Shipping Container Delivery & Siting Guide

Container Delivery & Siting Guide. How to accept delivery and place your shipping container on the ground for best use and life

Please read this guide carefully if you are buying and having a container delivered by us. This guide is designed to help you understand our delivery requirements and limitations as well as how to set up the shipping container on your site for best use and lifespan.

We are here to help, and we have a lot of experience helping customers with tricky deliveries, so if you have concerns after reading this please speak to your job contact.

If you are reading this after buying a shipping container elsewhere, this guide will still work for all standard types of shipping container being used for storage. But we have to ask why your other trader isn’t giving you this information? Perhaps consider going with us for keen prices, guaranteed repair standards and an excellent level of customer service may be a less risky option for anyone new to working with shipping containers?

If you have any questions or are unclear about anything in this document, please contact us. We want to ensure your delivery goes without any snags. Hauliers charge for failed deliveries and in most cases, will charge for returning the container to the depot and any other charges a depot may levy. In some cases, this can mount to some hundreds of pounds and we want to ensure this doesn’t happen.

So, if you have any concerns about delivery, please contact us as early as possible. In some instances, we can evaluate a prospective delivery through a combination of pictures and measurements that you supply and by using Google maps. If we can’t fully evaluate delivery using this information, we may be able to arrange a site survey. Whilst the latter is a chargeable service, it will limit your risks. 

In essence, we ask you to ensure the following: 

  • Suitable access for the vehicle. 
  • Suitable ground conditions. 
  • Suitable clean and clear access and area for us to deliver the container. 
  • Suitable overhead clearance with no obstructions or power cables near the vehicle (with live power cables this can be as much as 20+ meters from the vehicle)  

If this isn’t possible, this doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t undertake the delivery. We can sometimes bring additional equipment to assist with a difficult delivery but, we must know in advance if you believe there could be difficulties delivering your order.

The more information you can give us, the more we can help you! 

Delivery of your shipping container 

General information: 

Our hauliers could use a vehicle of up to 16.5m in length (end to end) when making delivery even if it’s just a 10ft container. If your site cannot accept a vehicle of this size, please tell us and we’ll use a rigid vehicle for delivery of containers of 30ft in length (or shorter). Some hauliers have what are known as Wagon & Drag vehicles. This type of vehicle can be used to deliver 2 no. 20ft containers, for instance, with the added advantage that they can drop the ‘Drag’ (trailer) off site and come in with just 1 no. 20ft container at a time. Being shorter than an artic, this makes the delivery vehicle more manoeuvrable. 

The overall height of a container lorry is 14ft 6’’ (including the container) and if delivering a high cube container, this increases to 15ft 6’’. You must tell us if there are any height restrictions, hump backed bridges, low cables/branches etc, as they may hamper access to your site. 

Hiab equipped vehicles carry all their weight at the front-end as the crane is located behind the cab. So, they can only work on hard-standing surfaces such as Tarmac or concrete. Some other surfaces may be acceptable (please check). Our drivers will refuse to run over any soft ground, or any ground where they fear getting stuck or damaging their truck.

Access to your site 

We ask you to ensure that there are no local obstructions, road restrictions and diversions in place when we attempt delivery. We do not expect you to check the entire route just conditions locally, eg if you live down a narrow country lane, we want to know if there will be problems getting down this lane from the nearest major road and if there are any low bridges on the route into your site.

Can we deliver shipping containers on to grass?

This is a question we get asked quite often, and the simple answer is no, we cannot deliver shipping containers on to grassed areas. Our vehicles must remain on hard-standing at all times. We cannot usually go on to short surfaces such a mud, soft earth and grass. Some of our haulers will make exceptions for playing fields and short runs but there is a detailed process for this, and we need to know exactly what we are dealing with in advance. please contact us to let us know if you intend to ask us to run over even a few feet of grass or other potentially soft ground.

Hiab equipped vehicles carry all the weight at the front-end of the vehicle as the crane is located just behind the drivers cab. In addition to the crane, the engine is also located at the front of the vehicle. This means that all the weight of the vehicle in on the front-end. This makes the vehicle front-end heavy and it will bog down very quickly. If this were to happen, you would be responsible for damage to the vehicle, the condition of the grass surface and recovery of the vehicle. All in all, a very expensive problem that you’d be liable for if it goes wrong. This is why we will often refuse to proceed with such a delivery if its not been advised in advance.

The only time we can deliver on to grass is if our vehicle can remain on hard-standing e.g. on a road adjacent to a field. If this instance, we could deliver the container but we won’t be able to lift it too far in to the field.

Can you deliver a shipping container on to my driveway?

