People are increasingly buying shipping containers for uses completely unrelated to shipping! The range of ways that a shipping container can be repurposed are almost endless.
They are basically a very large and sturdy boxes made from corrugated steel; these are generally water-tight, air-tight, and capable of withstanding a significant amount of battering.
All of this makes them ideal for transporting goods safely around the world, but these same properties are what is causing the boom in cargo containers being used for a range of industrial, commercial and private purposes.
Although containers do come in a surprisingly wide range of sizes, the two most common are 40’ or 20’. This refers to the length of the container.
For shipping a 20’ is generally preferred for transporting heavy, dense objects, whereas a 40’ container is ideal for shipping lighter but bulkier objects.
The huge range of shipping containers that can be purchased can be seen on sites like shippingcontainersale.org; you can also see how common different sizes and styles are.
40’ Container Sizing
The standard 40ft container is 40’ (~12.1m) long and 8’ (~2.4m) wide, and these are generally available in four styles:
- 40′ double doors (8’6″ high) – less common
- 40′ high cube (9’6″ high) – common
- 40’ high cube double doors (9′ 6″high) – less common
- 40′ open side (8’6″ high) – rare
There are also specialty options such as refrigerated and sealed united designed to transport liquid.
40’ Container Purchase Pricing
Although this can be a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” type question, generally when you are looking at purchasing a shipping container you will need to know:
- Outright Purchase Price
This is the price just to buy the container and is unlikely to include any standard extras.
- Applicable taxes for your area
Consider that if you are importing you may also be liable for import duty taxes if applicable.
- Delivery charges
Check that these are to get the container right to where you want it, not to the nearest port.
Commonly, you can look at a more common 40’ standard storage container in a wind & water tight condition to start at around USD$2400 to purchase the container itself.
From there the price might increase depending on the actual specifications of the container, and the exact condition. You will also likely be looking at an increase in price if you want a refrigerated unit.
Usually a little more expensive, a cargo worthy shipping container is structurally sound with some cosmetic damages – dings, scraps, minor surface rust etc. A standard 40’ cargo container in this condition will normally be priced starting from USD$2,700 to purchase the container.
Again, the price will reflect the specifications of the container and its condition.
New (One Trip)
These are the containers in the best condition, with very minor cosmetic damage (usually just scraps from the crane loading them on to transportation). As such this is also the most expensive option, with options starting from around USD$5,700.
One thing to be weary of is very cheap pricing, although you may occasionally find an amazing bargain, generally it is more likely that the container is being sold in an “AS IS” condition.
These usually are structurally unsound containers that should be recycled as scrap metal and could be potentially dangerous for other use.
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Trading in the 40’ ISO Shipping Container Market
The market for 40’ ISO shipping containers has been growing steadily, and reports suggest that increased manufacturing factories are supporting this growth.
Forty-foot Equivalent Units (FEU) are one of the most commonly used size of container and are manufactured to conform to International Organization of Standardization (ISO) regulations which make transportation through trains, trucks, cranes, and ships easier.
A report from Hexa Research (here) advises that the superior and standardized transportation systems found USA and Europe will generate substantial growth in the container market. This report also indicates that Asia-Pacific will begin to see growth in this industry due to comparatively lower labor costs. Asia-Pacific is also a primary source of manufacture.
PR Newswire suggests that countering this positivity what they say is a high cost of freight shipping which may hinder the expected growth. However, market growth is also expected to be positively affected by the number of mergers that have occurred between some of the major shipping lines recently.
Other factors that can affect the price of shipping containers include the cost of raw steel and fuel costs.
The underlying key to growth in this market is obviously going to be the demand for freighting of goods in shipping containers.
So, this is the market in buying and selling shipping containers rather than the retail market, however, the security or volatility of this market will obviously have a weighty effect on the purchase price of cargo containers for the retail purchaser.
Getting a Good Deal
Most of the time, purchasing a cargo container isn’t a spur of the moment thing. You decide that you have a need that can be met by repurposing a 40’ container.
One of the most popular uses is storage. Many towns and cities store their Christmas trees and Christmas decorations in a shipping container; schools might use them to store play equipment; business use them to store extra stock (particularly before a big sale); and residents use them to store everything from excess furniture to the summer jet-ski.
The key to making sure that you get the container that suits your needs at a good price is really to know exactly what you want. Once you have established that you will outgrow a 20’ container within 6 months you can start looking at the 40’ options.
Once you decide that you are going to put fake cladding on the outside to the container blend into your shop frontage, you can move away from the new options.
As soon as you’ve decided exactly what you need, then you can shop around – but as above, make sure that you are comparing apples with apples and that a good deal isn’t full of hidden costs, and you’ll have a great investment.