Since I am sharing my thoughts and tips this month on “Out of Sight Storage”, nothing quite lives up to this description like a Storage unit. You might have asked yourself, is there ever a good excuse for using storage units? How can you prevent your storage unit from being a large junk pile? Below I share “Good excuses” for using storage units.
More of these storage facilities seem to be popping up all the time and with the popularity of shows like “Storage Wars“, our culture seems to have accepted that using storage units is “Normal”. But should they be? I can’t provide the right answer for every situation but I’d love to share some experiences where I think having some type of storage unit has been useful and other times when it seems like a big $ pit.
Here are the 7 top ‘Good Excuses’ for using Storage Units.
- Storing valuable personal property that might not be protected at home. Example might include large collections of climate sensitive items or expensive vehicles that might be more safe in climate control.
- Home remodeling. It’s often necessary to place items into storage when you are remodeling or building. In this case, make items you might need easy to access. Building and remodeling can take longer than expected so plan ahead (seasonal wardrobe switch, paperwork etc).
- Collections or work related archives that you need to hold onto for legal reasons but do not have space for at your home or small business. Examples might include artwork, medical files/records or other paperwork that is taking up more valuable space elsewhere.
- Temporary storage of items when moving. This can be especially helpful if items are being moved to multiple locations and will help make moving day easier when you can specify what comes from storage vs. other locations.
- Downsizing and times of indecision or stress. I share this option with a word of extreme caution. Often people fall into the forever storage situation triggered by a move or downsizing and they just never get back to sorting through things. If you must downsize and place items to be sorted in storage, do so with the minimum space needed and a plan to sort through items on a specific timeline (say one year max?).
- Estate sales and family redistribution. There are times that a storage unit can be helpful in sorting through and liquidating an estate. Sometimes family doesn’t live nearby and the main property can no longer be used for storage. It’s best to know specifically what contents are going into storage, inventoried to be distributed to specific family members and given a specific deadline for emptying. Decide ahead if the family estate will pay for this or family members will split the cost and be clear in your communication about expectations.
- Insurance claim issues. There is sometimes damage to a house (see remodel/build above) and household contents must be stored and or inventoried for insurance purposes. This is not that common but I have seen and worked with clients in this situation.
If you’re not sure if storage off site is the right choice, consider the cost per square foot of the storage unit or keeping things in place. You may also want to consider what you will do with the free space you gain in your home or office. What is the value of that space to you, fiscally, creatively, emotionally?
Once you have identified why and what you need to be using a storage unit, create an inventory and system for efficient storage. This will help you gain access to what you need quickly and efficiently. If you are storing items for a business, create a file-inventory index based on the type of storage you will use. If you will store files in bankers boxes, decide on a labeling system and label boxes and shelves so that you can identify and replace things easily. Larger items like artwork or collectibles can be labeled similarly.
Create an easy-to-access storage system by bringing in easy to assemble shelves and take advantage of the vertical space and tall ceilings in most storage units. Be sure you are storing anything sensitive in a climate controlled environment and that you have sufficient insurance and a clear plan to communicate and make regular payments to the storage facility (so that your unit doesn’t end up on Storage Wars!:)
If you know you are using a storage unit for temporary reasons, don’t sign a long term contract and be aware and notify your storage facility of your exit date (read the contract). Will you be getting rid of things all at once (book the mover early so you don’t back out!) or a little at a time? Have a plan to work through things that need to be sorted with a friend, family member or an organizer.