Are you one of those people who is always hopping from project to project? Do you daydream about having your own persona workshop, full of all the tools and workspace you could want? Chances are, you don’t have that kind of space at home. Maybe you don’t even have a garage or shed. But you may have considered using a storage unit as your workshop. Here are some legalities and practicalities that may cause an issue if you are planning to turn a storage unit into a garage workshop.
Hazards of Storage Units
Most people live by “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” and “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” when trying to get around legal obstacles such as leases and clauses. Unfortunately in this case it could hurt you, as units are typically not designed to handle the disasters that could come along with a workshop.
Fire and inhalation are huge hazards that come with working out of a storage unit. Units are typically not fireproof, and although climate-controlled units have extra features, the outdoor units likely to be used for shop work provide little ventilation for large power tools, dust, or exhaust from a generator. On top of that, very few storage facilities have doors that open from the inside. Some even latch automatically when the door is lowered. Being trapped inside with no way out is a real concern.
Most storage facility leases specifically state that you cannot run a business out of a unit, or run powered equipment within the unit. The main reason for this is insurance. Facilities either do not have the level of coverage needed to operate a business or their insurance company specifically states they will not cover disasters caused from certain usages.
Double check if your usage would be allowed by your lease to prevent the loss of everything inside your workshop. Typically, if a facility can argue that you’re living there or improperly using the unit, they can seize your unit and everything inside. On the flip side, if you’re using the unit in an approved manner, the facility may be able to offer very attractive insurance in case of damage or theft.
Turning a Storage Unit into Usable Space
There are storage facilities out there than specialize in letting small businesses and hobbyists rent their units. They are more expensive than a typical unit, but provide the kind of comforts and amenities you are likely to need on the premises.
In order to set up a workshop in a typical unit, you need to bring and install tables, desks, storage cupboards, and anything else that would go along with your particular hobby. Most units frown upon securing these items to the floor, so ask first if you intend to. Battery powered lights and solar charger packs may help when there are no outlets available, and a camp toilet will help if there are no restroom facilities available.
A lot of facilities do not have electricity run to their units, and those that do may not have the capacity to run power tools or electronics. If you plan to use powered equipment in your storage unit workshop, call around to different facilities first to see if any allow that.
In short, storage unit workshops would be best suited for those using hand tools, or even for storage while you bring your project home to work on. While you can legally run a functioning workshop out of a storage unit, its usefulness is limited to storage and light duty work. Have fun with your projects!