Whether you plan to buy or rent a storage container, this mini-guide will provide you with lots of handy tips to help, to make sure you get the best container for your needs.
If you’re considering investing in a storage container it is likely you have a lot of things to think about, plan and research before you can make a move.
This is an exciting time! You’re going to benefit from an extremely useful service that solves so many problems. For one you can easily accommodate all of your bulky items when you move house, with a container strong enough to move these hefty items around. Your items are also more secure because storage containers use padlocks with keys, so you can know exactly who has access to your belongings at all times. If you are moving your items long distance, you don’t have to worry about managing a fully loaded car, you can simply let your shipping container company get your treasured goods where they need to go. And let’s not forget the most useful thing about storage containers – the storage! If you’re not ready to unload stuff into your new home, if you need an extra ‘room’ to keep items in long term or short term, or you’re starting a new business venture and need a cheap form of storage for your stock, storage containers can provide all the answers at an affordable cost.
Storage containers are endlessly useful, and provide cheap, convenient, easy-access storage to anyone who wants it.
Things To Consider
If you are thinking about benefitting from one of these amazing containers, you will have a lot to consider. Naturally, you’re going to be thinking it over, because you’re going to be spending money on it, and there are lots of things to think about. Choosing the right storage container to buy or rent will help you avoid a lot of stress and upset. It will enable you to concentrate on other important things, and it will also save you time if you choose to enjoy some of the additional offerings usually provided by storage container companies. Just remember to always be confident in comparing the different containers and services of each company so that you can see which are most likely to suit your needs. You will also see the key differences this way. Doing your research and comparing companies will also enable you to get the best deal because you might be able to enjoy special offers, and you will see who provides the best service for the best price. It isn’t necessarily about saving money but about getting the best possible deal for your budget. When you’re considering containers and the companies providing them, think about the following things:
Think carefully about the times and effort involved in getting to the containers or getting them to you. Is it going to be easy for you to store your items in the container? Will having the container provide you with all the storage you need to move forward or will you need further storage on top? Will the costs be tied into one package with one company or do you have to use several companies? Think about how convenient the storage container company is making things for you. If not, you might want to look for a company who does make it easy. Because when you are running a business, moving house or simply trying to balance work and life, you just don’t need the extra hassle of trying to sort out fiddly storage container details.
It is really important that you have flexibility with both permanent and moveable storage containers. If you are renting the container for business purposes, it is especially useful to have flexibility. This will enable you to decide how long want to rent for, and enable you to extend the amount of time you are renting for. This allows you to avoid growing pains as a company which is definitely a bonus. As a domestic user, it is also nice to know you have the flexibility to have your rental agreement as fluid as possible. It is very annoying and time consuming to have to find another storage container company if your agreement isn’t flexible.
Containers should be incredibly secure because they are going to contain your personal belongings. You want to keep your items in the container and feel they are safe. You also want to avoid losing items during shipping. The way to ensure your container is secure is to check that the locks are highly durable and high quality. You do not want locks that can be easily tampered with. It is also important to ensure you are fully aware of who has keys to your container. Some companies will ensure only you have access, some companies keep a spare set of keys for each container in case of an emergency (in the case of rentals). If this is the case you must check how secure the spare set of keys is so that it is clear who has access to your space and under which circumstances. You might want to have the option of adding your own personal locks if you want to be triple safe.
It is important to check how much capacity the container has. Containers that can be moved are often made from different things depending on the needs of the user. The size of the containers on offer will usually vary greatly so you can choose the right size container for your needs. It is so important to work with a company who can help you choose a container that suits your needs allowing you the right amount of space to work with. Never rent a container that has extra space, or a company that recommends you rent a space bigger than you need, this will just result in you spending more than you need to.
Sure, it is great to be able to fit things into the container, but that is not going to be useful if the container isn’t built to keep your items safe. It needs to be sturdy and strong enough to ship the items without any damage occurring to them. Most containers are built with steel and aluminium, but sometimes they are made with sturdy wood, the same as you would find in construction. Whatever the container is made from, you want to ensure your items will remain in the same condition as they were when you placed them into storage. Obviously you are responsible for using the correct ways to secure items down if the container is moveable, but the container needs to be adequate for keeping these items safe from external damage.
The extras provided by some storage container companies are extremely useful. Of course they will provide high grade containers, but are also likely to get customers interested in their other offerings, like long distance moving, various delivery options and special container designs.
Whatever you do, make sure you take the time to consider the things we have listed, and take the time to look at different companies – you should never rush buying or renting a storage container.
How To Buy A Container
If you are considering buying a storage container over renting one, you’ll need to think about lots of different things, possibly more than if you were just renting because it is a complete purchase. First and foremost you will need to understand what you are buying the container for. For moving items once, it really is better just to rent. For building a home, adding to educational facilities or making something permanent from the container, you’ll want to buy. So first and foremost you should ensure you actually need to buy and can’t or shouldn’t rent instead.
Once you have decided to buy the container you then need to do your research into local laws and legislation relating to using storage containers. When you rent, this isn’t something you need to think about, but when you buy it certainly is. Are you allowed to build using a storage container? What paperwork do you need to ensure you can legally build using one? What kind of permit is required? Who do you approach to do this? This should be a high priority for you in terms of your research.
Once you have clarified that you do want to buy one, and that you can use one for the purpose you want to buy one, you can start researching the storage container companies in your area. Start by asking around, then maybe look on social media or on search engines. If you find a company you like, research their website, and look for reviews of their service. Get to know the company before making any contact to ensure you’re happy with the way they run things.
