Getting into the Self Storage industry – new (Greenfields) vs. existing (Conversion)

The debate rages at this point and there are pros and cons for each side. This argument can be very foreboding for a new operator – should I build new or convert an existing premises?

Many new entrants will understand that to build new is easier, essentially it’s a block of dirt and therefore a ‘blank canvas’. This has the advantage – most times – of being on the outskirts of the metro area and generally in a newly zoned commercial listed area. This means that comparatively the land is cheaper BUT you will need to jump through all the council hoops, such as traffic flow, storm water management, road alignment issues, green areas and landscaping requirements… just to name a few. This can definitely be off putting to someone who hasn’t done this before!

On the other hand, a conversion of an existing site can be a more attractive option as it allows for more forgiveness in the DA (Development Approval) stage as you do not have to address some of the points above although these days there are
quite a number of councils that will treat a conversion as a new business site and therefore require more hoops to be jumped through than normal.

On the whole, it has been my experience that conversions are easier on the BA (Building Approval) process. That said, you must understand that the actual build or fit out can then be the harder part of the process.

Generally as you retrofit or re-purpose a building that was designed for something else, compromises need to be made or addressed. For example you may need to remove or move a loading dock that’s in the way, you may have to budget for
additional roller doors and extra entry and exit points, your traffic flow may be compromised due to existing ceiling heights etc., all because you need to work within an existing building framework.


These issues must be addressed now by generally spending money as you can imagine and as a consequence it needs to be done by a competent person or team. Many people often overlook good design at this point. It will cost you money. We cannot stress the importance of having a builder who knows what they are doing on your side. Quite often you can make their experience work for you and save money in the process.


Keen to learn more?

Looking to start your own self storage facility? Download Ben’s free eBook & unlock the key to a successful facility today!

– Ben (International Sales Manager, StorMan Software)

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