How to Buy a Shipping Container: A Comprehensive Guide

where can i buy a shipping container

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shipping container

where can i buy a shipping container

Are you considering buying a shipping container? Whether you need it for shipping goods, storage, or even repurposing it as a portable office or living space, purchasing a shipping container can be a complex process. With numerous options available in terms of size, condition, and sellers, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the container industry before making a decision. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about buying a shipping container.

Table of Contents

Size and Number of Containers

When it comes to buying a shipping container, the first thing to consider is the size and number of containers you need. The size of the container you choose will depend on its intended purpose. For shipping dry cargo, standard containers of 20 ft or 40 ft are ideal. However, if you have voluminous cargo, a high cube container or multiple standard containers may be more suitable. Additionally, for semi-portable office spaces or storage facilities, smaller containers ranging from 8 ft to 12 ft can be considered, although they tend to be more expensive.

Renting vs. Buying

Before making a decision, it’s important to consider whether renting or buying a shipping container is the right choice for you. Renting is a cost-effective option for shorter durations, smaller quantities, or one-way shipments. It eliminates the need for storage and maintenance costs and provides flexibility. However, if you need containers for an indefinite period of time, are a frequent user, or require long-term storage, buying containers is the way to go. Keep in mind that buying containers comes with additional costs such as maintenance and transportation.

Condition of the Container

The condition of the container is an important factor to consider when making a purchase. Containers can be used for various purposes such as medical centers, carports, cabins, workshops, and storage. It is recommended to conduct a pre-purchase inspection to ensure you are getting a container in the desired condition. Containers come in different conditions, and there is no universal grading system. Common conditions include Wind/Watertight (WWT) containers, One Trip containers, Cargo Worthy (CW) containers, and As-is containers. Each condition has its own characteristics and suitability for different purposes.

Container Material

Shipping containers are primarily made of Corten steel, a weather-resistant copper alloy steel known for its durability and resistance to rust. The floor of the container is typically made of marine-grade plywood infused with insecticides to prevent infestation. The use of Corten steel eliminates the need for painting and minimizes rusting on the outer surface of the container.

Type of Shipping Container

There are different types of shipping containers available, each designed for specific purposes. The most common types include dry storage containers, refrigerated containers, high cube containers, and flat rack containers. Dry storage containers are commonly used for shipping dry materials, while refrigerated containers are temperature-regulated and used for transporting perishable cargo. High cube containers offer additional storage space with their taller height, and flat rack containers have collapsible sides for shipping a wide variety of goods.

Previous Container Use

It’s essential to consider the previous use of a container before purchasing it. Containers used for transporting fruits and vegetables should be treated with pesticides before being repurposed. Some containers may have been used to haul biohazards, nuclear waste, or toxic chemicals, so it’s crucial to ensure they are suitable for your intended purpose.

Where to Buy a Shipping Container

Now that you have a better understanding of what to consider when buying a shipping container, let’s explore the various sources from which you can purchase one.

  1. National Dealers: National storage container companies such as WilScot and Pac-Van have branches across the country and offer a wide selection of containers. You can visit their websites to buy directly or make an appointment to visit their local storage container lots.
  2. Local Dealers: Local storage container dealers are small businesses that cater to local customers. They often have their own websites and storage container lots where you can browse and purchase containers in person. Choosing a local dealer can sometimes offer lower prices and delivery costs, and it supports local businesses.
  3. Online Platforms: Buying a shipping container online has become increasingly popular. There are national seller websites, local seller websites, and third-party vendor comparison sites like 360Connect, where you can compare options and negotiate deals. However, when buying online, it’s important to research the seller and ensure their credibility and reputation.
  4. Auctions and Resellers: Auctions and third-party resellers like Craigslist and eBay can also be sources for buying storage containers. While prices may be lower, there are risks involved, such as poor quality and condition. It’s crucial to exercise caution and verify the quality and condition of the container before making a purchase.

How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost?

The cost of a shipping container can vary depending on several factors, including size, condition, location, and the price of raw steel. On average, used shipping containers can range from $1400 to $5000, while new or one-trip containers can cost anywhere from $3000 to $5000. It’s important to set a budget and consider additional costs such as renovations, paint, flooring, insulation, and customization when purchasing a container.

What Kind of Permit Do You Need?

Before purchasing a shipping container, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations, permits, and codes related to container ownership and usage in your area. In many regions, you may need a shipping container permit to temporarily keep, use, or repair a container on your property. These permits are typically issued for a specific duration and can be extended if there are no complaints during that period.

Shipping Container Accessories

To optimize the functionality of your shipping container, you may want to consider various accessories. Some essential accessories include security and lock boxes to prevent break-ins, shelving racks for efficient storage, and roll-up doors for improved accessibility. These accessories can be customized to meet your specific needs and enhance the usability of your container.

Warranties, Returns, and Seller Reputation

When buying a shipping container, it’s important to consider the seller’s warranty period and return policy. Most reputable sellers offer warranties for a certain duration, during which they can repair any naturally occurring damages. It’s advisable to purchase from verified suppliers with a good reputation to ensure your container’s quality and protect yourself from any potential issues.

Delivery and Site Preparation

Before your shipping container arrives, proper site preparation is crucial to avoid future problems. Ensure that your site has enough space to accommodate the container and that it is easily accessible for delivery trucks. The ground should be level and compacted to support the container’s weight, and any obstacles such as overhead cables or tree branches should be cleared. Depending on the duration of the container’s stay, you may need to establish a footing using concrete foundations, slabs, or wooden beams. Finally, schedule the delivery on a rain-free day to prevent any damage or misalignment of the container.

By following this comprehensive guide, you will be well-equipped to make an informed decision when buying a shipping container. Consider your specific needs, budget, and intended use, and choose a reputable seller to ensure a smooth and successful purchase. Whether you’re shipping goods, need extra storage space, or planning a unique project, a shipping container can be a versatile and cost-effective solution. Happy container shopping!