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First Timers Guide To Buying A Used Shipping Container

Submitted by GregCortez on Mon, 01/30/2023 - 16:03

So you are thinking about buying a new or used shipping container? Not sure where to start and have some questions?
This article is for you. We don’t assume that you know the difference between a One Trip and and a cargo worthy used shipping container or have any idea of how much you should expect to pay.
We will cover:
What are you using the container for?
How much does a used shipping container cost?
Where to Put Your Shipping Container
Buying the Container
Having Your Container Delivered to You
Customizing and Renovating the container
Let’s get started.
What are you using the container for?
Our first question is what do you intend to do with your shipping container? Many home and business owners buy a used shipping container for storage use. But there are multiple uses for a Conex box. 40 high cube container for sale
You’ve probably seen some creative uses for the steel containers in your area such as food vendors, workshops, mini homes and espresso stands, and many others.
Small businesses run out of renovated shipping containers where appearance is crucial and may require a newer One Trip container. If you are thinking of using a steel container for moving cargo or home storage, an older, more traveled container might work just fine while saving you some money.
Buy New or Used?
Technically, all shipping containers are used, having undergone at least one trip from where the container was most likely originally manufactured in China. After the single trip on a freightliner, the One Trip can be sold around the port where it was unloaded.
There are different grades of shipping containers.
One Trip Containers
One trip containers are as new as you are going to see, with possibly some minor dents or markings from their one ocean trip.
The sea containers are manufactured in Asia, filled with different types of cargo, shipped across the sea, and released after they have been unloaded at their final port destination. These boxes are called One Trip containers due to the fact that they have only made one trip. The condition both inside and out is usually excellent and the best choice for a retail type of business.
Cargo Worthy / WWT (wind/watertight)
Cargo worthy containers are the most commonly available and most economically priced. These containers will vary in the number of transoceanic trips they have undergone. Most will have extensive external markings, scratches in paint, dents, and corrosion in the form of rust spots.
The container may even have been repaired at some point but remain structurally sound. If a sparkling shiny appearance isn’t important to you, then this container grade might be your best bet.
WWT containers are likely several years old and have many ocean voyages in their history, but they still have the structural integrity to keep out wind and rain. That said, they also have accumulated their share of exterior rust, dents and scrapes. They may not look pretty on the exterior, but rest assured that your stored items will remain safe and dry. If you want an unblemished, clean looking outside, you will likely have to pay a little more for a newer looking container.
For home or business storage use, this is the most popular choice.
Ship your own goods
If you need a used shipping container to load up with goods and ship overseas, you will require a cargo worthy shipping container (CWO) with a valid CSC safety certification or alternatively, a WWT container which you are required to have re-certified to be allowed to ship internationally.
What size container do you need?
The majority of people who buy a used Conex box buy one of the three most common sizes of shipping containers available: 10 foot, 20 foot, and 40 foot length boxes. The standard width is 8 feet with a height of 8 feet 6 inches.
10 foot container
If you only need a small amount of storage space, then a 10 foot container might be your best choice. Measuring 3m / 10ft x 2.4m /8ft (length x width) with a volume of 561 cubic feet (15.13m), this is the smallest unit available. 75 square-feet.
Roughly speaking, a 10 foot container has sufficient room to store the contents of a one bedroom apartment.
20 foot container
If you need more space, the next size up is a 20ft container. Measuring 6m/ 20ft x 2.4m /8ft (length x width), it has 1,172 cubic feet (33.2m). 150 square-feet.
A 20 foot shipping container may hold the contents of a standard 3 bedroom home if it is packed efficiently.
40 foot container
The largest of the standard available shipping containers is the 40 foot. A 40 foot container measures 12.2m /40ft (length x width), it has 1,172 cubic feet (67.6m). 300 square-feet.
Most shipping containers are painted in a small range of standard colors. Many people choose to paint their container with a different color after purchasing it.
How much does a used shipping container cost?
What’s your budget? Buying a used shipping container can cost in the range of US $1,400 – $5,000 USD.
Newer and One-Trip containers, tend to be a little more expensive and can be priced in the area of $3,000 – $5,000 USD.
For example an older, well used 40 ft Conex container will only set you back around US$1,400, whereas a newer or single trip 40 ft container will come in at around $3,500 USD.
Your location also plays a part in the cost of the steel container. The closer that you live to a major port where there is a surplus of empty containers, the lower the price. Having to transport the box to your distant location will understandably add to the final price.
Shipping container pricing is also affected by global shipping economy factors. At times during the Covid pandemic, there was a shortage of available containers caused by cargo ships stalled outside of ocean ports creating a scarcity of shipping containers. Due to supply chain disruptions, shipping container prices climbed due to supply and demand issues.
