Advise on Housing Equipment

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by gator-town, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. gator-town

    gator-town LawnSite Member
    from bfe
    Messages: 92

    I will soon be losing my spot in the garage due to the ever expanding stuff and am looking for alternate " equipment housing " ... I would prefer my equipment, which is basically anything and everything you could get into a 7' x 14' trailer, be kept inside but I am open to any ideas ... selling is not an option so please be reasonable ... security is my biggest concern, then shelter ... storing fuel could be kept at the house, but would prefer to keep it on the trailer ... I would appreciate any suggestions that may help ... Thanks .
  2. germann

    germann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    A covered trailer sounds good for you. A box truck with ramps-super lawn truck-is the ultimate, but expensive and dedicated-you cant use the truck for personal use.

    Do a search on covered or enclosed trailers. There are lots of posts on this subject.
  3. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    Box truck can have drawbacks it may be the ultimate some places but here it would be a white elephant and a costly mistake. Why low and I mean low railroad bridges cut though the coast towns some only 9 feet you got one of those trucks your screwed I have to really plan my rout when I have a leaf vac and a box built on my rack body.
  4. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I'm not a fan of the covered trailers because of the added cost, weight, and access and visability problems. I've used them in past jobs and also bigger trucks with equipment in others. I prefer the pickup/open trailer setup, or even in some cases a mower in the back of the pickup. But that's not practical for most. I can drive a big rig with a large covered trailer, but I find it adds an element of hassles that I prefer not to deal with. The first time you have to back down a dead end road with no cul de sac you will get my drift.

    My employees at a previous job caused a lot of vehicle/trailer damages expenses, so my emphasis is on safety and ease of maneuvering. If you've ever tried to back a trailer out of a crowded gas station you'll know what I mean. You never know when someone in a car will sneak in behind you and you're at fault when you back into them.

    Sounds like you need another garage or maybe a well built storage shed. A security system, active or passive, monitored or not, would be a plus. Depends on your neighborhood and the risks. The right design of garage can almost pay for itself in added home value in the right neighborhood, assuming you're working from there. The wrong one (cheap, ugly, or out of character for the area, or doesn't match your home well in scale or design) is a detriment. But if cash is short, a stick built storage building, preferably out of sight of the road, would do the trick at lower cost.

    In MY case, the cost of a box truck or other dedicated type work truck would be too high, since I need a personal use vehicle too. Besides, a truck or trailer full of mowers would be mighty attractive to thieves I'd think. I think a garage or storage building would help hide what's inside better.

    But if you are in an area where there are people around who steal this stuff, you'll need layered security. Alarms combined with hard to defeat locks and such. And thieves can be very creative in defeating traditional security. They went through a concrete block wall at one of my sites at a previous job.

    How much land is your home base on? What's the zoning? How's access to the back yard or basement? Do you have space at the end of the drive for storage? What price range is your home in?(rich folks need more garage space for their toys). Do you have a basement? It would be best, security-wise, to have it stored in occupied space. Widening a doorway or adding a pull down door could work. Lots of factors to consider.

    Renting space is probably the most expensive in the long run, btw. Plus I'd be wary of inside-job theft.

    If you do work out of your home, your neighbors would also probably prefer that you not park a commercial HD truck there, or have a trailer parked outside all the time. Even when zoning allows it, it's sometimes not wise to alienate them. You also might contribute to the decline of your own neighborhood (and property values!) if you start that ball rolling. There are streets here where the homes are beautiful and look residential, even though it's zoned ag. Then a street or two over, there is the guy with the junkyard of equipment out front who wants to run a business out of it indescreetly, and one by one, the other homes tend to start looking that way too. Pretty soon, it's a junky street, with corresponding property values. So I'd avoid that if working from home unless you're on a large lot in a rural atmosphere where that's more normal.
  5. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    I refuse to keep my equipment at my house. I rent a 10 by 30 storage shed to put the equipment in, and a small parking space for the trailer. Nothing is kept at home.
  6. gator-town

    gator-town LawnSite Member
    from bfe
    Messages: 92

    Thanks for the replies ....

    mtdman ... I do like the fact of keeping my private life and business life separated by some distance ... this is why I was thinking storage facility ... problem is that most don't allow gas storage, even in the fuel tanks ... fire hazard ... make sense .

    Kelly's Landscaping ... germann ... have considered enclosed trailers but have yet to convince myself of the benefits ... security is great ... benefits of advertising on a large background ... neighbors and adhereing to the subdivision convenants will be a problem with such a large item ... as with most places oversize boats are welcome but lawn equipment ... well you know .

    brucec32 ... I do have a 3/4 acre lot with shaddow box enclosure around the backyard ... have considered extending the enclosure adjacent to the garage and parking there ... will have to erect some type of canvas cover (boat cover) to park under as zoning will not allow ... already have pup on the way so he will have to earn his keep ... the only con about this is the way it rains here and the 90% humidity I am a little concerned about my equipment ... anyway good response and it is the most logical one ... it is sort of a "bird in hand" choice .

    I am very inveous of those people that have stuck it out through the years and have made a name for themselves ... some of the equipment lists are impressive ... I know I will have made it when I own a shop ... I wish everyone a good up-coming season and always remember " kiss your family good-bye " .
  7. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    It's nice to have your stuff stored seperated from home if your home is not adequate for it or you have a lot of it (multiple crews, etc), or if you have employees showing up in large numbers. But remember that even though that rent payment seems small the costs are considerable in the long run.

