Shipping Container FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

Looking to rent or purchase a shipping container? DefPro answers some of the most common questions submitted by our customers:

Question Category: Pricing / Cost

Q: What is the typical cost of shipping container?
A: The most submitted question by far. And unfortunately, the answer is a little opaque. Shipping container prices can vary greatly based on multiple factors. Container costs can be as low as $2,500 and high into the $10,000s or more. Read more below to determine what factors into this fluctuation.
Q: Why do prices vary so much?
A: Pricing varies with the type of container, the length/width dimensions, customizations a customer may want (windows, doors, shelves), delivery fees/taxes where purchased, and a host of other variables. In addition, the price of steel can also cause prices to dip or spike. When steel prices are high in the market, it costs more to produce a new unit than it does to ship the container back to it's origin. This causes shortages in supply which creates a simple supply and demand price relationship.
Q: Do I pay before or after delivery?
A: Typically customers pay prior to delivery. There are circumstances where purchase orders are used, payable on delivery, but those are generally used in larger bulk purchases. To the average consumer, before a container can be prepped, inspected and delivered to your property, payment is required. This includes all fees (delivery, surveys, etc.) as well as taxes on the full cost of the shipping container.
Q: Is there any type of financing available?
A: This is dependent on the container provider you choose, but generally speaking if you only plan on purchasing a single container financing is not usually offered.
Q: Are refunds or exchanges available?
A: If you are not satisfied with your purchase, contact the container provider and determine if a refund or exchange is warranted they will be able to help you. Typical guidelines for a container company to assist in this situation are:
  • Repair - if there are issues with the storage container that can be repaired, the provider may direct you to where the repair can be made and cover the costs.
  • Exchange - if you are unsatisfied with the specific container your received but still need a unit, an exchange can be made and the units will be swapped out.
  • Refund - if all options have been executed and you are still unsatisfied, a full refund may be offered.

Types & Descriptions

Q: What size containers are available?
A: Standard container sizes are 10 foot, 20 foot, 40 foot, and 40 foot high cube. If you are in need of special sizes, you may be able to obtain a less produced unit (e.g. 45 foot or 53 foot). The more specialized size the harder it may be to locate, and likely will increase the price and delivery time frame. Additionally, you can customize a container to match your specifications.
Q: What are the dimensions of the door where I load material?
A: Most containers, regardless of depth, have door dimensions 8' high and 8' wide. Special sizes are available. High cube containers offer a height of 9.5 feet.
Q: Do these containers conform to ISO standards?
A: ISO standard shipping containers are manufactured to the same specifications as standard containers. However, if you must ensure your container is ISO specific, contact a customer rep and double check prior to purchasing or renting.
Q: What are shipping containers weights?
A: When looking for container weights, it is important to note the way the weights are described. There are two ways - tare and gross. Tare weight includes just the container itself while Gross weight includes the container + the maximum allowed wight of the contents. Find out specifically from the shipping container supplier before ordering, but here are some rough guidelines:
  • 20' container tare weight is ~ 4,000 lbs.
  • 20' container gross weight is ~ 50,000 lbs.
  • 40' container tare weight is ~ 8,000 lbs.
  • 40' container gross weight is ~ 65,000 lbs.
Q: What type of ventilation do containers have?
A: Containers can be ventilated with vents on the top and side walls. While this helps air out the container when in use or not in use, it also makes the unit susceptible to condensation, rust, wind, and other elements. Keep an eye on these vents to ensure the contents and container are not being damaged by being in cold/wet environments.
Q: What happens when containers have condensation?
A: Due to the vents on the side, it is possible that your unit may have condensation if it is stored in an area that is wet, damp or cold for long periods of time. While precautions can be made to avoid this, once condensation does occur it can cause quite a bit of damaged if not quickly fixed. Because containers are made from steel, often they are coated with weather proof paint to protect the outside.
Q: Waterproofing - can containers be water and air tight?
A: When purchasing a new container, you will get a unit that is wind and water tight. On a used unit, however, that warranty may no longer exist if the unit is sold "as-is", unless it has been specified by the supplier or seller.
Q: What kind of maintenance is required?
A: For optimum use and lifespan of the unit, we recommend you maintain your shipping container per manufacturers guidelines. For the most part, steel containers require little maintenance, especially when purchased new. Used containers may require a little more effort to keep them working well. Some maintenance you can expect: ensuring doors/openings work well by keeping them greased. Fixing dents as they occur as the paint on them will chip and expose the steel to the elements. Door seals should be checked on to ensure they are not cracked or broken - replacing these every few years ensures a tight seal.
Q: What is the life expectancy of a container?
A: Depending on the type you purchase and your upkeep, your shipping container can have an extremely long life. A brand new, one-trip container can be used and offer high quality storage for up to 45 years. A used container can be a bit less depending on the previous use and if the unit was maintained properly.
Q: What is an "A" grade container?
A: "A" containers is a descriptor used for high quality units in excellent condition. The description basically states that the unit is free of any damage, offers highly functioning doors, and a damage-free clean interior.
Q: What are IICL used shipping containers?
A: If you see a used container being described as IICL, it means that is is cargo worthy. This is the highest, best quality used shipping container there is. If you see one described as such, you can expect it to work almost as well as a new container but with a few years of use under its belt.
Q: Cargo doors - how far off the ground are they?
A: The lip of the cargo door is typically anywhere from 6 to 7 inches off the ground. Check with your supplier to find out the exact measurement as each container may be slightly different.
Q: Fork Pockets - what is the distance between them?
A: Each container has fork pockets (small pockets used by forklifts to move and stack the container) which are approximately 68 inches (roughly 5.6 feet) apart. Get exact measurements from your supplier to be sure.

