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Container Sales Group’s Comprehensive Guide To Shipping Containers

Buying a shipping container can be a straightforward process if you educate yourself on the essential factors of purchasing a shipping container.  Below is a guide to everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision in buying a shipping container.

Introduction to Shipping Containers

What are Shipping Containers? 

Shipping containers are standardized, rectangular metal boxes or containers designed for the transportation of goods across various modes of transportation, including ships, trucks, and trains. They are a fundamental component of modern global trade and logistics. These containers are also known as cargo containers, freight containers, conex or ISO containers.

Historical Background of Shipping Containers

In summary, the historical development of shipping containers, driven by innovators like Malcom McLean and the establishment of ISO standards of shipping container sizes, revolutionized the world of transportation and logistics.  Containerization dramatically improved the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cargo handling, played a crucial role in the globalization of trade, and continues to be a fundamental element of the modern global economy.

Types And Sizes Of Shipping Containers

Start by determining the required size of your container depending on the size of cargo or space needed for container conversion. The two most common sizes for standard containers are 20ft and 40ft, and suppliers like Container Sales Group also offer 40ft. High Cube and 45ft. High Cube containers if you need extra vertical space. 

If you have particularly fragile or oversized cargo loads, you may want to explore options beyond the standard containers. Some of the most common specialized container types include:

  1. Open Top Containers replace a typical solid roof with a tarp. This still keeps freight protected and dry but provides extra flexibility for top-loading and transporting oversized or abnormally shaped cargo such as timber. 
  2. Open Side Containers – also called “full access containers – allow quick and easy access to cargo through the larger opening. This makes them fantastic for long-term storage where you may not want to dig through every item to get to something in the back. They are also great for restaurant or bar conversions. 
  3. Double Door Containers ( tunnel containers) feature doors that open on each end of the container, providing extra flexibility for loading and unloading cargo. They also provide ability to partition the space to transport two different types of freight in one container.
  4. Flat Rack Containers have only two short sides and no top, offering ultimate versatility for transporting items of all shapes and sizes. These shipping containers also make it easier to load and unload cargo.

Container suppliers like Container Sales Group also offer custom storage containers to fit your specific needs. Call us today at (708) 639-4783.

Ready to purchase a shipping container? Reach out today to get a quote from the best in the industry!

Uses of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers have a wide range of uses beyond their primary role in transporting goods. Their versatility, durability, and modular design make them valuable for various purposes. Here are some common and innovative uses for NEW & USED shipping containers:

  • Storage Units – Shipping containers are often repurposed as on-site storage units for both personal and commercial use. They are weather-resistant and secure, making them ideal for storing equipment, tools, furniture, or inventory.
  • Temporary Shelters and Housing – Shipping containers can be converted into temporary shelters for disaster relief or emergency housing. They are portable & quickly deployable and offer a secure and weatherproof solution.
  • Offices and Workspaces – Containers can be transformed into offices, job site trailers, or remote workspaces. They can be customized with insulation, electricity, HVAC systems, and windows to create comfortable working environments.
  • Pop-Up Shops and Cafes -Entrepreneurs often use shipping containers to create pop-up shops, cafes, or food stalls. Their portable nature and eye-catching designs make them an attractive choice for temporary retail spaces.
  • Art Galleries and Studios – Shipping containers can serve as mobile art galleries and studios for artists. They provide a unique and customizable space for exhibitions and creative work.
  • Restaurants and Bars -Container restaurants and bars are becoming popular in urban areas. They offer an industrial and trendy aesthetic and can be customized to fit the desired theme.
  • Classrooms and Educational Spaces – Containers can be converted into portable classrooms and educational facilities, especially in areas with limited access to traditional school buildings.
  • Medical Clinics and Health Centers – In remote or underserved areas, shipping containers can be transformed into medical clinics or health centers to provide essential healthcare services.
  • Farm and Agricultural Storage – Containers are used for storing farming equipment, tools, and harvested crops. They can also be modified into hydroponic or vertical farming units.
  • Sports Facilities -Containers can be used to create portable sports facilities like changing rooms, ticket booths, and equipment storage for outdoor events and sports activities.
  • Laboratories – Shipping containers can serve as mobile laboratories for research and scientific experiments, particularly in remote or field research settings.
  • Retail Displays and Exhibitions – Containers are used for displaying products at trade shows, exhibitions, and outdoor events. They provide a secure and visually appealing platform for showcasing merchandise.
  • Entertainment and Recreation – Shipping containers have been used to create unique entertainment spaces, such as mobile cinemas, gaming arcades, and music venues.
  • Urban Development and Housing – Innovative architects and developers have used shipping containers to create affordable and sustainable housing solutions, including multi-story container homes and apartment complexes.

