Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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HomeFreight ContainerHow to know a shipping container is in good condition

How to know a shipping container is in good condition

How to know a shipping container that you just bought is in good condition…….

New and used shipping containers today are big business, and pricing competition is fierce!

New and used shipping containers are finding their way into today’s popular culture and are becoming widely accepted as home and office building materials.

No longer are they viewed as a poor man’s shelter from the pages of Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” or only for use as an emergency shelter, but instead, they are climbing the pages of haute couture architecture magazines and home builder service offerings.

Businesses are seemingly popping up overnight, in malls and other urban centres, constructed out of shipping containers. Even trade shows are getting in on the action. How awesome would that be?

Just roll in your repurposed shipping container booth and plug it in. In all, the hassles that a shipping container can reduce or eliminate with their modular construction are limitless.

Everyone is getting in on the action, especially consumers

Some of the most popular uses for new and used shipping containers are for workshops, homes, carports, cabins, off-grid living spaces, medical centres, information kiosks, tool sheds, home additions, office spaces for home or work, guest houses, hotels, and the like.

Shipping containers are adored by those who implement them in their building plans because of their affordability, ease of manipulation, reduced labour costs, durability and long life.

One can purchase a used shipping container for as little as $1,400 –depending on the condition you require. But how do you know what condition you require if you’re not a seasoned professional in the industry?

A Little Confusion

With such a new trend forming around them, many are unaware of which criteria make a proper shipping container for their unique requirements.

Not all shipping containers are created equal.

The suitability of a specific shipping container for your unique requirements will need some thoughtful consideration.

Initially, it is wise to consider the past life of your prospective shipping container. Was it used to haul around nuclear waste, biohazards, toxic chemicals, alien spacecraft, or trash? You might be getting a deal, but is this what you want?

It is safe to assume that any used shipping container which has shipped some sort of dangerous goods has had its contents splashed along the inside of the unit and absorbed leeched chemicals or remnants of “product” into its floorboards and smattered across inner walls.

Residues and traces from these chemicals and substances can linger forever, making any shipping container to have handled them a risk to a prospective home builder. Over time, the chemical dust can find its way into lungs and little curious toddlers mouths if used to build a home.

Some factors to consider in terms of shipping container quality

How many trips has it made? Shorter and more frequent trips mean more wear and tear from loading and unloading.

Where did it travel most? From the sun-baked Australian costs to the frozen deathly cold areas deep near our North and South poles, the constant changes in frigid temperatures can cause drastic elemental damage such as rust and warping of the corrugated steel.

How much rust does your shipping container possess, and how bad is it? One of the biggest draws for using shipping containers in low-cost construction is their immense durability and structural strength –but that can all go out the window if you’re used shipping container is riddled with rust blots.

A little rust is ok, but too many areas covered with the crimson colour and the chances of your shipping container lasting as long as the house next door diminish. Make sure that the rust doesn’t go all the way through, and be sure to have some maintenance done to the new or used container before construction.

Some great ways to ensure the corrugated steel of your shipping container lasts longer when it becomes a home is to prime it and paint it with good quality oil based paint. This will greatly reduce the ability for moisture to find its way into the framework of the container and wreak havoc on its body.

Lastly, the shipping containers are tagged with various condition descriptions (see below infographic for more), and having a firm understanding of what they mean will also ensure that you’ve selected the right new or used shipping container to suit your needs, whether you buy them in the USA or buy shipping container from PCS in Australia.

“As Is”

An “as is” shipping container is like the scratch and dent furniture models at your local home furnishing stores. They’ve got some wear and tear, but are still typically a good fit. No returns, though –so buyer beware. You do get what you pay for. As Is used shipping containers often have rust holes and the like, so it is not recommended that they are used for load bearing, as would be required in a home building scenario.

“One Trip” or “Single Haul”

The label is as it is described; with only the maiden voyage of this designated shipping container under it’s belt, these shipping containers are as new as they get in the shipping container world.

“Dangerous goods”

Simply put, unless you’re using this container for the same purpose it was used for in its past life, don’t use it at all.

Is Your Shipping Container In Good Condition
Infographic from Port Container Services Adelaide



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  1. Shipping containers are used for so much that there are a lot of them floating around (no pun intended). You’re bound to find one in a decent price range for whatever project you’re looking to do. Making sure it’s in good shape when you get it is the next big step. Thanks for the great tips!


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