    Around here, a 10x30 storage rental is expensive, maybe $250/month. But say you pay only half of that. That's $125/month in perpetuity. The present value of that stream of outflow is about $25,000. That'd go a long way towards either more home or building better storage facilities at your home. And years from now you have an asset in the garage or improvements rather than just receipts for rents. .

    And the time it takes to drive to/from the facility, gain access at the gate, unlock, etc has to be factored in too. Also, it's far less convenient to go there to do maintenance on your stuff, or to go pick it up and bring it home to work on. I like being able to walk out to the garage and get some stuff done when the mood strikes me. Even if it takes only an extra half hour a day in travel time, etc, to work out of a storage facility/warehouse, that's $30 or so a day for a solo operator.

    $30/day is $400 to $600/month in lost revenue, depending on your season length. That's got a present value of about $80,000 to $120,000!

    Combined, that's $105,000 to $145,000 more for the priviledge of not having the equipment at home.

    Now that's all theoretical I know, but it gives you an idea of what goes into long term financial planning like this. Sometimes it pays to spend $$$$ now (example: bigger home on acreage vs. subdivison home with zoning and space restrictions)

    The above example is why going from solo w/ maybe a helper to a "real" commercial business where you have to have seperate facilities is such a big, expensive step. It costs in ways you often can't see right away.
  8. mow2nd

    mow2nd LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 603

    i have a boxed truck and I love it. Pulling a trailer is a pain in the butt, flat trailer and trucks are great for theives, how many times has somebody ran off with your weedeater, or blowers.

    I have never had anything stolen. And when I come home I just pull down to back door and lock up. My truck will also turn on a dime and give you 9 cents change.

    My equipment also stays dry which to me is very important, we all spend a lot of money for our equipment and water can be the #1 killer for equipment.

    If you would like I can send an email of my truck, they say my pic is too big to post on here

    email me at and I'll show you my truck.
  9. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    My storge space is 10 minutes drive from my house. All my tools are there, I have electricity and repair facilities there. There is a 24 hour locked gate, and security on hand. I don't have a garage at my house, and even if I did I wouldn't store stuff there. I don't want to devalue my personal property by storing my commercial stuff there. I say devalue, because for the first 4 years in business we kept the equipment at my former partners mother's barn. We tore that place up. When we were done there we had a few days worth of work just to clean up and make the place presentable again. And that's just from normal daily entrance/exit and work at the place.

    The arguement about throwing money out by renting is valid, yet not valid. Yes, I could invest that $$ by paying on my own property. But I don't have the necessary money required to buy a piece of commercial property and build a storage facility. Prices are very high for property around here, and availiability isn't great. Just like living in an apartment. Sure, investing money in your own house is financially better, but if you can't afford a house, don't have the credit, and don't have mommy and daddy to shack up with, you still have to live somewhere. Investing in a shop would be preferable, but I don't have that option right now.

    Fact is, I gotta put my equipment somewhere. Where I've got it isn't only convienent, but safe and secure. An enclosed trailer with all my equipment in it can be stolen, and everything I need to work with it. I've seen it happen, and that is not security to me. My arrangement works out well for me. It's an expense I cannot get around, and I think I've maximized the value for the expense.

    I'd also like to point out that at my storage area, there are more buinesses that rent there than regular people. There's 4 lawn care organizations including me, a paving company, painters, carpenters, masons, a Lay's Potato Chip distributor, etc.

    Not to mention, my home is my home. When I come home, I don't want my business to follow. Keeping things like that seperate is important to me.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Nothing wrong with that, MTD. It all depends on your preferences and your situation. When I lived here in Boca and couldn't hope to own a place large enough to work out of, I looked long and hard at storage warehouses. Thankfully I was able to find a home further out to buy before that became necessary.

    Back where I used to live, and where I live now, you could live and work out of AG zoned property that was built as traditional residential subdivisions. My last next door neighbor was a HVAC contractor with a couple of family employees, and you couldn't tell that from the street, since everything was stored away nicely. I have 2.4 acres now. I'm small time so my storage needs are small. A garage and a storage building out back suffice. Bigger players might not want all their stuff at home, but the area around me is set up for small businesses while still retaining the high value of the property and residential feel. The guy next door has a nicely done HUGE garage that's tall enough to back a Winnebago into. But it matches his house and everything goes in it and locks up out of sight. There are $200,000 homes on the street and $750,000 ones. And in this type of situation, storing on your property can make sense and pay off. But putting that garage in a subdivision of traditional homes in another area would be a) impossible to get approved and b) an eyesore.

    One negative I had with storage facilities was that it gets a tad hot here in South Florida and I didn't relish working on equipment in a steel building. And of course the convenience of having the shop just steps away is considerable. Just today I found a package of parts in my drive (thanks USPS) and took a part I needed for a velke out and popped it on in a minute. I didn't have to drive to do it or try to remember to do it in the morning on a work day.

    I understand well the idea of keeping business seperate from home, especially if you have employees. But I was just pointing out that it does come at a cost. In some cases it pays to store offsite, in others it may not

    Actually I think your method is more cost effective than spending money to own and build on a commercial site. Commercial space is usually expensive to buy and own, and if you're usually out working and not using the space to work out of or live in, but just as storage, it's probably too expensive for all but fairly good sized operations. Some do it hoping for future appreciation in value, but that's another issue.

    Even in AG zoned places like I live in, it's usually not allowed to have employees showing up and parking there. You can get by with one, maybe two if you can park their cars in a garage, but above that you're violating at least the spirit of what the zoning is. So my suggestions apply more for solos and guys with a helper or two.

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