Can You Use Self Storage as a Workshop?

The answer to whether you can use self storage as a workshop is both YES and NO. Self storage facilities should be used as temporary storage, not as a workshop. Most centers prohibit drop-offs of large, expensive tools and materials. However, if your facility does allow this type of storage, there are a few rules to keep in mind

With the price of real estate soaring worldwide, many people are finding it harder to make space for some of the things they want to do, such as storing their belongings or running a business. Therefore, the number of individuals who are turning to self-storage units to make up for the lack of space is also on the rise.

Of the many uses of self-storage units, one that is genuinely questionable and misunderstood is using a self-storage unit as a workshop. While many people would love to turn their self-storage units into workshops, they are not sure whether it is legal or illegal.

So, can you use self-storage as a workshop? The simple answer is “yes,” but it will largely depend on what you want to do in the workshop. Most renters prohibit using and storing any flammable gases or liquids such as gasoline inside self-storage units. This restriction may limit what you can do if you use your rented self-storage unit as a workshop. For instance, you cannot use it as a garage but can comfortably use it as a craftsman workshop or a painter’s workshop.

This blog post covers everything you need to know about turning your self-storage unit into a workshop. So, let us get started.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Self-Storage Unit as a Workshop?

Before we dive deep into our discussion, let us highlight some of the benefits you may enjoy once you turn your self-storage unit into a workshop.

One of the most significant benefits you will enjoy is having your own workspace away from home. It means that you don’t have to partition your garage or start rearranging your house to create more space for your workshop.

Furthermore, you will enjoy total flexibility since you can rent a unit for as little as one week if you wish. Most self-storage unit renters offer short-term contracts, and you are free to clear out your unit any time you wish.

A group of person having a meeting.
One of the most significant benefits you will enjoy is having your own workspace away from home.

So, if you have a project that you want to complete over a relatively short period and want a good space that allows you to focus maximally on your project, you will be better off renting a self-storage unit.

What Do You Need to Consider Before Turning Your Self-Storage Unit into a Workshop?

As mentioned above, you can use a self-storage unit as a workshop.  However, there are several things you need to consider before doing so. Here are some of the top considerations you need to make.

1. Understand Your Workshop Needs

The answer to whether you can use a self-storage unit as a workshop or not largely depends on what you are going to work on in the workshop.

For instance, many self-storage renters explicitly prohibit the use of highly flammable liquids such as gasoline on their premises as a way of protecting the other clients.

Therefore, if you are planning on opening a motor vehicle workshop of any kind, you need to keep in mind that you will not be allowed to keep gasoline or any other highly flammable liquids in the self-storage unit.

A person typing on his laptop.
Understand your workshop needs to determine whether it would be allowed to use self-storage for that purpose.

Furthermore, if you are planning to do wielding or using the self-storage unit for anything under pressure, performing such tasks in a highly confined area such as a self-storage unit won’t be the best idea.

For such tasks, you need plenty of open space that will provide you with enough room to maneuver around and do whatever you want to do.

2. Understand the Lease

Research shows that approximately 20% of self-storage unit renters use their storage spaces as workshops.

However, before you start engaging in any activities beyond the storage of items, it is critical that you carefully review the terms of your lease and even talk to the storage unit owner about your plans.

In most cases, the storage rental facility will have a comprehensive list of activities not allowed inside the self-storage unit. Sometimes, there will be laws put in place by the local municipalities to dictate what you can and cannot do within the self-storage unit.

In fact, it is pretty common to come across state or local laws prohibiting the storage of gasoline, petroleum, or any other thing that can be corrosive or dangerous inside a self-storage unit.

In addition to the local laws enacted, the storage unit owner may add further limitations to what can and can’t be stored inside the units. Therefore, it is highly recommended you take time to speak to the facility manager if you intend to turn your self-storage unit into a workshop.

3. Assess All the Potential Problems

Besides the local laws, lease, and the property manager’s limitations, you also need to assess potential problems you may encounter if you decide to turn your self-storage unit into a workshop.

Below are some of the limitations of using a self-storage unit as a workshop:

1. Lack of sufficient space

Even if you find a nice self-storage unit with flexible rules allowing you to use it as a workshop, there is still a good chance that the space won’t be enough. Furthermore, it may become cost-prohibitive over the long term.

For instance, in some large cities across the world, it is relatively hard to find a self-storage unit measuring 10feet by 10feet (100 square feet) that is available for rent.

A storage unit facility.
Self-storage units are not always large enough to be used for workshops.

Most of the self-storage units available for rent are smaller than that and will quickly fill up once you start laying your tools and bring in other stuff you need to make the workshop operational.

The average cost per foot tends to vary widely across the world. Some units go for as low as $0.50 per foot, while others go for as high as $5 per foot.

2. Lack of power

Most people don’t know that many self-storage units don’t have power supplied to the units. While there may be a lot of plugs in the hallway or outside the unit, there may be none inside the unit itself. This may present a significant issue because you need the power to operate your workshop.

It is highly unlikely the facility manager will allow you to run power extension cords to your unit to operate your workshop tools. If you already have a power outlet inside your unit, it is critical not to overload it with power tools because it could lead to significant problems.

A minor case of an overloaded power circuit could lead to an electrical fire. Before you start operating any power tools using the existing power outlets, make sure you consult an experienced technician who will help you determine if it is appropriate to use the existing power outlet.

3. Low Wi-Fi connectivity

What are self-storage units made of?  This is one of the critical questions you need to answer if you plan to convert your unit into a workshop and install Wi-Fi.

Typically, these units are made of concrete floors, metal walls, and metal roofs which can disrupt a Wi-Fi signal pretty easily. Therefore, before you turn your unit into a workshop, you need to figure out how to keep the Wi-Fi signal strong to avoid disrupting your work.

A Wi-Fi Logo display on a phone.
As storage units are made of concrete floors and metal walls, you may not always have stable Wi-Fi connection.

4. Lack of proper ventilation

You should also keep in mind ventilation needs before you turn your self-storage unit into a workshop. If you are going to use your workshop to cut wood or paint or do anything that produces toxic fumes, it could potentially be harmful to your own health.

In such a case, it could be good if you could potentially work in an open environment or a room with enough windows and doors so that you can keep them open when working on your various projects.

5. Dust collection

The sad news is that you will not win any “tenant of the month” awards when you decide to turn your self-storage unit into a workshop. Generally, you will be working on a wide range of tasks that can even get your lease canceled.

So, if you don’t have any dust collection mechanism in place, you may be in for a rough ride.  The tiny wood dust particles that are not visible to your eye can be the most dangerous. So, it is important to install an air filtration system if you are allowed to turn your unit into a workshop. 

6. Lack of climate control

The truth is that most self-storage units are not climate controlled and can be extremely cold during the winter months and extremely hot during summer. This may force you to adjust your working hours if you want to use the workshop during the two seasons.

A thermostat.
If the storage unit does not offer climate control, it may be either too hot or too cold to feel comfy.

Final Thought

While some states and self-storage unit renters don’t allow their clients to use the self-storage unit as workshops, you can still find one that you can easily turn into a good workshop. 

The most critical thing you need to do is evaluate your workshop needs and determine whether you can work comfortably inside a self-storage unit.

So, if you are planning to rent a self-storage unit and use it as a workshop, be sure to read your local laws and figure out whether it is legal or illegal.

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