Shipping Containers at Construction Sites – Uses and Benefits

Shipping containers at construction sites

The use of shipping containers at construction sites is not new, and their demand has remained steadfast over the years. This is primarily because of the many benefits on offer. For instance, work at a construction site is typically temporary in nature, and any structures erected to aid the completion of the work will need to be taken down. Shipping containers can address this problem in a simple and cost-effective manner.


What Are Shipping Containers?

Intermodal freight containers or shipping containers function as reusable transport and storage units that aid in moving cargo from one place to another. Made using maritime-grade weathering steel, these containers come with heavy-duty frames, walls, panels, and doors. It’s possible to modify a shipping container to serve different purposes, which is why their use has extended far beyond the transportation industry. Now, it’s possible to get a container office, a storage container, and even a container home, all of which you may customize to your liking.


Uses of Construction Site Shipping Containers

Construction sites serve as great examples when it comes to how diversely one may use a shipping container. Their durable and versatile design paves the way for their use in different applications, and here are the most common.


For Storage

It is common to find ground-level storage containers at construction sites and this is not only because they are easy to set up and relocate. They give you the ability to store all that you want in a single location. These containers provide a secure environment to store practically any type of material, equipment, and tools. If you get a shipping container for storage, you may choose from state-of-the-art locking systems, high-powered lighting, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to further enhance its security.


As Offices

A large number of construction companies use shipping containers to serve as temporary office spaces for their projects until their completion. These offices give employees a comfortable and secure working area, where they can be free of distraction. Moving these units between locations is easy, which further augments their use. Besides, you may customize your container office in different ways, which includes getting an HVAC system or extra windows/doors.


To Provide Medical Care

Accidents can take place at construction sites without warning and it’s common for large projects to have onsite setups to deal with different types of medical problems. It’s easy to repurpose a shipping container to provide medical assistance and their use as first-aid stations is fairly commonplace. You may even opt for a complete clinic-like setting or an emergency treatment room, where your container comes with basic medical equipment, cabinets, shelves, and a separate examination area.

construction site shipping containers

As Break Rooms

Workers at construction sites, particularly at remote locations, often find little to do during their breaks and time off work. Construction companies can turn to shipping containers to create recreation rooms for their workers, which can help improve their morale. This also has a positive effect on their productivity.


As Showers/Restrooms

It is possible to convert shipping containers into showers and restrooms for workers at construction sites. While these are quicker and simpler to install than opting for traditional construction methods, they are more affordable as well. However, the need for additional plumbing tends to add to the cost.


For Housing Workers

Construction companies that work on projects in remote locations might benefit by providing housing for their workers to do away with extensive commuting. By modifying shipping containers to function as temporary homes, addressing this problem can be rather straightforward. Shipping container homes can withstand the elements easily by using advanced insulation systems, and they can come with a variety of appliances and furniture.


Benefits of Shipping Containers at Construction Sites

Given the diverse ways in which construction companies can use shipping containers, they stand to benefit in different ways.


Get More Organized

When it comes to maintaining high levels of efficiency at a construction site, it helps to remain organized. Knowing exactly where to look for tools and equipment helps workers gather the things they need and get to work quickly. Besides, an organized workplace is much better for their morale as opposed to a chaotic space that might lead to stress and loss of focus. Shipping container storage solutions can help address this problem in an effective way, giving you an easy means to stay organized throughout the course of a project.


Speedier Construction

No matter whether you need a container office or a storage container, you may expect to get your unit in a fraction of the time it would take to build a comparable structure using traditional construction methods. This is because the basic framework in the form of a shipping container already exists, and all that remains is to repurpose it to suit your needs. Just how long it takes depends on the customization levels you’re after. Setting up the unit at your construction site once it’s ready does not take much time. Since most of the work takes place offsite, it causes minimal disruptions.



The smooth running of a construction site tends to require different facilities such as administrative offices, storage units, break rooms, cafeterias, and showers, as these have an impact on efficiency and productiveness. One distinct benefit of going the shipping container way is that it’s possible to modify one to serve just about any purpose. Customization extends to modifying the look and feel of a shipping container too.

Installing heating and air conditioning units can make a container office a comfortable space in all seasons. You may get the exterior of a storage unit to reflect the branding of your company, which can help promote your business. If you plan to use a container office to meet clients, you may opt to get up-market furniture and luxury flooring. Creating near-soundproof units is also possible by using suitable insulation solutions.


