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5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Shipping Container

By on July 3, 2019
Shipping Container

Shipping containers are becoming more widely utilized, especially among DIY enthusiasts who take advantage of their impressive versatility. Between outdoor storage units, beautiful homes, and innovative commercial retail spaces, container structures are popping up everywhere

If you’ve been thinking about buying a shipping container for your own creative or practical purposes, it’s important not to rush into it. Because it’s such a large investment, you want to be thorough in finding the right one for your unique needs. If you were to acquire one that didn’t meet your expectations, the process of returning it is quite a bit trickier than returning a shirt that doesn’t fit, and depending on the provider, you may not be able to return it at all. 

To help you find the container that’s right for you, here are several questions to ask yourself before making the purchase:

Which Type and Size of Shipping Container Is Right for You?

There are several different types of shipping containers, the main three being:

  • New shipping containers. These have only been used to transport one cargo load, and after the cargo arrives at its destination, the shipping container is up for sale right away. They are in top quality condition and will have little to no cosmetic damage. 
  • Cargo-worthy shipping containers. These containers have been evaluated by certified inspectors who have deemed they are still fit for being transported overseas. Being labeled as “cargo worthy” lets the purchaser know that the structural foundation is still in top condition. 
  • Wind-water-tight shipping containers. Containers in this category have been used for years and are no longer able to be shipped overseas. Cosmetic dings and dents may be present, but they are still highly durable and will withstand the elements. 

Wind-water-tight will be the most affordable option, which is a smart way to go if you’re using your container solely for storage. However, if you want one that is in pique physical shape and is still able to be transported overseas, a new or cargo-worthy container will suit you best. Similarly, if you’re planning on turning yours into a livable space, new containers will offer the best structural integrity. 

As far as sizes go, most containers come in either 20 ft or 40 ft categories and are available as either standard or high-cube. High-cube containers have an extra foot of height on them. A standard 20 ft shipping container will be 8 ft 6 in tall, while a high-cube will be 9 ft 6 in tall. 

This extra height provides more standing room, making them a good option for those who want to customize the container into something inhabitable. However, high-cube options tend to be more expensive. 

Will You Be Able to See the Shipping Container Before Buying?

It’s never a good idea to make a large purchase sight-unseen, but because of safety precautions, it’s not always possible for customers to visit depots and view the shipping containers in person. 

In the event you can’t physically inspect the container, a quality supplier should be able to provide you with high quality pictures of the containers from all angles as well as of the interior, and they should also guarantee some type of refund if the container doesn’t match the description. 

Will You Be Able to Pick Up Your Container, or Will it Need to Be Delivered?

Depending on where you’ll be getting your shipping container from, you may be able to pick yours up yourself if you have a trailer. However, if choose to get yours shipped, you’ll also reap the benefits of having it unloaded for you. That being said, remember to consider shipping costs when determining your budget. 

Are There Any Zoning or Permit Regulations You Need to Consider?

It’s important to find out if there are any zoning or permit regulations in your county relating to shipping containers. Each area operates differently, and while some don’t have any restrictions, other locations do, especially if you plan to turn your shipping container into an inhabitable space. 

Where Do You Plan to Put Your Shipping Container?

The logistics of where you’ll be placing your shipping container are extremely important to work out ahead of time. Even if you have the space for your container, small details can complicate things. For example, powerlines can make delivery difficult if they block the entrance, which is why determining in advance how to actually get the container to the area you want it placed ahead of time is so crucial. 

It’s also necessary for the shipping container to be placed on a level surface, so you may have to spend some time preparing the drop-off site. The good news is that a reliable company will provide you with thorough details on what steps you need to make in order for the delivery to go smoothly. 

Closing Up

As the modern times are illustrating, there really is no limit to what shipping containers can be repurposed and transformed into. If you’re getting ready to find your own container, asking these questions should help shed some light on how to find the option that fits your personal preferences as well as your logistical needs. 

By taking the time to conduct thorough research and scrupulously plan out the details, you should have no problem choosing the container that will make your next DIY project a huge success.