Fire at Twinwoods Business Park Provides Another Self Storage Wakeup Call

Companies at Twinwoods Business Park are currently assessing the damage done by a devastating fire that broke out during the afternoon of November 1st.

The blaze started in a polystyrene factory on the Milton Ernest business estate and took over 60 fire-fighters from four counties to get the flames under control. 

The fire rapidly spread to two nearby buildings, sending huge plumes of thick, black smoke into the Bedford sky that could be seen for miles around. The fire even forced workers in the area to flee the business park and local roads were closed.

While the exact cause of the fire is still unknown, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue have since played down the likelihood of foul play:

“We do not believe the fire has been started deliberately and will now be carrying out further investigations, working both with the insurers and the companies affected,” commented Andy Draper, group commander at Bedford fire service.

Fire protection lessons to be learned 

While it’s fortunate that nobody was hurt during the inferno, the total cost of damage to property and goods is yet to be realised.

One group of people that will be assessing their losses will be customers of Storing.com whose storage facility was one of the other two buildings to succumb to the flames at Twinwoods Business Park.

In a situation reminiscent of the colossal fire at Shurgard’s Croydon storage depot that saw hundreds of stored belongings go up in smoke, this Storing.com blaze highlights the importance of using a storage facility that truly prioritises the safety of its customer’s stored items.

How can you protect your storage items from fire damage?

  •     Avoid warehouse-style storage facilities – the lack of partitions and strong airflow means that fires can spread much easier in open-plan buildings. While most storage facilities prohibit dangerous substances such as flammable liquids, there’s no way to comprehensively check every single item. As such, just one customer’s dangerous or flammable storage item may result in the destruction of all goods in the facility, as they’re all essentially stored in the same room.   
  •     Choose a storage facility that uses fireproof storage containers – steel containers will protect their contents from an external fire whilst also ‘containing’ any fires that may start within them. While storage containers do not guarantee complete protection, they significantly slow down the spread of a fire and give emergency services the precious time they need to get the blaze under control.
  •     Get self storage insurance – while there are some key precautions that you can take to minimise the risk of fire, it’s impossible to reduce the risk completely. It’s therefore very advisable to cover your stored goods with self storage insurance. The vast majority of household insurance policies will not cover your storage items so you’ll need to opt for storage-specific cover. This will protect your belongings from fire, water or any other damage. (Get a self storage insurance quote for your items today.)

A self storage facility you can trust

At Flexible Storage, we store all of our customers’ items in individual 2mm thick steel storage containers that are both water and fireproof. From fireproof file storage to 24 hour CCTV surveillance, we put the safety of your belongings first. Get in touch with one of our team today to discuss your secure storage options further and even receive a tailored quote.

Can you live in a self storage unit?

It’s a thought that crosses the minds of many people who visit a self storage facility – “I wonder if you could live in one of these things”. While most people laugh the idea off after imagining the massive inconvenience, some people have turned it into a reality.

All across the world there have been instances where storage facility staff have been tipped off or stumbled across people living in their storage unit. For example, a man in the US managed to live in a storage unit for two months before being evicted, documenting his intricate setup on his YouTube channel. 

While it may make for interesting viewing, it’s definitely not something we’d recommend at Flexible Storage Solutions. Not only is living in a storage unit illegal, it clearly compromises the security of the storage facility, as well as presents serious health and safety risks.

Can you sleep in a storage unit?

Of course, you CAN sleep in a storage unit but it doesn’t mean you should start living in one.

Many people spend a lot of time in their storage units; running businesses, organising their belongings, working on their artwork, and countless other reasons. While we’re not saying you can’t have a well-earned rest after a hard day’s work, we (and the law) draw the line at actually living in your unit, i.e. staying in your unit overnight is not allowed.

Some people may argue that because they’re renting the unit, surely they can do what they please with the space? Unfortunately, that’s not how storage facilities or the law works. Your rental contract will specify what you can and cannot use your storage unit for, including what items are forbidden, plus that most important of caveats – NO SLEEPING OR LIVING IN YOUR STORAGE UNIT.

The bottom line is that the storage facility is liable for any injuries or damage that may occur on its premises. A person living in a storage unit therefore puts the storage company at risk of legal action, not to mention the person at risk of injury or worse.      

So, let’s take a closer look at the legal side of it…

Is living in a storage unit legal in the UK?

The simple answer is no – it is illegal to live in a storage unit in the UK. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018 is just the latest in a long line of UK laws that specify the legal requirements a building must have in order for it to be inhabitable by humans.

These requirements relate to many aspects of a building, such as its structure and integrity, pests and vermin, and damp and mould growth. When it comes to living in a storage unit, the most relevant aspects of these laws pertain to:

  •     Natural light availability
  •     Ventilation
  •     Hot and cold water supply
  •     Drainage and sanitary facilities

While some storage units may have ventilation systems, the vast majority of units will not meet any of the other legal requirements in order to qualify for human habitation. 

