Shipping Container Office

Shipping Container Office – The Ultimate Guide

This is an office made from shipping container.

These offices vary in sizes and design depending on your need.

This guide will tell you all you need to know about shipping container offices.

Factors Determining Cost of Shipping Container Office

Shipping container

Shipping container

There are various factors that will determine the cost of the shipping container office you are looking to construct.

Below are some key determinants of the cost of a shipping container office.

Size of Container Used

Shipping containers come in various sizes, ranging between 20-inch containers to 45-inch high-cube containers.

Mostly, larger containers are more expensive than the smaller ones.

Consequently, using a small size container to build an office will be cheaper compared to the alternative.

State of the Shipping Container

You can construct a shipping container office from a used or new shipping container.

Used shipping containers are fairly affordable unlike new shipping containers.

It is advisable to buy used shipping containers to construct your shipping container office.

Reason being, some used shipping containers are good as new, especially the one-shippers.

Shipping container office

Shipping container office


The permits required to construct a shipping container office will affect the cost.

Normally, construction permits differ in every country.

Being well conversant with what permits you need, and how much they cost will help you estimate the cost of constructing a shipping container office.

Availability of the Containers

Availability of any commodity will reduce its cost.

Similarly, if the shipping containers are readily available their cost will be cheap or affordable.

Distance during Delivery

How far the construction site is from the point of purchase of the shipping container will directly affect the cost of the shipping container.

Close proximity will spell out a cheaper price for the container.

Also, if the construction site is near, the seller may offer free delivery as an after sale service.

Construction Site

In any construction, the condition of the construction site will directly impact the cost of construction.

A rocky, uneven or flooded ground will cost more to set up a shipping container office.

You will need to first level or reclaim the site, which is an added cost.

Type of Modification Needed

The modification you need on the shipping container for the office to be to your taste may add or subtract to the cost.

Complex and lavish modifications will make constructing your shipping container office costlier.

Electrical and Plumbing

Of course you will need your shipping container office to be self-contained.

The quality of the materials you use for plumbing and electrical installations will determine the cost of construction.

Remember, cheap is expensive. It is better to buy costly materials that will serve you longer and save you frequent maintenance cost.


Lastly the contractor or construction company you use will ultimately determine the cost of constructing your shipping container office.

The contractor will advise you on the containers to buy, the modifications to make, how to prepare the sites, and plumbing and electrical materials to use.

Also, the service fee the contractor will charge you will add up to the total construction cost.

Advantages of Shipping Container Office

Shipping container offices come with various advantages:


This is probably the major advantage of shipping container offices.

They can be transported from one place to another without necessarily damaging the structure.

Imagine being able to go with your office in any location you desire.


Depending on the size of the container you use, shipping container offices are spacious enough.

Mostly, a medium-sized container can serve as an office for one or two people.


Shipping containers are highly customizable.

Depending on what office type you need, you can modify the container to your desired taste.

Some customizations you can make include making it open on all sides, adding windows and doors, refurbishing the floors etc.


Shipping container offices are mostly constructed from containers looking to be disposed.

This puts the containers in good use instead of just lying around in the environment.

Also, setting up a shipping container office will not need much alteration of the environment.

In most instances, the environment will not be tampered with.


Shipping containers are made to ensure the security of consignment during transportation.

Similarly, this feature makes them more secure when used in the construction of an office.

Besides, shipping containers are majorly made from steel which is difficult to vandalize.

Moreover, you can reinforce the security of your shipping container office by adding extra locks.


It is a fact that steel is a durable metal. Hence, shipping containers are also tough translating to the durability of most shipping container offices.


If there is any other advantage that a shipping container office has, then convenience will be the ultimate choice.

Since they are easy to set up anywhere, a shipping container office is the ultimate solution for you to set up a temporary or permanent office.

Downside of Shipping Container Office

Shipping container office

Shipping container office

Can be Expensive

If you are looking to construct a large shipping container office with more than one container, it might be costly.

