You can get containers converted for very many purposes but you may need someone to help with the engineering. Here are some suggestions for getting it done...

Steel containers are wonderfully adaptable and many firms specialise in converting them for specific and specialised functions – for example, they can be used for offices, for housing computers, back-up generators, or for weather stations. Some have been converted into housing units. Fabricators also convert containers into marketing suites, toilets or changing rooms.

Most of the companies doing these conversions are based at container depots because they have ready access to containers and they are in a place where welding and steel work will not disturb neighbours. Typical are conversion firms at Dagenham, Walsall, Northampton and Thurrock, but almost all port depots will have welders specialising in conversions, including Felixstowe, Southampton, Birmingham and Dover.

The first stage in getting a conversion organised is to think carefully about what function the converted container will serve. Does it need power? Will windows be needed? What about ventilation? How much security do you need? Will it need to be sprayed and is that to be done onsite or as part of the conversion? Are there to be shelves or an extra internal set of doors?

You will need to consider whether the converted container will have anything put on top of it, because that will affect how it is made. For example if you plan to stack two 20ft containers as site offices with a staircase between them, you need to tell the firm doing the container conversion so that they use containers with the original corner posts rather than two halves of a cut-down 40ft unit.

Once you have worked out what you need, you should get plans or at least sketches drawn up. On the basis of these you can get a cost estimate from one of the companies listed here and you can get an indication of how long delivery will take.

There are some new solutions on the market, which don’t necessarily involve cutting down second hand containers. Some of these can be assembled on site; this makes transporting them easier, but it also means that in principle the container parts can be carried through a building to reach a site where a container could not normally be placed.

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