In most cases, a storage unit will be a single room or container and will most probably have an adequate electrical supply. No windows, no water supply, no toilets, no heating. In other words, not fit for a person to live in.

How storage facilities can prevent people living in their storage units

While we understand that some people may think about moving into a storage facility out of desperation, as we’ve explained above, it really isn’t a safe or suitable place for a person to live.

There are several things that a storage facility can do to both deter people from living in a unit as well as offering help at the same time:

  •     Make it clear in your rental contract – it should be crystal clear in your agreement that living in storage facilities is strictly forbidden. Emphasise the consequences if this stipulation is not adhered to and get the renter to initial the caveat so that they are fully aware of the expectation.
  •     Use CCTV to keep a watchful eye on your facility – camera surveillance should be used to monitor the entirety of your facility 24/7. Only having cameras monitoring the perimeter of your premises will leave you blind to what’s going on inside.
  •     Conduct regular premises checks – having staff perform regular checks on all storage areas may help pick up on smaller things that a security camera can’t, such as suspicious wiring running out of a unit. Training should be provided so all staff know what to look out for.
  •     Keep leaflets for local shelters/homeless charities in the office – helpful literature such as this may be able to point someone considering moving into their storage in the right direction. Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean businesses should be insensitive to the unfortunate circumstances of some of its customers.

So, there you have it – now you know the reasons why you can’t live in a storage unit and the precautions that storage facilities can take to prevent it.

At Flexible Storage, we take the safety and security of our facility – and all belongings and people within it – incredibly seriously. With secure water and fireproof steel storage units, 24/7 CCTV surveillance and highly trained staff, you can rest assured that your storage items are in the safest possible hands.

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to learn more about our professional storage facility, or even discuss what tailored storage services will work best for you. 

How to Prevent Mould and Mildew in a Storage Unit

We’ve all been there – opening up a box that’s long been stored under the stairs or in the loft, eagerly hoping to retrieve that vintage jacket or family photo album, only to find it ruined by mould or mildew.

As well as damaging valuable belongings and causing horrible smells, both mould and mildew can damage your health too.

It’s for these reasons that you need to ensure your storage unit is as mould and mildew proof as possible. This post will provide expert storage tips and outline the necessary precautions you should take to keep your belongings safe during long-term storage.  

What exactly are mould and mildew? 

Mould and mildew are both types of fungi that thrive in warm, moist and humid environments. Whilst most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, they can and will grow anywhere that is warm and has moisture, including on fabrics, wood, stone and even plastic.

Whilst sharing many similar properties, mould and mildew do have some notable differences:

  •     Mould – a fungus that can be various colours, including brown, blue, green and yellow, but is most typically black. Mould also generally has a furry or slimy texture, and is a bigger threat to human health than mildew.
  •     Mildew – a fungus that is typically grey or white in colour. It generally grows in flat patches, has a powdery texture and a notable musty smell.

Whether it’s mould or mildew, you’ll want to make sure you protect your storage items from all potentially dangers. Let’s start with your storage unit… 

Storage unit considerations 

  •     Airflow – when it comes to preventing mould and mildew in your storage unit, moisture is the enemy. These fungi thrive in moist environments so maintaining proper airflow is crucial in a storage unit. Avoid pushing boxes and larger items against each other and the unit’s walls. Keeping space between items helps air circulate and keeps the storage unit dry. 
  •     Off the floor – this is especially the case if your storage unit has a concrete floor, as concrete is porous and can draw up moisture from the ground. While this is much less of a problem if your storage unit is a metal container (as with Flexible Storage self storage units), it is still advisable to use shelves and cabinets in your unit, as well as covering the floor with wooden pallets. This will keep your stuff off the floor and the air circulating effectively.
  •     Humidity levels – while this may not be as big a consideration in the UK as it is in warmer climates, it’s important to ensure that the humidity level inside your storage unit does not exceed 50%. Keeping a hygrometer in your storage unit and regularly checking it will help you gauge whether you need to take action on warm days, such as using a dehumidifier. 
  •     Regularly check your unit – you should never leave your storage items for long periods of time. Make it a habit to check up on your storage unit at least once a month, assessing your belongings for any early signs of mould or mildew. Even just opening up your storage unit and moving some items around will allow air to flow and help you better inspect your possessions. 

