Container hire and sales FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for cotainer hire, rental, sales and delivery to UK domestic or business clients

Container FAQ
Q. What materials are shipping container built from?
A. Dry cargo shipping containers are manufactured using “Corten” corrosion resistant steel.  The container frame, roof & side panels along with the doors are pre-treated to ensure longevity & all units are coated with a marine standard chlorinated rubber or acrylic paint system. Floors fitted are primarily plywood although units are sometimes fitted with steel floors for specialised cargoes.
Q. Where can I locate a container?
A. Just about anywhere.  Tarmac, gravel, grass, earth, or concrete surfaces are all acceptable.  The container is self-supporting at the 4 corners.  However, on soft unstable ground we always recommend 4 paving stones/2 railway sleepers or similar to spread the weight.  You do need a suitable surface near to the container to allow the delivery truck access and sufficient stability to load/offload.
Q. How long do shipping containers last?
A. New containers in domestic use will last in excess of 20-25 years.  Containers used for international shipping tend to the ‘retired’ after 10 years usage.  Some rental companies buy up these ‘retired’ containers for their UK rental business. GVCT uses new containers for their UK rental fleet.
Q. What will be the future value of purchasing a new container versus a used container?
A. As a general rule, container prices are determined by three factors.  Firstly the condition of the container.  Secondly the strength of the US$, as all new & used containers are sold internationally in US dollars.  Lastly global economics plays a part as locations that traditionally have higher levels of idle containers will negate values.  It is impossible to predict future values, however as a general rule, new containers used solely for domestic storage will retain greater value longer.  Where units that are older and have been initially used in international shipping, there will obviously be greater levels of corrosion and if left unmaintained, values will fall faster.
Q. Can we modify a container?
A. For domestic and static storage uses, pretty much any reasonable modification is possible.  But for containers that will be used for international shipping, then they must be re-tested after the modification to ensure continued compliance with both ISO & CSC(Convention for Safe Containers).  GVCT can provide ready-modified containers for both rental and sales.
Q. What is the container’s floor made from?
A. Since the 1990’s almost all standard containers have been manufactured with plywood floors.  Refrigerated (Reefer) containers have aluminium “T” section floors.
Q. Is there any maintenance I need to carry out?
A. For rental customers, the answer is no.  Just look after the unit by keeping it clean inside and out.  For long term rentals, you might need to grease the door hinges and rods from time to time.  For purchase customers, there is very little maintenance required for shipping containers, but be prepared to reduce rusting by touching up chipped paintwork.
Q. Are all containers painted?
A. All new containers are finished using a marine quality paint system designed for the rigours of international shipping.  By default, GVCT containers tend to be blue, but other colours can be provided for containers for sale if needed (but that might involve a delay).
Q. How secure are the storage containers?
A. Very.  The steel sides/doors of a container make it very secure against all but the most determined of attacks.  GVCT provide heavy duty padlocks and lock boxes as part of our container rental service.  Due to their maritime design they are inherently water and wind proof.
Q. How high can you stack them?
A. In shipping, units are stacked up to nine high on-board ship.  In this scenario the bottom unit is carrying in excess of 200 tonnes at its four corner posts.  The structural strength of a container is within the frame. The corrugated panels are there to withhold the cargo.  Therefore, whilst you can store lightweight objects on the roof , heavier items will cause permanent damage or at minimum distortion of the roof panels.  If you plan to stack containers, always seek advice in advance.
Q. How heavy are shipping containers?
A. A 20ft container typically weighs between 2 to 2.25 tonnes (2000 to 2200kg) when empty.  A 40ft weighs 4.0 tonnes (3950kg).  We can provide specific weight information for any configuration of container on request.
Q. What about planning permission?
A. Provided that the container is non-permanent then typically planning permission is not required.  However if you site the container in a residential or highly visible location you might get complaints from neighbours, so we suggest that you talk to your neighbours and/or the local planning authority in advance.
Q. Can I convert a container rental into a purchase after a while?
A. Yes.  Container resale prices are very volatile, so we can only give you a definite price at the point at which you decide to change from rental to purchase.
Q. Can I choose a colour for the container?
A. For rental contracts, typically no but we will try to accommodate you wherever we can.  For container purchases, the answer is yes, but to opt for a non-common colour (GVCT containers tend to be blue) might involve a delay whilst we source one for you.  Ultimately though containers can be repainted in any livery required (at extra cost).
Q. What about condensation inside shipping containers?
A. Condensation is not a general problem with containers, provided that you don’t introduce water into the unit (through storing damp materials for instance).  If you are storing humidity-sensitive goods, then the use of a dehumidifier is recommended.  If you have any questions in this area, please call GVCT for advice.
Q. Are containers fire proof?
A. Strictly speaking containers are not fireproof.  However, being made with a steel skin and tight fitting doors does mean that they are very fire resistant indeed.
Q. What things are not allowed to be stored in a container?
A. Most domestic and business goods can be stored safely in a container.  However, highly corrosive or flammable substances are clearly not suitable.  It might seem a strange thing to raise but … containers are not suitable for animal or human habitation (even for short periods!).
Q. Can a container rented from GVCT be subsequently moved when already loaded?
A. Yes, but we would need to have details of the contents so that we can provide the right equipment to do this safely.