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Tips for Budgeting and Planning Climate-Controlled Storage Unit Development

forge building company planning for climate controlled storage

As the self storage market continues to grow, climate-controlled self storage is becoming increasingly popular as customers look for facilities with units that can store and preserve their valuable and sentimental items by controlling temperature and humidity. Climate-controlled self storage can benefit self storage owners in numerous ways – mainly by bringing in more income while differentiating the facility from its competitors. There are several considerations for building and/or converting climate-controlled storage units that we’ll look at in this blog.

The budget for climate-controlled self storage units should include all the costs associated with building and opening a facility. This includes materials, labor, permits and licenses, taxes, insurance, and equipment installation such as HVAC systems, flooring, elevators, and lighting fixtures. In addition to these hard costs, there are also soft costs that need to be taken into consideration such as design fees and marketing expenses.

Once you have factored in all the various cost elements associated with a climate-controlled self storage unit construction project, you can add up all the individual line items to get a total estimated cost for your project.


Before building or converting to climate-controlled storage, here are some things you should consider 1.

Design. Both single- and multi-story building designs are equally suitable for climate control. While a one-story facility only has one air conditioning output level to consider, in a two-story site, you may require greater A/C output on the second level since it will gain heat from the roof. This is why it is key to work with a knowledgeable contractor (such as Forge Building Company) who understands A/C loads.

Demand.  Before investing in climate-controlled self storage, it is best to complete a market feasibility study of your location. This will enable you to analyze the competition, consumer/business mix, and income levels.

Areas with higher income levels usually mean that customers are more likely to spend additional money on a climate-controlled storage unit. Locations in business areas will attract a strong storage demand for items such as records, furniture, fixtures, and inventory. At the same time, locations close to highly traveled roads are also valuable to salespeople who may need to store items such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, vending supplies, and semi-perishables. Finally, long-term tenants may store their belongings across multiple seasons. These individuals understand that the temperatures can vary widely and go to extremes.

forge building company insulation climate controlCost. There are different factors that affect the cost to build a climate-controlled self storage facility including the size, number of storage units, and complexity of your project. When costing out a climate-controlled build, you will need to factor in the cost of the HVAC mechanical system and extra insulation your facility will require. A study by Storelocal Storage Coop suggests that you can expect to pay about $60-70 per square foot to build a non-climate controlled self storage facility (multi-story self storage units typically cost $70-95 per square foot. When costing out a climate controlled self storage unit build, a good rule of thumb is to add 15% to each square foot or to the total cost.

The cost for either type of facility can vary based on other factors as well – the cost of steel and your location. Costs tend to be higher in a major metropolitan area than in a small community. It is also key to remember that monthly utility costs will be greater for climate-controlled storage units. However, these costs will go down as capacity increases.

In a study by Statista Research Department, renting a climate-controlled self-storage unit in the U.S. was on average $10 more expensive than a non-climate-controlled unit in 2024. In April, the average rent for a climate-controlled unit was $149. Renting the smallest unit costs on average $53 2.

forge building company climate control insulationInsulation. The majority of self storage exterior walls contain long rows of metal doors. These doors are not air-tight, which can be a challenge with heating or cooling. That is why it is key to work with a self storage builder (such as Forge Building Company) that will design your climate control units with fully insulated interior walls and roofing.

Typically, R 19 fiberglass is recommended for walls and R 38 for the roof. The facility’s heat loss and gain must be determined by the HVAC contractor who will calculate insulation values, ceiling heights, cubic area, type of construction, amount of lighting, exterior doors, number of windows, and the air infiltration from outside. It is key to work with a contractor that also understands commercial insulation requirements imposed by the International Energy Conservation Council (IECC) which are designed to preserve energy.

Temperature. Climate control units typically maintain a temperature below 85 degrees in the summer and above 55 degrees in the winter, with humidity below 65% to stop mold or mildew.

forge building company hvac systemHVAC Systems. When it comes to selecting your HVAC system, it is key that you and your contractor research the costs and efficiencies of various heating and cooling units to determine which one is best for your facility. You will also want to identify HVAC systems that have a separate humidistat for reducing humidity.

For other design considerations, see our blog: Is Climate-Controlled Self Storage Worth the Investment?

Benefits of Climate-Controlled Self Storage

There are a number of benefits to building climate-controlled self storage. These include:

  • New customers. Offering climate-controlled units can bring in a more diverse range of tenants. It can also be a draw for those concerned about protecting their belongings from the elements.
  • Competitive Advantage.  Offering climate-controlled units in an area where your competitors don’t attracts those customers who value A/C, heating, and humidity control in order to keep their belongings in pristine condition. These tenants will likely become long-term customers.
  • Extra Revenue. Climate control units can bring in, on average, 25% more revenue than those without the amenity. In addition, depending on the demand in your area, you can work to specialize in specific climate-controlled storage options such as wine storage, art storage, or even record-keeping storage.

A Final Word

Climate-controlled self storage continues to be sought after by both customers and developers. While the cost to build is more expensive, they can be a great asset for self storage owners providing additional revenue and a competitive advantage to attract new tenants.

The best way to get started with this type of build is to partner with a highly-qualified self storage builder, like Forge Building Company, so you can rest assured that your facility will be built according to all applicable regulations. Partnering with the Forge team will get you the right preparation and execution so that your climate-controlled self storage facility can be constructed and open for business in no time.

For samples of climate-controlled self storage facilities the Forge team has built, see:


1. (2023, January 27). Retrieved from

2. Statista. (2024, June 7). Retrieved from

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