Determining the best RV storage solution for you and your family

Having a recreational vehicle (RV) is a great way to enjoy a weekend retreat with family and friends, but storing an RV during the offseason can be a challenge for owners.

“The number one thing is you need to look at the bylaws of the community you live in,” said Chris Swift, sales manager at Woody’s RV World in Calgary, adding the rules pertaining to parking and storing RVs vary by city.

Most strictly limit or prohibit storing a vehicle on a city street, but there are exceptions. For example, Swift says, in Airdrie you can park an RV on your driveway provided it does not extend past the property line.

He says because of these limitations, many people decide to instead rent space in an RV storage facility.

When looking for a storage company, Swift suggests finding one close to home, with a key card or passcode system to enter and exit the facility, and with extended hours of access – so it is convenient to pick up and drop off your RV.

Also, ask about the security features of the facility. For towable units, consider buying a hitch lock at an RV dealership so it can’t be quickly hitched up and hauled away.

Diane Ryman, owner and manager of Springbank Self Storage and RV, says using a storage facility is better than breaking community bylaws, or storing an RV in a farmer’s field and later finding it full of mice.

Ryman says their customers are assigned a specific parking stall that is theirs to access daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Owners of motorhomes who arrive in another vehicle to pick up their RV are allowed to leave it parked in their stall.

When people do unusual things to their property, it’s important to consider the issue of conformity. Conformity is a strong reference of contributory value.

Ryman says they also have propane tank exchanges, as well as free sani-stations and potable water so RV owners can skip the lineup at the campground when heading back.

Another RV storage option is to build a parking pad or garage to park when not in use.
In Calgary, you don’t need a building permit to construct a driveway or landing area, but it is required to build a regular-sized garage.

However, they need to meet requirements of the Land Use Bylaw. For example, the structure must be a certain distance from the property lines depending on the community. For a garage, the overall area and height of the structure are also considerations.

Anything exceeding the dimensions outlined in the bylaw, such as a very tall garage to store a travel trailer or motorhome, would require a development permit. It could be denied if the project is deemed to have a negative impact on neighbours.

The City of Calgary recommends that people who have questions about the process phone the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311.

If you do choose to add RV storage to your property, it probably won’t add much value and could even have some negative consequences.

“When people do unusual things to their property, it’s important to consider the issue of conformity,” said Greg Macdonald, co-owner of Sage Appraisals. “Conformity is a strong reference of contributory value.”

Macdonald says the cost of adding RV storage is not going to be recovered when you sell the home. It may also reduce the number of potential buyers or increase the length of time it takes to sell the home, but that depends on the details.

In that respect, he says owning a large pie-shaped lot or a corner lot where an RV pad or garage won’t take up most of the backyard would be better than having a starter home on a small lot.