The possible reasons for needing self-storage units are many and varying, anything from moving home, divorce, the death of a loved one, or just that you have outgrown the space available in your home – because of this more and more people (over 230,000 people are using self storage – with an average rentable square footage of 0.42 per head of population in the UK *) are turning to self-store companies to help them find a solution.

However there are a few things to bear in mind when considering a self-store unit before you rent.

  • Location – How easy is it to get to the self-store for when you want your possessions? Can you get there easily on a regular basis to check it? Is it in a secure location?
  • Size – The bigger a unit, the more it costs, so it makes sense to get the smallest you need unless you are intending to add more items to it. You might find it helpful to list all the items you are planning to store and ask a member of staff for advice on the size unit you need, as it can be hard to judge. Keep the list to hand as it will also serve to remind you what you have in storage.
  • Access – It is worth checking the opening times, as they vary from company to company, some are 24hr, but others may close at certain times of the week or even have a charge for accessing the property outside of set times.
  • Conditions – If you are storing particularly delicate and/or valuable items which could be warped or damaged in spaces that are too hot/cold or humid – it might be worth enquiring if they have climate controlled units or are able to set one up for you. It might cost a little extra, but may be worth it in the long run.

Once you have found a unit to suit your needs there are yet more things you need to take into consideration to get the most out of your storage unit. A few helpful tips are outlined below.

  • Before signing the lease, make sure you read it carefully and are completely aware of the procedures that need to be followed for paying the rent or leaving the unit. As well as company policies about what can and can’t be stored in your unit.
  • Make sure you have insurance to cover the replacement of the items you are storing in the event of something happening. Most companies insist on this before you can sign the contract and many offer insurance themselves for an extra cost. As well as making sure you have ample insurance you can also add security by choosing a heavy-duty lock for the door and packing the more valuable items at the back of your unit where they will be less accessible.
  • Check the list you made to aid in choosing the size of unit needed for the items you are storing to ensure that you have the correct amount and type of packing materials that are needed.
  • When storing furniture, save space by “breaking down” anything that can be removed, label the parts for ease of rebuilding at a later date. Store tables and any shelving that can’t be put to use in the unit on their “thin” edges, sofas (not sofa-beds though), beds and mattresses should also be stored on end if there is the height to allow this but remember to make sure that they are propped up and can’t later fold or fall. Make sure all furniture is protected with dustsheets and legs of chairs and tables are wrapped to prevent scratches.
  • Ovens, fridges, freezers, washing machines and other household appliances should be thoroughly cleaned and dried and drained prior to storing. Where possible leave the doors open to prevent mould and mildew and remember that fridges and freezers make excellent storage places for soft furnishing or fragile items (as do chests of drawers and other cupboard spaces).
  • If you wish to store metal objects, it might be worth treating them with either a rust treatment or simply wiping an oily rag over them to help prevent rust forming. Same goes with any garden tools, make sure they are clean, dry and wiped over with an oily rag to protect them. Remember to empty any fuel out of the lawn mower.
  • Try and keep the boxes you use a uniform size as this helps when you are packing and stacking them – also make sure they are a good strong cardboard. Label them on more then one side so that you can see easily no matter how they are packed what is in them. When packing boxes make sure they are completely filled and packed tightly, even if this means filling them with newspaper or rags as boxes that aren’t filled to the top are more likely to collapse and sink, damaging the items inside them. If you are storing a lot of boxes, stack them as close to the ceiling of the unit as you can safely do so, as this will maximise your space – if the majority of the things you are storing are in boxes you may want to consider using some shelving units to help organise them. Seal the boxes completely with tape to stop dust gathering in them. Be sure to leave gaps between them for ventilation. It is also advisable to leave a central walkway to allow you access to the boxes at the back.
  • When packing some items, take a moment to think how you are packing them, books should be packed flat to protect the spines when boxes are stacked, mirrors and paintings should be wrapped in bubble wrap or packed in specialist boxes and stored standing (if you store them flat they are highly likely to crack and break). If you are not using specialist crockery boxes remember that plates that are stacked up can be heavy which could cause the bottom ones can break; so instead, wrap them well in paper or in bubble wrap and then stand them on their edges in the box.
  • When storing clothes, bed linen or soft toys, try to avoid wrapping them in plastic or plastic bags as the plastic will trap any moisture in them and could cause mildew or mould.
  • Most self-store places have a strict rule regarding the storage of anything flammable or combustible in your unit and they will not allow petrol or diesel, oil, cleaning fluids or paint thinner to list just a few. If you’re storing any machinery that runs on any of these make sure you drain the tank before you store it.
  • Lastly, it may sound like common sense but leave anything you may need repeatedly near the doors to save you having to rearrange everything simply to reach it.

With the ever-increasing need for space as the population continues to grow whether you are looking for storage in Peterborough, Aberdeen, Cardiff or London you are bound to find a reputable company who can suit your needs with ease either by word of mouth, online or going through your local business directory. Once you have decided what you need, don’t be shy about shopping around to find the best deal you can in this highly competitive area.

*Figure taken from the Self Storage Association website