Now that you know the things to look out for regarding your storage unit, here are some professional packing tips to protect your belongings from mould and mildew…

Packing considerations

  •     Proper storage materials – unfortunately, if you want to ensure your items are as safe as possible, plastic bin bags or old delivery boxes just aren’t going to cut it. The only way to guarantee the maximum amount of protection is to use purpose-built storage materials such as robust cardboard boxes, industrial bubble wrap and hardy furniture covers.  
  •     Dry items thoroughly – it’s imperative that every item you put into storage is 100% dry. Just one small damp item could spell disaster for your entire storage unit, as mould and mildew will quickly contaminate other items. Clothing and upholstery are particularly at risk as they can easily retain moisture. Be vigilant when cleaning your belongings before putting them into long-term storage, and give them plenty of time to dry.
  •     Pack desiccators – one of the best ways to minimise the levels of moisture in your storage unit is to utilise moisture-absorbing agents called desiccators. The most commonly used desiccators are silica gel packets, but can also include salt, rice and even cat litter. Desiccators should be packed alongside the contents of boxes and cabinets, as well as placed freely in an open container inside the storage unit.     
  •     Avoid plastic covers – many people make the mistake of covering storage items in plastic covers. While they may be useful to protect clothes in your wardrobe from dust, they tend to trap moisture, which is terrible for long-term storage. Cardboard or paper covers are much more preferable as they allow air to circulate, helping your storage items breathe.

Choose your storage unit with care

So there you have it – top tips on how to prevent mould and mildew in a storage unit. Where you store your belongings is just as important as how you pack them. It’s crucial that you choose a storage facility that has your best interests at heart.

At Flexible Storage, we always put the safety of our customer’s belongings first. Our fire and waterproof steel self storage units will keep your possessions safe, while our professional packing materials can help keep them in the best possible condition. With 24-7 CCTV surveillance and 365 day customer access, all eyes will be on your stored items to provide the maximum level of protection.

For more advice on how to pack a storage unit, get in touch with our friendly team today. One of our professional storage consultants can talk you through your self storage options and even provide you with a tailored quote.

Do I have to pay business rates for storage?

Every business strives to keep costs low. Whether it’s wages, utilities, rent or advertising, the vast majority of businesses have to make sure they cover these costs at the end of each month. One cost that unites all businesses – no matter the size or sector – is tax.

As Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote: “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.  

While taxation on businesses is without doubt a certainty in the modern world, there are ways that businesses can reduce their tax bill with the help of a storage facility.

To be clear, the advice in the following article is all legally above board and will not leave you in hot water with the Inland Revenue, if followed correctly.     

So, do you have to pay business rates for storage?

The short answer is – no. This is because the Valuation Office Agency (which gives the government property advice when it comes to taxation) says that the tax burden falls on the self storage facility itself.

The VOA says: “We normally assess self storage facilities as a warehouse and the operator of the self storage facility will generally be liable for the payment of rates.”

If you’re unsure whether your business qualifies for business rate relief, contact your local council.

What about VAT?

Good question – it’s true that the Finance Act 2012 introduced VAT on storage space. This brought the growing self storage industry in line with more traditional storage suppliers like removal companies, who were already paying VAT on their supplies of storage.

Now, while this expansion of VAT in storage has pushed up prices for domestic storage users, businesses are able to claim it back.

VAT can typically be reclaimed on goods and services that are used solely for business reasons. That means you can’t fill up a storage unit with personal belongings and then request the VAT back on your storage bill. If your storage items have nothing to do with your business then I’m afraid you’re just going to have to bite that VAT bullet.

Storage Tax Tip

Always remember to keep any business records relating to tax in a safe space that is easily accessible. If you’re using a self storage facility for business purposes, you will need to support your claim for VAT relief with the appropriate documents.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to organising and storing documents is: if you’re unsure of the importance of a document, keep hold of it. An extra bit of paperwork is not going to take up that much space while a lost or destroyed important document will likely lead to long delays and added costs, something that no business needs.

Everything else will need to be securely shredded to ensure no confidential documents fall into the wrong hands.

How to keep your business documents safe

Self storage facilities are not just a great way to avoid business rates and lower your tax bill, they can also ensure your business documents are safe and your company is fully GDPR compliant.

At Flexible Storage, as well as accessible and cost-effective self storage services, we also offer GDPR compliant document storage services too. Keep your costs down and your business documents secure at our professional self storage facility. Get in touch today to find out more.

“Going Once. Twice. SOLD!” – Storage Auctions in the UK

Have you ever wondered what happens to the contents of storage units when their owners abandon them or default on rent payments?

It’s not a common occurrence but, from time to time, self storage facilities find themselves lumbered with the abandoned belongings of ex-customers, despite persistent efforts to contact their owners.

 In these situations the contents of the storage units need to be removed so that the storage facility can let the space out to new customers. This process can be very time-consuming and the costs of clearance and disposal only add to the financial losses of the already unpaid rental bills.

However, there are ways for storage facilities to limit the amount of financial damage they sustain in these situations. In this article, we’ll take a look at an innovative yet misunderstood solution that has grown in popularity over recent years, one that has crossed the Atlantic on a wave of TV success.

