There are several good reasons to buy shipping containers. Done correctly, they can save you money. You can reduce the cost of housing, adding office space to your home, or even setting up a business. However, there are also some risks of buying shipping containers. It’s not something most people know how to purchase. Therefore, you need to do your research in advance. Here’s what you need to know.
Reasons To Buy Shipping Containers
There are several reasons that people buy shipping containers. The most common reasons include:
- As alternative housing; people use them as personal tiny homes as well as for Airbnb rentals on their property
- To use as a private work-from-home space
- As retail space particularly for pop-ups in some cities
- To use for on-site or off-site storage instead of using a formal storage site
- To use for shipping if you frequently ship large quantities overseas; this is usually for business purposes
Risks of Buying Shipping Containers
Buying shipping containers can be a great money-saving solution for housing, storage, shipping and more. However, there are some risks of buying shipping containers. Here’s what you want to consider before you make this investment:
1. It’s Not Always Easy To Get a Shipping Container
If you live in a port city, then you might not face this problem. However, for inland residents, it’s one of the biggest risks of buying shipping containers. You might face a lack of supply. More likely, you’ll be able to find what you want, but it will cost a lot to get it from a port city to where you are. Alternatively, you might find a local used option but then it’s potentially not the quality that you want.
2. You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For
Not all shipping containers are made the same. Of course, most of us don’t know anything about these products. Therefore, it’s easy to get mixed up about what to buy. This can be a small mistake. Alternatively, it might be a huge mistake. If you buy an inferior product because you don’t know what you’re looking for then you might end up wasting money at least or living in a dangerous tiny home at worst.
3. Underestimating the Cost of Shipping Containers
There are five stages where this issue might arise:
- Overpaying for the shipping container itself
- Paying to get the shipping container sent to you
- Fees associated with getting inspections, tiny house permits, etc.
- Costs of setting up the design of the shipping container
- Maintenance of the shipping container over time
4. Failure To Figure Out Your Design in Advance
If you’re using your shipping container for housing, office, or retail space, then you can’t just have an empty box. Instead, you’ll have to design the interior. One of the risks of buying shipping containers is that you get the container then you can’t use it the way that you’ve envisioned. Therefore, you want to make sure to work with professionals in advance to plan out all aspects of your design.
5. No Permission for Placement of Storage Containers
You need to get permits to build tiny houses or small retail stores. Therefore, one of the risks of buying shipping containers is that you won’t be able to get that permit approval. If that happens, then you might end up with a big expense that you have to find a place for. This can end up costing you money in the long run. Potentially, you might not even be able to use the container that you’ve purchased. Make sure you understand all of these rules for your particular area before making this type of investment.
6. Inability To Insure the Shipping Container
In addition to permits for placement and use, you might have to insure your shipping container. This is especially important when using the containers for housing, housing rentals, and business purposes. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you understand insurance requirements and regulations for your area and purpose. You don’t want to invest all of that money and then find out that you can’t use the container as intended.
7. Buying a Used Container That a Shipping Company Actually Owns
Off The Grid points out that you can save money by purchasing used shipping containers. However, one of the risks of buying shipping containers this way is that you might get scammed by a bad seller. You might purchase a shipping container that actually belongs to a shipping company. Therefore, before you make the purchase, you should call the container’s owner (which is usually on the side of the container) and confirm that the container number you have is indeed legitimately for sale.
8. An Old Shipping Container Might Be Rusty
It’s important to make sure that you purchase a container that’s in good condition. Of course, they’ll face wear and tear over time. A good container is meant to last on the water for years, though. Therefore, built properly, it should withstand the test of time. Make sure you check out what you’re buying. Look for rust and weathering on used containers.
9. Buying Instead of Leasing
You might have the option to lease a shipping container. If you’re not using it for a long period of time, this might be a smarter use of your money.
10. You Pay More Than You Need To
We covered this a little bit but it’s worth emphasizing. If you don’t know what you’re buying, then you can end up paying more than you should. Moreover, you’re saving money on the table if you fail to negotiate with the seller. There’s currently higher supply than demand. It’s a buyer’s market for shipping containers. Therefore, you should always shop around first. Then you should negotiate down from the lowest price that you find.
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