How to Buy a Shipping Container: The Ultimate Guide

Buying A Shipping Container

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buying shipping containers

Buying A Shipping Container

Are you in the market for a shipping container? Whether you’re looking for a storage solution or planning to repurpose it for a unique project, buying a shipping container can be a great investment. But where do you start? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a shipping container. From choosing the right size and condition to considering different door configurations, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in!

Types of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers come in various types, sizes, and configurations. Understanding the different options will help you find the container that best suits your needs. Here are the two main types of shipping containers:

Standard Shipping Containers

Standard shipping containers typically come in 10-, 20-, 40-, and 45-foot lengths. They have a height of 8 feet 6 inches, which is the most common size for shipping containers.

High Cube Shipping Containers

If you need extra height, consider a high cube container. These containers are similar to standard containers but offer an additional foot of vertical space. They are perfect for accommodating larger items or creating container offices.

Choosing the Right Size Container

When it comes to buying a shipping container, size matters. You want to ensure that you have enough space for your intended use. Here are the most common container sizes and their approximate storage volumes:

10-Foot Containers

A 10-foot container is a smaller option that provides 563 cubic feet of storage volume. While it’s not a typical intermodal container size, it’s perfect for those with limited storage needs or small spaces.

20-Foot Containers

Twenty-foot containers are among the most common and versatile options. With approximately 1,170 cubic feet of storage volume, they can accommodate the contents of a standard one-car garage.

40-Foot Containers

If you need a larger storage capacity, consider a 40-foot container. These containers offer approximately 2,350 cubic feet of storage volume, making them ideal for heavy tools, equipment storage, or businesses with larger storage needs.

It’s essential to choose a size that fits your needs without wasting space or overcrowding. Consider the items you plan to store or the purpose of the container to determine the right size for you.

Choosing the Right Container Condition

When buying a shipping container, you’ll come across new and used options. Each condition has its advantages and considerations. Here are the main categories of container conditions:

New Containers

New containers, also known as one-trip containers, have been shipped overseas with cargo on one occasion before being available for sale. These containers are in excellent shape, have monotone paint, and are perfect for customer-facing locations.

Used Containers

Used containers are a cost-effective option compared to new containers. They have been used in overseas freight for years and may have some minor dings, dents, and surface rust. Used containers come in various gradings or classifications, such as Cargo Worthy, Wind & Watertight, and As-Is.

  • Cargo Worthy Containers: These containers have been inspected and deemed suitable for shipping goods over land or sea. They may not have valid CSC plates or international shipping documentation.
  • Wind & Watertight Containers: Wind & Watertight containers are suitable for storage only. They may look similar to Cargo Worthy containers but are not certified for shipping. Some companies use subjective grading scales like “A-Grade” or “B-Grade” to describe their condition.
  • As-Is Containers: As-Is containers are typically in rough condition and heavily used. They may have holes, damaged floors, or non-functioning doors.
  • IICL Containers: Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL) containers are the nicest condition of used containers. They have undergone a specific grading process set forth by the IICL.

Consider your budget, intended use, and aesthetic preferences when choosing between new and used containers. Used containers can be an excellent option if you don’t mind some wear and tear.

Choosing Your Door Configuration

The door configuration of your shipping container is an important consideration, as it determines how you access the container and use its space. Here are some common door configurations:

  • Standard Doors: Standard containers have one set of double cargo doors on one short end of the container. This is the most common option and is available in both used and new/one-trip containers.
  • Double Doors: If one set of doors won’t suffice, you can opt for containers with double doors on both small ends. This configuration allows access to the container from either end, creating a convenient tunnel-like space.
  • Open-Side Doors: Open-side containers have a long door along one side of the container, providing broad access to any part of the container. This configuration is useful when you need easy access to specific items or want to maximize airflow.
  • Flat Rack Containers: Flat rack containers have walls only on the two short ends. They are suitable for wider loads and offer total access to your cargo. Although not technically a door, their configuration allows for easy loading and unloading.
  • Open-Top Containers: As the name suggests, open-top containers have an open top, allowing for the loading of large cargo items, such as timber, via heavy machinery.

Consider your specific needs and how you plan to use the container when choosing the door configuration. Each configuration offers unique advantages, so choose the one that aligns with your requirements.

Buying vs. Renting: When Should You Buy?

Deciding between buying and renting a shipping container depends on your specific circumstances and needs. Here are some questions to help you determine whether buying or renting is the right choice for you:

How often do you intend to use the shipping container?

If you need a container for a year or longer, buying may be the more cost-effective option. Owning a container allows you to avoid monthly rental fees and potentially save money in the long run. However, if you only need extra storage for seasonal use or temporary projects, renting can be a convenient and flexible solution.

Do you want the freedom of ownership?

Buying a container gives you the freedom to modify and customize it to suit your needs. You can make structural changes, install shelving or lighting, and create a space that aligns perfectly with your requirements. Renting containers typically come with restrictions on modifications, as they need to be returned in their original condition.

Do you need to store hazardous materials?

If you plan to store hazardous materials, such as volatile chemicals, it’s important to check the rental company’s restrictions. Some rental companies have limitations on what can be stored in their containers. If you require the flexibility to store hazardous materials, buying a shipping container might be the best option.