Storage Unit Auctions As A Last Resort

Mostly due to the success of shows such as Storage Wars and Storage Hunters UK, there has been a growing interest in the world of abandoned self storage units in the UK. While these TV shows are no doubt entertaining, they don’t accurately reflect what typically happens to deserted units in the UK.

In the first instance, these shows pit a group of potential buyers against each other as they vie for the contents of around five storage units per episode. That’s a lot of abandoned storage units. In reality, most storage facilities may only have to deal with one or two deserted units per year, and many will go years without having to deal with any.

It’s not surprising really when you consider that people care a lot about the items them keep in storage units, so naturally they don’t want to lose them. However, in rare circumstances and for various reasons, storage facilities may have no choice but to reclaim the abandoned unit.

In the majority of cases though, self storage facilities will make every effort to contact the owner of the storage items. This grace period can be anything between ten days to three months, and will typically involve a letter being sent by recorded delivery to both the customer’s main and alternate address.

While it is very rare for storage facilities to resort to getting rid of people’s abandoned belongings, it can sometimes be the only recourse. Which brings us to…

Abandoned Storage Unit Auctions in the UK

 After the grace period has ended and the storage facility’s letters, emails and calls have gone unanswered, they can regain access to the unit to assess the contents. Depending on the facilities general policy and the value of the items, the storage facility may simply dispose of the contents or put them up for sale to cover their losses (this is known as ’lien’ in legal terms).

Here is where we see another difference with the TV shows. While the show depicts auction-bidders standing outside a locked unit, loudly speculating and bidding on its mysterious contents, the reality in the UK is a little less dramatic.

Firstly, storage unit auctions are, for the most part, conducted online, typically on auction sites such as Ebay. Some facilities may even have mailing lists of prospective bidders who they can alert when a storage unit comes up for sale.

While the storage facility can choose to keep the contents of the unit a mystery, most will upload pictures of the contents or even list the storage items one-by-one. Not quite the tension that TV producers are looking for!

Personal Data and Privacy Concerns

 Before a storage unit (or any items therein) is sold, storage facility staff will inspect the contents to ensure that all confidential information has been removed. This may include documents, photos, IDs, CDs, computers or any other items that could be or hold personal data.

 These sensitive items will either be forwarded on to the previous customer or, if they are still unresponsive, will be securely destroyed to ensure that data protection laws and GDPR regulations are upheld. The storage facility should also retain a certificate of destruction that can be presented to the previous owner or any government inspectors on request.

Avoid This Situation With A Reliable, Cost-Effective Storage Facility

 While storage units are occasionally abandoned and some customers may default on rent payments, the reality is that the vast majority of these situations could be avoided with proper communication and an adaptable storage company.

 At Flexible Storage, we go the extra mile to build relationships with our customers to ensure that they receive the best possible service. We regularly remind customers to check their contact information is up-to-date, as well as keep our prices as competitive as possible so that our units are affordable for all. We have a multitude of self storage services available to ensure you’re only paying for the storage you need. Contact our friendly team today for a free consultation on your storage needs.

Looking After Your Literature – The best way to pack books for storage

Despite living in an increasingly digitised world, books are still some of our most treasured possessions. From personal collections to student literature to business stock, there are many reasons why people need to store large quantities of books.

While storing books at home may be a viable option if your collection is small or you’re lucky enough to have the available space, for most people, there just isn’t enough room.

The urge to stuff them in the garage and forget about them can be strong but – as you will soon find out – the effects of improperly storing your books can be disastrous and result in your books becoming damaged beyond repair.

But, before we jump into the dangers, let’s first take a look at the main reasons why people need to properly store their books.     

Why store books? 

  •     Personal Collection – it’s surprising how quickly a personal book collection can build up, even for the most casual reader. From the dozens of cookery books you receive every Christmas to those classics that you’ll get round to reading one day, they all need to be kept somewhere safe and not cluttering up your home.
  •     Students – from the first days of primary school to deep into a university degree, compiling books is part and parcel of being a student. Many of these books are expensive so they’ll need to be taken care of. Likewise, many academic books can be re-sold or handed down to friends and family in future years so they’ll need to be stored to maintain their condition.
  •     Business – many independent bookshops struggle to find a cost-effective solution to their book storage needs. There’s only so much space in a shop and renting more retail space can be very expensive. Having a cheap and accessible storage space makes it easier to manage stock and keep costs down. This is particularly relevant to online bookselling businesses that need a secure space to store and manage their stock.
  •     Moving House – moving house can be a great opportunity to de-clutter your home and take advantage of alternative storage spaces. This is especially the case for people who are downsizing and want to keep their treasured book collection but will struggle to find the space.

What are the dangers to your books?

