How many self-storage units can I put on an acre?

This question definitely falls into the realm of frequently asked questions when writing a self-storage business plan.

According to Trachte Building Systems, you can apply the following coverage rates to each acre to estimate the gross square feet of self-storage you will be able to build on your parcel:

Single-story self-storage buildings

  • 30% coverage for drive-up units

  • 35% coverage for drive-up units with minimal setbacks

  • 40% coverage for wide buildings with interior corridors

  • 45% coverage for exceptionally wide buildings to maximize coverage

  • 50% coverage for a level site with exceptionally wide buildings to maximize coverage and a minimal water retention pond

Multi-story self-storage buildings

  • 35% coverage for a two-story building into a hill, up to 40’ wide with no halls

  • 40% coverage for a two-story building into a hill, more than 40’ wide with halls

  • 45% coverage for a wide two-story building

  • 45% coverage for a wide three-story building

Boat and RV storage

  • Depending on the site, between 40% to 50% coverage, which is 20,000 to 23,000 square feet per acre.

  • This assumes each parking stall is 350 square feet, resulting in 60 to 70 parking stalls per acre.

Much like car commercials you hear on the radio, these guidelines of how many self-storage units can fit on an acre come with a few caveats:

  • Check with your local building department to determine your stormwater retention regulations. The amount of land dedicated to water runoff is frequently underestimated when penciling out self-storage business plans.

  • Obviously, the size of the biggest building (or the most buildings) you could build on your site is not necessarily the size you should build. That is calculated by the market demand for self-storage in your area.

  • And duh, this has nothing to do with your unit mix. Your unit mix and how much climate-control or canopy/enclosed/open parking to build is dictated by the demographic and psychographic characteristics of self-storage customers in your area, and what they want to rent. Both of these last caveats are determined in your self-storage feasibility study.

If you are evaluating a parcel’s suitability and have questions about how many self-storage units you can put on an acre, please contact me for a free preliminary report. I do this for all my clients (and prospective clients) to make sure the site is viable prior to doing a self-storage feasibility study or a self-storage business plan.