Container Price Points

What Drives the Price You Pay


Shipping containers for sale ultimately become a commodity as some source them based on cost first and condition second. However, once a relationship is established between the seller and a buyer then customer service will begin to play a more important factor in the relationship. By this I mean that a buyer may spend a little more for a shipping container because confidence has been established that the seller will not send the buyer a lower quality unit than is represented. The problem for sellers is that many buyers of storage containers only buy one to a handful of containers over the course of their lifetime making it all the more difficult for a seller who buys higher grade equipment and grades his containers more strictly to establish relationships with low volume buyers.


If your intent is to simply purchase a container in “as is” condition, typically the cheapest price point, and use it to store roofing materials, landscape ornaments or something else that you are not concerned about getting wet due to a roof leak in the upcoming months then by all means buy the cheapest unit. If you are using your containers for a higher purpose like becoming part of a container house or modular building you may still be in luck. If much of the container skin will be cut away or the plans call for a site built roof where the containers roof will not be expected to function then you still may be able to save some money and find a structurally sound shipping container in “as is” condition. Inspect the corner posts and rails, if they are straight, not rusted and the unit is priced right, then make the purchase.

The next condition level and or price point of shipping containers is” wind and weather tight,” containers at this price point are generally good for storage purposes and storage container rental fleets. These are clean, sturdy and good all-around containers that serve many purposes. If you stay on top of the maintenance they will last a good long time for a purpose other than habitation.

This brings us to the price points called “cargo worthy” and single crossing. A cargo worthy unit has possibly made several trips overseas but other than a few scratches and possibly a dent but otherwise is clean and in a condition to ship goods. A single crossing unit is considered new in the United States; it was constructed overseas and made a single ocean crossing before being sold. If you intend to use your container as a home, cabin, or small business where much of the container skin will remain then I would recommend spending the additional money and purchase a unit in cargo worthy or single crossing condition. The unit will be tight and look good. It will be clean, you will still be able to read the manufactures label and be able to determine what chemicals the container floor was treated with and whether you need to replace it or not.

These condition descriptions circle us right back to the customer service you should expect from the people or organization you are buying your container from. These condition codes can become subjective, especially when it comes to “as is,” versus “wind and weather tight.” If you only buy containers once or occasionally then speak to several sellers, tell them what you need the containers for and see what they would recommend. Like most purchases, you can get a feeling about a person by asking questions then listen and watch how they answer them.

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