  •     Climate – like most things, books don’t like extreme temperatures. They should be kept in a storage space that has a relatively steady temperature and humidity. Too much humidity can result in mould and foxing of pages while too little can make books brittle. Some of the worst places for climate control in homes include garages and lofts, which should be reserved for your car and Christmas decorations, not your delicate books. 
  •     Sunlight – exposure to direct sunlight will cause your books to deteriorate over time. UV radiation not only damages the integral structure of books but it will also cause the jacket and spine to fade in colour and the pages to yellow.
  •     Pests – mice, cockroaches, silverfish, beetles and literal bookworms, they have all been known to feast on the glue and paper that make up books. While pests do not pose a threat in many cases, the risk of damage to your books increases if they are stored improperly in places that are easily accessible to these critters.

How to pack books for storage

Now that you know why people need proper storage solutions for their books and the dangers they face if improperly stored, it’s time for some tried and tested tips on the best way to pack books for storage.

  1.     Make sure all of your books are clean and free from dust and dirt. Once in storage, any dirt or grime on a book will continue to damage it over time and potentially damage other books in its vicinity. As an extra precaution, individually wrapping each both in protective cloth will ensure they are kept in the best possible condition (ideal for rare, limited edition or particularly treasured books).
  2.     Pack books in small to medium sized cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Ideally these boxes would be sturdy document storage boxes that are purposefully built to hold delicate paper-based items.
  3.     Don’t wrap books in anything plastic, including plastic bags or wrap. Plastic can trap moisture which, as we have explained above, can lead to paper crinkling and mould. Storing books in storage boxes allows air to circulate and prevents moisture from building up.
  4.     Don’t pack books with spines up or down. The weight of the book and any other books on top will crack the binding of the book’s spine over time. Pack books either upright or flat to prevent this deterioration.
  5.     Keep an inventory – it’s the Golden Rule of storage. Knowing what books are in storage and in which boxes will save you a great deal of time and effort when you come to retrieve your stuff. Label each box with its contents and make sure you keep the inventory in a safe place.

How to pack books for long-term storage in a storage unit

A self storage unit is one of the best places to store your books. With a consistent climate, high security and the space to meet your exact demands, a storage facility can look after your literature properly, all at a very competitive price.

When putting books into long-term storage it’s important that you pack them properly to ensure they stay in the best possible condition. Below are some storage tips for storing books in a storage unit:

  •     Don’t overload your storage boxes as your books could become deformed or damaged.
  •     Pack heavier books at the bottom of storage boxes and lighter books on top.
  •     Always use proper storage boxes, preferably made of robust cardboard.
  •     Ideally keep books and boxes off the floor using shelves or lining the floor of the storage unit with wooden pallets.
  •     Don’t stack storage boxes above shoulder height to avoid any accidents.

If you’re looking for a safe, accessible but cost-effective way to store your books, get in touch with the Flexible Storage team to see how we can help. With our years of experience, secure storage facility and vast supply of specialist storage materials, we can provide the best solution to your book storage needs.

How to Pack a Storage Unit

So, you’ve finally got around to hiring a self storage unit. (And why wouldn’t you? There are many great ways a self storage unit could benefit you.)

You know what items you need to store, you know how big your storage unit is and you know you need to make the most of the storage space. But what exactly are the best ways to maximise your available space, while also minimising the chances of damage? Luckily for you, Flexible Storage can rely on decades of self storage experience packing thousands of storage units to offer some professional packing advice.

For this reason, we like to think we know a thing or two about how to pack a storage unit. So without further ado, here are our expert storage unit packing tips…

Self storage unit packing tips

·      Tip #1 – An inventory is essential

As you box up and pack all of your items for storage (if you need packing inspiration, take a look at our guide to packing up a house), make sure you are recording everything as you go. An inventory is the best way to keep track of all your belongings as they disappear into their respective boxes. Number each box, itemise its content and make at least two copies of the inventory – one copy for you and one spare copy for your storage unit.

Once you have packed your stuff into your storage unit, a great addition to your storage inventory is a map of its content. This can be something as simple as a quick drawing of the layout of your storage unit, including labels or numbers for each storage box and individual items. This will save you a lot of time when you come to retrieve belongings from your unit, especially if you have many items in storage or you are returning to your stuff after a long period of storage. (It’s easy to forget your house keys, let alone an item you put into storage two years ago!).

·      Tip #2 – Think about what items you’ll need regular access to

Whatever you are going to store in your unit, there will likely be some belongings that you’ll need easier access to than others. As such, you’ll want to pack your self storage unit in a way that makes it easier to retrieve certain items. Less essential storage boxes should be packed at the back of the unit, always remembering to stack heavier boxes at the bottom with lighter boxes and items on top.

In terms of accessibility, one of the best ways to pack your storage unit is to create an empty space or aisle in the centre of it. Storing your items and stacking your boxes in this way will allow you to easily access your belongings without having to move anything out of the way. While this may not be feasible for every customer or storage unit, always remember to keep important things front and centre.  

