Cargo and Shipping Containers for Sale – A Buyers Guide on Containers

Repurposing shipping containers has gone mainstream, with people turning them into everything from storage sheds to houses to swimming pools! Because of the increasing demand for shipping containers for uses outside of actual shipping, there has been an increase in pricing to buy used shipping containers in the last few years.

If you are looking to buy or rent if you are able to look at the information from a specialist company. You can check websites like, you will find that they can guide you to asking the right questions in order to ensure that you get the container that will suit your needs perfectly.

What is purpose of your Shipping Container?

Before you even start to look at prices, be very clear what you are using your shipping container for. You might have the idea to use it for storage initially and eventually turn it into a self-contained room for your budding teenager in order to give them more independence. In this instance your end goal is a container that will be suitable for a tiny-home conversion, so make sure that you are looking for something that has specifications suitable for this purpose rather than something that is spec’d out as storage facility.

Intermodal Containers

Although when you’re buying a used container you will normally look for “shipping containers”, in the actual shipping industry these may be known as ‘intermodal containers” (see here). It is estimated that there are over 5million shipping containers carrying a range of cargo on ships at any given time. With conservative estimates of over 20 million containers in use for shipping around the world. This does not include the decommissioned containers that are purchased for scrap metal or, with increasing regularity, for repurposing.

As cargo ships increase in size, so does the amount of cargo they can carry. This means that we aren’t just seeing more containers on these freight vessels, but that we are also seeing larger and larger cargo containers being loaded onto ships. Cargo containers account for more than 60% of the worlds seaborne trade (as at 2010).

Shipping containers were standardized in the 1940s, so there is obviously a range of ages to look at when you are buying a container, from brand new (or near new), to rather old (although it would be highly unlikely that you would be purchasing a genuine container from the 1940s to store your extra outdoor gear in).

Purchasing Online or In Person?

Obviously, you are doing your research online, but do you truly want to do your final purchase online? Although significantly cheaper than alternative options, shipping containers are not a small outlay, so you really do want to make sure that what you’re purchasing is what you will be getting.  Look at the firm you are considering purchasing from and consider a few questions:

#1 Do they offer a range of containers, or are they a small outfit reselling only a few?

A company that specializes in selling shipping containers is more likely to know exactly what they are doing and is probably more able to assist you in getting the container you need. They possibly can get better deals on containers because of the amount of trade they do as well.

#2 Do they have photographs?

If you are buying online, you are unlikely to want to purchase without having a clue what will arrive. Most websites selling products online, no matter what the industry, will have photographs of the products.

#3 Do they have an office?

A larger company specializing in shipping container sales is going to have an office, probably a yard to store containers, and possibly have locations in a variety of places. Do they have a way of contacting them? Can you talk to a real person? Just having a quick skype or phone call with someone from the company can make things run a lot smoother and can help alleviate any concerns you might have.

#4 Are you able to see the container?

If they do have a yard near where you are, are you able to purchase the container in person? Bear in mind that some containers may be stored on port docks, which can have security restrictions around who can be on site.

#5 What are the delivery options?

The delivery of your container is likely to be centred around your physical location and the size of container. Do you have easy access for a truck to bring a container to where you need it? Will access require a crane to move the container into place? Or perhaps your only option really is going to be placement via a helicopter? Working out where you want your container is only part of the problem, you need to make sure that the company you are purchasing from is able to deliver it to that spot. Otherwise you run the risk of having to move your future storage shed 100” up that hill on your own.

#6 Do they have a policy to solve problems?

This is important! Although shipping containers are, obviously, pretty sturdy objects, problems can arise, even in containers that are near to new. It is rare, but if you have purchased a container and it arrives with a problem that wasn’t disclosed (or if it was somehow damaged in transport), you want to make sure that the company you have purchased from is going to be able to help resolve the problem. Most reputable companies will have a good policy around what they can do in order to make sure that you are happy with your purchase – but you also need to make sure that you know what you are buying.

Hopefully the company you choose to purchase from offers advice on key things to look out for when your container arrives, and also what to do in order to ensure that the site where you want your container placed is going to be suitable. Price is important, but you need to be sure that what you wanted is what you get.

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