Essential Factors to Consider When Buying Shipping Containers

In recent years, shipping containers have emerged as versatile solutions for various applications beyond their original purpose of transporting goods. From affordable housing and pop-up shops to mobile offices and art studios, shipping containers have become increasingly popular for their durability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. If you’re considering buying a shipping container for your next project, it’s crucial to weigh several factors to ensure you make the right choice. In this blog post, we’ll explore the essential factors to consider when buying shipping containers.


New or Used Shipping Containers

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when purchasing a shipping container is whether to buy new or used. Both options come with their advantages and disadvantages:

New Shipping Containers

  • Pros: New containers, also known as “one-trip containers,” are in excellent condition, having only been used for a single trip. They’re free from any structural damage, rust, or wear and tear, making them ideal for projects that require a pristine appearance or structural integrity.
  • Cons: The primary disadvantage of new shipping containers is their higher cost compared to used containers.

Used Shipping Containers

  • Pros: Used containers are more affordable than new ones, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious buyers. They’re also more eco-friendly, as purchasing a used container helps keep it from ending up in a landfill.
  • Cons: Used containers may have dents, rust, or other signs of wear and tear, which may require repair or refurbishment. Additionally, they may have a shorter lifespan compared to new containers.

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Size and Dimensions

Shipping containers come in various sizes and dimensions, so it’s crucial to choose the right one to suit your project’s needs. The most common sizes are:

  • 20-foot container: Measuring 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8.6 feet high, this size is suitable for small projects, such as a single room or a small pop-up shop.
  • 40-foot container: With dimensions of 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8.6 feet high, this size is ideal for larger projects, like multi-room living spaces or spacious offices.

There are also high-cube containers, which offer an extra foot in height, providing more interior space for projects that require additional headroom.

Shipping Container Material

Shipping containers are typically made from two types of steel: corten steel and mild steel. Corten steel, also known as weathering steel, is more resistant to corrosion and has a longer lifespan compared to mild steel. However, it’s also more expensive. If your project requires a container with enhanced durability and resistance to the elements, investing in a corten steel container may be a wise choice.


Inspections and Certifications

Before purchasing a shipping container, it’s essential to inspect it for any damage, rust, or structural issues that may impact its usability. If you’re buying a used container, consider hiring a professional inspector to ensure it’s in good condition. Additionally, if you plan to use the container for international shipping, it must meet specific certifications, such as the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) standards. Ensure that the container you’re purchasing meets all necessary certifications for your intended use.

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Delivery and Logistics

When buying a shipping container, it’s important to factor in the cost and logistics of delivering it to your project site. Ensure that the seller can deliver the container and inquire about the associated costs, as delivery fees can vary depending on factors such as distance and accessibility. Additionally, make sure you have the necessary equipment and space to accommodate the container at your project site. This may include preparing the site with a level surface, ensuring sufficient clearance for delivery trucks, and having a crane or forklift available for placement, if necessary.

Customization and Modification

Depending on your project’s requirements, you may need to modify your shipping container to suit your specific needs. This could involve adding windows, doors, insulation, ventilation, or electrical and plumbing systems. Before purchasing a container, consider the extent of the modifications you’ll need and factor in the associated costs. Some sellers offer modification services, which can save you time and effort, while others may only sell the container as-is, requiring you to handle the modifications yourself or hire a contractor.

Local Regulations and Permits

Before embarking on a shipping container project, it’s crucial to research local building codes, zoning regulations, and permitting requirements in your area. Some jurisdictions may have specific rules or restrictions regarding the use of shipping containers for various purposes, such as housing or commercial spaces. Ensure that you’re familiar with these regulations and obtain any necessary permits before purchasing a shipping container to avoid potential legal issues or costly fines.

Making an Informed Shipping Container Purchase

By considering the factors outlined above – such as new vs. used containers, size and dimensions, material, inspections and certifications, delivery logistics, customization and modification, and local regulations – you can make an informed decision when purchasing a shipping container for your project. By taking the time to research and plan, you’ll be better prepared to find the perfect container to suit your needs, maximize the potential of your project, and enjoy the many benefits that shipping containers have to offer.

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Shipping Container Costs: Comparing Size and Type

To help you make a more informed decision when purchasing a shipping container, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the costs associated with different container sizes and types. Keep in mind that these prices are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as the container’s condition, material, and location. Here’s a breakdown of average costs for the most common shipping container sizes and types:


20-foot Shipping Containers

  • New: A new 20-foot container typically costs between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the material, manufacturer, and demand.
  • Used: Used 20-foot containers are generally more affordable, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, based on the container’s condition and age.

40-foot Shipping Containers

  • New: A new 40-foot container can range from $6,000 to $8,000, with corten steel containers often being more expensive due to their increased durability and resistance to corrosion.
  • Used: Used 40-foot containers tend to cost between $2,500 and $5,000, with prices varying according to the container’s condition, age, and material.

High-Cube Containers

  • New 20-foot High-Cube: A new 20-foot high-cube container, which offers an extra foot in height, can cost between $3,500 and $5,500.
  • Used 20-foot High-Cube: The price for a used 20-foot high-cube container typically ranges from $2,000 to $3,500.
  • New 40-foot High-Cube: A new 40-foot high-cube container can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $9,000, depending on factors such as material and demand.
  • Used 40-foot High-Cube: A used 40-foot high-cube container usually costs between $3,000 and $6,000, with prices varying based on condition, age, and material.

Remember that these costs do not include delivery fees, modifications, or any necessary permits, so be sure to factor those expenses into your budget as well.

Making a Cost-effective Shipping Container Purchase

When purchasing a shipping container, understanding the costs associated with different sizes and types can help you make a more cost-effective decision. By comparing new and used containers, considering the required modifications, and factoring in delivery and permitting expenses, you can find the perfect shipping container for your project without breaking the bank. With careful planning and research, you can enjoy the many benefits and versatility that shipping containers have to offer, while also making a wise financial investment in your project’s success.


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