·      Tip #3 – Dismantle larger items of furniture

This may seem like an obvious point but it doesn’t cross many people’s minds to make their larger items as small as possible. Now we’re not suggesting that you take an axe to your wardrobe, but many items such as beds, tables and desks can easily be dismantled and stored in a fraction of the space they would otherwise occupy.

Dig out your furniture’s assembly manual or just test them to see if they can safely be dismantled and easily reassembled. Make sure you safely store all of the necessary fixtures and fittings along with the item to avoid any issues in the future. (We’ve all experienced the frustration of losing that crucial final screw that will keep everything together, so don’t let it happen again!)

·      Tip #4 – Use as much vertical space as possible

One larger piece of furniture you might not want to dismantle is your shelves. Put them to good use in your storage unit in the same way you would at home. They are great for storing smaller items or things you want to keep handy while in storage. Shelves can also help to prevent your boxes being crushed, which can happen if too many boxes or too heavy boxes are stacked on top of each other.

Shelves aren’t the only way to optimise vertical storage space. Large, bulky furniture items such as sofas, bedframes and coffee tables are best stored vertically. This makes better use of often neglected vertical space and allows you to pack more items into your self storage unit – saving you space and money!

·      Tip #5 – Protect your storage items with quality packing materials

One of the most important aspects of efficiently packing a storage unit is knowing how to protect your items. Proper storage materials are the key. Soft furniture with delicate upholstery such as sofas and mattresses should be protected with paper covers while wooden items should be covered in dustsheets. Knocks and scratches are sometimes unavoidable when moving and storing furniture items. However, protecting your belongings with proper packing materials will significantly minimise the chances of damage.

With the appropriate protection, it’s even recommended to store smaller items inside larger ones. In the same way you would pack items in a storage box, bubble wrapped items can be stored in cupboards or desk drawers. While nothing can really beat a robust storage box, this method can help you make the most of your available storage space.

Going the extra mile…

At Flexible Storage, we strive to provide our customers with the best storage services possible. This extends to supplying our customers with the highest quality storage materials that we have tried and tested over our many years in the storage industry. These include 4 ply paper furniture covers, robust removal boxes, as well as industrial bubble wrap and packing tape.

For even more protection, we can also offer Self Storage Insurance via our partner NSIP Services. If you’re unsure whether you need insurance coverage for your self storage items, take a look at our self storage insurance guide to help you make up your mind.

For more advice on how to pack a storage unit, get in touch with our friendly team today. One of our professional storage consultants can talk you through your self storage options and even provide you with a tailored quote.

Student Storage Ideas: Making the Most of Your Space at University

There’s a lot to think about when you’re about to start university. Your new home, your new social life, your new found independence and, most importantly, your degree. In all this excitement, it’s easy to forget about the practicalities of student life, especially when it comes to your living space.

Most students (unless you’re very lucky) will move into a house or flat where space is going to be pretty limited. Typically, you’ll go from living at home where your belongings can be stored and scattered around the house, to a single room where you’ll not only keep the majority of your stuff but you’ll also sleep, study, hang out with friends and, most likely, eat too.

To avoid falling into the messy student stereotype, you’re going to have to be smart about the way you organise your limited space. Nowhere is this more achievable than with storage.

To make your student life easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best student storage ideas that you can use to ensure you get off to the best possible start at uni.

Vertical space

Let’s kick off with an area of the room that is often neglected when it comes to storage – your wall space. The chances are you’ll have more wall than floor space, so why not make the most of it?

While you may think that shelves and hooks are not an option because most universities and landlords prohibit drilling into walls, there are alternatives. Removable shelves and hooks are great because they don’t cause any structural damage as they simply stick to the wall. If you no longer need them or it’s time to move out, just pop them off and the wall will be as good as new.

Other vertical storage ideas include over-the-door hooks, wall pockets and wall racks. These are all great, inexpensive features that will keep your room tidy, your belongings organised and your landlords happy. Just don’t over do it, as too much stuff stored on your walls can make your room look just as messy as if it was all on the floor.       

Desk space

One of the most important pieces of furniture in any respectable student’s room, your desk is at risk of being buried under mountains of paperwork and textbooks if you’re not careful. As well as utilising the desk’s inbuilt drawers, you’ll need to ensure your desktop space is kept organised and clutter-free.

Stationery holders are ideal for keeping your academic tools in order. With dedicated spaces for pens, pencils, rubbers, notepads and other paraphernalia, they are purpose built to store stationery and will sit neatly on your desk. A great, cost-effective alternative is a cutlery tray, which will fit perfectly into one of your desk drawers.

Another great desktop tip is using binder clips to keep your cables tidy. Simply clip them to your desk and use their metallic loops as holders for your phone and laptop chargers.

