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Priceless: A concept sketch in a day

by Marc Goodin,

A ton of money goes into due diligence, feasibility study making an offer, preparing a contract, and then the deal does not work because of land issues. The best way not to waste time and money is to do a back-of-the-napkin concept plan once it looks like the site meets your basic parameters.

A sketch should always be done before you pay for a $6,000 to$10,000 feasibility study! It might tell you the site is a no-go and save you $$. And it often will provide valuable information to make the study more accurate.

Here are 9 layout sketches by Storage Authority and what they determined.

This FL site was clearly worth moving forward on. 92,000 sf and if we did not need excessive stormwater detention we could also get RV spaces.

This lot was 3OO feet wide with a very steep incline. To balance the site approximately 57,000 cubic years of cut and fill would be required. The building pad would be 40 feet higher than the road and a superlong driveway would be required. The land improvement costs were to high so the site was rejected.

This site was rejected for very high construction cost due to the topography and long driveway. An over-under design (like a walk-out basement) was considered in this concept plan with topography.

This concept plan confirmed this NJ site was a go. Since we did not need over 150,000 sf the final design included rv parking, and looks like there was room for RV parking

This concept plan shows a 200' wide building would fit on paper in this 357' wide site. To get the 80,000 sf we looking for the building would have to be 200' wide x 400' long with a driveway around it. So, once we knew how long the building was we could see at this point there would be a 60' drop. Once again the cost of earthwork killed this project.

This sketch let us know this FL site was a go. And since we had to fill the wetlands on the site we would also need to buy the wetlands credits that were part of approval conditions to fill the wetlands the seller obtained.

This VA site was a go! If you look hard you can see the sellers self storage concept plan with our concept plan. The vast majority of the seller's concept plan was non-climate control. Our concept plan confirmed we could get 80,000 sf cc & non cc and rv parking. And of course, our layout gives the civil engineer a huge head start on the layout plan.

This was a large parcel but much of the parcel was a lake. We had to determine to what size we could build and be outside of the wetland and lake setback. To get the numbers to work we needed to make building A, B and C 1 building. This turned 3 - 30 foot driveway area into building area.

The plan here was to buy a part of 2 neighbors' land. Which at first blush might sound hard but in this case initial conversations were positive. While the 4.4 main acres were zoned for self storage, oddly enough the 2 neighboring properties were zoned residential.

When you meet with the town staff with a concept plan it often helps get to the critical points of design and approval requirements.

In the end, the seller was not willing to sell for a reasonable price or accept the time frame to put this 3-parcel deal together.

This site had a 20,000 sf building so the goal was to determine how much more sf could fit on the site. In the end the limited sf and zoning issues got the best of this site.

Having someone on your team with an engineering degree who can do a quick concept and evaluate each site is a huge head start to evaluate the deal, and meet with the city staff. And also gives the site designer a head start.

Do you want to have a 15-minute call to learn how Storage Authority helps improve the systems, sales, marketing, and profits at your existing facility? If you are building from the ground up let's also review how we help you find land and get your facility designed, approved, and built. Please send me an email or call me – no appointment is needed:

Get more information on Storage Authority Franchise at

Marc Goodin is the President of Storage Authority Franchising. He owns 3 self-storages he designed, built, and manages. He has been helping others in the self-storage industry for over 30 years. He can be reached at or directly at 860-830-6764 to answer your franchising, development, marketing, sales, and operations questions. His best-selling self-storage books are available on Amazon.


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