It can be expensive to weld the containers together and to come up with the right structure-design.

It can be Difficult to obtain Building Permits

As a relatively new construction technique, the permits for the construction of a shipping container office may not be readily available.

But with time, this is probably like to change since use of shipping containers as construction material is quickly gaining popularity.

Structural Issues

When you modify a shipping container, say you add a window, you may interfere with the container’s structure.

Consequently, you will have to add reinforcements to restore the altered structure.

Sometimes Not Eco-friendly

While recycling used containers to make offices conserves the environment, some containers that have previously been used to transport hazardous consignments may pose harm to the environment.

Scarcity of Experts

There are a number of experts with the know-how of using the typical construction materials.

However, experts in construction using shipping containers are not so may.

This is because use of shipping containers in construction is relatively new.

Design Options for Shipping Container Office

Various online platforms will provide with a number of design options for a shipping container office.

These design ideas range from small-size offices to the larger ones.

The design options largely depend on:

  • The number of containers you intend to use
  • Whether or not you plan to partition the office
  • The amenities you require in you shipping container office
  • How you plan to furnish your office
  • How many people are to be accommodated in the shipping container office
  • Whether the office is to be temporary or permanent
  • The size of the site you intend to set up the shipping container office

The list above will greatly dictate the design you choose from the very many online designs.

Requirements before Putting Up Shipping Container Office

Shipping container offices

Shipping container offices


To put up a shipping container office in most countries, you will require a permit.

Permitting is affected and determined by:

  • Local laws
  • The intended time period for the container usage
  • Where the container will be located on the site
  • Effect of the container on the surrounding community

For example, if you require to set up a temporary shipping office, you will be required to have a temporary use permit.

Also, if you are to put up a shipping container office in a busy place, it will be an important requirement you have a permit.

This compared to when you are putting up your office in, for instance, a rural area.

Site and Site Preparation

You will obviously need a site to put up your shipping container office.

Normally, putting up a shipping container office requires minimal site preparation.

However, some sites require preparation before the office is put up.

For example, you will need to fill up or drain a swampy or flooded site before the arrival of the shipping container.

Design Ideas

You should have an idea of what your shipping container office should look like.

You cannot put up something without a pre-conceived idea.

Look up the various shipping container office designs and choose what best meets your taste.

Shipping Container

Ultimately you will need a shipping container since it is the major construction material.

Mostly, people buy used shipping containers.

However, there is an option of buying new or ‘one-shipper’ containers.


Depending on how complex putting up your shipping container office will be, you may need a contractor.

The contractor will give you a quotation of how much you will need to actualize your dream shipping container office.

Best Shipping Container for Making a Shipping Container Office

The below factors will help you choose the best shipping container to construct a shipping container office:


The shipping container should not have been used for a lengthy period or so old.

The older the shipping container, the more likely it is to have defects.

Original Usage of the Container

Try to find out the former purpose of the container.

If for example, the container was used to transport dangerous chemicals, there is a possibility that it may still have chemical residues.

Also, if the container was initially used to transport shipments to areas with adverse climatic conditions, there are high chances the container is not in good condition.


The shipping container ought to have been cleared by local tax and customs authority.

If not cleared, it may put you on the wrong side of the law.

Standards of Manufacturing

There are ISO standards for manufacturing shipping container.

An ideal shipping container must have complied with these standards during manufacturing.

If not, the container may not be durable and of poor quality.

How to Convert a Shipping Container into an Office

Most shipping containers are easily modifiable.

What you importantly need to convert a shipping container into an office is a design plan.

First get the idea then start on the actual conversion plan.

The design plan will give you an idea of:

  • What the interior and exterior will look like
  • The amenities that will be in the shipping container
  • The partitioning to be made
  • Where to make the modifications – where the extra doors and the windows will be
  • Office structure – whether semi-open or fully open

The ideas you get from the design plan will guide you on how to convert the shipping container into an office.

Best Foundation for Setting up Shipping Container Office

The best foundation for setting up a shipping container office depends on the ground-type of the site.

Discussed below are the commonly used foundations.

Pier Foundation

These type of foundations are relatively cheap, Do It Yourself (DIY) friendly, and fast to construct.

For this reason, they are the most popularly used for shipping container office or home.

Setting up a pier foundation involves laying down about 4 (0.5mx0.5mx0.5m) piers or concrete blocks, reinforced on the inside with steel to boost their strength, in each corner of the shipping container office.

For larger 40-foot containers, you can add an additional pier midway on each side of the container for stability.

It is generally advisable to use pier foundations since there are no excavation costs and there is no need for use of specialized equipment.

Pile Foundations

Pile foundations are preferred in sites with weak soil types that cannot support piers or concrete blocks.

Arguably, these are considered as the most expensive foundation type when putting up a shipping container office.

Constructing pile foundations involve hammering cylinder shaped steel tubes (piles) into the ground bearing the soft soil, up to where the ground can bear loads.

Afterward, the piles are capped with concrete which solidifies the foundation.

Some cones of pile foundation is that it requires some level of expertise, requires specialized equipment and it is not DIY friend.

Slab Foundations

Similarly, to pile foundations, slab foundations are used in soft grounds only that it is also aimed at ensuring even weight distribution.

Simply put, slab foundation is a slab on which your shipping container office is put.

The fact that it slab foundations cover the whole base of the container, unlike the other two foundations type, makes it somewhat ideal.

The downside of slab foundations is that they require a lot of excavation, difficult access to utility lines, and they require a level of expertise to construct.

Strip Foundation

In a way, strip or trench foundation is a combination of slab and pier foundation.

It involves constructing a strip concrete of around 4 feet high and 1-2 feet wide.

In rainy or damp areas, a rubble strip foundation is ideal as it enable water to drain away from under the shipping container office.

Choosing between New Shipping Container and Used Shipping Container for an Office

Most shipping container offices are constructed from used shipping containers.

The reason being that used containers are a cheaper alternative.

Also, some used containers (especially one-trip) containers are as good as new.

Importantly, the condition of a used shipping container will influence you to buy a new sipping container or go with the used one.

It is worth noting there are various markets for used containers, giving you a variety of containers to choose from.

Where to Buy Shipping Container Office in China

Contact Manufacturer

Most China based shipping containers manufacturers do provide the option of modifying a container to an office.

You can reach out to the manufacturers and inquire if they can modify a container as per your design plan.

After the modifications, and the agreement you have with the manufacturer, the container can be shipped to you.

Online Platforms

There are online platforms that sell customized shipping container offices.

Alibaba is an example of such platforms.

Shipping container Alibaba

Shipping container Alibaba

You will get a variety of modified shipping container offices on Alibaba, with an option of contacting the supplier to make your order.

How to make an Office Extension using Shipping Container

Making an office extension using a shipping container is similar to constructing another office building.

All you need to do is buy a used or a new shipping container and modify it.

In most cases, shipping containers office containers are normally stand-alone structures beside the main office.

Consequently, it is unlikely you will need a permit to put up an extension.

However, you can consult with your area’s municipal authorities to be certain

You can paint the container office extension with your main office’s colors or brand colors.

Also, the interior design can match that of your main office.

Mostly, shipping container office extensions can serve as:

  • Boardrooms
  • Visitors lounge
  • Recreation rooms
  • Staff’s food bay
  • Actual offices

Benefits of Shipping Container as an On-site Office

An on-site office is essential when there is a long ongoing project away from the office.

However, it is important to have a portable on-site office.

This will make it easy to carry away the office once the project is complete.

For this and other reasons, shipping container efficiently serves as an on-site office.

Below are the benefits of a shipping container as an on-site office:


Shipping containers are durable and can withstand adverse weather condition.

This feature makes it ideal since most on-site offices need to be able to prevail in the harsh weather conditions at the project site.

Quick to Put up

Apart from some few modifications, shipping container offices are quick to construct or put up.