These are just a few examples of the many creative and practical uses for shipping containers. Their adaptability and mobility make them a versatile choice for a wide range of applications, from basic storage to complex construction projects.

Purchasing Shipping Containers- New vs. Used

Shipping container anatomy

When deciding between purchasing new or used shipping containers, there are several factors to consider, including your budget, intended use, and specific requirements. Both New (also known as a One-Trip or One-Way) and Used Containers have their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a comparison to help you make an informed decision:

New/One-Trip Shipping Containers

Advantages of New/One-Trip Shipping Containers:

  1. Condition- New containers are in great condition compared to used units.  They were built overseas in Asia, filled with cargo, and transported overseas to the United States to be sold. That is why they are called NEW/One-Trip containers. They have minimal wear and tear and offer the highest level of structural integrity and cargo protection.
  2. Longevity- New containers typically have a longer lifespan compared to used ones, which means they may require less maintenance and repair over time.
  3. Cleanliness- New containers are clean and free from any residues or odors, making them suitable for storing sensitive or food-related cargo.

Disadvantages of New/One-Trip Shipping Containers:

  1. Cost- New shipping containers are more expensive than their used counterparts, which can significantly have an impact on your budget.
  2. Environmental Impact- Purchasing new containers contributes to the demand for new steel production, which has environmental implications. Used containers are a more sustainable option.

Used Shipping Containers

Advantages of Used Shipping Containers:

  1. Cost-Effective- Used containers are more budget-friendly, making them a cost-effective choice for many buyers.
  2. Sustainability- Buying used containers promotes recycling and sustainability by extending the life of existing resources, reducing the need for new container production.
  3. Availability– Used containers are readily available in the market, with various sizes and types to choose from.

Disadvantages of Used Shipping Containers:

  1. Condition- Depending on what shipping container vendor you purchase a used container from, the condition varies significantly depending on their age and previous usage. Some may even require maintenance and repairs.
  2. Potential Odors or Residues– Some used containers may retain odors or residues from their previous cargo, which can be a concern for certain applications.
  3. Lifespan- Used containers may have a shorter remaining lifespan compared to new ones, potentially requiring more maintenance and upkeep over time.

Factors to Consider:

When deciding between new and used shipping containers, consider the following factors:

  1. Budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend and whether the cost difference between new and used containers aligns with your budget.
  2. Intended Use: Consider the specific requirements of your intended use. If you need a container for long-term storage or a critical application, a new container may be the better choice. For short-term or less critical uses, a used container may suffice.
  3. Condition: Inspect used containers thoroughly to assess their condition. Look for signs of rust, damage, or structural issues, and evaluate if any necessary repairs are within your budget.
  4. Customization: If you require extensive modifications or customization, a new container may provide more flexibility and a better starting point.
  5. Environmental Impact: If environmental considerations are important to you, buying used containers may align better with sustainable practices.

In summary, the choice between new and used shipping containers depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. Careful evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each option will help you make the right decision for your situation.

