10 Tips for Using a Shipping Container for Storage
With a surplus of new and used shipping containers, many people are repurposing them into strong and durable storage units for residential and commercial use. These containers are extremely hardy, and can withstand severe weather and even fires, keeping your possessions or inventory safe year-round. They’re also cost-efficient and portable, which means they can be transported to virtually any location, provided there’s enough space for the truck carrying it to manoeuvre.
Before purchasing a storage shipping container, there are a few things you should consider to ensure that your items stay safe and in good condition with minimal maintenance.
1. How it will be delivered
Shipping containers are usually delivered using one of two types of trucks: a tilt-bed or roll-off truck or a flatbed truck. Flatbed trucks are usually more affordable than their counterparts, but you must also have a forklift on site to place the container.
If your location is far from the container depot — more than 100 miles — then you should consider the cost of hiring a forklift locally. If the total cost is very high, then using a roll-off truck will eliminate the logistical hassle.
2. Do you need any permits?
Generally, you don’t need a building permit for any structures that don’t have a permanent foundation. This would mean if you intend to set your storage shipping container onto concrete footings or railroad ties. If you’re setting up a barn or shed, you may be required to get a permit.
3. Setup and maintenance costs
While the upfront costs of buying a shipping container are quite high compared to building a concrete or wood-frame structure, the total costs of building a structure and the time taken might be more than simply getting a container. Building involves construction costs, transporting materials, and labour expenses. In addition, these structures may not be as durable as a shipping container that can withstand even the harshest weather conditions.
4. Set up a solid foundation
To maximize the life of your storage container, you should prepare some kind of foundation for it to sit on. Letting the container sit directly on the ground will affect moisture drainage and ventilation, leading to corrosion and decay on the underside.
Common low-cost foundation options include railroad ties, concrete pile, or slab-on-grade. The container can then be secured with bolts or fixtures set in the concrete slab itself.
5. Do you need to stack the containers?
If you’re considering getting several storage shipping containers, consider stacking them to save on space. Generally, you should not exceed 7 containers stacked on top of each other, but the strength depends on the entire steel framing or structural integrity of the underlying containers.
To prevent deformation, you should consider welding steel guardrails to the interior of the structure for additional stability and support for the container. The amount of reinforcement required depends on how high you intend to stack the containers.
6. Secure your containers
New shipping containers come fitted with lockboxes as a standard feature, though the same does not apply for used containers. Consider adding a bolt-on lockbox if your container does not have it, to prevent access to the lock on all sides except the bottom. This helps to boost security as it’s virtually impossible to cut the shank.
7. Is it well ventilated?
If your region has fluctuating day and night temperatures, then you will likely have a problem with condensation building up inside your container. This can damage any valuables stored inside the container. As such, you should make arrangements to install some kind of ventilation system that will facilitate proper air circulation. Common options include fixed vents and a basic HVAC system.
8. Interior odour
If you notice any kind of smell inside the container due to the cargo that was shipped, you should spread some instant coffee around the inside of the container and then shut the doors for a couple of days. Coffee naturally absorbs smells, leaving the container with a faint smell of coffee.
9. Size of container
The common container sizes are 20-feet standard, 40-feet standard, 40-feet high cubes, and 40-feet super-high cubes that offer a varying amount of storage space. To get the most value for commercial storage, you should first determine the price per square foot of each container, then you can choose the size that gives you the best return on investment. For residential storage, you should also consider the amount of space available on site to place the container.
10. Don’t buy cheap
While you need to find a container that fits your budget, the cheapest unit may put the items in storage at risk of damage. There are several different types of containers, including new, refurbished, and ‘As is’, all of which come with a different cost that matches their condition.
It’s important to choose a container that is in good condition, with as few defects as possible, but is still within your budget. Used containers vary considerably in both condition and price, so you can find a good fit for you with a little research. Otherwise, new containers are essentially standard in terms of features and options.
Keep in mind that there are several types of shipping containers in the market, for different purposes. For instance, a reefer container is best for storing perishable items that need refrigeration. An open-side container, on the other hand, can be ideal for organizing cargo of different shapes/sizes, like machinery.
Make sure to find a reliable supplier, who can guide you to the best container for your needs. Shipping containers are a great, cost-effective option for homeowners and businesses looking for a portable storage solution. They’re easy to set up fast and affordable, which makes storage shipping containers a great alternative to setting up concrete or wooden structures.
Finally, check if your supplier offers a price-match guarantee. Many suppliers promise to offer the best deals on the market. This means that if you can find a better price for the same size and condition of a shipping container from a competitor, they may be willing to beat that lower price to uphold their reputation.
For more information about purchasing a shipping container, call Sigma Containers at (416) 366-7762 or contact us here.