There are lots of reasons why you might be considering self storage. Maybe you simply need more space and want to use a storage unit like a spare room. You could be attempting a declutter in a bid to help sell your house. It might be an essential short-term option as you move home. Or perhaps you’re planning on travelling and need to store your stuff for a few months. Whatever your reason, self-storage is becoming big business, so there’s no shortage of places to look. We’ve compiled this guide to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know. From storage options to essential self-storage insurance information, this is your complete resource on everything you need to know.
To make life easier, we’ve divided our complete guide to self-storage into four sections:
- Choosing your storage solution
- Getting your items ready for storage
- Storage insurance
Choosing your storage solution
There are over 1000 storage facilities to choose from across the UK, so how do you find the right one for you? Whether you’re a business, student or looking for general domestic storage, make sure that you find a facility that meets your specific needs.
1) Types of storage
First of all, you need to consider that there are four main types of self-storage facility:
- Warehouse storage is a large warehouse style facility divided up into individual units or rooms. They may be housed in older buildings or purpose built facilities and they may provided extra facilities, such as temperature control. You can normally choose from a good range of unit sizes, so you can find one that suits you.
- Container storage consists of metal shipping containers. They may be housed on site or you could arrange for one to be delivered to your property. It can be cheaper than warehouse storage, but is more prone to damp. The largest can give you around 160 square feet of space or they may be divided into smaller areas.
- Lock-up garages can be a cost-effective choice if you don’t need lots of space. They are often found in residential areas but security is more limited than warehouse or container storage options.
Most self-storage facilities can meet a range of specific needs
- Student storage is designed for students who are regularly moving home. It offers short-term space for your belongings during times when you need to vacate your digs, such as the summer holidays.
- Business storage can be short- or long-term. It might be to store equipment that you don’t need regularly or for stock that you will need to access almost daily.
- Domestic storage can also be short- or long-term. Short-term is ideal if you’re looking to de-clutter your home to sell it, or to tide you over during a house move. Longer-term options are available if you simply want to free up space in your home but don’t want to get rid of items
- Some storage facilities offer specialist storage conditions for classic cars. Providing high security and the correct humidity conditions, this is a popular option if you don’t have the space or facilities at home.
- High value items like jewellery shouldn’t be stored in standard storage units. Pay for a vault or safe deposit box in a bank or specialist unit.
2) Next, decide if you need regular access
If you need regular access to your storage facility make sure this is available to you. For instance, some facilities may require you to make an appointment to access your unit while others may allow 24-hour access with no notice.
3) Finding the best storage facility
Of course once you’ve decided what you need, it’s time to select your location. You could try:
Big Yellow offers storage rooms from 10 sq ft to 400sq ft in 92 locations across the UK. Also has larger warehouse space available.
SafeStore has 104 storage locations across the UK and offer a low price guarantee, promising to beat any comparable quote by 10%.
The UK Storage Company provides business and domestic storage across the South West.
Lovespace will collect your items from any UK address for free and return it to your UK address of choice (not just the address it was collected from).
Shurgard operates numerous locations around the London and Greater London area.
Specialist storage facilities:
Specialist jewellery storage: Most high-street banks have stopped offering safe deposit boxes to their customers, although Lloyds Bank has re-introduced safe boxes for customers in 15 of their city-based branches. You could also try Metrosafe, Harrods Safe Deposit or Cardiff Safe Deposit
4) Find self-storage at the best price
Then, to make sure you’re getting the best price, try using a storage comparison site.
If you’re a student, ask for discounts. Companies, including Big Yellow and Safestore, often offer money off for NUS cardholders.
5) Size matters
The cost of storage is based on size. Look for a facility that offers a range of storage unit sizes so you don’t pay for space you don’t need. Then, use this handy online storage size calculator from Shurgard to work out just how much space you need to rent.
Thinking about the way you organise your unit could help you make more efficient use of your space, and you could be surprised to discover how much area you could save. Dismantling furniture and storing it ‘flat-packed’ can also help you to reduce the space it takes up. And don’t forget you can also use gaps inside large items of furniture to maximise your storage space, such as placing packed boxes inside a wardrobe.
Whilst it’s a good idea to keep the size of your unit to a minimum to reduce rental costs, don’t be tempted to underestimate or over pack your unit. You should ensure there’s enough space in your unit for easy access. And try not to stack too many items on top of each other as that can end up damaging items at the bottom of the stack.
Getting your items ready for storage
Once you’ve booked your storage, it’s time to get everything ready to be stored. A little bit of planning and organisation at this stage goes a long way towards keeping your items safer.
- First of all, think about how you will pack items, thus minimising potential damage.
- If the bottom of a box you are using to store goods falls out, so will the contents. Use strong boxes designed for storage to keep items safer. And keep cardboard boxes off the floor to reduce the chance of them getting damp and disintegrating, which could result in the bottom falling out next time you use them. Ask your storage facility for boxes or buy them here.
- Use only one or two different sizes of boxes to make stacking them easier and safer.
- Only stack boxes if you’re sure they are strong enough to take the weight of items placed on top.
- If you’re stacking boxes, take the time to do it carefully to make sure they don’t topple and fall.
- If you need to get to your stored items regularly, make sure you keep them in an accessible place. That will save you from rooting through other items each time you need to get them, which could increase the risk of damage to other goods.
2) Protect from dust, damp and mildew
Unless you’re renting a climate controlled unit, damp and mildew could cause substantial damage to your stored items. When you come to unpack, you could find items ruined unless you take preventative action.
