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Buying a shipping container can be a little tricky. There are numerous questions to ask and the shipping container market is ever-changing. In this article we’ll discuss a step-by-step guide to help you find what you’re looking for.

14 Steps to Take When Buy a Shipping Container

Step 1: Determine Size

The first step to buying a shipping container is determining what size you need. A container that’s too big will take up more space than you have available, and a container that’s too small won’t give you enough storage space. Luckily, there are many different sizes of containers to choose from so no matter what your needs are, there’s a container for you. To determine what size shipping container you need:

  • Decide how much storage space you need
  • If you know how much space your items will take up, this step is easy. If not, don’t worry—the dimensions of the standard shipping containers can help guide your decision making process.
  • Determine how much space is available for your shipping container (if applicable)
  • This step applies only if there’s not room for more than one shipping container on your property. If this isn’t the case, skip ahead!

If necessary, review the dimensions of all the standard sized shipping containers here: [LINK].

Step 2: Set a budget.

How much do you want to spend? The cost of purchasing a shipping container can vary from under $1,000 to over $4,000. Once you’ve set aside a budget for the container itself, take inventory of additional costs that will factor into your expenses.

These include delivery charges (which will increase with distance), possible modifications and repairs and any necessary permits. This number may seem high for an investment made out of steel, but think about the savings associated with not building from scratch.

Step 3: Identify costs beyond the container.

Before you decide to buy a container, make sure you’ve identified all the costs beyond the price of the container itself.

You’ll need to consider: shipping costs, transport costs and any additional equipment you might need (such as a crane).

Estimate any potential modifications that might be needed for your situation and take into account container insurance and security (including theft prevention or anti-vandal protection). You’ll also want to factor in ongoing maintenance, repair, storage and disposal of the container.

Step 4: Think about size and features.

Like all good home projects, buying a shipping container is a lot more complicated than it initially seems. But like most things in life, the work involved becomes clear when you start gathering information and doing your research. Good resources to consult include websites such as and as well as publications such as Container Home News and Master Container Magazine .

It’s fine to have some general notions about what you are looking for before making a purchase, but don’t make decisions until you’ve done your homework first—especially if this is your first time buying or building a shipping container home! Once you’ve spent some time researching and thinking about the particulars of your project, though, I encourage you to do some additional reading on containers in general: They’re not just meant for moving freight!

Step 4: Size does matter

> Before you start shopping for your shipping container, it’s important to understand the size of the container you need. This can be determined by how much space is needed, and what kind of items will be stored inside. Most often, the most popular sizes are 20’ and 40’, but there are several other possible sizes as well.

> A 40’ container has double the capacity of a 20’ container (thus its name). However, this comes with a few considerations: firstly these containers are bulkier than 20 footers, which means they require more space on land and weigh significantly more when loaded onto trucks or boats. Even empty they can weigh up to 8800lbs (depending on the type), while a 20 footer weighs around 4500lbs unloaded.

Step 5: Choose Your Color

The most popular shipping container colors are blue, green, red, and yellow. It is common to see a blue shipping container with a corrugated metal exterior. It is relatively easy to obtain these colors but the most common color is blue. So if you want your shipping container to stand out from the others on the wharf or in your backyard then choose one of the other three options.

Step 6: Pick Your Access Points

The second step is to decide on the container’s access points and how to configure them. You want versatility, so you must examine the options.

Most containers are fitted with solid doors at each end (bulkhead doors). These provide a sturdy barrier against thieves, but they can be difficult to open. It can also take some time to load and unload your cargo. A better option is a pair of roll-up doors — one at each end of the container — or a large access door along one side of the container.

Step 7: The Products You Need Inside

Once you’ve chosen the container that’s right for your project, you need to consider what will be going inside of it. If you plan on storing food or other perishable goods, you should find out which shipping container sizes are refrigerated. If you frequently transport heavy equipment or want to keep items safe from the elements, make sure that your portable storage containers in San Diego can be modified for additional protection.

For example, Cal-Containers offers customizations such as:

  • Shelving
  • Lighting
  • Forklift pockets
  • Man doors
  • Interior finishings

Step 8: Picking The Right Location

  • Select the right location. One of the most important things to consider is whether or not your land is level and accessible enough for delivery drivers. If it isn’t, you might need to use earthmoving equipment to level off your area. Unfortunately, this can cost hundreds if not thousands more. The best thing to do is simply ask the container company if they can deliver and install the container on your property without requiring any extra help.
  • Do some research beforehand. Some areas aren’t zoned for shipping containers so make sure you check with local authorities before purchasing a unit or building on a piece of property that doesn’t allow them. You’ll also want to make sure that wherever you place your container is secure from vandals and thieves so don’t forget about additional security measures like installing gates and fences around the perimeter of your property.

