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Shipping Container Conversions - Job Site, Portable Offices

19.05.2013 - Posted by Updated On 19.05.2013    

Many types of companies have been using portable, job-site offices for years. They can be seen on construction sites, oil fields, and even emergency management sites. While the idea isn’t new, a twist that has grown popular is to convert new or used shipping containers into the office. It’s a solution that’s cost effective, very durable, and environmentally friendly.

When compared with traditional job-site offices, shipping containers offer a lot of great features that you just can’t get from a traditional structure.

  • COR-TEN steel structure: Shipping containers are naturally wind and water tight, and won’t rot or decay in the same manner that a wooden structure will.
  • Highly Secure: Unlike wood, vinyl, or aluminium shipping containers are made of steel and are very difficult to break into. They won’t burn, and you can’t cut your way into them without the help of a torch.
  • Customizable: Shipping containers are often converted at a local machine shop, not in a factor in some far off part of the world. This means that you’re able to provide a greater amount of input in the design and features, and get an office unit that meets all of your needs.
20' shipping container office 40' shipping container office

How to Convert a Shipping Container into an Office

Unless you’re a skilled craftsman, we recommend that you work with a machine shop or fabricator to have your shipping container converted. The tools, knowledge and experience required is not something that an inexperienced person should tackle.

Shipping containers traditionally come in 20’ and 40’ lengths, and are 8’ wide; meaning there’s more than enough space to work with. Once you decide on how large of an office you’ll need, the next step is deciding on what components you’ll need to have installed.

Windows: 36’ x 36’ holes are cut in the sides to add steel window frames. The windows can vary in size, but this is standard size that most people use. They’re widely available, and inexpensive to buy and maintain. Normally, a 20’ container office will have two windows; however more can be added if they’re required. Traditional wood frame windows are not recommended. When the container is moved it may flex and cause damage to the window itself.

Doors: A traditional man door is cut and added, usually to the long side of the container. Depending on the type of company and the usage, roll up doors can also be added; however they tend to be less secure than a man door.

Vents: Breather vents can be added to the sides of the container to provide some ventilation. In humid areas these vents are very important to keep the condensation to a minimum. Many companies provide custom vents that are specifically designed for containers. They’re large enough to allow for adequate air flow, but birds, inspects and animals won’t be able to fit through.

Lighting: Lighting in any office is important, and a portable office is no different. There are two popular options for providing lighting, either a direct plug into a generator or power source; or solar power. In some cases you can use both and benefit from maximum efficiency. The most cost effective lighting is traditional tube lighting that runs the length of the container. It’s inexpensive, efficient, and easy to maintain.

Optional Storage Area: In some cases the original container doors are no longer needed, so they’re blocked off. However, we recommend that you create a small storage area for tools, shovels, or other equipment that needs to be left on site. A wall can be framed out inside of the container between the office and the container doors and it creates a great area for storing any type of equipment.

Depending on where you’re located, there are many companies in the United States and Canada that can modify a shipping container into a portable office solution. works with many of these companies and has a regular supply of office containers sold through the container marketplace. If you have any questions about portable shipping container offices you’re welcome to contact any of our sellers or make an inquiry direct with our office and we’ll point you in the right direction.

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