Container Delivery Options

Several types of trucks are commonly used to deliver shipping containers, depending on the size and weight of the container, as well as the specific requirements on the delivery site. Here are some of the most common types of trucks used for this purpose:

  1. Flatbed Truck (Tractor-Trailer): Commonly used for transporting shipping containers, especially for long-haul trips. Flatbed trucks are versatile and well-suited for this purpose because they can handle both 20-foot and 40-foot containers and provide a stable platform for securing the container. These trucks consist of a tractor (cab) pulling a flatbed trailer. The container is typically loaded onto the trailer and secured using twist locks, chassis locks, or chains. Flatbed trucks require you to have a heavy piece of equipment to remove the shipping container from the flatbed at the time of arrival. 
  2. Tilt Bed Truck: Tilt body trucks, also known as tilt bed or tilt deck trucks, are commonly used for local trips and shorter-distance transportation needs. These trucks have a hydraulic tilting mechanism that allows the bed of the truck to be raised and lowered, making them well-suited for tasks that require easy loading and unloading without the need for additional equipment like cranes or forklifts. 
  3. Gooseneck Trailer: Gooseneck trailers are similar to flatbeds but have a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch that connects to the tractor. They are often used for transporting heavier or larger containers, such as 40-foot or 45-foot containers.
  4. Sideloader Truck: Sideloader trucks are equipped with a specialized crane or lift system on the side of the truck. This crane can pick up containers from the ground and load them onto the truck without the need for additional equipment. Sideloader trucks are convenient for locations with limited space for maneuvering.
  5. Lowboy Trailer: Lowboy trailers have a low deck height and are used for transporting oversized or heavy containers. They are commonly used for specialized or heavy cargo that cannot be transported on standard flatbeds.
  6. Step Deck Trailer: Step deck trailers have a lower deck section in the middle, allowing them to accommodate taller containers or cargo. They are useful for transporting containers with extra height.

The choice of truck depends on factors like the size and weight of the container, the distance of the transport, and the available equipment. It’s essential to select the appropriate truck and trailer combination to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of the shipping container. Additionally, local regulations and road conditions may influence the choice of truck and route. Learn more about shipping container delivery here: Shipping Containers for Sale Delivered: What You Need to Know.

Ready to purchase a shipping container? Reach out today to get a quote from the best in the industry!

How to Prepare Your Site Properly

Preparing your property for a shipping container delivery is essential to ensure a smooth and safe process. Here are the steps to properly prepare your property:

  1. Select a Suitable Location: Choose a level and stable area on your property for container placement. Gravel, asphalt, or concrete surfaces are ideal, but grassy or dirt areas can work with proper preparation. Consider accessibility for the delivery truck and any equipment needed for container placement.
  2. Measure the Space: Determine the dimensions of the container you plan to place on your property. Standard shipping containers come in 20ft and 40ft lengths, so ensure you have enough space for your chosen size. For a 20ft container, you will need 50ft of straight-line space for the truck to pull forward as the container slides off the back of his truck. For a 40ft container, you will need 130-150ft of straight-line space for the truck to pull forward as the container slides off the back of his truck. Overall, you will need 16ft of height clearance at the delivery site and 12ft of width to allow the truck to enter. 
  3. Prepare the Ground: If the area is uneven, you may need to level it using a bulldozer, excavator, or other earth-moving equipment. Consider laying a foundation, such as concrete blocks or railroad ties, to provide a stable and moisture-resistant base for the container.  Keep in mind the placement of these materials can only be done at time of delivery and two people are needed.
  4. Clear Obstacles: Remove any obstacles, including trees, branches, debris, or structures that may obstruct the delivery or placement of the container.
  5. Access and Clearance: Ensure there is adequate clearance for the delivery truck to maneuver and position the container. Remove any low-hanging branches or overhead obstacles.
  6. Inform Neighbors: Notify your neighbors about the upcoming delivery and placement of the shipping container. This can help address any concerns and maintain good neighborly relations.
  7. Secure Permits: If required, obtain the necessary permits for placing a shipping container on your property. This may include zoning permits, building permits, or land-use approvals.
  8. Prepare Equipment: If you plan to load or unload items from the container, make sure you have the necessary equipment, such as forklifts, pallet jacks, or loading ramps.
  9. Coordinate Delivery: Schedule the delivery with your container provider or logistics company. Ensure they have clear instructions on where to place the container and any specific requirements.
  10. Mark the Location: There must be someone at the location to guide and sign off on the delivery.  You can also mark the intended placement area with stakes, cones, or other markers to guide the delivery team.  
  11. Be Present During Delivery: Be on-site during the delivery to oversee the process and address any issues or questions that may arise.
  12. Inspect the Container: Once the container is in place, inspect the container by walking inside, close the door and make sure you see no light.   If there is any damage or issues that may have occurred during delivery call your provider to report these problems.

