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What You Need To Know Before Buying A Shipping Container Shed

A shipping container shed is a very durable, long-lasting, and cheap way to securely store equipment or convert into a fully customizable space. A used 20ft shipping container costs less than a shed, makes a good shed, doesn’t always need something put under it, and may not require planning permission. Get inspired with shipping container shed ideas and see how to convert a shipping container into a shed.

Whether you want to securely store power tools, your motorcycle, or want to make it into a livable space, this article tells you everything you need to know about shipping container sheds plus some great ideas to get started.

Is it Cheaper to Build a Shed or Buy a Shipping Container?

It is cheaper to buy a shipping container than build a shed. The average 6′ x 9′ shed costs $3000 – $5,000 and the average used 8′ x 20′ shipping container costs $1,200 – $2,600 and new 8′ x 20′ shipping container costs $2,550 – $5,800. Add another $120-180 per square foot if you want to convert either into a livable space.

You may see used sheds on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay for cheap, but buying a used shed has it’s downsides that used shipping containers don’t.

Sheds are not as durable as containers and once they’re owned by someone else begin to degrade. The location they’re stored in affects how much moisture they’re exposed to and if insects or rodents invade the shed.

How much does a shipping container shed cost?

A shipping container shed costs $2,550 – $5,800 for a new 8′ x 20′ container and $3,800 – $7,000 for a new 8′ x 40′ container. A used 8′ x 20′ shipping container shed costs $1,200 – $2,600 and a used 8′ x 40′ container costs $2,400 – $3,600. 

These average shipping container costs reflect prices for 2022.

If you’re buying a shipping container to convert it into a livable space, plan to spend $120 – $180 per square foot. A single container is 8′ x 20′ making it 160 square feet. A double is 8′ x 40′ making it 320 square feet.

Do Shipping Containers Make Good Sheds?

Shipping containers make extremely durable and watertight sheds because they are made of weathering steel called COR-TEN steel which is more resistant to atmospheric corrosion than regular steel. They securely store tools, heavy equipment, automobiles, and motorcycles.

Durable and Strong

Durability and strong construction put shipping containers at a major advantage over sheds. They are designed to keep cargo safe and secure even though traveling overseas with harsh weather and salty air. To do this, they are constructed with very strong steel and industrial rust-resistant paint.

Storage containers are durable because they’re made of COR-TEN steel. This is a 14-gauge steel alloy that is then painted with high-quality industrial paint to protect it from rusting. The undercarriage is sprayed with an industrial coating similar to an automobile’s undercoating which also makes it resistant to rust.

The 1″ thick floors are treated with marine grade plywood and “C” channel cross members. This means they are very sturdy and will hold more weight than regular sheds.

Security

To break into a storage container shed, a thief would need power tools and a lot of time. Stealing from a regular shed only takes a crowbar, hammer, and a few seconds. Storage container sheds are a stronger and more secure place to keep your expensive tools, heavy equipment, cars, and motorcycles.

Resistant to Rodents and Pests

Shipping containers are naturally resistant to rodents and pests. The double-gasketed doors form an extremely tight seal against mice, insects, and moisture.

Higher Walls and Doors

The “high cube” design of a shipping container gives you more vertical space for storage. A container is 8.5 feet tall with 7’9″ of wall height and a shed averages 6’3″ of wall height. Plus the door opening is much larger than a shed. A shipping container door opens up to 7’8″ wide x 7’5″ high.

Does a 20ft container need planning permission?

A 20ft container usually requires planning permission for most States in the United States. The permit is usually very basic and easy to complete. There may be restrictions on the location, proximity to neighbors, height, length of stay,  and appearance of the storage container.    

Most counties require some sort of paperwork to place a shipping container on your land, and if you have a HOA, you can bet that they have some rules, too. Generally, if you can keep the container away from the neighbors, it looks nice, and it’s away from the street, you should be able to get permission.

What do you put under a shipping container?

The ground under a shipping container shed needs to be even, flat and dry. Follow these guidelines to decide if you need to build a foundation or put it on a gravel pad or trailer.

A single shipping container can be placed on even dry land for up to 1 year without anything under it. If the ground is uneven or wet, it is a multi-container structure, or it will be placed longer than 1 year, put a gravel pad, trailer, or foundation under it to prevent it from sinking.

Keep It Elevated

When putting the container on bare dirt, asphalt, or crushed stone, put pressure treated 6′ x 6′ x 8′ timbers along the front and back. This will keep it up off the ground and reduce the amount of maintenance if needs later.

Put crushed stone on the ground instead of just bare dirt to allow water to drain underneath the container to prevent, or delay, rusting.

Even Ground

If the ground is uneven you may need to hire a professional to level the ground, or rent the equipment yourself. Any rocks, plants, and debris need to be cleared, too. Check for gaps or holes which may fill with water and attract insects causing infestations and rust.

Foundation

The most common types of foundation for a shipping container is a concrete slab, sand Crete, pile foundation.

How To Convert A Shipping Container Into a Shed

If you’re thinking about using a shipping container as a workshop, you’ll need some ideas. Check out this video on a great way to convert a shipping container into a workshop.

Shipping Container Shed Ideas

Shipping Container Shed Ideas

If you can dream it, you can build it. Shipping container sheds are fully customizable as long as you have the land to put it on.

Single Containers

Single shipping containers can be converted into home gyms, houses, offices, workspaces, studios, shops, classrooms, and more. They make durable and secure places to store valuables including cars, motorcycles, and tools.

Shipping Container Houses

If you need a large space, shipping containers can be customized and joined together. They come in double size (8′ x 40′ feet) and can be welded together with other containers to create whatever type of structure you need.

shipping container house
Shipping container house @journeymore https://youtu.be/5rZY8RzpnqI

Shipping Container Barn

shipping container barn
Shipping Container Barn @Upedia https://youtu.be/5S_tY_kdEV8

A shipping container shed can be designed into a barn of different sizes. The most popular design for a large barn, is with 2 double containers (8′ x 40′ feet) stacked on top of each other and placed a good distance apart, then add a roof on top.

Shipping Container Garage

shipping container garage
Shipping Container Garage @Alvinsa https://youtu.be/5S_tY_kdEV8

Shipping container garages can be build with single (8′ x 20′) or double (8′ x 40′) shipping containers. Each container can be customized to have a dedicated use. In a design with 3-4 containers, 1 container can be used as a shed for tools and equipment, 1 as a workspace, 1 as an office or gym, and 1 as a she shed or man cave, or any variation.

Shipping Container Bunker

shipping container bunker
Shipping container bunker @Brian Patriot https://youtu.be/poj_-vDaAHI

For years, a popular choice among preppers and survivalists are metal shipping containers to use as a backyard bunker. It seems pretty easy to buy a shipping container, place in the backyard, and have a nice 8′ x 20′ space to build out into a bunker. But because the walls are just 0.075-inch corrugated sheet steel panels they are too thin to protect against bullets or blasts and overtime.

If you put it underground, not only would you have to dig a huge hole, you’d have to worry about it getting water corrosion and the thin roof collapsing under the weight of soil on top of it. So, for a bunker, it’s not the best idea.

Final Thoughts

Shipping container sheds are better than regular sheds for a lot of reasons. They are cheaper, customizable, more durable, and resistant to rodents and pests. If you need planning permission, it should be pretty easy to fill out the paperwork and you may not need a foundation to place it on. We hope you were inspired by the most popular ideas for storage container sheds using just 1 single container or multiple containers and are ready to get started.