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What to Check for When Buying or Renting a Shipping Container

With the versatility and affordability of shipping containers, many businesses are planning to either purchase or rent one. Shipping containers in Ontario can be used for a range of applications, including transportation of commodities, short-term or long-term storage, refrigeration, mobile office or business spaces as modified structures, and many more. Although shipping containers are readily available in different sizes, designs, and conditions, getting what you need at a competitive rate can be quite a challenge.

Things to keep in mind while buying or renting a shipping Container

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a shipping container in Ontario:

Condition of the Shipping Container

The shipping containers available for sale or rent are usually those that have been retired from intermodal freight transport. They are then made available to the retail market in various conditions, ranging from the fairly new one-trip containers to used units that have been exposed to the harsh marine environment for many years. The condition of the shipping container is what helps to determine its value. This is largely based on the expectations about its effectiveness against wind and water penetration when used for storage, or whether it qualifies for certification as transportation equipment or a safe building structure.

So, when choosing a shipping container, you should consider its current condition and whether its condition is guaranteed. Depending on your specific application, you may not necessarily require a new shipping container, but it needs to be in acceptable condition and within your budget. The typical container conditions to choose from include:

  • One trip (new). These have only made one trip across the ocean carrying cargo.
  • A grade (WWT: wind and watertight). These may have been used for more than one trip, but they still maintain their structural integrity with fully operational doors and no holes.
  • B grade (as is). These are used containers that are sold with no guarantee on their condition, structural functionality, or aesthetics. They tend to have light to heavy rust.
  • Reconditioned. This refers to any used container that has been through inspection, repaired to WWT standard, and has a fresh coat of paint.
  • Cargo worthy. These containers have satisfied the international standard for the shipping industry, allowing them to be certified for road or rail transport.
  • Premium (IICL). These are held to a higher standard than WWT, as is, and cargo worthy containers, which makes them ideal for aesthetically sensitive situations.

The type of container condition you choose will depend on the intended use, as well as your budget. For instance, WWT, one trip, and refurbished containers are usually in great condition and can be used for many years with minimal maintenance. However, WWT containers will show signs of rust and corrosion sooner than the other two options, but are the more affordable units among the three choices. That said, for long-term applications, you should avoid compromising on quality to save a few dollars in the initial cost, unless your storage or other uses are not that sensitive.

The Size of Container You Need

After determining the condition of the container you require, the next step is to establish your space needs and the most suitable size of container. Overestimating the area you need may leave you with a large container taking up space on your property and costing you more, while underestimating the square footage or volume may leave you with an even bigger headache since you won’t be able to satisfy your space needs.

There are many sizes of shipping containers whose specifications are consistent and globally recognized owing to the strict requirements by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Except in the rare occasion that you stumble upon a custom container size, you will likely have to choose from one of the following sizes:

  • 10 foot. This is usually available as WWT and reconditioned units that can be used to store items equivalent to half of a single-car garage.
  • 20 foot. This is the standard size in the industry and the most popular solution for portable storage. It’s available in a wide range of conditions.
  • 40 foot. This size is also available in a wide range of conditions, and can accommodate items equivalent to a two-car garage or 2-3 rooms.
  • High cube. The 20 foot, 40 foot, and bigger containers may be available with an extra foot of height that offers about 12% more cubic storage space than the standard sizes.

When choosing a shipping container size, you should also determine how much space you have at the placement location. Keep in mind that the site should be easily accessible by the trucks that deliver them, since they usually need about twice as much length as the container to manoeuvre and successfully place the unit.

Modified Container Units

Most shipping container rental companies offer two types of container structures: storage and office units. So, if you have a more unique need, you may be required to purchase a container and then modify it according to your specifications. With most containers having a lifespan of over 25 years, you should determine whether the pre-modified unit will serve your needs well for the duration that you plan to lease it, or that getting a custom-design container will give you a better return on investment.

Generally, most office units for rent come with finished walls, climate control, and an added door and window. However, such a design may not be sufficient for a buyer who wants a kitchenette, bathroom, and other features in their modified unit. So you can consider buying a modified office and adding the extra features you need, or modifying your shipping container from scratch to include multiple doors and windows, custom flooring and walls, kitchenettes and bathrooms, climate control, and other features.

Final Note

Unless you plan on buying containers as is, it’s best to choose shipping containers with guaranteed conditions that are backed by warranties. Buying such a container means that it has been assessed by a certified inspector and verified to be wind and watertight, giving you confidence in your purchase. In addition, the container should be backed with a warranty that the floor boards and door seals are intact; the walls are free of holes; the locking rods are functional; and that they’re clean and safe. These conditions are also important when renting a shipping container for the best return on investment.

Contact Secure Container

To learn more about shipping containers, call Secure Container at (647) 560-2745 or contact us here.

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