One of the questions I’m asked most often is “how much does it cost to ship a container?” Sometimes I’ll be asked this before they ask the price of the storage container, the question is short but the answer can be as long as a Hollywood awards event. You can have your container shipped several different ways, and like anything else freight fees are driven by levels of competition in the regional market where you are working. For the sake of clarity, we are not talking about overseas shipping like a shipping container from China to the United States loaded with goods. We are talking about a landed container that has been retired from overseas duty and is now doing work as a storage container or becoming a part of a home or building that is being moved empty and within the borders.
Just like real estate, the first consideration is location, location, location. If you are located in a port city like Charleston SC for example and want to ship a container within 50 miles of the container depots you may be able to move your container for around $150 – $200. On the other hand we had an inquiry the other day from Milwaukee. We could find no good containers locally so we had to bring one up from Chicago, about 100 miles and it cost the customer about $450 to make that move. The interesting thing is both cities are located on navigated waterways, albeit the Great Lakes but Milwaukee does not have a shipping depot like Chicago does so it does not have a steady stream of equipment arriving locally so we had to bring equipment in from the closest depot.
The next consideration in delivery costs is how do you need to ship your container. If you have the proper equipment available to unload your container you will spend less than you will if you’ll need your container unloaded for you. To unload a container this requires equipment that can lift 7,000 lbs. for a 40 foot can and 4,200lbs. if you’re working with a 20 foot container. To unload a container, a fork lift with the proper capacity and some fork extensions
or a large loader with chains will work well. Just make sure you’re ready to go when the delivery truck arrives so that you don’t get charged downtime while you’re looking for your chains.
If you do not have equipment available you will need to contract with a shipper who has a tilt bed trailer like a Landoll. These trailers are made to haul heavy tools and equipment that must be slid off of the trailer. The deck is hydraulically lifted and a power winch slowly slides the container down off of the trailer an on to the ground. As you can imagine, this is an expensive piece of equipment so you will pay 30% – 50% more than delivery off of a chassis for this type of delivery. In addition you’ll need a lot of space on your site to allow the equipment to be dropped. A 40 foot container will require about 100 feet of flat open space for the truck, trailer and container and a 20 foot container will need a minimum of 75 feet to be safely unloaded.
With the proper equipment, containers are relatively easy to transport. Call around to a couple different heavy haul companies in your area, provide them with the zip code where you are picking the container up and the zip code where the container will be delivered. Let them know whether or not you can unload the container and ask for a price. Remember, the cheapest isn’t always the best, do a little research on the internet and select the best resource for the task.