- Consider if the items in storage could be susceptible to temperature changes. If they are, don’t store them in the unit unless you’re confident it is a humidity controlled space.
- Don’t wrap items in plastic or pack items too closely as that can result in the formation of mildew. Plastic sheeting can be used over the top of items to protect them from dust, but make sure that air can circulate freely around objects.
- Invest in some dehumidifying crystals like these, to help pull moisture from the air.
- Try not to put anything into the unit that is already damp as that will increase the amount of moisture in the air.
- Use packing tape to seal boxes to help protect contents from dust.
- If you are storing fabrics, such as clothes, curtains or soft furnishings, use mothballs to help protect against moth damage. Cedar and lavender can also be useful to provide natural protection from these damaging insects. Buy natural and chemical moth killer
3) Storing antiques and heirlooms
All furniture needs to be handled with care, but antiques or family heirlooms need specialist attention.
- Cover antique furniture with protective wrap, which is designed to help safeguard these precious pieces from scratches.
- If you’re packing up china, make sure you use an extra heavy duty box.
- Wrap each piece individually with packing paper.
- Store delicate items like plates vertically. That means the weight of pieces on top does not result in the items at the bottom becoming cracked or damaged.
4) Know what’s in there
Knowing exactly what’s in your storage unit makes it much easier to find items and can be invaluable if you do need to make an insurance claim.
- Label boxes clearly on the outside so you know what is where. Sharpies are quick and easy to use, making them ideal for this task
- If a box contains something fragile, mark it on the outside so you’ll know to take extra care with it.
- Make a written inventory of everything you have stored.
- Take photos as proof of contents and keep receipts that demonstrate the value of goods.
- Don’t store the receipts or the photos in the storage unit with the items, because if there is a fire or flood and these documents are lost you won’t be able to rely on these as evidence.
Security is always a concern for anyone using self-storage because it is remote. After all, you want to go back and find your items just as you left them. Unfortunately, security can’t always be guaranteed. A BBC Watchdog investigation examined security at one storage facility and found it lacking. So, always check that the security measures that your storage depot provides are actually being implemented.
- Storage facilities that are members of theSelf Storage Association UK should have CCTV on all entry points as a minimum level of protection against theft. If the location you are considering doesn’t offer this basic level of protection you might want to look for alternatives.
- Some units may also offer additional security such as number plate recognition and individually alarmed units.
- There are also things you can do for yourself to increase security, like investing in an additional padlock, which can help to deter would-be thieves. As well as an extra line of defence, this also guarantees that you’ll have sole access to contents of your unit.
From theft to flooding, your possessions are not guaranteed to be safe whilst they’re in storage. Taking out self-storage insurance will protect you financially if the worst does happen. Follow our tips to get the right cover at the best price.
1) First, check what your home contents insurance policy or business insurance covers
In some cases, your home contents insurance will already cover you for items in storage facilities, therefore you don’t need extra insurance. BUT, don’t just assume you’re already covered, because most home policies do exclude items in storage. And if items in storage are included, you could find there are limits set, which as a result will leave you in a tricky situation if you do need to make a claim.
The same goes for business insurance. It’s fairly unlikely that it will cover items stored away from your premises, however, it’s always worth a quick call to check first.
Speak to your insurance broker to find out what is covered and ideally make sure it is confirmed in writing. It’s not worth taking chances.
2) Don’t just opt for the insurance offered by your storage facility
Your storage cost may include insurance, or it might offer you insurance at an extra cost. However, you should always thoroughly check what is being offered by reading all the small print. If you don’t you could be in for a nasty shock if you come to make a claim. Ask questions like:
- Is there a limit to value covered?
- Are there any exceptions to what can be claimed?
- Will it cover items for a stated replacement value?
Another thing to consider is the cost of the insurance being offered, as it might not be the best value for money.
3) Next, shop around for your self-storage insurance
Like all insurance, the costs for self-storage insurance can vary greatly between providers. To be sure that you are getting the best value deal, you’ll need to contact as many insurance companies as possible. Alternatively, get a specialist independent broker, like Park Insurance, to do the ringing around for you.
Bear in mind these key questions when you’re getting quotes for storage insurance:
- Policy length. If you’re using storage temporarily between moving house it’s handy to find a short-term policy. Policies usually start from one-month. Also look for flexible cover that will let you extend your policy in case you don’t move as swiftly as you’d expected.
- Agreed value. If you’re storing antiques or collectables make sure your insurance company has agreed on the value or you could find yourself out of pocket.
- Make sure you thoroughly run through the value of the items you are storing. Tot up the replacement costs for everything and you may be surprised by how much it comes to. If you under insure, you’ll be out of pocket of you do need to make a claim. And look for a policy that can be tailored to your specific needs. That way you won’t pay for cover you don’t need but will have the cover level you require.
- In-transit cover. If you’re moving items to and from your storage facility it may be worth adding in-transit cover to your policy.
Be confident in your cover
At Park Insurance, we provide comprehensive self-storage insurance, which will cover you against most eventualities. This includes cover for:
- The theft of your possessions from your self-storage unit.
- The loss of your items due to fire.
- Destruction or damage of stored items as a result of fire, flood, and other incidents.
You might also want to consider taking out insurance to protect from damage caused by vermin like rats or mice or from damp and mildew.
Getting the best price on your storage insurance
We are independent insurance brokers with 30 years experience helping our customers to find great value prices on insurance you can rely on. We’ll scour the market looking for the best price. And because our specialist storage insurance team understand the business, they’ll make sure that nothing gets left out of your cover that could leave you with a nasty shock if you do need to make a claim.