Within a day or two, you can have you shipping container office ready for use.


The intermodal nature of shipping containers make them very portable.

As earlier stated in the introduction, an on-site office needs to be portable since it only acts as a temporary office during the project’s life.

Minimal Cost

Putting up a makeshift building for an on-site office can be expensive.

Shipping containers provide a cheaper alternative of constructing an on-site office


Most on-site offices serve various purposes.

Owing to the fact that shipping containers are easily modifiable, they have the flexibility of serving various purposes for one or multiple projects.


Most projects involve use of equipment that need safe storage.

Shipping containers are made of steel and have strong locks, which is an assurance of security.

Also you can reinforce the security of the containers while on site by adding extra locks.

High Return on Investment

The cost of putting up a shipping container as an on-site office is cheaper compared to the purpose it will serve.

It will not only improve the productivity of the workers but also omit extra costs which may be incurred due to loss or damage of project equipment.

How to Customize Shipping Container Office

Various persons or companies have different preferences on what their shipping container office should look like.

However, if you are looking to customize your shipping container office, here are some customizations you can do:

  • Opening the conatiner on all the sides
  • Add extra windows and doors
  • Reinforce or replace the locks
  • Insulate the interior of the shipping container office
  • Install electricity and do plumbing
  • Partitioning the shipping container office
  • Putting glass on all sides of the container or at the entrance
  • Furnishing the shipping container office
  • Tiling the floors and putting a ceiling on the roof
  • Technological modifications such as installing a projector, CCTV, finger print scanners, AC system etc.

Plumbing Systems for Shipping Container Office

Plumbing chases should be cut out first.

This way, other services like electricity can work around the plumbing.

The pipes should be placed in a conditioned space to prevent them from freezing.

One way to completely prevent the freezing of pipes is insulating both the interior and exterior of the shipping container office.

The commonly used pipes when plumbing in any shipping container structure are the PEX pipes.

Depending on your wall type, you can conceal the pipes once the plumbing is done.

Available Sizes of Shipping Container Office

The sizes of shipping container offices depend on the standard ISO shipping container sizes.

Below are the popular shipping container sizes and dimensions.

8ft Container2.43m (8ft)2.20m (7ft)2.27m (7ft 6in)
10ft Container2.99m (9ft 10in)2.44m(8ft)2.59m (8ft 6in)
20ft Container6.06m (20ft)2.44m (8ft)2.6m (8ft 6in)
40ft Container12.2m (40ft)2.44m (8ft)2.6m (8ft 6in)

How to Maintain Shipping Container Office

You can maintain your shipping container office by:

Removing Rust

Shipping containers are made from metals – which do rust.

You should regularly check any rust on your shipping container office and scrap it off before it spreads.

If the rust has spread, do repairs on the affected part.

Lubricating the Hinges

If you chose to remain with the container’s doors, ensure you regularly lubricate the doors.

Lubrication is of essence in any moving part.

Repairing Leaking Roofs and Pipes

Depending on the condition of the container, and whether or not you changed the roofing of your shipping container office, the roof may start leaking.

Ensure you be observant and repair the leaking parts.

Also, if you did plumbing in your shipping container office, regularly check and ensure your pipes are not leaking.


Insulation, both interior and exterior, is itself a maintenance practice.

Exterior insulation adds an extra shield to the container against adverse weather conditions.

However, when insulating the exterior part of the container, ensure you cover the insulation with a weather-resistant sheathing.

The easiest way to insulate a shipping office is using spray form.

This not only insulates the container but also closes up the holes that might be on the container.

Replacing Broken Parts

Regularly replace the broken or worn out parts including doors, windows, hinges, floor tiles, ceilings, taps etc.

Floor Design Options for Shipping Container Office

Shipping container offices

Shipping container office

Most shipping containers have plywood floors.

The plywood come from tropical hardwood treated with potentially harmful pesticides.

Consequently, the flooring will be aimed at covering up the plywood or totally removing it.

