In recent years, the use of shipping containers has greatly been extended beyond just transporting goods (see common uses here).
Owing to the numerous innovative uses of shipping containers, their demand has always kept soaring, and so has their cost. The Coronavirus further disrupted the global supply chain of freight causing a shortage that saw the prices of containers hit a historic high.
As container sellers, nothing frequents our inboxes across social media platforms like messages of potential customers inquiring about the prices of containers, either empty or modified. While this is expected, it means that people are increasingly interested in making investments in containers, and they want information to help them do so.
I will try to give a brief and straight answer that can serve as the base reference point for anyone who wants to invest in shipping containers and related structures.
In Kenya, an empty 20ft shipping container will cost Ksh. 270,000 while a 40ft unit goes for Ksh. 490,000.
Remember that these prices are not fixed and may slightly vary depending on where you buy and the condition of the container. For modified containers, the prices may vary a lot depending on the client’s specifications.
If you really have thought about investing in container structures, the best bet would be to try out. To help you make informed decisions, I have listed crucial factors to consider when looking for a container to purchase. These factors also have an effect on the prices of containers.
The type of container
Ideally, shipping containers were made with one sole purpose of transporting goods. Considering that majority of the world cargo is transported by containers, there was need to make shipping containers for every purpose.
There are numerous types of containers fit for transporting goods of different sizes, physical properties, and perishability. Here is a list of the types of containers and the purposes they serve.
Open top containers-Just as the name suggests, it is open on the top part to accommodate goods of greater height than the closed container.
Flat rack containers– These containers are equipped with collapsible sides that can be folded to become completely flat. They are used to ship extra-bulky goods that otherwise cannot fit in enclosed containers.
Double door is containers-Also known as tunnel containers. They can be opened from both ends to form a tunnel-like container structure. They provide an easy way of loading and offloading goods and are also effective for transporting lengthy steel rods or any other similar goods.
Open side containers-They have extra doors on the sides such that they can open completely and give room for easy loading of materials.
ISO Reefer Containers-These are simply refrigerated containers with regulated (low) internal temperatures. Their purpose is to transport perishable goods like meat and vegetables.
Insulated containers-They are made with the concept of “thermos” so as to keep a stable and controlled internal temperature. They are used to transport goods such as food, pharmaceuticals, and organs.
Half-height containers-They are half the height of normal containers, hence their name. They are used to transport heavy and dense goods such as stones and coal. In order to withstand exposure to hard materials, they are usually made of steel.
ISO Tank Containers-Also called tankers, these are containers made in the form of a cylindrical tank and used to ship liquid materials. They are made of steel that is reinforced with anti-corrosive materials for safety and protection against corrosion.
General Purpose Containers-Of all the types, the most common is the general-purpose container, also referred to as “dry container”. Its capacity to transport normal cargo makes it the most used. In fact, if you happen to stand by the side of a highway, you will probably see four out of every five trucks ferrying goods in this type of container. The dry container is enclosed with rigid side walls, a roof, and a floor.
When people ask for container prices in Kenya, they usually refer to the “dry container”.
The size of the container
All shipping containers are made with standardized but varying sizes. The sizes of standard ISO shipping containers are usually defined by their length (since the height and width are identical). That said, there are either 20ft or 40ft.
In the business of buying and selling containers, size actually matters a lot.
The logic behind container prices in relation to their sizes is straightforward. Large containers offer a greater capacity of cargo and so they are more profitable.
The same logic applies when you want to fabricate the containers into different structures. For example, if you want to convert a container into a stall, a 40 ft container will accommodate more stalls of the same size compared to a 20 ft container. This basically explains the difference in price in relation to container size.
The Physical condition of the container
You will rarely get a new container on sale. If you do, it will be way too expensive.
Basically, freight companies buy new containers and use them to ferry cargo for a certain period of time before selling them off to interested parties.
This is how we and many other container sellers get their hands on used containers.
Since we deal with used containers, you are likely to see the wear and tear just by observing them on our yard site.
The physical condition of a container plays a significant role in determining its price tag. This applies even to situations when we are sourcing containers from shipping companies.
Most definitely, we choose containers after checking their physical conditions. This helps us have an easy time when selling it to customers.
Its increasingly becoming normal to see structures built from containers all over. For your information, containers have a lot more advantages than traditional mortar and brick structures. Just to mention a few, they take a shorter time to complete, last long, and are easy to move around in case one wants to change the geographical location.
As long as you have the necessary information, there is nothing to regret when you buy and modify a shipping container into your preferred structure.