A final factor to consider in calculating the price of your shipping container is the delivery fee. Few people are able to transport a 20 foot steel container to their location, so you are going to need a delivery service. If you buy your container off of Craigslist or a want ad, you will likely need to source a transportation provider.
On the other hand, if you purchase your shipping container from a dedicated dealer, they can offer the delivery service as part of your final price.
Should you buy or rent a shipping container?
The answer to this largely depends on how long that you think you will need the shipping container and if you will need to customize the container for your purposes.
If you need a container for an indefinite period of time, then it’s the smart choice to buy your own container. Rental fees can accumulate quickly, and before long it simply makes more sense financially to buy your own container.
If you only need a Conex box to store things for a few months during a move or renovation, then perhaps renting is your best solution.
Those people who need to customize the steel container by adding vents, a window or other renovation that alters the structure of the container will obviously need to own their own unit.
Where to Put Your Shipping Container
You are going to need a certain amount of space to situate your shipping container. The area should be level, with a well drained, firm surface to support the heavy steel container.
Does the space that you intend to keep the box have enough space for the dimensions of the container plus additional, surrounding room? This is especially important during the initial delivery drop off where the delivery truck requires a certain amount of room to be able to maneuver your shipping container into position for unloading.
The delivery guidelines have all of the detailed information that you need but here are some quick guidelines to consider:
A 20 FT storage container, needs a minimum 60 feet of straight-line clearance.
The 40 FT length container will need a minimum of 100 feet of straight-line clearance.
Detailed Delivery Guidelines
Your shipping container must rest on a level surface in order for the structure of the container to be distributed equally onto the four box corners.On an uneven surface, the container walls may develop a structural twist in the container, making the doors difficult to open and close properly.
An easy and cheap suggestion for container stability is to place paving stones, blocks of wood or railroad ties under the container bottom for supports. This step also makes moving the container much easier down the road.
Buying A Used Shipping Container
There are multiple options for purchasing a used shipping container. A search on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook marketplace will no doubt list someone looking to sell a container. You might find a great deal online. The downside is that the owner is unlikely to provide you with delivery of your heavy shipping container.
Local or Online Dealer
This is a solid option for those shoppers looking for a selection of different options. Advice on choosing the right container for you from expert staff is also invaluable. A reseller with a large inventory of containers will offer competitive pricing, and, as importantly, expert customer service. They have a ton of experience answering questions like yours and can point you in the right direction.
Another advantage to buying your used Conex container from a dealer that specializes in shipping containers is that they can arrange delivery of your container and may even include the delivery fee with your container.
A shipping container seller can provide you with an exact price quote – including shipping – within 24 hours or less. Payment options are flexible as well.
How can I pay for my shipping container?
Having Your Container Delivered to You
This is where a little expert advice is really valuable. Most of us have zero experience having a large steel box weighing thousands of pounds transported to us.
A little site preparation is necessary. The two most important things that you need to worry about are:
1- That the location that the shipping container will rest is reasonably level, flat, and the surface is firm.
2- That there is a clear path of sufficient length for the truck to back into your spot. 60 to 100 ft is needed depending on the length of your container.
The way it works is that a truck will deliver your container at an appointed time. The delivery truck uses a tilt bed. The truck bed or trailer is slowly raised up until the end of your container is in contact with the ground. As the truck bed is inclined, the truck slowly moves forward and the container smoothly slides off onto the ground.
Detailed Delivery Guidelines
As far as the specific space that the container will rest, it’s highly recommended that you have concrete slabs, or wooden blocks or railroad ties to place under the corners of your Conex container.
Customizing and Renovating the container
Now that you own your very own shipping container free and clear, you may be asking what can you do to customize it?
The most common alterations that shipping container owners make are:
Installing Door Lock Boxes
A steel lockbox is a metal shield that covers the door lock., making it difficult to use a crowbar or bolt cutters for thieves to break the lock and enter the container. Keeping your stored items protected from break-ins and theft is easy to do with a basic lock box installation.
Check out more information on shipping container lock boxes and security
Install shelving
A basic shelving system will multiply the available storage room inside your container and make it easier to access frequently needed items.
Most major hardware retail stores like Lowes and Home Depot will offer different shelving packages that you can set up according to your specific needs. There are shelving alternatives that don’t require holes to be drilled into the walls of the container.
Shipping container vent setups protect against mold growth by permitting air exchange within the closed space of the sealed steel box. Ventilation allowing fresh air flow will reduce the possibility of “container sweat” – moisture condensation on the walls and ceiling of the container – by helping control the interior temperature.
There are many other possibilities for modifying your shipping container. Check out our article on Shipping Container Home Storage Ideas
We hope our first timers guide to buying a used shipping container is helpful to your decision to buy a Conex container. Check out other useful articles on used shipping containers on our Blog: