Cargo containers modified for jobsite storage and even mobile offices or command centers are a popular option for construction sites, natural disaster operations, and even special events like carnivals, music festivals, and town celebrations. There are a variety of businesses that can use container storage! Their sturdy design makes them one of the most secure and vandal-resistant storage choices available. A look at the pros and cons of using converted cargo containers for storage is worth discussing.
When weighing the pros and cons of renting a cargo container for onsite storage or a modular mobile office, there are several questions you should ask. The answers will help determine the best option for your situation. Let's begin with one that can be a health and safety issue, but is avoided by container storage.
Ease of ingress and egress is one of the major benefits to your work crew on a jobsite. Since a cargo container storage unit or mobile office sits right on the ground, you won’t need stairs, ladders, or handrails to enter the units safely.
Construction work is physically demanding, to say the least. With workers climbing ladders, stairs in the building (if a multiple-story building project is in progress), and hauling equipment or parts around, it's easy to be bone-tired at the end of a shift.
A ground-level storage unit is a welcomed break during the day.
It's possible that a cargo container storage unit could avoid OSHA violations, too. Stairs and handrails, even on construction sites, must follow strict regulations for sturdiness, composition, and construction. Avoiding the need for them is one less headache to have on your mind. Other forms of storage or office space will require stairs, handrails, and even landings to allow safe worker access. It's good to understand that they will require specific and sometimes costly additions to stay in compliance.
Occasionally, you might want to use a small ramp. It can be formed of gravel or other materials. But an optional steel ramp that's sturdy enough to extract bulky or heavy materials with a dolly, cart, or hand truck can be an ergonomically sound idea.
Location considerations top the list. If considering renting a cargo container for mobile storage, you need to ensure you have enough room. The area needed to drop off a container varies with the length of the box. A 20-foot container needs approximately 50 to 100 feet of straight clearance, depending on the type of delivery equipment available in your area. A 40-foot container would need approximately 100 feet of straight clearance and an approximate width of 12 feet.
Here is a visual for forty-foot and twenty-foot units delivered via a tilt-bed tractor.
The location for the shipping container storage box also needs to be fairly level to ensure the doors will open and close easily. You can make some adjustments but within certain limits. Usually, the delivery driver handles the leveling process. And should the ground shift during the rental period, the driver or other representative will return to adjust the container again.
On soft, unstable ground, each corner of the container should be supported with either asphalt, gravel, concrete footings, pavers, or railroad ties. A truck and trailer can weigh over 30,000 pounds. If you need an off-road delivery it is best to discuss the road condition in advance to ensure safe delivery.
Duration is another factor to consider, as mentioned earlier. The leases for most cargo container storage units are contracted in 28-day increments. The lease or rental agreement includes the drop-off and pick-up fees. Renting for a few days or a week could mean you need to check into something else, even if less secure.
However, for rental lengths of two weeks or more, the value that a cargo container brings in safety and security may outweigh the additional cost.
Additionally, the rental times for cargo container storage units, like those provided by SiteBox Storage, are usually flexible. That means if you find you need it longer than expected, you just call the office to extend the arrangement. Filling out a new lease and additional paperwork isn't usually necessary.
Another consideration is that most rental companies have an adequate supply of shipping container storage units readily available. That means that you can rent and use it only when you need it. Prompt delivery and pick up and the 28-day billing cycle make them the most convenient and available storage options for most situations.
Other types of storage are often in limited supply. That can mean you need to call and make rental or lease arrangements fairly far in advance to ensure one is available when you need it.
And, should you need it longer, there may even be options, like leasing-to-own a storage container, or to buying a container outright.
The contents, or what you will be storing in the onsite mobile storage container, should also be factored in. Be sure to check with the leasing company to make sure what you want to keep inside can be legally stored. And remember, the more valuable or expensive the contents to be stored, the more secure the mobile storage should be.
You can’t get much more secure than an all-steel cargo container. Container doors are designed to accept a padlock. Some come with lock boxes to prevent bolt cutters from reaching the padlock. This makes them ideal for securing important and expensive items.
As for their construction, they're made to be tough. Containers are manufactured utilizing a weathering steel alloy which was developed to eliminate the need for painting, as a stable rust-like appearance develops when exposed to the elements. (A well-known brand of weathering steel is Cor-Ten.) But cargo containers used for storage should be painted by the rental company to improve their life (for added corrosion-resistance) and their appearance.
Flooring types will vary, but most utilize a 19 ply, 1-inch thick hardwood plywood over steel cross members.
This means they're resilient, able to weather almost any condition found on the jobsite. And they can store quite a bit of weight, in fact, often more than other storage rental options.
Let's be real. Cargo containers are likely the ugly ducklings of onsite storage and mobile office choices. Pretty much a huge rectangular box, they're not exactly known for their curb appeal. If you need to impress the public, a portable office might not be for you at all.
But a portable office built from a converted cargo container does have advantages over other temporary office ideas. Let's face it, the dashboard of a truck makes a lousy desk. When you need to get work done right in the middle of all the action, you need a real, fully functional office.
Unlike other mobile offices available, converted cargo containers are built to sit at ground level, making them both safer and more attractive. These portable offices are configured to maximize productivity and provide all of the amenities of a modern brick-and-mortar office to help you take care of business in comfort. Even air conditioning and power.
If the function is your main concern, not the aesthetic, then a modified shipping container office will provide all the amenities you need in a sturdy, secure module.
Mobility is the final consideration. Once set in place, it may be difficult, at best, to move the container to a different location. It’s not like hooking up to a tractor or pickup and hauling it around. If you think there’s a good possibility of moving it, contact the leasing company to see what your options are.
But if you carefully plan out the location where the office or container will sit, you shouldn't have much of a problem with having to relocate.
One more thing to consider is that most cargo container storage companies don't provide moving services. So they don't offer packing, loading, and unloading, or transporting of loaded containers. They're not moving vans, they're storage containers and temporary offices.
Hopefully, these questions covering the pros and cons of container storage will assist you as you plan your next construction project or other scenario that requires either onsite storage or a secure mobile office.
Still not convinced mobile container storage is for you? We've got more on our blog about the problems with storage units.