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Day in the life- Constructing a New Facility location

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  • Day in the life- Constructing a New Facility location


    We are starting our 8th and final storage location. I will try to give an update as we go through construction. Although this will be instructional, you will probably also get to see the "thinking" and "concerns" about the project from my viewpoint at different stages. Things I would forget to tell you, if you said tell me about building a location.

    8th and final-
    A. As you build each location, you have to put in so much equity up front. Could be 10%/15%/25%/40%. At some point you ask yourself how much do you want to extend yourself., We are expanding at such a fast rate, that we have not let the prior Storage location's equity buildup to support these final projects for collateralization.
    B. Even though we have a very efficient system to handle multiple locations, at some point you tap the point of enough is enough., We run all of our business through one phone. Its not that bad once you are rented up, but can be a little hectic during the rent up stages.
    C. Not to get into specifics but we also have other Life ambitions and other Financial alternatives we are looking at, to both diversify our assets (Teak Trees) and to enjoy different aspects of our lives.

    Before Dirt Work Started-
    A. Looked for a site that was "SAFER" from other competitors storage expansion. This location was under a "Planned Community" (PC) zoning, which I normally would not have known to look at. Luckily the realtor knew about the Special Condition/Use permit potential for Storage.,
    B. The hilly topography doesn't lend itself to storage. There are only two more locations that are flat enough and they both have issues with them.
    C. Engineering costs- We spent far more on engineering than expected. We were working around the lay of the ground for drainage and trying to fit as many units as possible to justify the project. $$$$
    D. Hidden items- These were issues staring me straight in the face, but I didn't "See" them. The Fire hydrant on the property was a private hydrant for the property attached to the North, that could not be used. Originally both properties were owned by the same person. Plus the city requires all road side properties that don't have water to put in a line along all of the roadside. $$$$$$
    E. Hidden items- The soft wet spot in the middle of the field was the hillside pushing water to the surface at the base of the hill. Although not a Spring, it is still too wet to build on top of. We will need to put a series of Drain Tiles underneath to take the water away. $$$$$

    Day 1 of Dirt Work:
    A. Contractor called the day before and said he was ready to start. Waited for him for 5 months to finish a large government project. He was both going to be available, cost was lower than other competitors and I know him professionally and personally.
    B. Pulled up with 2 Scrapers and hopped the curb. This is a major Bike path and dog walking sidewalk. 3,000 vehicle per day traffic count, off major artery. So we decided on one construction entry spot. That way if we broke the sidewalk, we would have only one spot to fix and one issue with the path users. Our actual facility entry way is further east on the road. But we don't want to use it, otherwise we will bust up all of our concrete roads after we pour them.
    C. Went to pull Dirt Permit and State Storm drain permit, the dirt contractor will need to do it and show them their license. About $3,000 for permit.
    D. To build Office, the General Contractor who is building the pads and buildings will need to submit his license.
    E. The final Building prints are not approved. I just had to give them a letter saying I would put Wainscot on the street visible side of the buildings. This was part of the agreement with the Planned Community zoning. They are also requiring Barred fence, versus chainlink fence.
    F. Stopped off at the General Contractors office to start the order for 5 of the buildings. We will build these late in the fall after we can't put anymore pads in (before the ground freezes). We will put the office in, right off the bat, so the Electrician, Plummer, Security and Construction crews will have a place to stub all of the main controls and also have a warm bathroom to use.
    G. These 5 buildings touch the fence line. So I want them built so we can put the fence in around the construction site for safety.
    H. Stopped at the Retaining Wall group. We have two retaining walls to help with Dirt elevation. We did not want to haul any dirt off the location, so it was cheaper to build retaining walls in key spots and use the dirt there to flatten the site. Both the Retaining wall company and the dirt work company need to work hand in hand. The retaining wall company needs the dirt cleared about 8 feet back from the wall. This is so they can use Geogrid fabric as a Deadman to keep the wall from pushing out. So the Dirt company doesn't have to move the dirt twice, he needs to know to keep it back and also to clear out the dirt for 8 feet.
    I. Attached are some pictures of Day 1. Should have a dry day tomorrow, then rain.
    J. Using Scrapers versus Bulldozers. Bulldozers can only push dirt, Scrapers can carry it. Far more efficient to carry the dirt, if you have a lot and the distance is over 100 feet. The Grading company and I decided to bill me on an hourly rate, versus per day. Any break downs, partial rainouts or getting stuck, don't get billed to me.
    K. Usually you would compact the dirt as you go. These scrapers are compacting the dirt, so we don't have a compactor running behind them. Also without getting to much into the site most of the building site will be the original dirt (compacted) and not moved dirt. Since the driveway and parking will be over where most of the dirt is being moved and we don't plan to build there until next year, it will have a chance to compact over Winter.
    L. Will move in 3 inch "Clean" rock at the work entrance and out on the property as a hard surface for the construction vehicles and to clean dirt off prior to driving onto the roadway. We are required to have 75 feet of rock to clean dirt off. Keep the neighbors happy and so we don't get fined.
    M. On the bottom right of the drawing, is the Storm retention pond. Give you an idea of how much land you have to give up for drainage, if required.

