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New and looking to use shipping containers...

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  • New and looking to use shipping containers...

    Hello all,

    Iím new and Iíve been eyeing some land in Ohio. Itís in a commercial zone (about 5,500 sqaure feet)parking lot. I factor I could fit about 10 shipping containers. I called and asked about zoning. The zoning commissioner said he doubt itíll ever fly. He gets complaints from neighbors about pods in other peopleís driveways. But it is zoned for retail office space. He said Iím better off going with an industrial zone itíll PROBABLY be ok there.

    So my questions woth more to come.

    I have my agent looking in industrial zones but nothing yet. So I really like this piece of land if I persue what do I need to do if I go to the board? How can I convince them?

    Iíve done a lot of reading about useing shipping containers but has anyone else done this?
    What are some pro and cons I may have missed?

    thanks all in advance for help. Iím trying to get my feet wet by doing a small storage unit business and grow from there without accumulating significant debt.


  • #2
    Lots of cons about using shipping containers, and about your plan in general.

    - 5500 sq ft parking lot is not worth your time. YOu are going to lose a huge amount of this space to setbacks and driveways. Normal buildings with setbacks and drives will get about 30% rentable sq ft on your land. Your estimate of 10 containers is probably optimistic, but even at that it's a waste of time. There are a whole bunch of costs that are similar for a big or small facility. YOu'll spend nearly the same in book keeping, software, basic marketing, and more. But your plan will have very limited income potential.
    - Sea containers will be a depreciating asset. Tradtional storage buildings are an appreciating asset. When you sell a typical storage business, you are cashing out big time. You make money two ways in this industry - first by renting out units, second by selling the place. With sea containers you don't get the same return when selling.
    - Curb appeal is a big factor in this industry. YOu are going to have trouble renting out sea containers to most customers. The doors are not customer friendly, they look awful, they don't have ceiling insulation and will get condensation. They aren't good for vehicle storage.

    Lastly, debt in itself is neither good nor bad. It's a tool that you can use properly or foolishly. I suggest that you take the time to learn more about the feasibility and financing of the business. If you can get to the ISS show this week in Vegas or one of the free seminars that my employer conducts (, take it in. Lots to learn there.

    Yes, I'm biased as I work at a building manufacturer. But there's a reason that you don't see successful operators doing what you describe.

    Steve Hajewski
    Marketing Manager
    Trachte Building Systems

    Last edited by Steve_hajewski; 1st April 2018, 06:11 PM.


    • #3
      I lived in Ohio for several years. Farmers in the area where I used to live (an hour from Toledo) would use them and with the snow in the winter and the heat/humidity in the summer they'd rust and fall apart quickly. My last mgt company bought a place in the eastern part of San Diego Co. Ca and the facility was completely shipping containers-however, they get super hot inside and they weren't very customer friendly because of how you have to place the doors, and there's the lip which makes it hard to get stuff in. Plus the floors inside started to rot pretty quickly since the humidity beneath the trailer had nowhere to go. And they're ugly, so factor that in
      Don't be so hard on yourself. The mom in E.T. had an alien living in her house for days and didn't notice.

      WA State


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