If you choose to remove the plywood you can:

  • Insulate the floor
  • Use concrete for flooring
  • Use ceramic tiles

If you choose the alternative, you can:

  • Use epoxy covering
  • Cover the plywood with concrete

Roofing Designs for Shipping Container Office

You can choose add or not to add a roofing to your shipping container office.

If you choose the first option here are some common designs.

Gable Roof

Roof design for shipping container office

Roof design for shipping container office

This is what many refer to as a traditional roofing style.

You can use coated steel sheets or galvanized metal sheets to construct a gable roof.

Shed Roof

Shend roof design for shipping container office

Shed roof design for shipping container office

This roof type is sloped. It is a relatively cheap and easy to build roof.

Also, its slope shape makes it easy to install solar panels.

Flat Roof

Flat roof design for shipping container office

Flat roof design for shipping container office

This is the roof that the shipping container already has.

The disadvantage of this roofing style is that unless corrugated, water my pool at the top.

How to Check Quality of Shipping Container Office

Majority of shipping container offices are constructed from used containers.

Some used containers may have some defects.

To ascertain the quality of a shipping container office, you need to check the quality and the state of the container being used.

However, if you cannot physically check the quality of the pre-modified shipping container.

This is because you are buying the already made office, ensure you make your purchase from a reputable seller.

Also, you can do a physical check of the already-made shipping container office.

Look for any signs of:

  • Leaks
  • Rust
  • Broken parts
  • Dented edges
  • Worn-out paints
  • Bad smell
  • Poor air circulation

Any of these signs may point out a poor quality shipping container office.

How to Transport Shipping Container Office from China

The majorly used form of transporting shipping containers from China is through sea freight.

Similarly, you will probably transport your shipping container office from China via sea.

After reaching the destination port, the shipping container office can be transported to the site via road or rail.

Important Amenities in Shipping Container Office

Inside shipping container office

Inside shipping container office


The ideas of a shipping container office is a self-contained facility.

As a result, bathroom is a key amenity required in a shipping container office.

Normally, bathrooms do not take up much space, you just have to get you building plan right

Air Conditioner

Similar to most modern buildings, ship container office ought to be equipped with an air conditioner.

Since containers are made out of metals which conform to the prevailing weather conditions, an AC system will help stabilize the temperature inside the shipping container office.


Rarely will you find an office without shelves to store the day to day documents.

Similarly, a shipping container office ought to have shelves for a presentable outlook and organization.


Apart from an AC system, a shipping container office should be well ventilated.

There should be free flow of air.

As a result, the office will not be stuffy.

Shipping container office with bathroom, air conditioner, add more

Best Insulation Material for Shipping Container Office

Depending on the climatic condition of where the shipping container office is to be situated, the best insulation material varies.

The 2 major shipping container office insulation materials are:

Spray Foam Insulation

This is the probably the fast and easiest material to use.

All you need to do is spray the foam directly to the interior or exterior of the container.

EPS Insulation Panels

The InSoFast insulation panels are arguably the best insulation materials due to their DIY friendliness.

The panels are light, easy to install, and can be cut to size on-site to conform with the container dimensions.

Benefits of Shipping Container Office with Solar Panel

Shipping container office with solar panels

Shipping container office with solar panels

Makes the Office Sufficient

Having a solar powered shipping container office makes it more sufficient.

Even if you are off-the-grid, you can continue doing your day to day activities that require electricity.

Cuts on Costs

Solar energy is free. The only cost you will incur is the installation cost.

After which, the solar panel has a lifespan of up to 40 years.

In the long term, you will realize that the solar panels have saved you some cash.

Times it takes to Fabricate Shipping Container Office

It takes mostly about 20 to 40 days.

This may vary depending on the manufacturer.

The number of orders he or she has and the availability of raw materials to construct the shipping container office.

Also complex modifications may add up to the time taken.

How Office Trailer compares to Shipping Container Office

Office trailers are somehow similar to shipping container offices if you go buy the construction style and material used.