Wardrobe space

While some students will find they have plenty of clothes storage space in their new accommodation, many others will be struggling to stuff even half of their clothes into their new wardrobe.

If you’re one of those people, don’t despair, there are ways you can maximise your wardrobe space. Firstly, start with your hangers. Get rid of the old chunky ones that take up a lot of space and replace them with thinner, velvet alternatives. You’ll be able to fit more into your wardrobe and they’ll be gentler on your clothes.

Investing in a hanging wardrobe organiser is another great student storage idea. They hang from the wardrobe door or rail and provide extra space to store smaller clothing items such as shoes, t-shirts and accessories.

Bed storage

As one of the largest items in your room, it makes sense to use your bed for storage. Of course, this will depend on the type of bed you have in your student room but, if it has the capacity, your bed is a great place to store unneeded, bulky or seasonal belongings. Fill this space with storage boxes or even stash suitcases full of nonessential items. This will prevent your stuff from getting dusty but also keeps it easily accessible.

Even if your new room has no under-bed storage, you can still make the most of it with a bed pocket organiser. Held in place by the weight of your mattress, these pockets that hang from your bed are great for storing everyday items such as books, shoes, electronics and other smaller belongings.   

How can self storage help students?

Sometimes, even if you have taken advantage of all of the great student storage ideas above, there just isn’t enough space for all your stuff. In these situations, you can find a practical and cost-effective solution in a self storage unit.

These units are ideal for storing larger items, seasonal clothes and any other excess items that will only be cluttering up your room or sat in your communal kitchen annoying your housemates.

You can store your stuff for as long as you need and retrieve them whenever you want (our storage facility has 24/7 access). You can even club together with your housemates to share the space and cost of the storage unit.

To find out more about your student self storage options, get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today.

How Self Storage Units Can Be Your Clothing Storage Solution

Clothes are just one of the many types of belongings that we safely store at Flexible Storage Solutions. From seasonal attire to baby clothes to business stock, our customers store their clothes in our self storage units for a variety of reasons.

But not everyone is aware of the advantages of using a storage facility to store their clothing. Instead, many people stuff their excess clothing into their attics, garages or already bulging wardrobes, which, as well as being prone to mould and insect damage, can take up a great deal of space that could be put to better use.

In this post, we’ll explore the various ways you could benefit from storing your clothing in a storage facility, as well as provide you with some expert tips on the best ways to store your clothing in a storage unit.

So, why might you need to store clothes?

  •      Space saving – let’s face it; the majority of us have more clothes than we need or will probably ever wear. In fact, a recent study claims that the average person only wears about 50% of their wardrobe. When you think about how precious our domestic space is nowadays – especially if you live in London and the South East – it seems criminal to waste it on clothes we’re never going to wear anyway. This doesn’t mean that you should throw everything out, just that you should consider storing it somewhere where it will be safe and accessible. A self storage unit can provide that security and help keep your home clutter free.
  •      Preservation – our clothes can be some of our most treasured and costly belongings. From haute couture to vintage items to sentimental garments, many clothes need to be looked after properly to prevent damage and decay. This is especially the case for seasonal clothing, when items need to be stored for months on end. Many of us have had the experience of eagerly digging out their favourite winter jumper, only to find it riddled with moth holes or covered in mould. A storage unit provides you with the space and resources to ensure your favourite items are as safely stored as can be.
  •      Business – it’s not just personal storage customers who can benefit from clothing storage units, many small clothes businesses are waking up to the benefits too. With rental costs significantly lower than traditional office rates and the relative ease of expanding operations with demand and the seasons, storage units are perfect for growing clothing businesses. Similarly, many theatre productions and costume companies take advantage of the flexibility offered by storage facilities, helping to keep costs down and their operation adaptable.    

How to preserve clothes in storage

  •      Have a clear out – use this opportunity to go through all of your clothes to see what items you actually wear and what items are just collecting dust. Try to be as strict as you can. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn a piece in the past year, you probably won’t wear it again. Donate as much as you can to friends, family and charities. De-clutter your home and do a good deed – it’s a win-win for everyone!
  •      Wash and fully dry your clothes – before you start packing up your clothes, make sure they are clean and FULLY dry. Any moisture will quickly develop a damp smell and attract mould once your clothes are stored. Ironing is normally unnecessary but having items dry-cleaned is recommended as they are guaranteed to be clean, dry and protected with plastic coverings that are great for storage.  
  •      Pack properly – when packing clothing into storage boxes, remember to put heavier items at the bottom and lighter items at the top. Rolling clothes can often optimise space but don’t over pack boxes as your clothes may lose their shape and severely crease. While some have recommended vacuum sealing clothes in the past, the industry consensus today is that the lack of air inside the vacuum bag can damage clothing fibres as well as trap in moisture.
  •      Keep an inventory – whatever clothing you decide to put into storage, make sure you keep an inventory of what you have actually packed. This should include labelling the contents of each box, as well as a written list itemising everything that you’ve packed. This will make things a great deal easier when you want to retrieve a particular item of clothing in the future.

