8 Questions To Ask When You Buy a Used Shipping Container

If you are searching for a used shipping container for storage, export or to convert into something new, there are some key details that you might like to check first.

To help you make the right purchase, here are 8 questions to ask when you buy a used shipping container:

1. What size shipping container do I need?

This is an important question, and a good place to start! The answer is very dependent on how you plan to use your shipping container, and the space you have available.  There are various sizes of shipping containers to choose from but if you want something very specific (like a side opening shipping container for instance) then you could be limiting yourself if it is in shorter supply.

A standard height shipping container is 8ft 6 inches and the most common lengths are 20ft or 40ft, and 20ft containers are usually the most popular due to their versatility. Learn more about container sizing here.

2. Is the supplier reputable?

As with many industries, when buying a shipping container there are certain sellers who are out to make money at your expense and take advantage of any inexperience.  To avoid mishaps, do your research and look for a shipping container supplier with a sound reputation, good (genuine) reviews, and an established name. Approaching private sellers can be risky, and we would recommend that you see the container for yourself before parting with any cash if buying privately.

At Budget Shipping Containers we pride ourselves on the trusted reputation of our experienced team, our network of 16 container yards across the UK, and our competitive prices.  We are not a pushy sales team, and genuinely want to help you find the best possible container for your budget and requirements. We understand the huge value of referrals and repeat custom, so we want you to be happy with you container purchase!  You can read our reviews here. As well as reviews left on our own website we also have a number of reviews left on our Facebook page, our google profile and on yell.com as well as a few reviews on other review sites.

3. Can you deliver my container (and how much will delivery cost)?

Shipping container deliveries can take careful planning, with specialist haulage vehicles and experienced drivers. Always ask your container supplier for a delivery cost, and make sure to be specific on the details of your site location, access, and surrounding space.  The last thing you want are surprises for the delivery team on the day which could result in extra charges for you, or even a failed delivery.

Shipping container delivery prices will vary depending on your location, whether a crane will be required to lift the container and how flexible you can be on the timing of the delivery.  We request all of this information at the time of enquiry so we can provide a quote for the delivery along with the price of your containers.  Learn more about our delivery options here.

4. How much is the container?

The price of your shipping container is obviously a big deciding factor in your purchase. Be mindful that the lowest price is not necessarily the best choice, and sometimes it is better to go for quality over quantity [the price].  Gather a few quotes to get an idea of best value for money, and take into consideration other factors like supplier reputation, delivery options and the standard guarantee from your container supplier (see below).

5. Is it watertight and structurally sound?

Shipping containers are sturdy, but they go through a lot during their years of service at sea and on land!  Check that your container is watertight and structurally sound – either in person by checking it for yourself (if a private sale), or seek confirmation from your supplier. Used shipping containers will very likely have some dinks and cosmetic damage to the exterior but this is unlikely to affect its structure or useability.

At Budget Shipping Containers we offer a 12-month wind and watertight guarantee on all of our storage containers, and all of our second-hand seaworthy containers come with a minimum 6 month CSC update, confirming at the time of sale that the container is suitable for export use for a minimum of 6 months.   Logistically we are not always able to offer container viewings prior to purchase, but we do offer our 12-month guarantee on all sales of used shipping containers which provides peace of mind for our customers. If your container springs a leek or a natural defect in the first 12 moths, let us know and we will come and fix it free of charge for you. If you or someone else damages the container repairs will be chargeable but this is a service we can offer for you.

6. Can I customise my shipping container?

Being able to customise shipping containers is a huge part of their attraction! Repainting your container to match your custom colours, and adding other conversion options such as high-security doors, windows, electrics and lighting are all possible.  You can obviously make the changes yourself, or ask your supplier to do them for you (which is much easier and can avoid any damage from an inexperienced attempt!) You can learn more about our container conversion options here.

7. Will my used shipping container be secure?

Shipping containers are extremely secure but to deter thieves, a lock box (padlock cover) is always a good idea. As a rule, used shipping containers are not fitted with a lock box as standard so this is an extra you may have to request from your supplier, or you may choose to fit one yourself.  You can learn more about shipping container security in our guide here.

8. Has my container been professionally checked and repaired in the UK before sale?  

Most UK traders buy their container stock from a shipping line or leasing company, they will have their containers checked and repaired and then offer them for sale.

Some other traders – these are often based abroad – may sell containers directly from a shipping line to the end user without having the containers checked over first.  These containers may be sold as ‘suitable for shipping’ but they may be relying on the fact that the container did not get damaged or incur any wear on its most recent import trip.

Many private sales (eg: via eBay) will be older containers that have not been checked over for many years, and these containers will often have door gasket issues making the doors very stiff or impossible to operate.

As container suppliers, we need to supply a reliable, consistent level of repair to our customers.  For this reason, we have every container checked over in our UK yards before they are sold to our customers.  This gives us the confidence to offer and honour to our 12 month wind and watertight guarantee.

If you buy a shipping container from someone who isn’t having their containers checked between arrival in the UK and re-sale, you may be lucky and not notice any difference. However, you also have a fair chance of having a container delivered with some wear and damage that may be near impossible (or very expensive) to fix once on your site.

Always do your homework!

These 8 questions to ask when buying a used shipping container should help you make a well-judged container purchase.  Remember to do your homework as this is a big purchase, and it is important to make sure you consider all options before making a decision.

Budgetshippingcontainers.co.uk offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 7pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).



Back to top