A Beginner’s Guide to Self Storage

by Mark Simpson

Storage units in Nuneaton

If you don’t know much about self storage, then don’t worry because you’re not alone! A recent survey conducted by the UK Self Storage Association revealed that over half of all those questioned had limited or no knowledge of self storage.

But the popularity of self storage is growing quickly as more and more people are using the service. Unsurprisingly, there is now more than 37 million square feet of self storage in the UK across over 1,000 sites.

Users of both household self storage and business self storage are realising that there are many benefits to be gained, whether that’s freeing up space at home as an interim measure between a house move or refurbishment, or providing valuable storage space for those who don’t have a garage, a loft, or perhaps a garden shed. For business storage, it could be for storing stock, work equipment, document archive storage, and so on.

With this in mind, Extra Room Self Storage has produced ‘A Beginners Guide to Self Storage’. We hope this provides a useful insight into the world of self storage and how it can help your home or business.

What is Self Storage?

In brief terms, it is the rental of storage space (usually secure self-store rooms) at purpose-built facilities for you to store your personal possessions or business goods on either a short or long-term basis. Most service providers offer self storage rooms in a wide variety of sizes so you only pay for the space that you need.

During the period of the rental, that self storage room becomes exclusively yours. You have your own key and are free to access it as and when you like during self storage opening hours – most service providers are open seven days a week.

You pack and transport your goods, unload them, and fill your room as you wish. It is worth noting that many self storage businesses offer a range of supporting services to assist the process, usually as optional extras. This may include packing materials, removals, van hire, and shelving for use in the self storage rooms.

Choosing the Right Size

Over-estimating the amount of space you need is a really easy mistake to make. It’s also costly if you get it wrong, as you’ll be paying for space you don’t need. This is where the art of packing comes in! If you pack the things you need to store well, then the chances are you will need less space than you initially think.

All good storage companies will be able to offer advice on how best to pack your belongings into your unit. The secret is to think upwards and make the most of the height of the storage room.

You can click on the following web link for a simple online tool to help estimate the space you need: Online Storage Space Estimator. However, whilst online tools are helpful, there’s no substitute to visiting the store or getting on the phone to an experienced member of staff. The other point is, it’s not the end of the world if you do over or under-estimate.

Most stores give you the flexibility to downsize or upsize as needed, but the more the space you have, the more it will cost you. Once you’ve decided on the room you want and the date you want it available for, it is then advisable to reserve your unit so it is ready and available when you are.

What to Expect from Professional Self Storage

First and foremost, high all-round standards of security, cleanliness, customer service, and general management are essential.

It is advisable to choose a self storage business that is a member of the Self Storage Association (SSA). The SSA promotes best practice and members must meet a European Standard which covers security and customer protection (EN 15696).

Always pay attention to customer references and testimonials, as they are the people who have experienced the service first-hand.

Good self storage companies will have all the equipment on hand to make unloading and loading and moving your possessions into and out of store an easy task. They should also be able to assist with transportation if required.

Corridors should be well lit, rooms should be secure (lockable), immaculately clean, and humidity controlled. Reputable service providers will have their facility under 24/7 CCTV surveillance and have alarms in place linked directly to the emergency services.

Customer access is often important too. If required, you should be able to enjoy free access seven days a week so you are free to come and go as you like.

How Far Are You Prepared to Travel to Self Storage Facilities?

When choosing a self storage service, give some consideration to the location in terms of travelling distance. Most people choose a facility quite close to their home or business, especially if they need to gain regular access to their possessions.

That said, if you do not need regular access to your things it can be worth travelling a little further to get a higher quality of service. Out of town/city stores can also often be cheaper and tend to have more space around them, making unloading and parking easier.

What You Can and Cannot Store

You can store most things but there are some restrictions to note. Different service providers have different rules, but all reputable self storage companies will prohibit the storage of highly flammable liquids and explosives (that also means draining the fuel from any machinery or equipment such as lawn mowers), decomposable items such as foodstuffs, and illegal goods of any description. Living items such as plants or animals are also excluded.

Business Services

A huge variety of businesses, large and small, use self storage. In addition to storage, some self storage companies also offer a range of helpful services for business. These might include acceptance of courier deliveries even if you’re not there, shelving for your storage unit, and many also offer forklift services and photocopying.

The Rental Period/Notice Periods

Most services are very flexible, allowing you to store for as long or as short as you need too. Many providers operate a minimum charge system, however, so this can be worth checking if you need storage for a month or less.

Check the small-print about notice periods too. To vacate your storage room, most operators will require a notice period which can be anything from a week to a month. A long notice period could mean that whilst you can move your things out of storage when you want to, you would still have to pay for storage time that you are not actually using.


Work out the value of goods you are about to place into storage and make sure you have the appropriate insurance cover. Speak to your service provider if you need advice on this, as they may be able to help or arrange insurance cover for you.

Take Time to Pack Well

The way you pack and the materials you use for packing are both important considerations. Different items need to be packed in different ways, and it is worth spending time to get it right to offer the best protection for your goods in store, while also helping you to be space-efficient.

Ask your self storage service provider about the packing materials they can supply. If you would like advice about packing, click on the following link for a guide to wrapping and packing your things for self storage.

Transport to Storage

Then you need to be able to transport your possessions into storage. You can make as many trips as you like when moving things into self storage because access is free of charge. Alternatively, all good self storage companies will be able to help with van hire or a full removal service.

Unloading and Moving Your Goods into Your Self Storage Room

Once you’ve arrived at the self storage facility, you may have the option to unload in a covered bay, which is especially useful for those rainy days. Most self storage companies will have equipment to help you unload such as trolleys, pallet trucks, and even forklifts.

The way you arrange your room is up to you but remember you won’t be able to add any permanent fittings. Most self storage companies can provide temporary racks, shelves, and rails if needed so it’s worth seeing what’s available.

Stack heavier items at the bottom and lighter items on top. Storage rooms are tall so stack as high as you are comfortable with to make the most of the space available. Remember not to put yourself or your goods in danger though!

Certain goods, such as sofas, for example, are better stacked on their ends to utilise the floor space more efficiently. If you can, have a plan for packing your room and that way you won’t bury items that you need more regularly. Being good at Tetris will help!

At Extra Room Self Storage we have experienced, friendly staff on hand that will be able to give you loads of advice on packing your things safely and efficiently into your storage room. You can also read our helpful guide on making the most of your self storage space.

Congratulations, You’re In!

With your goods securely in store, you can then enjoy free access to your things and peace of mind that your belongings are safe and secure. You can place additional items into storage, move items out of storage, or even change to a smaller or larger self-store room if your needs change.

We’re Here to Help

We hope you have found some of the pointers above useful. Our dedicated storage team have decades of experience between them. If you have any questions and are looking for self storage in Tamworth, Nuneaton, Hinckley or surrounding areas please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be delighted to help.

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