Planning Your Pallet Rack Project Timeline

Planning Your Pallet Rack Project Timeline


So your company is growing faster than you can keep up with and you’ve outgrown your current space. What a great problem to have!

Your plans for the new warehouse are going along smoothly, but when should you start thinking about pallet racking? Sooner rather than later. Lead times for new racks can take weeks, or even months, depending on what type and what quantity of pallet rack you need.

We’ll help you set a timeline so everything runs smooth!

Note: this guide is based on the approximate timelines for a small to medium-sized project, which generally ranges from 5,000 to 20,000 sqft of warehouse space. If you have a large project, you’ll want to give yourself more time for each step.

A Word About Rack Permits

Pallet rack or shelving over 5′ 9″ is required to be permitted. While we recommend you obtain permits on your rack, some people choose not to (it’s okay — we don’t judge.)

With regards to planning your project, be aware that the permit process adds about 6-8 weeks to the timeline if everything goes smoothly. If the initial permit application is denied (ie, for fire sprinkler concerns) be prepared to add 2-8 months to the process.

If you’re about to go through the permitting process, we recommend you read more about pallet rack permits or contact us.

Evaluation: 1 to 2 weeks

Give yourself a week or two to evaluate your needs and figure out what kind of racking is ideal for your space. Not sure what size pallet rack you need? Contact us or check out our recent guides.

If you need to obtain purchasing approval from your company, be sure to factor in the time it takes to go through that process. 

Seismic Calculations & CAD Layouts: 2 to 3 weeks

It typically takes two weeks to perform all of the seismic calculations and get all the CAD drawings produced for your building. These documents are required in order to submit the permit application. 

Permits: 3 to 8 weeks

This is where many companies can hit an unexpected delay.

Your city or county will take several weeks to review the permit application. In most cases, we find this review takes 3 to 8 weeks, but your city may have a particularly long backlog. You can call the city/county building permit department and ask them how long you should expect for a pallet rack permit. Take whatever they say, and add a week.

There is not much you can do speed up this process, so give yourself enough time to let things go through the system.

NOTE: If you are storing product over 12’, you fall under “high piled storage” requirements. This means the city/county will evaluate the sprinklers in your building and the flammability of your product. If there are any issues, they may decline your initial application. They may require upgrades to your building (such as an enhanced fire sprinkler system) before your permit can be approved. This can add several months to the process.

Manufacturing: 2 to 12 weeks

The lead time for manufacturing depends on:

(1) Size of the project
(2) Standard size or custom size
(3) Factory lead time

If you have a small order and you’re using standard sizes, the lead time is likely to be closer to two weeks. Standard sizes are often available for “quick ship.”

If you need a large quantity, the lead time is likely to be closer to 6-12 weeks. 

Note: we manufacture custom size pallet racking in-house, and we can almost always beat the lead time on custom racking from any other supplier.

When should manufacturing begin?

In an ideal scenario (where you are planning your project several months in advance), it is safest to wait until you receive your permit before beginning manufacturing of the racking. If you’re short on time, you can order the pallet rack prior to receiving the permit, which sometimes works out fine. However, there is always a risk that the city may deny the permit (ie, because of inadequate fire sprinklers).

Two common solutions to a denied permit are to (1) modify your building/sprinkler system to meet the city’s requirements (very expensive) or (2) change the pallet rack plan. Sometimes the easiest solution is to reduce the height of the racking, but if the pallet rack has already been manufactured you may be stuck with racking you can’t install.

Installation: 2 to 4 weeks

Most small pallet rack installation jobs can be completed in a few days with a typical three to five-person crew. However, installers are often booked out for two to eight weeks in advance. You’ll want to get on the installation schedule at least a few weeks ahead of your ideal installation date.

Inspections: 2 to 5 days

I know what you’re thinking – everything is installed and finished with – but not quite! You’ll need a few days to get the proper inspections completed. There are at least two inspections that will be required:

Special InspectionThis is an inspection of the pallet rack anchors. This inspection can usually take place 1-3 days after the installation is completed. After the inspection, it may take a few more days for you to receive the inspection report (which you’ll need for the final inspection.)

Final InspectionAfter you have the special inspection report, you can schedule the Final Inspection with your city/county. As soon as they inspect and approve your permit, you are then allowed to load your racking.

From Start to Finish?

So how long does a pallet rack project take in total? Every project is different, but on average we see it taking this long:

With permits: 8 to 12 weeks, assuming the city/county approves the initial application and there are no concerns with high-piled storage.

Without permits: 2 to 4 weeks for small quantities/standard in stock sizes, or 4-10 weeks for large quantities/custom sizes.

Check out and share the infographic below for an easy recap!

We always recommend starting your project by speaking to a racking expert. Give us a call or send us a message here to start a conversation!

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