How can Flexible Storage help?

When storing your clothes or clothing stock for the long term, you’ll want to ensure that they are preserved in the best possible storage space. As well as being secure and accessible, you’ll want a clothes storage unit that is cost-effective too.

That’s where we can help! At Flexible Storage, we have a variety of clothing storage solutions to choose from. From specialist storage materials such as reinforced storage boxes and packing tape, to water and fireproof storage units, we can help home and business customers of every size, all at a competitive price.

Get in touch with our friendly team to discuss your clothing storage options today.

Moving Day – How to pack up your house for storage

So moving day is just around the corner. Your house is sold, you’ve spent months planning the big move and you’ve finally got round to hiring a professional storage facility. All you need to do now is pack up all of your worldly belongings so that they get to your new home or go into storage safely.

It sounds straightforward enough but, as with most things, it’s easier said than done. There are definitely right ways and wrong ways when it comes to packing. Do it right and your personal items with survive the move in one piece; do it wrong and you might have to say goodbye to some of your most treasured possessions.

So how do you go about packing up your house for storage? Let us help you out with our straightforward packing advice.

Understand your storage unit restrictions

Before you start boxing up your stuff, make sure you know the dimensions of your storage unit so you know exactly how much storage space you have to use. As well as knowing how much you can store, you need to know what you can store. Your storage facility should inform you of all the items that cannot be stored in your unit. This will vary between facilities but restricted items will generally include:

  • Hazardous materials – this includes corrosive chemicals, noxious gases, flammable substances or anything that could explodes such as compressed gas. These materials pose serious health risks and you could be liable if any damage occurred as a result of storing dangerous items.
  • Perishable items – this includes pet food as well as other general food items. While canned foods are generally permitted, anything perishable may attract pests such as insects and rodents. This is a health and safety issue and also risks damage to your belongings.
  • Anything living – this includes animals, people and, for the most part, plants too! Although we may offer 24 hour access to our storage units, they are not designed to be lived in.    

Use proper packing materials

If you’re planning on moving important personal items, last Christmas’s gift boxes are probably not going to cut it. To ensure your belongings are as safe and secure as possible, you are going to need plenty of boxes in varying sizes. Reinforced industrial storage boxes are the best but there are plenty of alternatives on the market. As well as boxes, you will need padding in the form of bubble wrap, loose fill foam peanuts or good old-fashioned newspaper. Avoid using plastic bags to protect items as they can attract mildew and – as you’re more than aware – they’re not great for the environment. Remember to use robust packing tape to seal your boxes shut – you don’t want any accidents!

(At Flexible Storage, we can provide you with the best packing materials to ensure your items are safe in transit and in storage. These materials range from bubble wrap to paper furniture covers to packing tape. Contact us today to find out more.)

Label everything clearly

Packing items for storage is no small task. You will be handling and storing hundreds of items in a relatively short space of time. It’s easy to forget what you have packed in each box so remember to label each box with the details of its content. We’ll leave you to decide how specific to get with your labelling but knowing exactly what is in each box will go a long way to avoiding any losses. As you are putting these items into storage for an extended period of time, it’s always better to be overly cautious. Trust us – you’ll be glad of it when the time comes to collect your storage.

Make an inventory of your items

Packing up your house can be a hectic time. With all the people, boxes, dust and bubble wrap, it can be hard to keep track of exactly what you’re packing. As well as labelling your boxes, keep a detailed inventory of your boxes as you pack everything away. We recommend creating at least two copies of your inventory – one for you and one to keep in your storage unit. This way, you’ll always know exactly what possessions are in storage. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and energy the next time you come to retrieve any of your storage items.

Pack your belongings efficiently

Space is a premium when it comes to packing, so try not to waste any of it. You’ll need to fill up boxes completely to avoid items moving in transit and becoming damaged. However, packing items too tightly can put strain on your boxes and risk damage to your items so stop if you feel like you’re forcing items into boxes. Remember, the key to successful packing is using sufficient amounts of the right packing material. Fill any gaps with soft belongings or padding such as newspaper.

Extra packing tips:

  • Always fill boxes with heavier items first, then pack lighter objects on top.
  • Use larger boxes for lighter items and smaller boxes for heavier items. This will make it a lot easier to transport boxes – your back (or your removal men) can thank us later!
  • Delicate items such as plates and glass should be packed vertically to reduce the risk of breakage.

For more advice on packing things for storage, get in touch with our friendly team today. One of our professional storage consultants can talk you through your self storage options and even provide you with a tailored quote.