how to select a shipping container

Most of us won’t have to buy a lot of shipping containers in our lives. You already know how to shop for groceries, you get plenty of practice at that. But a shipping container? You might only need one, and it might last you the rest of your life, so don’t feel embarrassed if you have no clue how to get started.

Luckily, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Step one: Consider your needs.

What Will You Use the Shipping Container For?

A shipping container can be adapted to just about any purpose. If you just need it for storage or shipping, then this may be an easy choice to make:

Ensure it’s large enough, and consider whether you need a refrigerated shipping container. Otherwise, you may want to consider whether you need doors and windows, and make sure that you have enough interior space for what you need.

Insulation is another consideration. If you’re using it as a storage shed, you might not be too worried about the internal temperature. If it’s the guest house, on the other hand, you don’t want your visitors sweating in the Summer and freezing in the Winter.

How Much Space Do You Have For a Shipping Container?

shipping container with one large open door

You’ll need somewhere to store your container, so size is something to think about. You might have space for 10-foot shipping containers, but if you’re thinking of a 20 or 40-foot, it may be a good idea to measure your space and make certain.

Will You Be Moving Your Shipping Container Around?

Is this a one-and-done deal, or are you going to be using your container as a mobile office or workstation? Size is an important consideration here. A 20-foot shipping container is going to be much easier to truck around than a 40-foot shipping container. A 10-foot container can easily be mounted on a trailer so that it can be moved and therefore, serve as a mobile office or workplace.

Now, step two: Consider who you’re buying from.

How Long Has Your Shipping Container Supplier Been in Business?

Every company has to get their start somewhere… but “somewhere” doesn’t have to mean “with you.” Check the supplier’s about page. The longer they’ve been around, the stronger their track record for customer satisfaction.

What Are Their Customers Saying?

Look the supplier up on Yelp and Google My Business. Your supplier’s website is, of course, just going to quote their favorite parts of the most glowing reviews. But if you get the review straight from the customer’s mouth, you’ll know whether the company can be counted on.

Will Your Supplier Deliver the Shipping Container to You?

Shipping Containers

If you have the means to pick it up yourself, this might not be a major issue, but if you don’t, you’ll need to make sure that they deliver before you make a purchase.

What Will A Shipping Container Cost?

If you’re looking at custom shipping containers, you’re not going to see prices listed as you would on, say, a used auto classified ads page. Rather, you’ll be getting in touch with the supplier in order to get some quotes. Contact a few different suppliers, let them know what you want, and see what they have to say.

It can be difficult to estimate costs without knowing precisely what you want. A ten-foot, no-frills storage container is going to come in at a very different price point than a 40-foot office container rigged up for electric and plumbing. Two 20-foot containers may be priced differently if one is refrigerated and the other one isn’t.

Cost isn’t the only consideration, but if you can get the exact same thing, of the exact same quality, for a little bit less money, why not?

Do You Have the Option Of Customizing Your Shipping Container?

You could customize a container yourself. The simple design of a container means that customization isn’t a complicated process if you’re a competent, safe metalworker. But it can take weeks to do this yourself, and if your supplier can build you exactly what you want to start with, why sweat it out?

Perhaps the best way to select a shipping container: Talk to a few suppliers and see what they have to say. If they’ve been in business for a while, they should know exactly what you need for whatever you need it for, and they can help to guide you to the right container for your home or business.