Shipping Container Homes: Where to Obtain Shipping Containers

You can build your entire home with shipping containers. You can build any size home from shipping containers. In case you don’t want to build a shipping container home, you can still build garage, extra room, studio, or outhouse. If you have decided to live in a shipping container, you have three options to choose:

Buy a prebuilt shipping container home

Find a contractor and ask him to build a container home for you

Procure shipping containers and build the home yourself

Let’s assume that you do not want to buy a pre-built shipping container home or hire a contractor to build you a shipping container home, instead you want to build shipping container home by yourself. If you have chosen the third option because it saves building time and building cost, the first thing you need to do is to obtain shipping container. Even if you are not building the entire home from shipping containers but just building garage or adding extra rooms from shipping containers, you need shipping containers and the first question that will bother you is “Where do I obtain a shipping container?”

Whether you have decided to build an entire home with shipping container or add some extra room or garage, or build outhouse with shipping container, you must find out where you can buy shipping containers; however, before you begin, you also need to know about the different types of shipping containers so that you can buy the one that suits your need.

Before buying shipping containers for your home, you have to determine the size and area for your shipping container homes. The common sizes of the containers are 20 feet by 8 feet and 40 feet by 8 feet. The small size container will give you the floor area of about 160 square feet and the larger container will give 320 square feet living area. Don’t forget that some of it will be used up for insulation.

Different Types of Shipping Containers

In the entire shipping industry, shipping containers are vital components for moving goods from one location to another location. The shipping containers ensure that the goods reach their destination safely. Depending on the type of items to be shipped, different types of containers are used. The containers vary in size and strength. Before you plan to build a house from shipping containers, you need to understand some of the common types of shipping containers that are useful for building.

Dry storage container: The most common type of shipping container. These containers are used to ship dry materials. They come in 10, 20 and 40 ft sizes. They only have doors on one end.

Flat rack container: These containers have collapsible sides, where the sides can be folded so as to make a flat rack. These containers are ideal for shipping wide variety of goods.

Open top container: These containers can accommodate goods of any size because their tops can be removed.

Tunnel container: These containers have doors on both ends.

Open side container:  These containers come with doors that can be changed into open sides.

Double doors container: They have doors on both ends. They come in 20 and 40 ft sizes.

Refrigerated container: These containers are used to ship materials that are easily destroyed, for instance, fruits and vegetables. The temperature inside these containers is controlled. These containers are insulated and could be a good option if you would like flat walls and insulation. The insulation is not very good so you will need to add some more insulation to make it energy efficient.

Cargo storage roll container: This is a foldable container generally used to ship sets or stacks of materials. These containers are made from the strong and thick wire mesh along with rollers. They are not very common.

Half height containers: These containers are used to ship coal, stones. They are half the size of standard shipping container. They make a good but small swimming pool.

Shipping Container Home: Acquiring Cargo Containers

Obtaining a shipping container could be as simple as a trip to your local store, or as “terrifying” as buying and moving logistics. This all depends on where you are located.  If you live in a port city or a town near the port, you can easily find the containers you want. If you live far away, you will have to find the right containers and move to your place.

In case you live near a port, you can visit the port yourself and choose the shipping containers you want. Once you have found the right containers, you can talk to the seller and buy the containers.

When you are placed very far away from the port, it might be impossible to visit the dock for the inspection. In that case, you will have to look for companies that sell shipping containers.  Look into the business directories and find a company near you. Call them and seal the deal.

One of the easiest ways to find shipping container is by looking into Craigslist. Before you get in touch with these sellers on Craigslist, do some research. Your research should answer the questions like: are they registered businesses? Do they have a physical office? Where are they based?

eBay is also a good place to buy shipping containers. Some sellers even offer free shipping if you are based on a certain area. On ebay, you can find new as well as used containers. eBay sellers offer a competitive price for shipping containers.

If you want a prebuilt tiny container house, you can get it from Amazon. Amazon offers small container home for as less than $36000. If you want a custom built shipping container home, you can also buy on Amazon.

Alibaba is a Chinese online store where you can find various products including shipping containers. The average price for a used container on Alibaba is $2000.

Another good option is  Container Auction is a marketplace where shipping lines, leasing companies, and local dealers offer their container inventory to the wholesalers and retail buyers.

The list does not end here. You can also buy shipping containers from independent sellers. If you type “buy shipping containers + your location” on Google search, you can see many websites selling new or used shipping containers, some even sell container homes.

The local warehouses can also be a good place to buy used containers. You can save a lot of money if you visit a local warehouse and negotiate the price.

Buying Online or Buying Direct

Do you want to pay more for an item that you could have obtained for less? Definitely not. Will you compromise on the quality if you are going to use that item for a long time? Probably not…

Buying shipping containers online or buying direct, which one is a better option for you? It depends on a number of factors, such as


Location (where the shipping container is actually located)

Transportation cost

Container size and

Container type

New or used etc…

Buying direct is the best option if the containers are available near you because you can inspect the containers. However, if you don’t live in a port city or there is no port near your town, or there are no warehouses selling containers, you have to buy directly from the seller based in another city, or purchase online.

Cost Involved In Acquiring and Shipping the Container

How much money do you have to put in a container depends on container types (new or used) and location. When you are trying to acquire from a local warehouse, you can get a used shipping container for as little as $500. If you are buying new containers, it might cost you anywhere between $1500 and $2500. The price of the container depends on size, type and quality.

How much you will have to pay for moving the container to your location depends on where the container is actually based. If you are buying containers from the warehouse in your town or from the port near you, the transportation charge will not be much. However, if you are buying from a seller who is hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, transportation charge might be very high. Expect to pay as much as the price of the container itself. 

Buying a New Container or a Used Container

New shipping container does not mean the containers that are sent to you straight from the factory, instead, it is a container that has been used only once. A new shipping container is generally referred as new one trip container. Used containers are the containers that have been used for various purposes for several years.

No one can suggest you whether to buy a new container or a used container. What kind of container you should buy depends on your needs. In other words, what kind of container you need depends on how you are going to use the containers.

New One Trip Containers

If the highest level of quality, durability, and aesthetics are your primary concerns, you should buy a new one trip container. Get new one trip containers, if you want to build a home or office. These containers have only been used once to ship cargo from overseas. These containers are in very good condition, with a factory lock box and no signs of wear. You don’t need to do any repairs to the container.

Used Containers

If the cost is your primary concern and you are also not much concerned with it’s beauty, used containers could be for you. Generally speaking, used containers are 8-12 years old, however, they still have a long life. Used containers vary in color and usually have shipping logos. Used containers have dents and scratches because of rough handling. Because of these dents and scratches there can be some formation of rust on it. If you decide to buy one you should remove the rust and paint it again.

In case minimizing the cost of the container is what you want, you can look for refurbished containers, which have a long life as well as aesthetic appeal.

The used containers are best for non-residential building, land-based storage for instance. These can be used as a garage, construction storage, file and record storage etc.

You can follow this rule: if you would like to save money and be prepared to give them an overhaul you can buy used ones. If you are not that handy or don’t trust used containers you should buy new ones. 

Never buy a used container without inspection. You should always check for the signs of wear and tear, corrosion and rust. Check the overall exterior condition, the doors, the flooring, the condition of the ceiling, and any odours.  If you’re not able to inspect the container because of geographic limitations, ask for pictures and inspection report from the company selling these containers.

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