By properly preparing your property for a shipping container delivery, you can ensure a trouble-free and safe installation process while complying with local regulations and minimizing any potential disruption to your neighbors or property.

Inspection Guidelines

Inspecting a shipping container upon delivery is crucial to ensure that you receive a container in the condition you expect. Whether you are purchasing a new or used container, here are steps to follow when inspecting a shipping container upon delivery:

  1. Prepare in Advance: Before the container arrives, gather the necessary tools and equipment, including a flashlight, tape measure, camera or smartphone for taking photos, and a checklist to record your findings.
  2. Check the Exterior: For NEW/one trip containers – Examine the container for visible signs of damage, dents, or rust. Pay special attention to the corners and edges, as these areas are more prone to damage.  Check the container’s paint and surface condition. Look for areas where the paint may be peeling or flaking. For Used containers – Walk inside, and close the doors and make sure you see no light. This means you purchased a Water/wind tight container.
  3. Inspect the Doors: Open and close the container doors to ensure they operate smoothly.  (If there is any difficulty in opening and closing the doors the container may be on uneven ground) Check the door gaskets and seals for any damage or signs of wear. Verify that the locking mechanisms, hinges, and handles are in good working order.
  4. Look Inside the Container: Open the container doors and inspect the interior. Check for any signs of moisture or water damage, which may indicate leaks in the roof or walls. Examine the interior surfaces for rust, especially on the walls and ceiling.
  5. Discuss Any Issues with the Seller: If you discover any significant issues, such as structural damage or severe rust, immediately discuss them with the seller or delivery personnel. NEVER let the delivery driver leave your site without calling your provider and advising them of any problems.  If possible, try to resolve any concerns or discrepancies before accepting the container.

Remember that a thorough inspection is essential to ensure you receive a container in the condition you expect. If you have any concerns or discover significant issues during the inspection, communicate with the seller promptly to address and resolve them during the inspection.

Where to Buy Shipping Containers

How to buy a shipping container

Finding a reputable shipping container vendor is crucial to ensure that you receive a high-quality product and reliable service. Container Sales Group buys containers directly from the steamship lines to offer our customers the highest quality containers at the most competitive prices. To get a quote, call us at (708) 639-4783 or request a quote. Here are some tips to help you find reputable shipping container vendors:

  1. Ask for Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, colleagues, or business associates who have purchased shipping containers before. They may be able to recommend reputable vendors based on their experiences.
  2. Read Online Reviews: Look for online reviews and testimonials about container vendors. Websites like Yelp, Google Reviews, or industry-specific forums can provide insights into the reputation of vendors in your area. Only buy from a vendor who has current Google Reviews.
  3. Request References: Don’t hesitate to ask the vendor for references from previous customers. Contact these references to inquire about their experiences with the vendor and the quality of the containers they received.
  4. Inquire About Container Condition: Ask the vendor about the condition of their containers, whether they sell new or used units, and if they have any specific criteria for selecting used containers for resale. 
  5. Discuss Delivery and Placement:  Clarify the vendor’s delivery options and costs. Ensure they can transport it and place the container where you need it.
  6. Get Multiple Quotes:  Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Get quotes from multiple vendors and compare prices, services, and container conditions to make an informed decision.  But only compare from a reputable vendor and NOT A SCAMMER.
  7. Review Terms and Conditions: Carefully read and understand the vendor’s terms and conditions, including payment terms, return policies, and warranties, if applicable.  
  8. Communicate Clearly: Maintain clear and open communication with the vendor throughout the process. Ensure that all agreements and expectations are documented in writing.

