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Why Buy a Used Shipping Container - Cost And Sustainability

Updated: May 26

In recent years, the surge in popularity of intermodal containers has extended far beyond their traditional use in transport to buidling shipping container homes.

What Is Used Intermodal Container?

Used intermodal containers are standardized shipping units that are used across various transportation modes without the need to unload the cargo they carry and also building container homes. This used containers go thorough check that adhere to stringent ISO guidelines that ensure structural integrity, durability against various weather conditions, and standardized sizes for easy handling across different transportation systems.


Intermodal containers Characteristics


  • Standardized Sizes range from 10 ft, 20 ft, 30 ft to 40 ft containers

  • Materials made from are corrugated steel, which provides durability and protection against the elements.

  • Structure is designed to be strong and stackable, with corner castings for lifting and securing by cranes and other machinery

  • Types are refrigerated containers (reefers) for perishable goods, open-top containers for oversized cargo, and tank containers for liquids.


Used Shipping Containers Provides A Surprising Shift in Industry Dynamics

A staggering 675,000 used shipping containers are repurposed annually across various industries, showcasing their rising appeal beyond mere cargo handling. At Shipping Containers on Sale, we’ve witnessed firsthand how these robust structures are revolutionizing the concept of building and storage solutions.

Embracing Used Shipping Containers: A Wise Investment


Cost-Effectiveness: The Affordable Alternative

The financial benefits of opting for a used shipping container over a new one are compelling. For those considering a cost-effective solution to buy shipping containers, a used container is always the go for option due to it's affordability. A used 20-foot shipping containers typically range from $1,500 to $3,000, a stark contrast to their new counterparts priced between $3,000 and $5,000. Similarly, 40-foot containers show a substantial price difference, with used ones costing between $2,500 to $5,000, compared to new ones ranging from $5,775 to $8,500.

This price disparity not only makes used containers an attractive option but also a practical one, considering their minimal depreciation and promising resale value. This aspect of cost-saving continues to fuel their popularity among budget-conscious consumers and businesses alike.

Versatility of Use: Beyond Simple Storage

Beyond their affordability, used shipping containers offer incredible versatility. No longer just for shipping, these containers are being transformed into homes, offices, pop-up shops, and studios, reflecting their adaptability in various settings. From container homes in urban settings to remote pop-up shops at festivals, the examples of their repurposing are both innovative and inspiring.


Durability and Security: Built to Last

Robust Construction

Shipping containers are engineered for durability, designed to withstand harsh conditions at sea. Made primarily from weathering steel, these containers are not only tough but also highly resistant to corrosion and environmental wear. This material ensures that, even when repurposed for residential or commercial use, shipping containers retain their strength and integrity over many years.

Long-Term Security

The lifespan of a well-maintained used shipping container can extend up to 30 years or more. This durability makes them an excellent investment for those looking for long-term storage or construction solutions. Their built-in security features, such as robust, lockable doors and tamper-proof structures, make them ideal for secure storage, reducing the risk of break-ins and theft.

Sustainability: Eco-Conscious Choices

Reducing Environmental Impact

Choosing a used shipping container is a step towards sustainability. By repurposing an existing structure, you significantly reduce the demand for new raw materials, thereby decreasing the environmental footprint associated with manufacturing new steel and processing materials. This reuse aligns with global efforts to promote sustainability in construction and other industries.

Contribution to Eco-Friendly Initiatives

Repurposing shipping containers also contributes to waste reduction. Instead of letting unused containers sit idle, potentially ending up in scrapyards, reusing them in new and functional ways can help mitigate the problem of industrial waste. This not only conserves resources but also encourages a cycle of reuse within the economy, supporting eco-friendly initiatives across the globe.

Customization Potential: Tailoring to Your Needs

Endless Modification Possibilities

The structural flexibility of shipping containers allows for extensive customization. Whether you are looking to create cozy shipping container homes with all modern conveniences or a fully functional office space, containers can be modified to meet these needs. Common modifications include:

  • Insulation: Essential for making spaces comfortable, especially in regions with extreme climates.

  • Windows and Doors: Enhancing functionality and aesthetics while providing necessary ventilation and access.

  • Interior Design: Tailored interior setups can transform a container into anything from a boutique to a compact living space.

Creative Design Freedom

The potential for creativity is another reason why used shipping containers are so popular. Individuals and businesses alike have leveraged their modular design to create unique, innovative spaces that stand out. This customization extends to both external facades and internal layouts, providing a broad canvas for architectural expression.


