A shipping container has so many uses and applications away from the obvious. For example, it can be a secure storage space that can weather different environments and temperatures. Or you can opt for a pre-built office container that works as a portable workspace with all the various needs for a fully-functional office. An office container would be available with HVAC, windows and doors, electric outlets, insulation, and ply walls. A shipping container is also fairly adaptable, easily customized into workplace buildings like offices, restaurants, hotel rooms, site headquarters, and more. These containers also come in various sizes and length options to fit your needs and match the space you have available to you.
Based on your reasons for use, you can either rent or buy a shipping container. The former is useful if you don’t want any customization done. However, if you want to truly make the containers your own, and customize it to meet your specific needs, buying the container outright makes the most sense. If you plan on buying a container instead of renting it, there are a few things to keep in mind while making your choice.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Shipping Container
- Space Available for the Container: Before you decide what kind of container you want; you need to figure out how much space you have to work with. When analyzing different shipping containers for sale, the size of the container you are considering will strongly depend on the site you plan on installing it at. A few factors to consider:
- Whether or not the land is hard and flat (the site may need to be prepped for installation if this isn’t the case);
- There should be no obstructions such as overhanging branches or power lines obstructing the site;
- There should be at least 14 feet of overhead room (more if you plan on stacking containers), and a clear area of up to 100 feet for installation for the largest containers.
- Size of the Container: The length of the container you opt for will vary, so once you know the amount of space you have to work with, figure out what your shipping container size needs are as well. Container length options typically range from 10 feet to 20 feet, 24 feet, and 40 feet. The width and height are standard across the range at 8 feet by 8.6 feet. Remember, these are the exterior dimensions, and the container will be slightly smaller on the inside due to the thickness of the container’s walls. It will be impacted by the inclusion of additional insulation cladding or the wood lining for the container walls if you opt for one.
- Quality and Material of the Container: Not all containers are the same. Some are made of metal, others of aluminum, and some contain alloys of different metals. The quality of your container will depend on the material it is made of, so make sure to do your research about the material that makes up the container you choose. Also, look for an ISO certification to ensure that the quality of the container you are considering isn’t sub-par.
- New or Used: The price of the container you choose will depend on whether you go for a new container or a used option. A new one will be more expensive, and a used one will be cheaper. You might even get a used container of a larger size in the same money it would cost you to buy a smaller one that’s brand new. So, based on the budget you have allocated and the specific size you are looking at, you can choose from both these options.
- Condition of the Container: If you opt for a new container, the condition shouldn’t be too much of an issue as long as it comes with the right ISO certification. However, if you go for a used shipping container, you need to take a closer look at the container you are considering for signs of wear and tear or rusting. If you plan heavy modifications, a container that’s a little worse for wear won’t be too bad; however, if you need one that’s ready to use from the get-go with little to no prep work on your part, a pristine specimen might be the way to go.
- The Duration of Your Container Requirement: Whether you even need to buy the container, or can you explore a lease option instead will depend entirely on how long you need the container. If you plan to use it for only a short term, one that typically won’t last more than a year or two, a lease may work out cheaper. However, if you want a container that you plan to extract utility from over a long time, an outright purchase is smart. Renting isn’t an option if you plan on making any permanent changes to the container’s structure.
- Delivery & Setup: The logistics of getting a container that could be up to 100 feet long aren’t that straightforward. You will need transportation, the installation know-how, and even the possible use of a crane to install the container at the site. If you have access to the right resources and have the prerequisite knowledge to pick up the container yourself and put it in place, you will be able to save some money on delivery and installation. If not, you would rather leave this to the experts to ensure that there are no delays and no damages to the container before it is put into place.
- Level of Security of Container: Containers usually come with a latch to enclose them, or lockable door handles. Usually, these handles and latches can be easily padlocked for security. However, a padlock may not be enough if you are storing precious cargo within the container, use it as an office, have important documents inside, or have your container installed off-site in a remote location. In any of these instances, you may want to look for a high-security container which features an additional lockbox.
- Configurations and Modifications Planned for the Container: Containers are available with wider double-door options for larger cargo. As we mentioned earlier, you can also get them with features such as HVAC, electrical fixtures, lighting options, and racks pre-installed. You can also have containers modified based on your specifications to accommodate your needs. If modifications are part of your end-game plan, you need to figure out where you will get them done and how much you are willing to invest to ensure everything is up to spec.
- Container Maintenance: As we mentioned earlier, containers, particularly used ones, may look a little disheveled and may have some rusting issues. These containers are tough and can last a long time, but if you want to arrest these issues or improve the look of the container, you may need to get it painted and coated with anti-rust treatments from time to time. Whether the seller is offering these services or will have to look elsewhere to get these maintenance activities done is another factor to keep in mind.
This list may seem a little daunting, but it is essential that you look into all the factors that apply to your case. Doing so will ensure that you get the perfect container for your purpose, and your investment will bear the most fruit. Top-tier container solutions companies will typically be able to help you with most, if not all, of the factors above, and will check all the boxes for reliability and durability. Make sure you do your research and conduct due diligence regarding the reputation and scale of operations for the container company you choose.