Essential guide to setting up your home office (from a shipping container)

More people than ever are choosing to work for themselves.  Self-employment is a big step and setting up a new workplace is a huge cost for a new business, but it is important to set a clear boundary between your work life and your home life.

Working from home might seem like a great idea, but unless you have a clearly designated workspace you may find that domestic life creeps into your work time.

BBC interview when kids burst in
Working at home with family around can be distracting. Credit: BBC News

Housework, families, dogs demanding walks and unexpected visitors can have a negative effect on your productivity.  When you are in ‘work-mode’, you need a clear head-space, privacy, peace and quiet, and the right ambiance.  It is difficult to find these when you are sitting at the kitchen table.

Installing an office in your garden – or perhaps further afield if you find some available land – will create a dedicated place of work that still belongs to you, without the distractions of a hot desk in a business centre, or working in your spare bedroom.

A shipping container office offers a cost-effective and customisable solution to your need for a work address.  And creating one is simpler than you expect!

This essential guide to setting up a Shipping Container Office will help you create your perfect home office from scratch.

Where to start?

Space and Accessibility

There are a few boxes to tick before you start looking for a shipping container, beginning with space and accessibility.  A shipping container delivery truck must be able to access your property and have enough space to offload your container.

When you order your container, you will need to supply a delivery postcode and any information that delivery drivers need to know about accessing your property.  This includes the route in, narrow lanes, low bridges, overhead restrictions, and anything else you can think of.

The delivery truck will need to park on hard ground to offload your container, and if your address is on a busy road you will need to advise of traffic regulations for loading and unloading. Delivery drivers are not allowed to block a public highway so you may need to assist with managing traffic while they deliver.

We may ask you to supply photographs of your site and the area where the truck will be sitting to deliver your container so we can carry out any necessary checks for smooth delivery.  We ask that you are completely clear when discussing your delivery with us, to avoid delays, extra charges or complete cancellation if the driver encounters something unexpected when they arrive.

If you are at all concerned over access restrictions please get in touch. We can often advise on access and suitability, and if we simply can’t get a shipping container office into your garden we do have a number of flat pack office options that can get around the delivery access issue.  There is a wealth of information on delivery available on our website here, and in our FAQs section or feel free to ask our team, that’s what we are here for.

Do I need planning permission for my container office?

This is probably one of our most asked questions about shipping container offices!  Generally, shipping containers are classed as temporary structures, as they do not require foundations.  This should make them exempt from planning permission but there are exceptions to every rule, so we always recommend that you check with your own local authority.  Planning may be required if you are to fit electrics or plumbing to any unit, so please check with your local planning authority in advance if there is any doubt.

Sticking to your budget

Our name is Budget Shipping Containers for a reason!  We will work with you to find a container office that meets your budget and your requirements.  You are essentially buying a big steel box, but this box could be a ready-made container office that needs some minor modification to suit your requirements, or you might decide to have a new shipping container converted and customised into a bespoke office.  We will help you decide on which would work best for your budget and talk you through each option.

You can use our website as a starting point to view the different types of container offices that we offer to find which one would work better for you.

New, Used or Flat Pack Container Office?

As previously mentioned, there are several types of container office to choose from.  Let’s look at each in a bit more detail:

New Container Offices

This is a new (one trip) container that can be completely modified to your specific office design.  You get to choose where the doors and windows are placed, the colour, where the electrics go, and any water supply points if you choose to have a toilet or sink fitted. Having your own container office made to order gives you a degree of customisation that you won’t get elsewhere. You can genuinely design he space around your needs.

New containers will also be fitted with a secure lockbox as standard; this offers excellent security for your office which is vital to protect any valuable equipment or files.

Used Container Offices

A used container might be better for you if working to a stricter budget.  These containers have previously been used as offices so they will come with doors, windows, etc already in place – and potentially a few dinks on the exterior.  A used container won’t offer you as much choice as this is based on what stock we have available at the time but we generally have a wide stock available, and you can rest assured that it will be completely checked over – including electrics – by our professional team.  Have a look at some of the used container offices on our website – they offer fantastic value!

Timber Clad Container Offices

Timber clad containers make an attractive home office.

Timber cladding your container office is ideal if you want to smarten up the exterior.  Timber cladding is a very popular option for container offices and is available on new or used containers.

Flat Pack Container Offices

If you worry that a delivery truck could not lift a standard 10ft shipping container into your garden, you might consider a Flat Pack Container office.  As the title suggests, they can be broken down into panels and moved as needed, which makes them great if you don’t plan to stay in one place for too long!  Flat Pack Container Offices are also lined and insulated and fitted with electrics if required, they are pretty much ready to go!

Learn more about New, Used and Flat Pack Container Offices here.

The exterior of your container office

Have you dismissed a shipping container office because they look too much like – well, shipping containers?  That’s a fair reason, we can imagine that some disgruntled other halves or fussy neighbours might object it you plonked a bit rusty box in your garden.  But fear not!  We can help you transform that rusty box into an attractive container office in no time at all!

Shipping containers in many different colours
You can choose the colour of your shipping container office

Shipping Container Painting

Our custom shipping container painting service means that you can paint your container office pretty much any colour you like – as long as you can provide the RAL colour code – we offer this service at all of our depots.  We use Marine Grade paint, which is extremely hard wearing and durable, so it will also help to extend the life of a used container.

You can choose from an array of colours, there is a full-colour library on our website to give you some inspiration.  Click here to view.

Be clever with your office space

A 10ft or 20ft shipping container office doesn’t give you very much space to play with. For a standard garden office, this doesn’t pose a problem, but you do need to consider storage space, desk space and room for any equipment you might bring in.

Pinterest is a great source for inspiration when deciding on the layout and décor of your container office.  You want your office to feel personal to your business and be a welcoming space if you intend to have clients visiting you.  You will be spending a lot of time in your office, so make it work for you.

Choose natural daylight

Natural daylight will help boost your energy and productivity so don’t block it out!  If you are choosing a new container conversion, we can work with you to decide where to place windows, and our used container offices will very likely have them already installed.

When decorating your container office, use colours that invite and reflect the natural daylight to help create extra space.  Again, Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for internal décor ideas so get pinning!  Make sure to stop by our Shipping Container Offices board while you are there.

These helpful points to give you a good starting point for setting up your shipping container office.  If you have any queries at all our helpful and very experienced would love to take your questions, just contact us for advice.

Do you need a shipping container? 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).

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