However, the major difference between the two is that office trailers sit on top of wheels whereas shipping containers sit on a foundation.

Importantly, the two types of offices are both portable, although the office trailer is faster to relocate since it has wheels mounted on a trailer base.

Where to Use Shipping Container Office

Shipping container offices are used in a number of places.

Here are some places you can use a shipping container office:

  • Construction site – road, building etc.
  • Courier services – as a pick up point
  • Roadside emergency facility
  • Medical facility – as labs or extra hospital space for storage of documents
  • Retail business
  • At-home offices
  • Where an office needs extra space
  • Community projects – acts as central meeting point when undertaking a community project in a remote area.
  • Schools
  • Research centers

Features to Consider when Buying Shipping Container Office

Some of the features you should consider include:


Check whether the shipping container office has the necessary amenities such as bathroom, electricity, shelving, ventilation, air conditioner etc.

Buying a shipping container office with already installed amenities will save you the expense of installing the amenities yourself.


Ensure that the shipping container is fully furnished.

However, there are some office furniture you can buy by yourself, as per your needs.


Top-notch finishing makes any type of office attractive.

Ensure the shipping container office has an excellent finishing to give you value for you money.

The Exterior

It is alleged not to judge a book by its cover, but the exterior of a shipping container office matters.

Confirm whether the outside is painted or insulated to ensure durability and for aesthetic purposes.

Interior Design

Check on the office lay out.

Does it conform to what you need? Is the partitioning pleasing to you?

Generally, the interior design consists of the finishing, the walls, the furniture, flooring, and inside roofing.

Condition of the Shipping Container Office

Have a keen eye. Inspect the shipping container office and ensure there are no leaks, rust or broken parts.

Floor Layout for Shipping Container Office

The floor layout of a shipping container office is tied to how you want the office to look like.

An example of a floor layout is shown below:

Floor layout of shipping container office

Floor layout of shipping container office

From the above container office lay out, you can see the working area, the meeting area, the waiting lounge, and the bathroom.

This an example of a basic floor layout of a shipping container office.

Safety Requirement in Shipping Container Office

For safety in your shipping container office you can install a:

  • Fire alarm
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • First aid Kit
  • Fire hose reel

Features of Shipping Container Office for People with Disability

To put into account people with disability, a shipping container office should have:

  • A ramp
  • Wide doors for wheelchair access
  • Doors with push bar
  • Alarm systems

Quality Standards Shipping Container Office should conform to

Quality standards directly affect whether or not you get a permit for your shipping container office.

The chart below shows the various quality standards and how permit is acquired

Quality standards chart

Quality standards Chart

 From the chart, the qualities that a shipping container office should conform to includes:

  • ICC Acceptance Criteria 462 or building code
  • Structural stability
  • A label

Warranty Period for Shipping Container Office

The warranty period for a shipping container office is dependent on the seller.

For a shipping container, you can get a warranty of up to 10 years for new containers.

How 20ft Shipping Container Office compare to 40ft Shipping Container Office

Both 20ft and 40ft have same width (8ft) and height (8ft 6in).

The only difference is in the length which is 20ft and 40ft respectively.

This implies that the 40ft shipping container office is longer the 20ft shipping container office, but the height and width are equal in both.

Electrical System Considerations for Shipping Container Office

You need to consider the office lay out before deciding on how to connect the electric cables.

Majorly, most shipping container offices use solar panels.

For this reason, you will need to have a rechargeable battery.

The battery should be in a central spot to serve the entire office.

Importantly, you should mount the solar panel on the side of the container frequency exposed to light.

Mobility Requirement for Shipping Container Office

Shipping container offices are generally mobile.

It depends on how you fixed the container on the foundation and the foundation used.

For example, slab foundation will make it easy to lift up the shipping container office.

You should not restructure the container in a way that it does not fit on a truck.

Doing so will interfere with its mobility.

As you can see, shipping container office has many benefits.

However, you should consider every aspect we have highlighted in this guide.

Contact BanSar today in case you want to import shipping container office from China.

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