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The Importance of Inspection When Buying a Used Shipping Container

Shipping containers are an excellent option for storage, transportation, and even housing, but when it comes to buying a used container, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection before making your purchase. A proper inspection will ensure that you’re getting a container that’s fit for its intended purpose and won’t cost you extra money in repairs down the road. In this blog post, we’ll go over the key areas to inspect when buying a used shipping container.


Why Inspections are Necessary

  • Used shipping containers can have hidden issues that may not be immediately obvious, such as rust, leaks, or structural damage. An inspection will reveal any issues that may affect the container’s ability to function as intended.
  • Inspections also provide valuable information about the container’s history, including how it was used, how well it was maintained, and if it has been in any accidents or natural disasters.
  • Inspections help you to confirm that the container meets industry standards and regulations.

What to Look for During an Inspection

There are a few key things to look for when conducting an inspection of a used shipping container to ensure that you’re getting a container that is safe and fit for purpose.

Structural Integrity:

Look for any signs of rust, dents, holes, or other damage that may have compromised the container’s structural integrity. Pay special attention to the corners and the roof, as these areas are particularly susceptible to rust and water damage.


Check the condition of the container’s flooring, looking for signs of rot, holes, or other damage. It is also a good idea to make sure the floor is level and even.

Doors and Locks:

Make sure the doors open and close smoothly and securely. Check for any signs of damage or wear and tear on the doors and the locking mechanisms.

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Inspect the condition of any windows present on the container, looking for cracks or missing glass.

Interior and Exterior:

Check the container’s interior and exterior for any signs of leaks, mold, or mildew. Inspection of the general condition is also important, as this will provide an indication of how well the container has been taken care of in the past.


Make sure all vents are intact and functioning properly. Look for any blockages or signs of corrosion.


Where to Find an Inspection Service

Many shipping container dealers and suppliers offer inspection services. Make sure the inspector is reputable and has experience with shipping container inspections. Some independent surveyors also offer inspection services. Search online for “shipping container inspector” to find a list of local professionals.

A proper inspection is essential when buying a used shipping container. It will ensure that you’re getting a container that’s safe, functional, and fit for its intended purpose. A well-conducted inspection will also provide valuable information about the container’s history and condition, giving you peace of mind and confidence in your purchase.

Cost of Inspection Services for Shipping Containers

In addition to the importance of inspecting a used shipping container before purchasing, it’s also important to consider the cost of the inspection. The cost of inspection services can vary depending on several factors, including the inspector’s location, the size and condition of the container, and the level of detail required in the inspection.

  • Basic inspections typically cost between $75 – $150 and cover the basic areas of the container such as the structural integrity, flooring, doors, and locks.
  • A more comprehensive inspection, which includes a detailed examination of the container’s condition, and providing a detailed report will cost between $250 to $500.
  • If the container is in a remote location, additional costs may be incurred to cover the inspector’s travel expenses.
  • Large, high-value shipping containers may require additional inspection services, such as cargo surveys, which can cost upwards of $1000

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It’s worth noting that some container sellers or providers will include inspection reports with the container, and those inspections are done by third-party professional surveyors. So, it’s worth checking if the inspection report is included in the price or not before making a purchase.

It’s also worth noting that inspection costs should be considered as part of the overall cost of purchasing a used shipping container.

While it may be tempting to skip the inspection in order to save money, keep in mind that an inspection can reveal costly repairs or issues that may not be immediately obvious. In the long run, investing in an inspection can save you money by helping you avoid purchasing a container that may require significant repairs or may not be fit for its intended purpose.


How to Budget For a Shipping Container

When budgeting for a shipping container, it’s essential to factor in the cost of an inspection. One way to budget for a shipping container with inspection fees in mind is to set aside a certain percentage of the total cost of the container for the inspection.

Set Aside Inspection Fees When Calculating the Cost

For example, if you’re planning to spend $10,000 on a shipping container, you may want to set aside 10% of that budget, or $1,000, for the inspection. This will help ensure that you have enough money set aside to cover the cost of the inspection, while still staying within your overall budget for the container.

Research Inspection Costs

Another way to budget for a shipping container with inspection fees in mind is to research inspection costs in your area before making a purchase. Knowing the average cost of an inspection in your area can help you budget accordingly and avoid any surprises when it comes to inspection costs.

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Compare Prices from Shipping Container Sellers to Keep Costs Low

It’s also worth considering the cost of inspections when comparing the prices of shipping containers from different sellers. Some sellers may include the cost of an inspection in the price of the container, while others may not. Be sure to ask if the inspection is included in the price and if not, factor the inspection cost into your budget and compare the final prices.

It’s important to keep in mind that purchasing a shipping container is an investment, and you want to make sure that the shipping container you buy is fit for its intended use and that you know what you are paying for. An inspection can give you that peace of mind and budgeting for it will help you to make informed and cost-effective decisions when purchasing shipping containers.


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