Building With Refurbished Shipping Containers: A Basic Guide

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: April 29, 2023 | ⏳Read Time: 5 min | 👁Post Views: 143

Shipping containers are often used to transport goods. But recently, they’ve become a hot trend in the construction industry- particularly when building residential and commercial properties. These versatile shipping containers for sale can be transformed into various spaces, including storage units, garages, homes, workshops, and even rental properties. Moreover, shipping containers are made of steel, which means they’re sturdy and durable, making them ideal for various uses.

So, whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly housing option or a creative workspace, refurbished shipping containers may be a great project.

Building With Refurbished Shipping Containers: A Basic Guide

Why Consider Building With Refurbished Shipping Containers

Aside from their durability and versatility, shipping containers have become a popular choice for modern architectural designs because of their many benefits. They include:

  • Sustainability: Using refurbished shipping containers helps reduce the amount of waste in landfills and promotes sustainability in the construction industry. 
  • Design flexibility: Shipping containers can be easily modified and combined to create unique and modern home and office designs that meet the owners’ needs and preferences. They can also be stacked to create multi-story structures.
  • Portability: Shipping container homes can be easily transported from one place to another, making them convenient when you need temporary structures.
  • Time to construct: Building structures from scratch can generally be time-consuming. However, building with shipping containers can be more time-efficient since they’re already assembled and may only need little work, depending on the modifications needed.
  • Affordability: Buying or building a conventional home is expensive. However, using refurbished shipping containers can be a more affordable option.

What To Consider When Building With Refurbished Shipping Containers 

While using refurbished shipping containers offers numerous advantages, there are several factors to consider to ensure a successful project. They include:

What To Consider When Building With Refurbished Shipping Containers 

Shipping Container Grading

Shipping containers are designed in different types, sizes, and grades. In terms of size, they often come in 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft. However, you can also have them customized by your supplier. 

They also have a grading system that explains the quality and condition of the container. Generally, most companies or manufacturers grade their shipping containers using the scales A, B, and C, with A being in top shape and C having lesser quality.

Also Read: Are steel buildings affordable in Florida?

Here’s a better look at them:

  • A-grade shipping containers are usually in the best condition, with no major dents, dings, or rust. Aside from shipping purposes, they are also suitable for storage and conversion projects.
  • B-grade containers may have cosmetic damage and light to moderate rust and corrosion but are still suitable for conversion and construction needs. While they’re generally still in good condition, you may need to repair them to ensure usability.
  • C-grade containers may have more significant cosmetic damage and medium to heavy levels of rust and corrosion, making them better for storage.

Knowing the grading system is especially important when purchasing a refurbished shipping container. Although refurbished containers are often restored to a high standard, it’s still essential to guarantee the container’s structural integrity to maximize its use and ensure safety.

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Local Regulations And Applicable Laws

It’s essential to check with your local government before beginning any project that involves shipping containers. This is especially true since permits may be required, or some places may have restrictions on the types of structures that can be built or where they can be located.

For example, they may not allow shipping container homes to be built in residential neighborhoods, or some areas may have specific requirements regarding the size, height, and placement of the container structure.

Design And Modifications

When personalizing a refurbished shipping container, the possibilities are endless. You can convert it into a cozy home, a functional office space, or even a mobile pop-up shop. However, planning what modifications you want is essential to ensure they’re incorporated correctly and meet local building codes. 

As a good start, list down your needs and design preferences to guide you in the process. Working with design professionals is also recommended to help bring your vision to life. They can provide valuable insight into maximizing your space and ensuring you meet electrical and plumbing systems, ventilation, and more requirements. They can also best guide you in making your structure energy-efficient and comfortable by recommending insulation strategies.

In addition to design considerations, hiring a knowledgeable contractor with experience working with shipping containers is best to ensure the job is done correctly.


Building with refurbished shipping containers has become a popular trend in the construction industry. Besides their durability, they offer endless design possibilities, from functional living spaces to creative commercial spaces. 

Hopefully, the information above has given you a good starting point for exploring this trend and building your unique and environmentally friendly structure.

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