Warehouse Specific Considerations: Fencing, Scales, and Roof Lifting

The Logistics of Leasing


While you are doing construction on your office, warehouse and docks, you will also install exterior fencing if this is something that is important to you. Most fencing is relatively standard wrought iron or chain link. Companies may need fencing to protect their trucks, equipment, trailers, or shipping containers.

You’ll want to install all of your fencing while you are constructing your other tenant improvements. I have found that sometimes you need to rework existing fencing as well. In one instance, I sold a 46,000 SF building for a health food supplement company in Costa Mesa, CA. We were in escrow with a credible buyer when everything came screeching to a halt. The buyer had reviewed their property survey and realized that a part of the fencing didn’t go all the way out to the corner of the property. On the other side of the fence was the neighbor who had taken over that part of our property and used it as a break area with a picknick table for people to use for lunch. Imagine our surprise to learn that the neighbors lunch table was the difference between the buyer using this property or not. They had been using it for 10 years like that! We had to reach out to the neighbor, negotiate a solution for them to relocate their lunch area and then hire a fencing company to relocate the fencing to the property line in order to complete the sale.

During your due diligence it is important to double check the property fencing line on the property you are leasing. You might find that that there are some changes that need to be made that can be incorporated into the lease and paid for by the landlord.


Scales are important for some logistics companies that have to weigh their truckloads and these companies must install them onsite if there aren’t weighing stations conveniently located nearby. If this is the case, it is essential to find an industrial property with the right yard dimensions to install and utilize a scale. If a fully loaded trailer is 74′ and most truck courts need to be 110′ you can see how important it is to map out traffic to make sure the scale position to optimized, it along with all other company-related truck traffic.

When considering a truck scale, your first option is an above-ground scale. The second option is to install a scale below the ground. In either instance, you will need prior landlord approval. Landlords will want to know the make and model and type of construction needed to install and remove the scale. They may also ask that you remove it when you ultimately move out of the property.

Roof Lifting

Roof lifting is a specialized kind of general contracting reserved for creating new potential uses for older functionally obsolescent warehouses. Roof lifting works for industrial buildings, retail buildings, and other commercial applications. We’ll focus on industrial buildings here.

The high-level roof lifting process synopsis is:

  • Support the existing roof with hydraulics
  • Separate it from the four walls and columns
  • Incrementally raise it uniformly using hydraulic lifts until you reach the desired height
  • Install the new supports columns
  • Construct the facade that raises the surrounding four walls
  • Reconnect the building systems

The roof lifting feasibility process starts as an exploratory mission where no substantial commitment is made in a lump sum upfront. The general contractor walks the job site to understand your operational needs and inspect the property conditions. If there is a new roof and an accompanying manufacturers and installers warranty, then they will be looped into the conversation. You will spend a few thousand dollars on preliminary engineering studies and drawings, along with concrete slab borings, and pressure testing initially.

Not all industrial buildings can have their roof lifted. The main limiting factor to explore during feasibility is the suitability of the concrete slab. The purpose of raising the ceiling is to create an increase in cubic volume. High racking means more pounds per square inch load on the floor. Slab thickness can be determined by building plans if available and by taking samples in the field.

Additional feasibility is required for the existing fire suppression system, electricity, roof drains, roof warranty along with existing conditions of the operation if you have already moved in. Only certain operations can remain in the building during a roof lift as the lifting of the roof means exposure to the elements, the separation of electrical conduit, and the disconnection of fire sprinkler pipes. The best time to lift the roof is when the building is vacant.

Just like tenant improvements can be paid for and performed by the landlord or tenant, so can roof lifting. One overlooked benefit to roof lifting is speed. In most cases, roof lifting is allowable within the warehouse’s current zoning code.

When it comes to lifting the roof on your existing building, you save on relocating expenses, tenant improvements expenses, project management time, disruption of time and effort, and more. The question becomes, how much can capacity be increased, and at what cost?

There are obvious concerns regarding safety, weather, and timing considerations when lifting the roof in a building you already occupy. It can be possible to raise the ceiling without completely vacating the space underneath the roof to be lifted. If it is snowing outside, it is not the right time to open the roof for weeks and months at a time. Still, given careful consideration and preparation, it is possible to lift the roof while occupying the warehouse with modest disruption and an immediate increase in capacity. From a practical standpoint, you may need to find temporary space for your inventory in order to accommodate the break down and removal of the existing racking system, and then the installation, inspection, and loading of the new taller racking.

It also may not be necessary to lift the entire roof in some cases. Let’s say that you have manufacturing in half of the building and distribution in half of the building. You have reorganized your production line and invested in new machinery to meet the demand contributing to higher inventory levels. You may have reorganized your supply chain and realized that you need to keep more inventory on hand in case of a strike at the ports, or a new round of tariffs. In this case, you can raise the roof on half of the building to accommodate higher racking without disrupting the manufacturing side.