How to Buy a Shipping Container

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Shipping containers have moved beyond their original purpose. They’ve become more than just giant boxes for transporting goods across oceans. People are turning mobile containers into affordable homes, creative workshops, pop-up shops, and reliable storage solutions both on-site and at their own properties. If you’re ready to explore the possibilities, the first step is figuring out how to shop for a shipping container.

The problem is that buying a shipping container can be a lot more complicated than it initially seems. There are different sizes, conditions, prices, and shady sellers to watch out for. We want to help you make an informed decision and find the perfect container for your needs. Let’s guide you through everything you need to know when you shop for a container.

Key Considerations Before You Start

Before you get into the world of shipping container listings, take the time to consider these questions to guide your search:

Size Matters

The two most readily available shipping container sizes are 20ft and 40ft long.  A 20ft container is a great choice for storing smaller quantities of household items or equipment. However, if your needs are greater, a 40ft container can easily accommodate the contents of a multi-bedroom house or machinery.

Understanding Conditions

Shipping containers are available in several conditions, which will influence both the price and suitablility for your needs:

  • Wind and Watertight (WWT): These used containers are the most budget-friendly option. They’ll protect your belongings from the elements, although they may have some cosmetic imperfections.
  • Cargo Worthy (CW): Also used, these containers are thoroughly inspected and certified to be suitable for transporting goods. They’re structurally sound and generally in better condition than WWT units.
  • One-Trip: These containers are nearly brand new, having only been used for a single overseas shipment. While pricier, they offer the most pristine condition.

What’s the Purpose?

Think carefully about how you’ll be using your container:

  • Simple Storage: If you simply need a secure, weatherproof space to store items, a WWT container might be all you need.
  • Frequent Access: If you’ll be going in and out of the container regularly, a cargo-worthy unit might be a better investment due to superior door seals and less likelihood of rust.
  • Modifications: Planning to customize your container with windows, doors, insulation, or other modifications? Starting with a unit in better condition is highly recommended.

How to Buy From a Direct Supplier

There are a few ways to buy a shipping container, but the best is always going to be from a direct supplier. If you can, find one that is close to you and where the container will ultimately be used.

Working with a direct seller focused on customer service offers several advantages:

  • Expertise: They have in-depth knowledge about containers, so they can provide valuable guidance in choosing the right one. This is especially helpful if you’re new to shipping containers and have questions about modifications or less common applications.
  • Transparency: You can inspect the container yourself before buying and get clear answers about its history and condition. No more surprises when your container arrives!
  • Streamlined Process: Direct suppliers handle all aspects of the sale and delivery, eliminating the confusion of dealing with multiple parties. This translates to better communication and a more predictable timeline.
  • Competitive Pricing: Since direct suppliers often buy in larger quantities, they can negotiate better rates and pass some of those savings on to you.

Questions to Ask

No matter who you’re considering buying from,  here are some key questions to ask:

  • What are the exact dimensions of the container?
  • Can I see photos or inspect it in person?
  • What is included in the price (delivery, taxes, etc.)?
  • What are your delivery options and capabilities?
  • Do you offer any warranties or guarantees?

Delivery and Logistics

Once you’ve found the perfect container,  it’s time to think about getting it to your desired location. Delivery of shipping containers might seem straightforward, but there are important factors to consider for smooth sailing.

Site preparation is key. Ensure your chosen spot is relatively level and clear of obstacles like trees or power lines. Depending on preference, you might want to lay down gravel or wooden railroad ties to keep the container off the ground, promoting airflow and preventing moisture build-up. If local regulations or the condition of your property necessitate it, a more substantial foundation might be needed.

The delivery method also significantly impacts your experience. Many companies use large and less maneuverable roll-off trucks. These might be less ideal for tight spaces or delicate landscaping.  A direct supplier who utilizes a tilt-bed trailer setup often offers greater flexibility in placement. They can navigate more challenging sites, minimizing potential damage to your property.

Be sure to communicate clearly with your chosen supplier about the exact location where you want your container placed. Take measurements and, if possible, mark the spot beforehand. This will streamline the process and make sure everyone’s on the same page come delivery day.

Modifications and Alternatives

The beauty of shipping containers lies in their versatility. With some planning and work, you can transform a plain metal box into so much more.

If you envision modifications, such as cutting in doors, windows, or adding insulation, it’s wise to discuss this with your supplier early on. They can offer valuable insights about feasibility, cost, and even suggest qualified contractors to help with the work. Selecting a container in better starting condition often simplifies the modification process, saving time and money in the long run.

Sometimes buying a container outright might not be the best fit for your situation. Consider these scenarios where renting might be more suitable:

  • Short-term need: If your need for storage or additional space is temporary, renting gives you flexibility without the commitment of ownership.
  • Trial period: Unsure if a shipping container is the right solution for you? Renting allows you to test it out before making a long-term investment.
  • Budget constraints: If you’re on a tight budget, rental payments might be more manageable than an upfront purchase.

Buy Or Rent From VersaVault

Buying a shipping container can seem overwhelming, but armed with the right information, you can shop containers with confidence.

Choosing the right container and partnering with the right company can make all the difference. Whether you’re looking for simple storage, a creative project space, or something in between, the possibilities are endless.

At VersaVault, we’re committed to simplifying the process of finding your ideal container.  We believe in unmatched customer service, transparent pricing, and delivering high-quality products. We sell and rent shipping containers to customers all over the northeastern US from our locations in Mount Pleasant and Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania. If you’re ready to explore the world of shipping containers, let’s have a conversation. Contact us today for a quote and let us help make your vision a reality.

Key Takeaways

  • Shipping containers are versatile: They can be used for a wide range of purposes beyond simple transportation, including homes, workshops, stores, and storage solutions.
  • Do your research before you start shopping: Determine the ideal size, condition, and intended use for your container to narrow your search.
  • Choose your supplier wisely: Direct suppliers often offer expertise, transparency, a streamlined buying process, and may have more competitive pricing.
  • Delivery is crucial: Consider your site preparation, the delivery method, and communicate clearly with your supplier about the desired placement of your container.
  • Modifications are possible:  With planning, you can customize a container by adding doors, windows, insulation, and more. Discuss feasibility and costs with your supplier.
  • Renting might be an option: Renting offers flexibility if you need a short-term storage solution, want to try before you buy, or have budget limitations.
  • Partner with a reputable company: Companies like VersaVault, that emphasize customer service, transparency, and quality can guide you through the entire process.