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Build That Wall – With Used Shipping Containers!

08.01.2017 - Posted by Updated On 08.01.2017    

We're just a short time away from installing a new president in the United States, and there's a lot of talk surrounding many of President Elect Trump's new policies. One of the most discussed and debated policies is that of building a wall on the southern border of the United States to help control the flow of illegal drugs and illegal immigrants. Along with the ethics of building a wall to control the border, there's the argument over who will have to pay for the construction. Being "container people", it seems only logical to exercise the idea of building the wall out of used shipping containers. Why used? Because new shipping containers are more expensive and nearly all of them come out of China. The environmental impact aside (since we're repurposing already existing components and saving them from the scrap yard), let's look at the costs involved and compare the two ideas.

Cost to Build a Traditional Wall

The wall would need to be 2,000 miles long, and could use the existing 670 miles of fencing already in place, leaving us with approximately 1,300 miles to build. According to CNBC, using traditional building materials the wall would cost around $16 million per mile, or $15 billion to $25 billion to build.

The full article can be read here, "This is what Trump's border wall could cost US".

Cost to Build a Shipping Container Wall

The distance of the wall would need to be the same, at 1,300 miles long. However, let's replace traditional concrete and fencing with used shipping containers (to keep it easy, let's assume we're using all 40' shipping containers). First, we need to convert the miles to feet. The wall would be 6,864,000 feet long. If we're using 40' shipping container border wall
shipping containers it would come out to 171,600 containers for a single height wall. For arguments sake, let's say that we want the wall a little higher and build our wall two containers tall, putting us at 343,200x 40' containers. If President Trump's people can negotiate a good deal with multiple shipping lines and leasing companies let's say they can get the containers for $1,200/unit. Excluding any foundation requirements and other improvements our container wall will cost $411,840,000.00, or a mere $316,800.00 per mile.


A foundation of some type will be required, so to keep the work moving along quickly let's estimate for a concrete slab foundation which will require 5,084,446.48 cubic yards of concrete (1,300 miles, 10' wide, 2' deep). That would come in at an estimated $406,755,718.26 cost for the concrete, putting the total cost of our wall so far to $ 818,595,718.26, or $629,689.01 per mile - around $15.3 million less than the traditional estimates!

At this point we need to include labor costs and any container improvements such as office space, processing lines, medical facilities, guard towers, etc. All of which can be incorporated inside of the shipping containers. Other variables would be trucking the containers to the location and a crane to lift them in place. And since we're talking the possibility of prefab work being done, the effort could be spread across the United States so that more areas benefit from the construction through economic and small business opportunities. For example, a set number of "medical containers" could be manufactured in West Virginia by out of work coal miners then moved into place.

Annual maintenance on a traditional wall is estimated to be $750 million, but the numbers published do not go into any specific details. Shipping containers do well in dry, hot conditions so it can only be assumed that the physical maintenance costs would be lower. If repairs were needed, the container unit could simply be swapped out with a new unit.

Soon to be President Trump, if you have any questions regarding about building all, or sections of the border wall, with used shipping containers we invite you to contact us directly to discuss the idea in more detail.

ContainerAuction.com is an online marketplace for buying and selling both new and used shipping containers. Our active sellers represent shipping container lines and container leasing companies around the United States and the rest of the world.



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