Converted Shipping Containers: Things to Consider

Shipping containers transport vast amounts of cargo across the globe.  In 2019 alone there were over 23 million standard twenty-foot units in circulation. Given that the lifespan of a container is seven years, people around the world have come up with creative ways to recycle used shipping containers. 

One trend that is rapidly growing is container transformation into homes, commercial modular buildings, apartment complexes, and other structures. Their robust construction, durability, and high security make them an attractive construction material, and it doesn’t hurt that converted storage containers cost much less to put up than traditional buildings. Here’s all you need to know about converted shipping containers. 

Examples of Shipping Container Conversions

Shipping container buildings offer an alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar structure, and with configuration options, the possibilities for modifying shipping containers are virtually endless. Popular container conversions today include: 


Event Containers

One of the biggest uses of recycled shipping containers is event containers. Building an event container offers the advantage of versatility, speed, and cost-effectiveness. They’ll help your brand leave a great first impression at your next event or trade show. If you’re looking to build for a fraction of the cost, converted shipping containers are the way to go. 


Container hotels offer the perfect opportunity to experience what living in a container home would be like. For the entrepreneur, they are a great way to reduce start-up costs while creating a structure that sets you apart from the rest. Container hotels are also exceptionally eco-friendly. 

Mobile Offices 

Constructing a converted container office is one of the fastest, most efficient, and cost-effective ways to increase office space, whether you’re looking for an open plan or closed. Shipping container alterations allow for any door, window, and flooring option, and one can even install an HVAC unit for year-round comfort.


School districts operating on a tight budget can achieve additional classroom space for their students with container classrooms. This is a quick, simple, and more affordable process than even renovating existing structures. 


Shipping containers are perfect for all types of restaurants—whether food trucks or fine-dining establishments. They are original and innovative and allow for 100% custom modification to your brand. 

Ablution Blocks 

Shipping container lavatories can be installed anywhere or used as portable toilets. If you need bathroom facilities for a construction site, outdoor event, or even extra toilets for your office block, they are a quick and durable solution. 

Converting a New vs. Used Container

Not all containers are created equal, and one of the first considerations when choosing converted shipping containers for construction is whether you want a new or used container. There is no universal standard for grading shipping containers. However, some sellers use the A, B, C classification system with A representing the best condition and C a unit that requires a bit more work. 

New shipping containers are not completely unused. They have made only one trip overseas. Because they are typically in the best condition, they are the most expensive to buy. An advantage is that they have almost no damage to the shell or floor and thus require the least amount of work to prepare. 

Used shipping containers can be between three and seven years old and are still in cargo-worthy condition, while retired containers are those that have reached the end of their life at sea. Retired containers are still waterproof and windproof and thus can still be used. However, the cost of repair is not always worth it. What you choose to use depends on your budget. 

PreBuilt vs. Modified Conex

Another consideration for those considering a shipping container structure is whether you want to purchase a pre-built unit or build a modified conex—another term for shipping containers—from the ground up. Building a custom container allows you to make all the modifications you wish, ensuring that the final product is exactly as you want it.  Purchasing a prebuilt unit may force you to compromise on some features. 

Already fitted out shipping containers for sale cost less than a custom-built one at a custom conex workshop.  This heavily depends on the customizations you choose and the fittings in the pre-built container, however. Should you choose to go with a pre-built conex, ensure that the container meets the expected ISO standards.  

What You Should Know About Converted Shipping Containers

Before diving into developing a converted shipping container, here are some tips and considerations : 

  1. Inspect the Unit Yourself – Before giving the go-ahead for construction, it’s important to see the condition of the container for yourself. An in-person inspection also helps you get a feel of the space of the container, making sure it’s just the right size for your needs. 
  2. Check Local Building and Zoning Rules – Every area has different rules and policies regarding construction materials and guidelines. As shipping containers are not a conventional material for building construction, it’s important to check on any requirements or restrictions for using shipping construction in your location. 
  3. Plan Space Usage – Whether you will be stacking containers or laying them out horizontally will determine the space you have to work with, plumbing requirements, and power connections. Planning for these considerations and more is important as the site will be prepared before the structure is put in place. 
  4. HVAC System Integration – A container space needs heating, ventilation, and air conditioning just like a traditional structure. Choosing what systems you need can be determined by the size of the container as well as the climate and temperatures of the location. 
  5. Insulation – Containers have to be made habitable with features such as insulation. Remember that insulating your container space goes beyond installing the framing. Moisture insulation is also equally important. 

Ready To Get Started?

If you’re looking for container spaces that are exactly to spec and impeccably made, look no further than BMarko Structures. We are a leading expert in modular architecture and shipping container modifications, and customer satisfaction is our #1 priority. Tell us what you want and we’ll do the rest. Contact us to get a free quote today.

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