How to Buy a Used Shipping Container: Understanding Key Terms and Avoid Making Poor Purchasing Decisions

Buying new or used shipping container can be a tricky process for some because it’s such a new trend and most people buying a new or used shipping container today are first time buyers.

Without a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, it’s anyone’s guess as to how your purchase may turn out. Check out our simple guide on how to buy a new or used shipping container.

Define Your Requirements

First, you’re going to need to know how long you intend to use your shipping container. If you only want to use it for short term storage, a rental is likely the way to go.

If you’re using your shipping container as a material for building, then structural integrity will be important. And if this container will be visible in a finished construction project, you’ll need to go with a container that has no logo and as few dings as possible.

Will you need delivery? Do you have the space for a proper delivery? What other services are you looking for?

What to Look For in a Shipping Container Supplier

Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for you will be better suited to select the right supplier. Some vendors are value-added, meaning they may or may not have their own shipping container lots but offer a more personal touch. Others supply industry and aren’t really equipped to service consumers.

If you’re more of a beginner, I suggest going with a company like Port Container Services, who are consumer-friendly, have their own new and used shipping container lot (no middle man), and also have a range of custom container options.

In the case of building out of shipping containers, you may appreciate a little guidance along the way that you likely won’t find at the hardware store.

With shipping container building projects, specialisation is the key when you’re looking for guidance or contracted assistance. They need to have an understanding of your local environment and the challenges that come with it.

How to Find the Right Shipping Container

In the least, be sure to have your space requirements and general floor plan envisioned before you approach a shipping container supplier. Beyond that, programs like Sketchup are excellent free tools to help you design your own shipping container home.

If durability is important for dealing with the challenges of salty ocean air or inclement weather, only consider “corten steel” new or used shipping containers.

“New” shipping containers are referred to as “one trip” containers. 97% of all shipping containers used around the world are from China, so chances are your container has crossed the ocean at least once – with or without cargo.

For cosmetic reasons you may want a non-descript logo-free cargo container, in which case the industry refers to these containers as “no shipping label”. A second tip to ensure your container looks great for years to come by lowering the risk of paint peeling is to ask for a “factory paint” cargo container.

Lastly, consider the previous life of used shipping containers. If there’s a smell, don’t expect it to go away – and toxic materials that spill inside a used shipping container often leave behind residues that linger and can cause health problems over time.

Do You Need A Shipping Container

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