The Cost Factor

Opting for a container made using a shipping container is considerably more cost-effective than choosing to get a brick-and-mortar structure. While shipping containers are more affordable to source than traditional building materials, they enable quicker turnaround times that lead to lower labor costs. Besides, you also get to choose between buying and renting structures made using shipping containers.

Used shipping containers at construction sites


Construction companies need to move from one project to the next because of the temporary nature of their site-related work. One reason why you find shipping containers at construction sites is that they are easy to relocate. As a result, a construction company may use the same storage unit or container office at multiple sites by moving it across locations after the completion of any given project.



Made using weathering steel or COR-TEN steel, shipping containers can withstand exposure to harsh weather conditions for several years. Given that the primary purpose of these containers is to haul cargo across oceans, you may count on them to rate well on the durability front. In addition to providing secure and conformable environments, they require little in the form of maintenance and can last for 30 years or more. As a result, construction companies can think about investing in repurposed shipping containers that they may use over the long term.



Another important benefit of shipping containers for the construction industry is that you may get them based on the space you have available. If you lack adequate space for multiple units, you may choose to stack one on top of the other, and it’s possible to stack up to three units vertically. If space is not a constraint, you may go as far as you want horizontally. Besides, it’s even possible to divide a single container into multiple spaces. For example, you could get a container that’s part office and part storage space.

Shipping container units provide flexibility in floor plans as well. A simple online search can open up a plethora of alternatives that you may refer to create one based on your specific requirements. For example, a partitioned office area can include a plan table, a workstation, and a filing cabinet. The other section can serve as a break area with a coffee machine, some comfortable seating, and even room for a dart board. Both spaces can share a common HVAC system.

What also helps is that it’s fairly easy to add more space or do away with existing structures as and when the need arises.



Using shipping containers at construction sites comes with multiple environmental benefits. For starters, repurposing existing containers eliminates the need for new construction materials and helps minimize waste. The reduction in the requirement for raw materials also helps reduce carbon emissions. Besides, modifying shipping containers to serve different purposes gives them a new lease of life. 

Bureau Agreste, the design that won the 2020 Design for Tomorrow competition, shows just how far one can go with sustainability by converting shipping containers into office spaces. The award-winning design has an open floor plan spread across two floors, which makes it appear roomy and promotes productivity. Its solar energy and rainwater harvesting systems make it ideal for off-grid locations. In addition, the project also involves using end-of-life shipping containers, locally sourced biomaterials, dry toilets, and even a wood stove, all with the aim of minimizing its ecological impact.


Should You Buy or Rent?

While you might benefit from getting a repurposed shipping container for your construction site in different ways, you still need to determine if you’re better off buying a unit or renting one. Both come with their share of pros and cons, and making a decision boils down to your specific requirements. Typically, buying one makes sense if you plan to use it for three years or more.

ground level storage containers

Buying a Shipping Container

When you buy a shipping container, you have the freedom to modify it in any manner based on your unique needs. Another benefit is that you need to make a one-time payment as opposed to making ongoing monthly payments to a company that rents these units.

The one-time payment may work as a downside because the amount can be substantial. In addition, you need to use the unit for several years to be able to justify its cost. The value of a shipping container depreciates over time, which might be a concern if you plan to sell your unit down the line. Another possible downside of buying is that you will be responsible for moving your unit from one location to another, for which you might need to hire a third-party service provider.


Renting a Shipping Container

If you rent a modified container office, the onus of relocating it when needed typically rests with the rental company. If your need for added space is temporary, renting a unit can help fill the requirement perfectly because just how long you wish to use it is entirely up to you. Bear in mind, though, that you might need to rent a unit for at least six months.

Several companies that provide modified shipping containers give their customers the ability to customize them in different ways, although you might need to sign up for a longer contract in this case. Just how extensively you get to customize a rented shipping container depends on the company you partner with, with some offering limited upgrades.



The sight of used shipping containers at construction sites the world over is fairly common, and this is not without reason. The fact that it’s possible to use repurposed/modified containers to serve diverse purposes has definitely worked in their favor, as have the many benefits on offer. After all, getting a container office is more cost-effective than opting for traditional construction methods, and you get considerable freedom in customizing your unit. A storage container, on the other hand, can provide a secure environment to store materials, tools, and equipment alike.

No matter whether you need storage space at a construction site, an onsite office, or a break room, all you need to do is discuss your requirements with a company that specializes in modifying shipping containers to meet different needs.