Customer Service Support and Guarantees

Q: Before purchasing, can I see the container I am interested in?
A: It depends on the supplier. Most, however, can provide photos, descriptions and anything else that may help you choose. Typically an "in-person" inspection is not available as container yards can be dangerous and containers may be stacked making it impractical to look at the unit you are purchasing.
Q: Who can I contact for repairs?
A: Standard routine maintenance is part of ownership and therefore, is the owners responsibility. The exception would be if the container was damaged or something happened to it in transit; At that point, contact your supplier to see if there is something they can do. Otherwise, find a good local steel shop or container maintenance provider.
Q: Product Guarantee - Can it be voided?
A: Your shipping container comes with a guarantee or warranty, depending on your specific supplier. Find out what is included and learn how it can be voided by you. Things that may cause the guarantee to be voided and should be avoided are: tampering with the unit, purposely damaging it or causing harm to the inside or outside such as structural or visual (e.g. graffiti), etc. Common sense will usually prevail when determining if a container is damaged as a result of the supplier or the customer.

Adding Upgrades or Modifications

Q: What are some typical modifications or upgrades?
A: Some typical modifications and upgrades we see are: shelving, windows, divided rooms, restrooms, insulation, refrigeration, roll up doors, and many others.
Q: Can I do my own modifications?
A: Once you purchase your unit, it is all yours to modify or transform into whatever you’d like. Some customers purposely purchase containers to turn them into homes, offices, event booths, etc. Once you do modify the unit, please note that it is possible the unit is no longer under warranty.
Q: Can I create a home or office using the container?
A: Shipping containers have become a trend in the home building industry. These units can be stacked and added onto other buildings to create unique homes or offices. We recommend finding a reputable builder or architect who understands buildings and codes and can help you create the look you are looking for.
Q: What are container lockboxes?
A: You can purchase a storage container lockbox, which is steel box that prevents would-be theft. The lockbox prevents the cutting of the lock and typically covers the lock on newer models. Some older, used units may not have a lockbox friendly locking system, so if it something you are looking for, check with the supplier to ensure the unit you are interested in comes supplied with one.


Q: What are the costs associated with delivery?
A: Delivery fees are based on your location, where the supplier is located and how quickly you need the unit. To find out the exact cost, your supplier will ask you a few simple questions such as your zip code and how soon you need the container.
Q: How soon can I get my shipping container delivered?
A: Depending on supply and demand, your local or closest shipping container supplier may or may not have units readily available. If they do have them in stock, the timeline to receive a unit will be much shorter than if you have to wait for the unit to be shipped from the manufacturer. Manufacturers are typically overseas, meaning your shipping container can take up to 90 days to get to you.
Q: What are the clearance specifications for delivery?
A: When purchasing a shipping container, please make note of where you plan to have the unit delivered. Some locations simply cannot provide enough clearance for the unit to be delivered properly. For example, a 20 foot container would need to have about 55 feet of clearance in a straight path for the semi truck to deliver it. The space you plan on having the unit placed will need a minimum of 10 feet width to ensure the container can be placed properly.
Q: Are there any overhead clearance requirements for delivery?
A: Yes. For proper delivery without any issues, you will need a minimum of at least 17 feet overhead. Ask your supplier if they have any additional requirement; they will most likely ask you specific questions regarding tree overhangs or power lines in the vicinity.
Q: What kind of vehicle can I expect to deliver the unit?
A: Storage containers are quite large, therefore they require heavy vehicles or a tilt bed. This type of vehicle pivots until it is in place and then slides the container onto the ground. Sometimes, flatbeds can also be used but require the additional use of a forklift. If your property has the capabilities and you have access to these types of heavy equipment, you may be able to save money on delivery by using them - check with your supplier to find out how.
Q: When are storage containers delivered and can they be done nationally?
A: Delivery can occur any day of the week, including weekends. Units can be delivered almost anywhere in the United States. Simply provide your ideal time, day and location and it will be scheduled accordingly.
Q: Do I need to prep my location for delivery?
A: Your supplier will be able to provide you with detailed preparations that should occur prior to delivery. But standard requirements are that the ground, whether concrete, gravel, asphalt or grass, is level and as solid as possible. Avoid placing storage containers on any surface that is not level, has a history of issues or tends to be damp or soft.
Q: Do I need to obtain a permit?
A: Depending on your location and city requirement, you may or may not be required to pull a permit prior to delivery. It is in your best interest to check with your city to find out what is needed to avoid any hefty fines.
Q: Do I need to be present during delivery?
A: It is recommended that there be an adult available during the delivery. You may be required to sign off on the delivery.
Q: Can multiple storage containers be delivered at the same time?
A: So as only as you have the proper clearance and space for multiple units, it is possible to have more than one delivered at the same time. Truck beds have the ability to hold up to 2 containers that are 20 feet in length.
Q: Are there any weather limitations that can prevent delivery?
A: It is highly possible that the delivery company may not be able to deliver a unit at its scheduled time or day if the weather conditions prevent it. Typically, rainy weather is usually not an issue, however icy conditions may prevent a truck from being able to safely enter your property.