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How to Choose the Right Shipping Container to Buy

There is so much hype about just how affordable containers can be compared to other storage and housing options. But while you can expect to save lots of money with this option, you still need to plan ahead and know what expenditures to expect, whether it is DIY or prefabricated.

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Shipping Container Sizes

Generally speaking, shipping containers are available in two types: regular and high cube. Both are available in a 20 feet and 40 feet variation. The price depends on type, size and whether the container is new or used. You will also need to factor in cost for transport, design, labor and materials. If you are willing to pay a little bit extra to avoid the hassle of doing everything yourself, an interesting alternative could be a prefabricated container home.

The cost is one of the biggest considerations for most people when it comes to choosing the type of container they want to purchase, and rightfully so. Housing expenses are probably the biggest for any individual or family, and typically includes mortgage or rent, taxes, maintenance and upkeep, utilities, and other related expenditures. It is important to carefully weigh the cost of housing and storage units because there are also other financial investments you will need to allot money for. In highly urbanized localities and major cities, housing costs continue to rise, and comfortable living spaces that fit your financial means can be difficult to find.

But what can you expect to pay for a shipping container? That depends not only on whether it is new or used, but also on the type of container.

Shipping Container Types and Dimensions

There are two types of shipping containers that can be acquired for repurposing into residential use:

Regular size shipping containers are available in two variations:

  • 20 feet long, with these dimensions: 20 feet (length) x 8 feet (width) x 8,6 feet (height); and
  • 40 feet long, with these dimensions: 40 feet (length) x 8 feet (width) x 8,6 feet (height)
  • 40 feet long High Cube dimensions: 40 feet (length) x 8 feet (width) x 9,6 feet (height)

So there are two things you need to consider when choosing a shipping container:

Which length do you prefer?

Which height do you prefer?

Shipping Container Lengths

The main thing you will need to decide on is the container’s length. Any of the two standard sizes – 20 feet or 40 feet long – could be modified into small homes. Which one would work best for you depends on your preferences. A 20 feet long Conex container may be enough for one or possibly two people. A 40 feet long Conex container on the other hand provides more space, and is definitely recommendable if you have a family.

Shipping Container Heights

The other thing you will need to decide on is how tall your container is going to be. The additional one feet in height that a high cube container offers may not seem like much when you are building your space, but once it is completed and you are using it, the contrast to a regular container can be huge. The one foot height difference is the preferred size to use because It allows for ceiling insulation, lights without sacrificing any head room clearance.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, and with so many containers out there, you have a vast amount of options.

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