Again, another oft asked question. We can only drop a container on to your drive if we can remain on the street. Your drive will not have been constructed to take the weight of a 35t vehicle and if we did go on your drive, it may collapse under the weight. Also, there may be services such as water and gas that run beneath your drive that could get damaged/reptured if we attempted to go on to the drive.

Specifics we do ask you to check for vehicle access into your site

Please let us know in advance if there are any of the following on the way into your site or the spot your container wants to go.

  • Low or hump-backed bridges
  • low overhanging branches (usually an issue with tight country lanes) 
  • No low cables or power cables (Cables crossing a public highway have to be higher than our trucks by law, but there is no such requirement for private roads where cables will often be too low for our vehicle).
  • Weight restrictions on the way into site
  • Your site can accept a vehicle of the sizes specified
  • Your site is clear of all debris and any other items that could block delivery , cause punctures or other issues for the driver.
  • Your site should be ready to accept our driver and delivery without delay 

When on site 

Our vehicle must remain on hard standing at all times. The vehicle needs to pull adjacent to the drop point; either parallel or at 90° to it. The crane on the vehicle can lift off either side of the vehicle and rotate the container round. Most vehicles cannot off load from the rear or over the cab. 

The vehicle is equipped with stabilisers (out riggers) that extend out from both sides. So, your site must have sufficient space to allow for an 8ft wide vehicle body (mirrors excluded) plus the stabilisers which can add a further 8ft+ either side of the vehicle. 

The site must be clear of all debris, vehicles and any other items/materials that will prevent delivery or cause potential damage to the vehicle. Hauliers have the right to refuse to deliver if your site doesn’t meet their requirements. In this instance, you will be charged for a failed delivery fee, return to depot fee and possible depot fees. All traders and hauliers have very similar terms and conditions so, whoever you choose will provided very similar terms. We just try to make extra effort to have this information to hand for you!


This must be absolutely clear of any overhead obstructions, including overhead cables, and please note, depending on the type of cable some haulers will not lift within 20-metres of overhead power cables. The crane will act like a lighting conductor if these are powered. If we do have to work near cables, please advise us in advance so we can ensure the delivery can be made. 

Hiab cranes lift containers from the top of the corner posts on the container. This means we need a lot of overhead clearance as the crane can extend some 20 – 30ft or more into the air. We lift off in large warehouses and exhibition spaces but, you must notify us in advance so we can make the appropriate checks. If overhead clearance is limited, we can, in some circumstances, supply a different vehicle such as a side-loader. Plenty of large warehouses and exhibition halls are too low for us to lift off inside so, please check clearance and advise any restrictions. any form of tree branches near the offload point can often be worked around, but we would still like to know about this in advance for the avoidance of any risk for you. 

You must ensure the drop-point is set up such that the container can be lowered on to pre-prepared supports. We do not advocate putting containers directly on the ground. These supports can be paving slabs, pre-set concrete supports, bricks or sleepers. Do not use softwoods or other materials that could compress overtime as this will cause the container to go out of level. You only need to support the container on the 4-corners but, these support points must be level with each other along the length, across the width and across the diagonals. Ensuring these are right prior to delivery will ensure the cargo doors and any other doors/openings (roller shutters) work as expected. If the container isn’t level, it could ‘rack’ (twist) and prevent easy operation of doors and in the worst case, prevent the doors from opening and closing completely. 

Top tip – ensure you have some suitably hard materials to hand that can be used as shims to correct any out of level issues. 

When the container has been lowered, and prior to the driver removing the chains from the container, make sure the container is level and that all doors operate as expected. If out of level, the driver will lift the container so you can shim a low point. Have the container lowered again and re-check. Repeat the process until the problem has been resolved. You have 1-hour of our drivers’ time from the point they arrive at your site. Hauliers charge up to £90.00 + VAT per hour, or part thereof, for all additional time spent on site. If you need extra time, this charge will be passed on but, it’s a lot cheaper paying for the extra time than it is having a haulier come back out to lift the container whilst you remedy the issue. 

The reason we suggest keeping your container raised off the ground is to help give you the best possible lifespan. If the container is raised off the ground, the ground beneath will dry out faster adding significant extra life to your container. 

The reason the containers must be level is down to a very common issue of ‘racking’ If the shipping container is not perfectly level then the container will flex slightly, and the door opening will no longer be perfectly square. This means your doors will jam open or not close properly (or may be extremely stiff). You must ensure the shipping container is kept level to avoid this. This is another reason for not placing the container on soft ground that can be compressed or washed away. 