Once you have chosen a company you can then get in touch and start asking those all important questions. Explain the type of container you are looking for, what sort of size you want (if you know) and if you want a new or a used container. You should be able to get a rough price and description. Following this chat, if you’re still interested, go and see the container in person to check everything is as it should be. If you can’t visit in person, do some more research before buying just to check you’re definitely fully aware of what you are buying. Once you’re happy, it is time to buy! Some companies will deliver containers and offer a pickup service, some will only offer delivery. Once your container has arrived you should take a good look at it to ensure there isn’t any damage which would cause you to want to return it. If you’re unhappy, contact the company straight away to get the situation rectified. Hopefully all will be well, in which case you can start to enjoy your new container immediately!
Checking A Storage Container Is Right For You
If you’ve decided to invest in a storage container, and have found a company you like, you’re advised to go and have a look at the container before buying. The problem is, how can you check the container is right for you, if you don’t really know anything about them?
It can be a daunting task to inspect a unit, make no bones about it, but it is a lot easier than you probably realise. Follow these tips when checking a storage container:
- Check the doors work as they should, don’t be afraid to open and close them and get a feel for how strong they are.
- When you open the door, check to see if you can hear any sounds and if the door is stiff, it may be that the door is not aligned properly which is a cause for concern.
- Ensure the storage container has its inspection plate with all the details of the unit, including when it was made, who made it and the type of unit it is. This is important as it is your guide, especially to how old the unit it.
- Have a good look on the inside of the unit. Take a good look at the walls, the ceilings and in all the corners. Look for good condition and any signs of extreme rust. Rust can cause holes if it is out of control.
- Check the corners very carefully as these tend to be the place rust hides. Don’t be afraid to touch the walls or corners in case rust has been painted over or any other damage has been covered up.
- Dents should be looked for as well as rust and as well as any holes. You don’t want your goods exposed to sunlight.
- Push up at the roof to check it is strong and completely attached. It sounds silly but there are many stories of people visually checking a unit only to find after purchase they leant against a side or pressed a section and it fell through. A good way to check is to bang the unit to see if you can hear any rattling of loose sections.
Ideally, you will be approaching a company that will happily take you through inspection and who won’t be offended at a vigourous check, because they will have nothing to hide.
Different Types Of Containers, And Choosing The Right One For You
You will want to ensure when you get a container that you get the right one for your needs. If you get the wrong one you might have to get it fixed or modified. Or you might waste money renting the wrong one until your lease runs out. Then there are shipping costs for returning and time wasted. To avoid wasting time, money and getting stressed, take the time to consider the different types of container, before choosing the right one for you. Remember not all companies will sell all types.
- Intermodal – This is a classic shipping container that you might find called various other names including:
- Storage Container
These containers are usually always made out of steel and vary in their height and length. Some are over 9 feet high and can go well over 50 feet long. These containers are designed to be shipped at sea, so are very sturdy. The design of these containers means they can take most goods from food, to building materials. For the movement of large items these containers are advised. They are also fantastic for making homes, or permanent additional rooms. They work well for storage and for various external applications like emergency housing, educational facilities and even as permanent food trucks.
A ULD or, Unit Load Device, Is able to be moved by air. These types of containers are not designed to be bulky or to carry anything particularly heavy. It is designed to be a lightweight container for movement by air. A ULD will often hold the luggage of passengers travelling by plane. For shipping less items or lighter items, or for less permanent use, aULD is the best option.
An IBC or Intermediate Bulk Container is made for industrial use and isn’t usually selected by anyone outside of the industrial sector to buy. They tend to be made from metal or plastic and are fairly strong, the metal types in particular are extremely durable.
Rectifying Common Problems With Your Storage Container
If you own a storage container, or are certain you are going to rent or buy one, it is a good idea to be aware of common problems that can occur with storage containers in general. Most commonly, the issues we are going to list occur with second hand containers. This is because they are sold cheaper and so the problems are par for the course.
A Smelly Container
Before you buy the shipping container you should inspect it to ensure it is structurally sound, but also that it doesn’t have a strong smell. This should be easy to detect. If you can’t see the container before buying, enquire as to what was stored in it previously which should give you a good idea of whether or not it will have an odour to it. There are people who can inspect the container for you if you cannot get to see it yourself. So if you do want to check for an odour before buying and cannot see for yourself (or smell for yourself) consider hiring an inspector. Ideally if it is just a bit musty you can freshen it up. However if the smell is pungent, it probably won’t go away and will work its way into the goods your store in it, or cause a problem for those that use it.
A Rusty Container
Rust does not look good, but it can also lead to holes in the container. These holes can actually make the container dangerous and cause issues with the items stored inside. They will let in sunlight and water, and provide entry holes for pests. However, it isn’t all bad. Minor rust can be easily solved by grinding it away and using a paint. If the rust is severe you could replace a section of the container or turn it into a window or ventilation section if that works with the reason you want to use the container.
A Peeling Container
This is not a huge issue and can easily be rectified with a lick of paint. If you want a beautiful design you will need to seek professional designers, otherwise, just a coat of paint will easily make your container look brand new again.
A Small Container
Perhaps you did the maths wrong and ordered a container that is too small. If you need a specific amount of storage you will have to find a way to replace the container or maybe buy another one. However, if you are using the container for living in or using for domestic purposes, then you can make it look bigger. You could add some wide windows or doors that open right up to invite the outside in.
Hopefully any large issues will be spotted before purchase, which is why it is so important to inspect your container before purchase. Any minor issues can be rectified and the right company will be able to suggest how to do that in the cheapest, most cost-effective way.
Take Your Time, Do Your Research, Enjoy!
Remember when you are looking into buying a storage container there will be good companies and bad companies, people who just want your money and people who want to help. Go with your gut, take your time and do your research. Storage containers are fantastic and have so many uses, they are a great investment whether you are buying or renting them. Putting extra effort in to make sure you buy the right container, means you can relax and have fun enjoying them much sooner! Enjoy!