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How Much Does a Portable Classroom Cost?


In an ideal world, every school district would have the money to expand and rebuild as soon as a school faced overcrowding. Unfortunately, tight budgets mean that is rarely the case. Most schools have to make do for years before getting the funding they need for renovation or new construction.

Enter the portable classroom. When a building is bursting at the seams, portable classrooms provide temporary relief.

Portable classrooms can be office trailers or modular buildings. They come in various sizes and configurations. They’re available for rent or purchase, and they can be up and running within a matter of weeks. They arrive on site complete with doors, windows, bathrooms, plumbing and wiring.

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Cost of Portable Classrooms

The price of a portable classroom depends on the type you select and whether you opt to lease or buy. Keep in mind that portable trailers and modular buildings for classroom use are almost always more expensive than similar structures for private use. They need to meet state and federal safety and code regulations, which require bathrooms, fire extinguishers, handicapped accessible ramps, emergency exits and proper heating and cooling systems.

  • Portable trailers for schools can be leased for $100-$600 per month or purchased from $10,000-$50,000.
  • Delivery and setup can cost $1,000 or more.
  • Modular portable classrooms sell for about $40-$200 per square foot, depending on the size of the building and the level of customization required. On average, budget a total of $50,000-$200,000.

Portable Classroom Trailers vs. Modular Classrooms

Each option has its pros and cons. Portable trailers are far less expensive than modular classrooms, but they’re not as attractive and not very customizable. If you’re needs are very short term - say for one year while the school is undergoing renovation - a trailer is probably your best bet.

If your needs are long term, go with a modular classroom. Modular classrooms can last up to 50 years, and they can moved from one school to another if space needs change. They also tend to be larger, better equipped and more comfortable.

Choosing a Dealer or Contractor

Choosing the right type of portable classroom is important, but choosing the right dealer or contractor is equally as important. You want the best price, but you also want a company that is going to deliver exactly what you need in a time frame that works for your schedule. Here are some tips:

  • Seek quotes from multiple dealers or contractors to compare prices, but never choose on price alone. You also want to consider each company’s experience and reputation.
  • Do some background research into any company you’re considering. Ask for references and call them all. Were they satisfied with the company’s service? Check each company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau and find out how long they’ve been in business. Experience matters.
  • No two schools have the same needs when it comes to portable classrooms. Look for a dealer or contractor that will work with you to customize the modular building or trailer. Companies with a one-size-fits-all approach are rarely the best choice.
  • Before any work begins, get a contract in writing that details all project expenses and the project timeline. Make sure the contract includes a line-by-line breakdown of all costs, including labor.

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