Our vehicles 

As there are so many different vehicles from different suppliers in use, we cannot supply a ‘one size fits all’ document about the vehicles, their cranes and their individual capabilities. 

For deliveries of single containers of 20ft in length, we will come in with what is known as a ‘rigid’ vehicle of a similar size to the average large builders’ merchant’s vehicle. This same vehicle will be used to deliver multiples of other units under 20ft in length. For example, 2 no. 10ft units. This type of vehicle is about 40 – 45ft in length. Some hauliers have a bed that extends, allowing them to deliver units or up to 30ft in length with an overhang. Again, please check your site can accommodate this length of vehicle.

For 40ft containers or multiples of other container lengths such as 2 no. 20ft units, we will deliver on an articulated vehicle with an overall length of come 65ft. 

Some hauliers have wagon and drag vehicles. So, if you need 2 no. 20ft units on one delivery but your site can only accept a rigid vehicle, the wag and drag may be suitable. In this instance, the trailer is left outside the drop point. The rigid comes in and drops the first container off and then goes to the trailer to collect the second container.

A wagon and drag vehicle is slightly more flexible than a larger artic truck when delivering 2 no. 20ft containers to a site. For longer distance runs we can also drop a trailer in a nearby layby and come into site with 1 container at a time. (there are additional costs for this but it will still be cheaper than 2 separate runs. in this instance please let us know, you will also need to provide someone to guard the trailer for us whilst the driver is not with it)

Vehicles can weigh over 25t when using a rigid and over 35t when delivering using an artic so, please check local roads for weight restrictions. You also need to ensure the surface in your site can take the weight of one of these vehicles. Damage to your property is solely your responsibility and, should the hauliers; vehicle be damaged, you too will be responsible for that. Again, these are very similar terms to those you’ll receive from any other trader or hauliers. 

Vehicle outriggers

Vehicle outriggers are an essential part of a Hiab delivery vehicle. These extend from the side of the vehicle and are used to prevent the vehicle from tipping over when lifting a shipping container into position.

These weight bearing legs extend out from the side of the vehicle. When delivery is made, the driver will put down ‘pads’ underneath the outrigger feet to limit damage to the surface beneath.

The outriggers prevent the vehicle from toppling over during the delviery process. Once extended, they add stability to the vehicle on the left and right-hand side of the bed. Containers cannot be lifted over the cab or off the rear of the vehicle.

We have one London based haulier who can off load over the cab and off the rear. When off loading over the cab, there is a single outrigger under the cab at the front of the vehicle. Lifting over the cab is very limited so, do not expect it to reach a long way. When lifting off the rear, the vehicle can only drop the container from the bed and no further.

As vehicles have to extend outriggers for safety purposes, this limits our capability to deliver units in to confined spaces of from country lanes in to fields.

The average width of a Hiab vehicle is 8ft + door mirrors. With the outriggers extended, this can make the overall width 16ft+ so, you must consider this when discussing delivery with us.

How far from the vehicle can we lift?

Almost every Hiab (crane equipped) truck is individually built. Cranes will have different reaches and capacities. For that reason if the container is not going  to be lifted off directly next to the vehicle, we ask you to let us know what’s involved here and we will look for a suitable option for you.

For example bigger trucks generally have a better reach, but they are also more expensive. we will never ordinarily provide a big truck to deliver a small container as it won’t be the most cost effective option, but if we know you need a long reach we can then look to price in a larger truck for you. Your delivery might cost a little more but getting this right for you will offer best value across the board.

Doing other work on-site 

When you book delivery, you have paid for our haulers’ time to deliver the container only. They will not perform any other works on site unless it has been booked prior to delivery. The reason being is that haulers book their vehicles within the known workload for the day and any additional, unplanned, works can throw their schedule off and it is for this reason alone that they will not do other unplanned works. 

If you do need additional works, please let us know in advance so this can be planned in. Additional works are chargeable. 

If we arrive on site and find additional work is required, it it generally a lot more expensive to get this sorted whilst the driver is on site, as the time the driver waits for payment to be taken is also chargeable.

Container orientation 

In exposed areas, please take into consideration the direction of the prevailing wind so your container can be rotated to ensure the container doors, or other doors, aren’t affected by strong winds. Especially important when having a container with flat panel  (easy open) doors. 

Container maintenance 

Containers require little maintenance, but you should keep the roof of the container free debris such as leaf mould etc. and lubricate the door hinges and locking rods. These simple tips can help prolong the operating life of your container. 

If you are unsure about any of the above, need help, or have any other questions, please feel free to email your job contact / the person who has done your quote for you or call to chat through your concerns.

Pictures courtesy of our friends at Star Autos, and Templant with whom the copyright remains.

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