Do you have transportation options?

Consider how you’ll transport the container to your desired location. If you own a truck or have access to the necessary equipment, buying a container allows you to transport it to different sites easily. Renting containers often include delivery services, making it convenient if you don’t have the means to transport the container yourself.

Evaluate your specific needs, budget, and long-term plans to determine whether buying or renting a shipping container makes the most sense for you.

Common Uses for Shipping and Storage Containers

Shipping and storage containers are incredibly versatile and can be used in various industries and personal projects. Here are some common uses for shipping containers:


Shipping containers are widely used in the construction industry. They can serve as on-site offices, storage for tools and equipment, or even be modified into modular living spaces.


Manufacturing facilities often require additional storage space for raw materials or finished products. Shipping containers provide a cost-effective and secure solution for storage needs.


Schools and educational institutions can benefit from using shipping containers as portable classrooms, libraries, or additional storage space.


Car dealerships and repair shops can use shipping containers to store spare parts, tools, or even create temporary workshops for specific projects.


Shipping containers can be transformed into trendy pop-up stores or permanent retail spaces. Their modular nature allows for easy customization and branding.


Farmers can utilize shipping containers for secure storage of machinery, livestock feed, or as mobile farm stands.


Shipping containers can be converted into mobile clinics, vaccination centers, or emergency response units, providing healthcare services in remote or underserved areas.

Residential Storage

Homeowners can use shipping containers for additional storage space, whether it’s storing seasonal items, sports equipment, or household belongings during a renovation.

These are just a few examples of the endless possibilities for using shipping containers. Their versatility and durability make them an attractive option for a wide range of industries and personal projects.

What You Should Know Before Ordering a Shipping Container

Before placing an order for a shipping container, there are a few important factors to consider. These factors will ensure a smooth purchasing process and successful delivery of your container. Here’s what you need to know:

Find the Best Shipping Container Price

Prices for shipping containers can vary widely depending on factors such as size, condition, and location. It’s essential to research and compare prices to ensure you get the best deal. At ModuGo, we guarantee the lowest prices on shipping containers. We shop city by city and state by state to find the most competitive prices across the country. If you find a lower price elsewhere, let us know, and we’ll beat it!

Consider the Shipping Container Delivery Method

When buying a shipping container, you can choose between having it delivered or picking it up yourself. Delivery is the most common option, and containers are usually transported on roll-off trailers. The delivery cost will depend on the distance and accessibility of your location. If you find a used container for sale near your home, the delivery cost will likely be lower.

For 40-foot containers, they are typically delivered on a 40+ foot trailer pulled by a truck. This can be a pickup truck or a day-cab/semi. On the other hand, 20-foot containers are often delivered on a tilt-bed tow truck, which is more maneuverable and has a smaller turning radius.

Consider your location, available resources, and the convenience of delivery when deciding on the delivery method.

Prepare the Location for Shipping Container Placement

Before the container arrives, it’s essential to prepare the delivery site to ensure a smooth placement process. Here are some tips for preparing the location:

  • Avoid Water: Choose a location that doesn’t allow water to pool at the base of the container. You can use moveable foundations like railroad ties or lay gravel to prevent water buildup.
  • Get Help: If you choose to use railroad ties, make sure you have someone available to move them during delivery. The delivery driver may be able to assist, but it’s best to have someone dedicated to this task.
  • Clear the Way: Ensure that the delivery site and the path through your property are clear of debris and obstacles. This will save time and effort during the delivery process.

Ensure You Have the Necessary Clearance

Shipping container delivery trucks require ample space to maneuver and safely deliver the container. Make sure you have the following clearances:

  • Minimum of 100 feet of straight clearance for 40-foot containers and 60 feet for 20-foot containers (measure from where the back of the container will sit).
  • Minimum total width of 12 feet for the truck to deliver the container.
  • Minimum of 14 feet of vertical clearance for the truck and container to safely drive under any obstacle.
  • Minimum of 20 feet of vertical clearance at the actual delivery site for a successful tilt-off delivery.

Having the necessary clearances will ensure a smooth and efficient container delivery process.

How to Buy a Shipping Container with ModuGo

Now that you have a better understanding of the factors involved in buying a shipping container, it’s time to take the next steps. At ModuGo, we make the buying process easy and hassle-free. Here’s how it works:

  1. Browse our website: Visit the ModuGo website to explore our wide selection of storage containers.
  2. Choose your container: Select the container size, condition, and door configuration that best suits your needs.
  3. Place your order: Add the container to your cart and proceed to checkout. We offer a secure and convenient online ordering process.
  4. Sit back and relax: Once your order is confirmed, our team will handle the rest. We’ll coordinate the delivery of your container to your desired location.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, our Frequently Asked Questions page is a valuable resource. You can also contact us directly, and our friendly team will be happy to help.

At ModuGo, we guarantee the lowest prices on shipping containers. We prioritize customer satisfaction and strive to provide the best value for your money. If you find a similar shipping container at a better price in your area, take advantage of our price match guarantee and ensure you get the best deal possible.

So why wait? Start browsing our selection of shipping containers at ModuGo and make your purchase today!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this guide is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for specific advice tailored to your situation.