Expanded Uses for Shipping Containers

  • Emergency and Disaster Relief Housing: Shipping containers can be quickly deployed and modified to provide emergency housing or medical facilities during natural disasters or refugee crises.

  • Educational Spaces: Containers are being used as classrooms or libraries, especially in underserved areas or where temporary facilities are needed.

  • Art Studios and Galleries: The modularity and industrial look of shipping containers make them appealing as studios or galleries for artists.

Technical Modifications and Upgrades

  • HVAC Systems: Installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in a container can transform it into a livable space suitable for any climate.

  • Eco-Friendly Upgrades: Solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and green roofs can be added to containers to enhance their sustainability.

  • Smart Home Technology: Integrating technology such as automated lighting, heating, and security systems can make container homes or offices more functional and comfortable.

Community and Commercial Projects

  • Retail Hubs and Pop-Up Malls: Containers are increasingly used in retail, especially for creating pop-up shops or entire malls from multiple stacked units due to their ease of installation and distinctive aesthetic.

  • Community Centers and Workspaces: In urban areas, containers are used to create community centers or co-working spaces, providing affordable options for meetings and collaborative work.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Permitting and Zoning Issues: One of the biggest challenges can be local zoning laws and building codes, which may not have provisions for container-based structures. It’s crucial to consult with local planning offices before embarking on a project.

  • Insulation and Condensation Issues: Proper insulation is essential to prevent issues with condensation and to ensure that the container is comfortable for living or working. Materials like spray foam can offer both insulation and moisture barrier properties.

  • Structural Integrity When Cutting: If large portions of the container are removed for doors, windows, or room connections, structural reinforcement might be needed to maintain the integrity of the container.

Financial Aspects

  • Cost Overruns: While containers themselves can be inexpensive, costs can escalate with extensive modifications or when dealing with logistical challenges like difficult site access or specialized design requirements.

  • Resale Value and Market Demand: As the popularity of container homes and offices grows, so does their market acceptance and potential resale value, making them a potentially lucrative investment in the right markets.



Considerations Before Buying Used Shipping Containers: Ensuring Quality and Suitability

Pre-Purchase Inspections

Before investing in a used shipping container, conducting a thorough inspection is crucial. This step ensures that the container you choose is suitable for your needs and free from significant damage that could impact its usability. Key areas to check include:

  • Structural Integrity: Look for any signs of rust, especially around the corners and seams, which may compromise the container's strength.

  • Door Functionality: Ensure that the doors open and close smoothly and that the locking mechanisms are in good working order.

  • Floor Condition: The interior floor should be sturdy and intact, without any significant holes or weak spots that could affect safety or security.

Compliance with Regulations

Understanding and adhering to local building codes and certification requirements is essential, especially if the container will be modified for residential or commercial use. It's important to verify that your planned modifications and the container’s intended use comply with local zoning laws to avoid potential legal issues.

Logistical Considerations

Consider the logistics involved in transporting and installing your shipping container. Factors to consider include:

  • Delivery Access: Ensure that the delivery site is accessible for the size of the truck and container. Check for any obstacles such as overhead cables or narrow entrances that could complicate delivery.

  • Foundation Requirements: Depending on its use, the container may need a concrete foundation or other specific site preparation before installation.

How and Where to Buy: Smart Sourcing Strategies

Finding Reputable Dealers

When looking to buy a used shipping container, start by seeking out reputable dealers with positive reviews and a track record of quality service. These dealers can often provide:

  • A Variety of Options: Reputable dealers usually have a range of containers in different sizes and conditions, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your needs.

  • Transportation and Installation Services: Some dealers offer comprehensive services that include delivery and installation, simplifying the process for you.

Negotiating the Best Deal

Don't hesitate to negotiate prices, especially when buying in bulk or dealing with higher-priced customized containers. Understanding the market prices and being prepared to discuss terms can lead to significant savings.

Understanding Delivery Options and Costs

Delivery costs can vary widely based on distance from the dealer to your location and the complexity of the delivery. It's important to get a clear understanding of these costs upfront to avoid unexpected expenses.

Conclusion: Take the Next Step with Confidence

Investing in a used shipping container offers a blend of affordability, versatility, and sustainability, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of applications—from innovative homes and offices to eco-friendly projects. Shipping Containers on Sale invites you to explore how these dynamic structures can meet your needs. Contact us today to discover our selection and start your project with the perfect container solution.

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