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There are several factors in determining whether to rent an onsite storage container. While there are several good options for temporary onsite storage, some circumstances make cargo container storage boxes a more attractive and efficient option.

Here are some questions that will help you decide what's best for your current or future temporary storage requirements. You might find that you don't need a shipping container every time you need to store something on site.
But when you do need jobsite storage, the answers to these questions will help you get the best arrangement for your unique requirements.

How much storage capacity do you need?

The smallest cargo containers are typically 8' x 10'. The interior dimensions are 7' 8" (92 inches) wide by 7' 8" (92 inches) high by 9' 2" (110 inches) long. This brings the total capacity to just under 539 cubic feet.

To determine the capacity needed, the formula is: length (in) x width (in) x height (in) ÷ 1728 = total cubic feet. Of course, you can just multiply the dimension in feet to get the same result. In any case, that's what you'll need to do to figure out how much storage capacity you'll need to acquire.

This information is useful if you don't have a large amount of equipment or material to store on the jobsite. If what you need to stockpile is less than 538 cubic feet, it's a judgment call on your end.

You'll need to factor in how much access to the items stored you need to have for efficient operation. For example, if the items are boxed and can be placed in an order that allows access to them in the proper order, you don't need much "wiggle room." But if storing them close to each other means you need to jockey them around a lot, then plan for enough space to allow for that.

Cargo container storage units are also available in 8' x 20' and 8' x 40' sizes. These larger capacity storage rentals are ideal for storing long items, larger equipment, and extending the use beyond just simple 'warehousing.' They can often be modified to serve additional purposes by adding racks, shelves, and other (non-permanent) alterations to change the interior layout. The 10-foot models can also be accessorized, but the length of the supplies you want to secure may put some constraints on modifications.

Sometimes it might be more efficient to store smaller capacity loads in a pull-behind trailer. We'll discuss that in more depth in a few minutes. But another factor may influence your decision to rent cargo container onsite storage.

How long is the duration of the job or storage need?

All storage options—whether trailers or pods, semi-pulled trailers, or shipping container storage—have minimum rental or lease periods. Some rental periods might be days; others are weeks. So how long you need the storage container can play a role in what you rent.

If you only need storage for a day or two, or even a week, a pull-behind trailer might be the best option. Hook it up to your pickup truck or van, and away you go. However, the only drawback is that you'll need to take it offsite every day unless you have a 24/7 crew working, or have planned for security.

Honestly, most major commercial construction or remodel projects rarely take just a week, let alone a few days. Shipping container storage is normally rented on a 28-day cycle. Four weeks allows you to get the job done in many cases.

Since quite a few projects will extend beyond the four-week rental, estimating the length of the rental period should be easy. And don't forget that a project isn't always done when the work is finished. Final inspections are necessary, and it would be great to still have your supplies on the jobsite if punch list items need to be attended to right away.

It's possible that a project won't finish right on the 28-day mark. So you may have a couple of days, or even a week, left in the rental agreement. But you've likely figured that into your operating expenses already.

But another critical issue that must be considered is that of security.

How secure do the items you’re storing need to be?

Vandalism is an ever-present danger that must be contended with. As prices go up on building supplies, you can't afford to leave your electrical, plumbing, and even carpentry supplies unprotected. According to a report published by on July 1, 2021:

"Copper prices reached an all-time high of $10,512 per metric ton on May 9, marking a 130% growth since March 22, 2020."  

Copper is a common element found on worksites, and copper theft affects many trades: electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, to name three. Unfortunately, along with the price of copper, copper theft is on the rise. To quote a June 9 article on

Copper prices have reached all-time highs in 2021, and the red metal’s positive price action is fueling black market demand for copper scrap. Copper theft has long been a major source of anxiety, particularly for the construction, utilities and transportation industries, and legislators are still attempting to stop property vandalism. While stealing copper might sound difficult, it’s quite common and can affect major entities. In fact, copper thieves made off with US$500,000 in copper wiring from a stretch of the Manhattan subway line in New York in late 2020. 

Of any of the onsite storage options, shipping containers, or cargo boxes, are arguably the sturdiest and most vandal-resistant. The heavy-gauge steel and robust locking mechanisms are harder to defeat by criminals using conventional methods for jobsite theft.

In fact, there is only one other option for truly secure storage. But it could have a major drawback – it's not on site.

Is there a form of fixed storage rental available close by?

Fixed storage units are often used to warehouse items for a jobsite construction project. Many are gated and have limited public access. Mostly built like row upon row of garages, they often have on-premises security, either live personnel or security cameras, to help protect your valuable supplies.

Even though most doors are similar to residential or commercial garage doors, the security measures and fencing help ensure protection from vandals. However, many do have limited access hours, particularly if they're only monitored electronically. That can be an issue if you need something in the middle of the night, right?

But there's another potential concern that you'll need to consider for offsite storage.

Is it cost-effective to transport items to and from the site?

As secure as an offsite storage facility might be, it could become a logistical nightmare. Depending on its proximity to the jobsite, you may be spending as much time transporting supplies as you do working with them. Some 'windshield time' is inevitable. Likewise, there are times when a trip to the supply house is unavoidable — and you may have someone designated for that task.

But if you find yourself hauling supplies back and forth on a regular and frequent basis, you might as well store it on site.
Be sure to cover all the logistical bases when considering offsite storage.

Now, there's one more concern you may have to deal with. But with a little careful planning, it shouldn't be a big issue.

Can you set up a permanent location for storage on the job site?

A cargo container may be referred to as 'mobile storage' but that doesn't mean it has to be moved around once set in place. It may be possible to reset the location during the construction job's progression. But if you can 'set it and forget it,' so to speak, that's best.

Remember that if you choose a cargo box container as your storage option, you'll need to discuss the location requirements with the rental company. While the boxes can be set relatively close together, you'll need to ensure that room to offload them is available. And be sure to ask the leasing company if they can be relocated should the need arise, and what needs to be done to make that happen.

Answering these questions is the first step in determining if leasing or renting an onsite storage container is the best choice for your situation. It's certainly one of the most secure options available. And it can be the most convenient as well. Talk to a rental company rep if you have more questions concerning your rental options, as well as delivery dates and times.

By the way, construction sites aren’t the only location that secure mobile storage is needed. There are a lot of creative uses for renting a cargo container storage unit, many times containers are used for retail storage!