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New vs. Used Storage Container Considerations

When it's time to purchase a storage container, the question whether to buy new or used eventually arises. Both options come with their own list of pros and cons. The final decision depends greatly on your budget, modification needs, and storage requirements.

New Storage Containers

A standard storage container ranges from around $2,500 to $5,000, depending on size and dealer. Pricing averages are around double that of a used unit.

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The Pros

If guaranteed high quality is your main concern, you likely want to stick with a new storage container despite the extra cost. You know that the unit has never stored anything dangerous and therefore it won't damage whatever items you store.

New units are also the easiest to modify beyond the standard storage device, especially when making radical changes such as converting the container into an office, retail, or residential space. Even when continuing to use the container for storage, it's easier to order customization on a new unit than it is to find a used model already outfitted with the features you want. It also saves you the time you'd spend completing modifications yourself if you can't find an appropriate used container.

New units also offer greater availability, getting you what you need when you need it instead of waiting for availability or settling for a container that isn't quite what you wanted because you needed something quickly.

Finally, the most common reason people choose new over used is the guarantee buying new offers. Storage units typically include a 10-year warranty, protecting your investment against corrosion or any other problems.

The Cons

When it comes to new versus used, the biggest disadvantage to buying new is the cost, which typically runs 40 to 70 percent higher than a used container, with prices based on the age, condition, and size of the unit.

Depending on where your container is manufactured, you may also have quite a wait to receive it. Many are made in, and shipped from, China. If you use a domestic vendor, this is less of a problem, but it's still a consideration when you're comparing quotes and companies.

One last con for green-minded folks is the fact that recycling used storage containers is more ecologically friendly. If sustainability is important to you, you may prefer to stick with used models.

Used Storage Containers

Depending on the unit's age and size, plus wear and tear, a used storage container typically runs between $1,000 and $2,000. Modified models cost more, depending on the features included. Buyers typically choose from previously used storage containers as well as used shipping containers, since they're essentially the same thing.

The Pros

If budget concerns you more than appearance, you likely want to look at used storage containers. These items are built to last, so even if you find one that's 10 years old, it's likely structurally sound, even if it has a few dents and scratches. Your main concern will be rust and corrosion in areas where chipped paint exposes the steel construction.

Finding a used container is also fairly simple, especially with so many online auction sites. What's more, many dealers sell used storage containers, especially those who offer lease and rental options. This also means you're more likely to find a local vendor able to get your unit to you quickly, especially if you don't need to customize your order.

For the eco-conscious shopper, buying used is a popular option, as it repurposes a functional unit rather than sending it to a landfill.

If your main goal is dry goods storage, a used model likely handles your needs in a budget-friendly way. You may also find modified units or be able to order modifications or perform the work yourself.

The Cons

Used storage containers do sustain a good deal of wear and tear, especially if their original purpose was in shipping (these units tend to spend a lot of time on the ocean, exposing them to plenty of salt water).

Try to avoid purchasing any used item you don't first inspect in person. If in-person is impossible, ask the vendor for a live video demonstration as well as pictures that allow you to zoom in on the item to look for signs of corrosion and other damage. If you see damage, you may still choose to buy the item, but you need to figure in the time and expense needed to repair it.

Another drawback of a used storage container is not knowing what it previously stored or transported. If it contained hazardous materials, these may damage whatever you want to store. Inspecting the unit before you buy it helps you determine its suitability for your project.

Finally, if you want or need modifications, you aren't likely to find a used unit that exactly meets your requirements. Some modifications you can complete yourself, and some vendors offer to complete modifications on used pods, so do your homework and ask plenty of questions before buying used.

So, Which Is Better, New or Used?

If your goal is a storage container in pristine condition that you can easily modify, new is the way to go, especially if your budget allows it. If you're simply looking for something to park equipment in or store records or supplies, you'll probably be fine with a used container. Make sure you can inspect it and do plenty of research into the dealer before purchasing.

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