How to Buy Used Shipping Containers for Your Container Home or Project

how to buy used shipping container for container homes

If you need to buy used shipping containers for a home or container project, you must verify that any cargo containers you purchase do not leak and have no or very minimal rust on the body.

There are many things to inspect for, but if you purchase a used cargo container with these two requirements met, you will be in a much better position when you start your container home or project.

Basic Guidelines for Buying Used Shipping Containers for Homes or Projects

It’s always wise to inspect first hand any containers that you’re considering buying. Just follow these simple guidelines and you can avoid lots of problems as a DIYer.  You can also view a basic inspection performed in the video below. 

Check all four sides of container before delivery. – Hit on the corrugated steel walls on all four sides to make sure everything seems tight and in place, top, bottom and on the sides.

Make sure the corrugated sides are made of sound steel. – Only buy Coten steel containers. Follow the corrugated sides all the way around the container with your hand to make sure it’s even and nothing is out of place.

Inspect all doors thoroughly. – Check all the door hinges to make sure they open and close easily. Look for rust and corrosion around the brackets and pins.

Open and close doors and extend them as far as they go to make sure they work correctly. Check the locks as well. Double cargo doors are standard and lockable.

Make sure the doors sit properly when opened and closed. Look to see if the doors are warped or bent and to see if the locks and hinges are properly in place. Engaging the can retainers makes the door sit properly.

Check the door gaskets to make sure they are tight and supple. This will protect against water leakage. Worn or rotten gaskets can be a problem, so be sure to thoroughly check them.

Check lockbox. – If there is a lockbox on the storage container, check to see if it works properly and is fitted well for the unit.

Make sure corners are steel posts. – Inside, check the corners to make sure they are high steel strength corner posts. Again, Cotem steel is what you want.

Check molding and door frames. – Inspect the molding where the roof seam meets the top side. It should be seamless and intact to prevent leakage.

Inspect the door frames to make sure they are not warped and are watertight and solid.

Make sure floors are solid with no leaks or water damage. – Check the floors for signs of water leaks or water damage. Look in the corners and around all the seams. If there has been a leak in the past, the stains may still be apparent on the wood floor.

Check the ID markings on the container for tracking and inventory. – Always verify the owner of any shipping containers you purchase to insure that you buy from the right owner.

More used shipping container buying tips:

  • It’s always better to pay more for a better structure than less and be sorry!
  • Never agree to accept delivery of a container sight unseen, even if there is a guarantee.
  • Be ware of scams and unscrupulous dealers who will try to encourage you to buy a less than adequate cargo unit for your container home project.

View this video for how to do a basic inspection of a shipping container before you buy:

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