Step 9: Call around and compare prices from different suppliers or retailers.

  • Call around and compare prices from different suppliers or retailers.
  • If you are looking for a used shipping container, call around to see what is available.
  • If you are looking to purchase a new one, call several retailers to get an idea of the price range.

Step 10. Be patient. Shipping containers are seasonal items, so waiting until they’re in demand can result in better deals and more selection.

This is the best time to purchase a shipping container. As demand for these containers increases, so does the price. It’s typical for a 20-foot container to cost about $2,000 in July and as much as $5,000 in January.

Step 11: Transporting Your Shipping Container

Once you’ve found a shipping container for sale, you’ll need to figure out how to get it from the seller’s location to your desired destination.

If you rent a truck, be sure to consider the size, weight, and maneuverability requirements of your container when determining which truck to use. Although many trucks can handle containers weighing up to 45,000 pounds (20 metric tons), it might be cheaper for you to use two smaller trucks if your container weights that much. Alternatively, if your container weighs less than 10,000 pounds (4.5 metric tons), you may not even need a professional trucking company at all—you could simply borrow or rent a pickup truck with a hitch and tow it yourself!

If cranes are required in order to get your container settled in its final resting place on your property—for example, if there is no driveway available on site—make sure that the crane has enough capacity to lift the weight of the entire shipping container and any other cargo therein. Additionally, make sure that there is enough space between where the crane will be set up and the destination point for maneuverability purposes.

Step 12. Do a visual inspection.

To do a visual inspection, here is a container inspection checklist you can use:

  • Check the container for any leaks or rust. This will ensure your cargo stays dry and moisture-free. If there are leaks present, the container may not be airworthy.
  • Check if it has a valid CSC plate. If this is missing, the container may not have passed quality control and could be unsafe to use.

Step 13. Have the unit inspected by a professional if you are buying used.

If you’re buying a shipping container from an online marketplace like craigslist or eBay, the old saying “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is” rings true. A shipping container comes with no warranty—a fact that’s easy to overlook if you haven’t taken the time to read a few things up on your potential purchase. If you’re lucky, you might find one that’s been inspected by a professional and has been deemed safe for use. However, assuming that every shipping container is inspected by someone in your area is not something I’d recommend doing, especially if there are many containers in the area. Inspectors are busy people and they can’t swing around inspecting every shipping container of all sizes within their counties’ borders.

Although this may seem odd at first glance, I urge potential buyers of used shipping containers to look into it before asking for anyone’s help in getting all of the boxes into their new home.

Step 14: Finishing Touches

One of the biggest problems with purchasing a shipping container is the state it will be in upon arrival. Many of them are used for international travel – meaning they will have traveled far and wide before arriving at your property. Many of these containers won’t be in tip-top condition. There will likely be scratches, rust, dents and other problems that you might not want to look at every day.

One way to fix this issue is by making sure you paint the shipping container before using it as a home. This can really improve the look of your shipping container and make it much more personal to you and your family. You can also add other finishing touches including windows, doors, lighting fixtures, air conditioning units and insulation if required. You may also want to add personal touches such as plants or furniture to make the space feel more welcoming.

You can take things even further if you’ve got sufficient funds available by adding additional rooms or extensions onto your shipping container home – giving you even more living space than what was originally there!

Before you buy a shipping container, there are several key things to consider

The best way to buy a shipping container for your next home project is to do some research and figure out exactly what you’re looking for. Many things come into play when choosing the perfect container: size, features, price, location, and ease of moving it once you buy it. Once you’ve decided on the specifics, having a professional fourth-party inspect the unit will give you peace of mind about quality.

Buying a shipping container is a great way to get a lot of storage space

Buying a shipping container is a great way to get a large amount of storage space. However, there are several things that you need to know before buying your first shipping container. First, you have the choice of buying either new or used containers. If you are looking for a good deal and don’t mind a few dents and dings, then picking up a used shipping container can be an excellent solution to your storage needs. New containers can also be purchased, however they will cost significantly more than their used counterparts.

Final Thoughts

Buying shipping containers has become all the rage in recent years. Not everyone needs to live on a houseboat, but a lot of people want to, and buying a container seems like an easier way of getting started than building one from scratch. In this article, we give you some tips for buying shipping containers in the hopes that you will succeed in finding a good one and not be hoodwinked into buying a poor quality one. We have also covered the steps you will need to take if you want to buy more than just one shipping container.

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