The Case for Using Containers as Portable Office Buildings

2 min read
Jun 12, 2019
Paige Welsh

When field operations managers are looking for portable office buildings, their choice may come down to a ground level office container or an office trailer. We admit, as fans of “Think Inside the Box” we’re a bit biased, but we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from customers who have tried both. Here are the six reasons we’ve heard again and again from customers to choose shipping container offices.

1. Fewer Trucking Permit Fees

ISO shipping containers are built to exact standards for transporting loads via ship, rail, and truck. That means they fit perfectly onto a truck bed. Unbeknownst to many first-time portable office buyers, offices that are wider or longer than a standard shipping container will often require over-size trucking permits for transportation on highways or through cities. If the portable office building goes over multiple state lines, those permit fees will keep racking up. Shipping container offices will cut out that cost.

2. Lower Maintenance and Longer Life Spans

Forklift relocates container office for reuse

Maintenance is just another word for time and money. Yet the inevitable maintenance that comes with years of wear and tear often goes forgotten when checking out the sticker price of a portable office building.

We did a cost comparison of the maintenance costs associated with a 20-foot shipping container office and a similarly sized office trailer. Over a period of six years, shipping container maintenance cost around $360 while a portable office trailer cost $1,040. The difference in cost became even more stark at 12 years, when the container totaled $720 over the course of its use, while the trailer cost $2,680.

Why? Corten steel just holds up better than vinyl and wood when relocated frequently. Check out our previous blog on container office cost comparisons for a full analysis.

3. Skip the Stairs

This is specific to ground level container offices. Office trailers are a few feet above the ground because of their chassis, and thus require OSHA compliant stairs, a $600 addition. Shipping container-based ground level offices can be placed directly on dry, level ground, negating the need for stairs.

4. Tidy Exterior

Portable office building built in a 40ft shipping container

The portable office buildings you select will reflect back on your company. Sure, office trailers look fine when they’re brand new, but once that grey vinyl siding begins to peel off, it sends an unprofessional message to customers, collaborators, and employees. Shipping container offices with alkyd enamel paint stay sleek and clean with the occasional touch up to rust. You can even opt to have your container office painted in company colors.

5. Built-in Work Surfaces

Desk space built into portable office building

It doesn’t make sense to pack your furniture into a separate truck for each office relocation. Built-in desk space means you have one less task to worry about when your office is on the move.

6. Customizable

Is there a feature you’re looking for that standard office trailers just don’t offer? Ask us about it. Shipping container offices are versatile, and we can create a custom floorplan for your project. To get started, check out our free eBook: Five Easy Steps to Designing your Shipping Container Structure.

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