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Should I Buy a New Shipping Container?

21.10.2012 - Posted by Updated On 21.10.2012    

Many people want to convert cargo or shipping containers into on-site storage units, workshops, job-site offices, or some are even modified into storm cellars and shipping container houses.  As with any project, the planning stages are the most important, and deciding on the right type of container is the best place to start.

The most common mistake that people make is when purchasing the container.  In some cases, the cheapest container will work well, while for other projects it will make more sense to get a newer container that needs less work.  The initial questions to ask when choosing between a new or used container are:

  • Paint:  Will you need the container to be painted, or will it be acceptable if the container has shipping related markings?  If you purchase a new container it will most likely not need to be painted.  Most commonly new containers are painted blue, ivory, or almond, with no (or limited) markings from the shipping line.  Having a shipping container painted typically costs between $500 and $1000.
  • Doors:  Will you be using the container as a storage unit for clients? If so, you’ll want to make sure that the doors swing smoothly and with minimal effort.  New containers almost always swing smoothly; while the doors on used containers can vary with the age and condition.
  • Lockboxes:  If you’re using the container for storage you may require lockboxes on the container.  Many one-trip/new shipping containers are already equipped with lockboxes.  Installing a lockbox on a used container can cost around $100-$150.

If the container is going to be placed in a location where appearance comes second to function, such as a construction site where it will be placed out of site, then it could make more sense to purchase a used shipping container that’s “wind and water tight”.  Also, a construction site may be more likely to take less care when moving and loading the container exposing it to more abuse and potential damage.  Purchasing a wind/water tight container will provide a financial saving on the purchase due to the relaxed aesthetic requirements.

New shipping containers could make more sense if the container is going to be used for residential storage (on or off site).  The people using the container probably won’t be storing heavy equipment in the container, and they’ll expect to be able to open the doors without any assistance.   Also, chances are they the container will be in a visible area and easy to use lockboxes will be required.  Painting, installing a lockbox, and adjusting the doors and mechanical features on a used container can cost almost as much as purchasing a new container in some markets.

In conclusion, when purchasing a container it’s best to ask yourself if the container will be placed in a highly visible area where new paint will be required, if a lockbox is necessary for more secure locking/unlocking, and if the doors and hinges need to swing easily and freely.



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