Why self-storage is essential when moving or decluttering
A safe, reliable storage facility can be a lifesaver in a range of scenarios
If you’re packing up a house, consider a professional packer. File photograph: Getty Images
For anyone moving house, getting construction work done, leaving the country for a while or even making some space for guests , a good self-storage option is essential.
Self-storage companies offer secure warehouses in industrial estates, typically close to a motorway. Though they vary in style and fit-out, each has units of all shapes and sizes, from a personal locker to a space big enough to hold the contents of a five-bedroom home.
You don’t even have to be on the move. Self-storage is also viewed by homeowners as a handy way to store unused but still wanted furniture, as well as seasonal items such as gardenware you don’t want to leave out all winter.
The units can be rented by the week or month for as long as you like. Though some use smart keypads, with most you bring your own lock, and, unless you’ve agreed otherwise, you will be the only person with access to your storage space.
You can come and go at the space during normal working hours, or outside of them by arrangement. U Store It, which has facilities on Dublin’s north and south sides, as well as in Cork, Waterford and Belfast, allows 24/7 access.
Check with your home and contents insurer to see if your cover extends to goods in secure storage. If not, most storage space providers can provide insurance cover for you. Some providers won’t let you in without proof of insurance. Others leave it up to you but won’t take liability in the event of damage or theft.
Assess the level and type of security on offer. This should include not just the hardware the service has in place – such as CCTV or alarms – but the systems in relation to visitors. Most will require photo ID and proof of address before you gain access to your storage facility.
The Irish Self Storage Association (ISSA) is the industry’s main trade body and its website is a good place to start if you’re trying to find a provider near you.
According to data from Storage World, an ISSA member with units in Dublin and Limerick, about 13 per cent of self-storage renters booking a unit say they plan to rent for less than three months, with 30 per cent wanting a space for more than two years.
Nesta, another provider, has locations across Dublin, in Santry, Deansgrange, Kylemore and Sandyford, with trolleys, pallet trucks, moving carts and even forklift hire on hand, as well as a moving-van rental service.
A temperature-controlled environment is vital. For example, Barons Self Storage in Galway city, which has more than 1,000 steel storage rooms – from 0.9sq m (10sq ft) to 372sq m (4,000sq ft) – is fully heated, meaning your leather sofa won’t get mouldy over winter.
Its services include a free moving truck and driver. It also has a drive-through facility which means you can drive right into the warehouse to drop off or collect your goods.
If you’re packing up a house, consider a professional packer. “[Packing up a house is] the kind of thing people do once, to save money, and then say never again,” says Graham Beazley of IrishMovers.ie in Galway, who estimates the cost of packing a three-bedroom house at about €350 plus VAT.
A professional packer is worth it if you have the budget, particularly if you are putting your furniture into storage, because professional packers will do up a contents inventory with a short condition report for each item, which is useful.
It takes about 45 boxes to fill the contents of the average three-bedroom house. If you’re going to do it yourself, you need to factor in the cost of these too.
Elephant Self Storage, just off the M50 in Dublin, has an online box shop where you can order moving and packing supplies, including 10 large cardboard boxes for €60, 100m of bubble wrap, also for €60, and tape guns for €12.
If you’re putting away coats, suits or woollens, put them in vacuum bags, which cost a fiver. These compress clothing to one-third of its volume and keep them free from mould and mildew. Simply suck out the air from the bags using your vacuum cleaner and hang them in a wardrobe box, which cost €20 each.
Special covers for items like armchairs, sofas and mattresses are also well worth it and cost about €6 each. Elephant sells complete furniture cover packs for a livingroom for €20.
Elephant will also buy back any unused boxes once you produce your receipt in store.
Storage space at Elephant ranges from €10 a week for a mini personal locker equivalent to the space of two car boots, to a large unit big enough to hold the contents of a four-bedroom house, for €82.25 a week.
If you are doing it yourself, invest in a furniture dolly for large pieces of furniture. These cost about €25 and you can get them in Woodies or online.
When stacking your storage unit, put large items at the back. If you are storing anything with drawers, fill them with small items, then tape the doors firmly shut to prevent damage in transit. Large items such as bed frames should be disassembled if possible – and keep the screws in a labelled Ziploc bag.
Seal all boxes tightly with proper packing tape and use “fragile” tape where appropriate. Use furniture pads or moving blankets to keep things off the unit floor. Do not store hazardous or combustible materials. If you’re putting away lawnmowers or strimmers, for example, drain out the fuel first.
Figuring out how much storage space you need is tricky, but Limerick Self Storage has a handy online estimator to help you figure it out, as well as the most efficient ways to pack it.
When it comes to boxes, the key is the heavier the item, the smaller the box. Above all, make sure to have your packing done before moving day, for the sake of your sanity.