can withstand natural disasters, like earthquakes, according to the Cleveland-based Metal Building Manufacturers Association. For example, in October 1989, the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Northern California. Although a number of metal warehouses were damaged by their unstable, shift ing contents, there were no catastrophic failures that would have threatened human life or the products stored in the buildings. Metal buildings stand up to harsh weather and will not warp or disfi gure over time.
They also resist corrosion when finished with an aluminum composite. In addition to reusing end walls during a metal self-storage facility’s expansion, metal is a sustainable material in itself. A metal self-storage building can be recycled when the building is no longer in use. Steel, which is one of the most common materials used in metal self-storage facilities, does not emit volatile organic compounds. Because steel does not contain organic materials, it does not support mold and mildew growth. Termites and carpenter ants also avoid steel because it does not provide nourishment.
In recent years, more self-storage-facility owners are demanding multi-story buildings because of the decreasing availability of land, rising land costs, requests for climate controlled climatecontrolled space from renters, and planning and zoning requirements. Some metalbuilding manufacturers can build complex units—typically 2- to 3-stories high—on the side of a hill or on land where a standard facility is not possible. During the past 30 years, the self-storage industry has been the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. commercial-real-estate industry. At year-end 1984, there were 6,601 facilities with 289.7 million square feet (26.9 million m2). Compare that to the fi rst quarter of 2007, when there were 51,223 primary selfstorage facilities representing 2.2 billion square feet (231.8 million m2), an increase of more than 1.9 billion square feet (204.9 million m2). It’s likely that as Americans’ love for stuff continues to increase, so will the self-storage industry.