    CB RR.pngCB RR day 1 d.pngCB rr day 1 a.png

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I love all of the dollar signs. It makes an emphatic statement. Very interesting to read.
    Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

    WA State


    • #3
      All $$$$ are relative to the project and the person. Lets just say ouch.

      Don't really know the mix of readers. Operators, owners, future owners, investors. Some will see this and say great. Others will see this and say, that is why we buy locations and don't build. Others will say, boy there are a lot of potential ouch's. Again, Start small and make your big mistakes early.

      Made decent headway today. Will send out day 3 pictures tomorrow and go over some discussion points, issues, and mid stream choices we need to decide upon.

      One dirt prep point to note at this stage. If you look at the pictures above, you will note grass and weeds. Normally you would do a clean scrape of the greass so that is not in your fill dirt. I made a calculated choice not to scrape. You can't tell it, but I used chemicals last year and burned all of the growth down. This spring everything was brown and little debris on the surface. This green you see is light growth.

      We also are building this site to a 1% slope. When you put fresh dirt on top of grassed dirt it does not necessarily seal together all of the time. If we had a greater slope, I would have disked the ground so the two dirt's would mesh better. The top dirt could slide off the grassed dirt if on a steep slope. I know the grass has very little thickness when pressed between two masses of dirt, but they don't seal very well.

      What you might notice years later is cracks in your building or pavement and wonder why. It could be due to lack of compaction or the above. Also don't use two types of dirt. We are in the freeze zone all winter. Different types of dirt freeze and expand differently. This will cause cracks in your building or concrete.

      Folks if you have any questions throw them out. Other people will have them or would like to know yours.


      • #4
        Think this is Day 3.

        The dirt excavator got a lot done. We met this morning and saw where we are at and adjusted plans from the Engineering plans. We have a lot of stumps and trees to move. Luckily we have a ditch and more acres we can push this on to. Have 8 acres, but only about 4 of them are usable since the rest goes up a very steep hill. Decided where we would put the stumps. The other option would be to haul offsite and this would be about $25,000. We are in city limits and they will not let you burn. These piles are at the back of the property and no one will see them.

        The engineering drawing files are loaded into the Bulldozers gps. At the very far side of the property we have issues with putting in two retaining walls to hold dirt and the edges of the last building being right on the existing dirt grade, requiring a lot more dirt. The bulldozer is within 3/10 inch accuracy to the survey and engineering drawings. So we drove around looking at the building sites. This saved a lot of time. I would have had to have the Surveyors come out, which would have taken 3 to 4 days. Stopping the excavation. Plus they would have charged an additional $3,000 to do a partial survey. Surveys cost more in the city.

        Retaining walls. Made two decisions.
        A. If you look at the drawing above on the left there are 13 10 x 20 units. We would have to cut into the hill at the top and also place a lot more dirt at the bottom of the building. I told them to do what they can with the site without cutting into the hill, but don't hold to the drawings. I will lose 2 to 4 of the units, but this will take out the need for the two retaining walls at $40,000 total. It would take us about 30 years to pay these off.

        These building will need to be moved forward about 10 feet since I don't want to move so much dirt. To keep all of the rows of buildings, we will narrow the aisles down from 25 feet to 20 feet on the last two aisles. Not quite as generous travel lanes, but this is not next to any of the longer buildings and long driveways. Once we get the site totally cleared, I may switch the last two building to one building and change the dimensions to 12 wide versus 10 wide; and 10 tall versus 8. This will help with the Sparefoot ranking for "Recommended" by having more sizes. Also these sizes are for a different client than most competitors can fit.

        B. Referencing the drawing again, in the upper left corner there is extra parking concrete. Parking on new concrete does not make money up here. We did away with about 1/2 of this space. This allows us not to have to cut into the hill above it and then have to put in a retaining wall. We will keep a 3 to 1 slope, which will be okay with the city. Just plant some grass.

        The first picture below shows the grade of the land. If we followed the plan, we would need to put a 12 foot high retaining wall. By giving up some buildings, we can keep the land at a 3 to 1 slope and just grass it and mow.

        The second picture shows us pushing a lot of the tree waste up the hill. Again, this and the ditch saved about $25,000 hauling it off. This is also the same spot where we had planned to have more parking area. By reducing the parking area, we don't have to cut into this hill pretty far, and then put a retaining wall in. Again, both of the actions save $40,000 of retaining wall. We lose about 30 x 100 ft of parking space. But this saves about $20,000 of concrete plus labor.

        In the second picture, if you look closely you will see Waves in the ground. The high spots are the buildings and the low spots are the roads. Again the bulldozer is within 3/10 inch accuracy to the drawings. They set the bulldozer and the blade raises and lowers to make the dirt the correct height. Normally you would think, you wanted a flat site. This saves the Road contractor having to come in and move a lot of dirt during construction. They will still need to trim the roadway out, but a lot less dirt. Again, we did not have to call the surveyor in, and have to wait on them to come and cost more.

        If you have questions just ask. If you have a different aspect you want me to cover, just ask. Again, if you asked me after the fact about building a site, I would not remember a lot of this.

        cb rr day 4 a.png

        cb rr day 4 b.png
        Attached Files


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