When you think about a shipping container, what comes to mind? Most people conjure up images of shipyards or large vessels carrying hundreds of different containers stacked one on top of the other. However, did you know that there’s a secondary marketplace for shipping containers? From industrial and commercial to residential, there are hundreds of different uses for these versatile containers.
The Value of Shipping Containers
The supply of used containers is virtually limitless. More than half a million containers are abandoned each year – and there are already several million abandoned containers currently sitting dormant. This overabundance means the companies holding these large steel boxes must find ways to extend the useful life of steel containers. Some of these uses include:
- Residential. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to purchase shipping containers for residential uses, including additional garage space, workshops, seasonal storage, underground emergency bunkers, and even living spaces.
- Commercial. Storage containers are a good fit for commercial applications. Uses include: storage of supplies and equipment, additional showroom space, and cheap office space.
- Industrial. One of the biggest markets for shipping containers comes in the form of industrial companies. These containers are ideal for equipment storage, refuse and waste collection, and on-site offices.
As you can see, there’s a lot of potential for secondhand use. Whether at work or home, shipping containers afford a multitude of benefits.
4 Things to Know About the Buying Process
“Shipping containers are available in many different sizes and types. The most common type is a dry freight container that has a cargo door on one end,” Shipped.com explains. “These dry storage containers, or “dry vans” represent the majority, with millions in circulation around the globe. The most common of these are the 20′ and 40′ containers. Rounding out the rest are insulated, refrigerated and modified containers.”
Assuming you’re interested in one of these standard shipping containers, here are some things you’ll need to know about the shopping and buying process.
- Think About Location
As mentioned, most containers are between 20 and 40 feet long and roughly eight feet wide. In other words, you’re going to need a space that’s at least a couple hundred square feet in size to place the container.
You’ll also have to think about how the container will be positioned. For example, if the container is going to be used for storage behind your home, is there room to get back there and will it be hidden enough to meet local codes and restrictions?
- Consider Shipping Options
While you can buy a container at a fairly cheap price point, one of the more expensive aspects of the buying process is the shipping. Where is the container located and how will it be delivered? A 20-foot container can be moved fairly easily with the right equipment, whereas a 40-foot container will need a heavy-duty stacker or crane. The latter will drive your costs up, but is necessary for safe transport.
- Understand Shipping Container Ratings
Shipped.com also tells buyers to remain conscious of shipping container ratings and grades. The scale looks like this: New, Certified, A Grade, B Grade, and D Grade. New containers have only been used for one trip, while D Grade containers have rust and other serious health or structural problems.
- Keep Utility in Mind
What will you be using your shipping container for? Will it be a makeshift shed for tool and equipment storage, or is it going to be your primary residence? As mentioned, there are dozens of different uses. Your intended use will dictate the containers you consider.
Be an Informed Buyer
If you’re interested in purchasing a shipping container for any number of uses, make sure you’re an informed buyer. There’s a lot of information out there and you’ll want to speak with experts who are familiar with the buying process. Patience is key!