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Storage Container Delivery: What You Need to Know About On-Site Delivery and Installation

Unlike most deliveries you order for your business or even residence, storage containers have certain requirements. Most of these concern the size and weight of the unit; you must make sure you have ample space for delivery. In addition, some locations have zoning requirements you must meet before installing a storage container. Finally, delivery and install fees vary and aren't always included in the price quoted for the item. Understanding these requirements helps ensure a smooth delivery and install.

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Storage Container Delivery Fees and Turnaround Time

Many vendors leave out the price of delivery for the simple reason that these fees vary widely from customer to customer. The reason for the variance is that the cost of delivery typically depends on mileage. The closer you are to vendor, the lower your delivery rate.

Another factor affecting delivery cost is property access. Not every property is designed to allow easy access to a flatbed truck with trailer. When talking to your vendor, include discussions of how they transport the unit and what type of accommodations they require from you.

Turnaround time on your order also depends on the location of the supplier in relation to your location, as well as the number of modifications (if any) you choose. If you have a time-sensitive project, be sure to include this information during your sales and negotiation stage. You may be able to receive a standard container within 72 hours of ordering, but not always. After all, this isn't Amazon Prime delivering the latest book in your favorite series. An empty, 20' container weighs around 5,000 pounds.

Prepping the Delivery Site

Details about the site where you plan to install your storage container are important enough that your vendor should discuss them with you without you prompting the conversation. Remember, these units weigh thousands of pounds before you store a single item. It must rest on an appropriate surface. Typically, this means placing the container on asphalt, gravel, earth, or concrete. For soft ground, such as grass and dirt, you may need to install a support – asphalt, concrete footing, a bed of gravel or railroad ties – to evenly distribute the container's weight.

Know the answers to the following questions that many dealers ask:

  • Does your property offer easy access for a semi-trailer?
  • How long do you plan to keep the unit? This helps determine the level of site prep needed.
  • Is the install area smooth, level, and firm? Does it include a concrete pad, asphalt, or other sturdy surface?
  • Is the site prone to flooding?

Pre-Delivery Instructions for the Driver

The delivery process is easier for everyone if the driver knows certain details ahead of time. After all, not every property or neighborhood was designed with flatbed truck access in mind. You may also want the storage container's doors to face a certain direction. When the driver knows this ahead of time, he or she can load the unit with that in mind. This is especially important in areas with tight entrances and narrow roadways, where there's little room for turning the storage container after it's already been loaded onto the trailer.

Can Your Site Handle the Weight?

Will your site hold 45,000+ pounds? The weight of the delivery truck and storage container can easily exceed that; the driver needs to know if there's any risk of the truck sinking because the ground can't support its weight. If you aren't sure, talk to the vendor first and determine a backup site in the event of any issues.

Is there Enough Space for Safe Delivery?

Your site needs adequate room for safe delivery and installation and, if it doesn't have it, you still pay the delivery fee, even if you didn't actually get your container unloaded. Depending on the type of truck used, you need anywhere between 60' and 75' for a 20' container, and 100' for a 40' container. The space also needs at least 12' in width and 20' in height (this varies according to your container's dimensions).

When discussing delivery, do not forget to ask about space requirements. Remember, if the site didn't have enough room for safe unloading, you still pay for delivery.

Storage Container Zoning Issues

Zoning requirements vary dramatically by area and property type. Some areas require a permit for a storage container, while some do not. Your vendor should be able to tell you what you need (or don’t need). If the vendor doesn't have information about your particular area, call a local company to see if they do. If you still don't have any luck, look to your city website's zoning page. For residential deliveries, you should also check with your HOA, as they often have their own rules above and beyond local ordinances.

Storage Container Delivery Checklist

Make sure to cover each of the following items before scheduling delivery:

  • Appropriate surface: You need a solid, sturdy surface capable of holding 45,000 pounds or more.
  • Delivery space: You need enough space for the container to be unloaded safely.
  • Obstruction free: Look for obstructions in all directions, including up for power lines and tree branches.
  • Pre-delivery instructions: Did you let the driver know what direction you want the unit to face?
  • Space to move: Delivery trucks make wide turns and have to fit through entrances and gates. Make sure you have enough space.

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