How do you buy shipping containers?

There are a few different ways that you can buy shipping containers in Australia. Generally the most common method of buying shipping containers in Australia and the fastest is online and there are multiple sources, websites that are available and that have varying shipping container sizes on offer to buy.

You can simply search for keywords such as ”use shipping containers” on Google or Bing.  That will supply you with places to start looking for a shipping container seller would dealer.

The first problem that you will encounter is how will you get the container transported to where you want to cite the container.  There are some sellers who only have limited quantities as well and as our previous post on building a shipping container home showed there can be a number of containers required to complete a housing project.

Sometimes a council also may object to having a shipping container in your domestic residence parked at the front of the property such as in Christchurch New Zealand which introduced fines for anyone with shipping containers on the property after a spate of people moving in and living in them.  There are also regulations that limit the time that the container can be on the property or require local council paperwork or permits.  So before you buy shipping container you will have to make a call to your local council and find out what the regulations are in respect of positioning one even for temporary purposes on your property.

There are many people possibly in your area depending on where you live or country that may have been through the heartache and also gone from start to finish in building a shipping container home and may be writing about it online that you can also contact.

First place I would look online also is Mike Turber and his website called off grid in particular there is one article on the 10 different things that you need to keep in mind before you buy a shipping container.

Some of these points include:

  1. buying a shipping container can be easy or difficult depending on where you live. If you live near Port you could probably find a enough suppliers of containers.  The further away you live from a port facility then you will have to have the container shipped to the drop-off point and this might involve hiring a truck yourself with a tilting tray to pick it up yourself or commission one to do so.
  2. As for budgets, avoid those places that sell prefabricated containers roller doors or made to be a prefab work office. Some of these premade container houses or office units tend to be overpriced factoring in in the cost of development and you would probably need to change some of the fittings anyway.
  3. Check out second-hand online websites such as Craigslist if you’re overseas (Australia tends to not use Craigslist versus, in Australia and eBay tend to be the most popular websites and there are shipping containers for sale on the sites. Sometimes of its in your local area you might be able to even get free delivery.
  4. Look around in your industrial area and possibly some companies may be getting rid of their shipping containers that are unused or unsightly and making way for more space.
  5. Do a pre-check and make sure that the people actually own the shipping container they’re selling, sometimes there is a number on the side of the container and you can ring the owner which is normally printed on the side of the container.
  6. Not all shipping containers are made from the same material of construction. “CourTen steel”from my checks online have been said to last the longest and will stand up to rust and weather conditions as containers are designed to travel on the open sea and subject to many elements of weather.
  7. Always negotiate. It’s hard to know which country you’re in but in some countries there is a pile of shipping containers that need to be sold, is being taken up by empty containers and this could be used for other things so sometime sellers are motivated to make deals especially for multi-shipping container deals and try and get free delivery thrown in with the negotiations.
  8. When you’ve finished your home you need to inform your insurer, again depending on where you live in which country you’re reading this from as some require to be known whether it’s an ISBU or intermodal steel building unit. These will have a better fire rating and areas prone to hurricane, typhoon is all cyclones may improve your chances of negotiating a good policy rate and deal.
  9. Larger shipping containers such as the 40 foot containers offer the best value and usually are the easiest to locate. You can get sizes up to say 53 feet or smaller sizes.
  10. Get to know the market for shipping containers so you can negotiate what a good deal is especially if you’re buying multiple lots of 10+ for the development of your home. The cost of the shipping container will vary depending on its condition, age and there is a market value which fluctuates depending probably on supply in the area.  Location two is a major factor, and the further you are away from the container you need to factor in the cost of transport. Market conditions will play a big factor in the pricing of the shipping container just as if it’s any other market related product.  Spending time studying the shipping container market will pay for itself in the long run if you are buying multiples of shipping containers and develop the property and convert a container into a livable space.
  11. You need to also familiarise yourself with the terminology. Based on American literature I read there are one trip containers which have generally been useful once to ship freight and will be as close to new as you’ll find.  The price of these containers will be at the higher end.  There are also other containers that have been many years in shipping, still structurally sound but have more wear and tear than the one trip container.  These might be a good choice to get if you are looking to build and keep the cost of construction at a low end.  They may or may not be suitable however for choosing to use as your primary residential home development.  This will be a choice you’ll have to weigh up as to the condition of the container.There are containers that have been retired and these are called WWT containers.  These are no longer use for shipping freight and generally put out to the yard.  WWT containers may not be the best option for a living quarter and can be just use for everyday storage instead.
  12. Sometimes there are containers advertised online “as is”. Don’t be put off by this terminology as is because these containers may be worth a look once you’re up to speed with the pricing and looking for shipping containers and the conditions and identify any faults.  These containers may turn out to be in very good condition.  Caution still should be had and thorough check should be made.
  13. Use containers may not be the best choice in building a shipping container home unless you found good second-hand containers that are flawless. In the US you might want to try BSL containers, container house International Inc, W and K container, Rava group container services.  In Australia there are numerous companies also check out including container build group who were based on Ms Moore in New South Wales.  Container homes which are a Sydney-based company. There is a company based in Brisbane but we could not locate their contact details called Rubixs modular and apparently do container homes and workspaces.  In Perth there is a development company called cube modular homes and reportedly selling container units priced from $29,500.  This could be a shell which requires more work to be done.