By following these tips and conducting thorough research, you can increase your chances of finding a reputable shipping container vendor that meets your needs and provides you with a quality product and service.

Obtaining the necessary zoning approvals and permits for placing shipping containers on your property typically involves several steps and may vary depending on your location and local regulations. Here’s a general guide on how to navigate the process:

  1. Research Local Regulations: Start by researching the zoning regulations and building codes specific to your area. You can usually find this information on your city or county government’s website or by contacting the local zoning department.
  2. Contact the Zoning Department: Reach out to your local zoning department, village or municipality to discuss your plans and clarify any requirements or restrictions. They can provide guidance on whether your proposed use of the container is allowed and what permits may be necessary.
  3. Ongoing Compliance: After the container is in place, make sure to comply with all conditions, regulations, and permit requirements. This includes any periodic inspections or renewals that may be mandated by your local government.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements for zoning and permits can vary significantly by location, so it’s crucial to consult with your local authorities and zoning department before you purchase a shipping container. Failing to obtain the necessary permits and approvals can result in fines, forced removal of the container, or other legal issues, so it’s essential to navigate this process diligently and in compliance with local laws.

Ready to purchase a shipping container? Reach out today to get a quote from the best in the industry!

Shipping Container Maintenance and Care

Keeping shipping containers in good condition and extending their lifespan requires proactive maintenance, proper handling, and protective measures.  Here are some key strategies to help you achieve this:

Regular maintenance includes:

  1. Rust and Corrosion Prevention: Inspect the container’s exterior for rust regularly. Address rust spots promptly by sanding, priming, and repainting the affected areas with a suitable rust-resistant paint or primer. Consider applying a rust inhibitor or coating for added protection.
  2. Door and Lock Maintenance: Regularly lubricate door hinges, locking mechanisms, and other moving parts to ensure they operate smoothly and reliably.
  3. Repainting (As Needed): If the container’s exterior paint is significantly faded or damaged, consider repainting it with suitable marine-grade or container-specific paint to protect against corrosion.
  4. Regular Inspections: If the container’s exterior paint is significantly faded or damaged, consider repainting it with suitable marine-grade or container-specific paint to protect against corrosion.
  5. Roof Inspection: Check the container’s roof for signs of dents, punctures, or damage that may lead to water leaks. Address any issues promptly.
  6. Lubricate Hinges and Locks: Lubricate door hinges, locking mechanisms, and other moving parts with a suitable lubricant to ensure they operate smoothly.
  7. Check Seals and Gaskets: Regularly lubricate door hinges, locking mechanisms, and other moving parts to ensure they operate smoothly and reliably.

Container Security

Protecting the security of goods stored in shipping containers is essential, especially when they are used for storage purposes. As you start to think about security, it is essential to select a secure location for your container, such as a well-lit area with restricted access. Some people even install wireless security cameras  in and around the container’s perimeter to provide surveillance.  Additionally, using a high-quality padlocks or DYI lockboxes offer another layer of protection.  Adequate lighting around the container can discourage unauthorized access during nighttime hours. Motion-activated lights can be particularly effective.  There are new motion activated options that include a security system that are very affordable now. 

Ultimately, you should ensure that your goods in the container are adequately insured against theft and damage. Review your insurance policies to fully understand coverage limits and requirements so you have more peace of mind.

Work with the best in the shipping container business.

Container Sales Group buys containers directly from the steamship lines to offer our customers the highest quality containers at the most competitive prices. We’re a women-owned business, established in 1998, and have locations throughout the US.

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