A Beginner’s Guide to Inspecting and Restoring a Used Conex Box
When containerization began over 60 years ago, no one envisioned Conex boxes would have so many other applications beyond carrying cargo. Today, these shipping containers are fast becoming a popular choice for building different kinds of structure, including commercial spaces, temporary shelters, and storage facilities. The discovery of their alternative uses has, beyond a doubt, revolutionized architecture and engineering.
If you are looking to use a Conex box for your project, you will enjoy a great deal of benefits. Apart from cutting down on construction cost, you can also save a huge amount of time because not only do these containers have built-in framework, but they are also easier to work with than other construction materials. You can save a lot more if you will opt for pre-owned units. However, that requires a different approach compared to choosing brand new ones. You will have to inspect and restore a used Conex box to make sure that it is ready for use in your project. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
What to Look For
Before deciding on a unit to purchase, you have to carefully inspect it first. Initially, you must check the exterior for surface rust, especially below the door. Make sure the rust is just skin-deep and has not spread within the metal panels. Then check the gasket around the door area for wear. There usually is a wooden floor inside the container so you might want to check its condition as well. See if it can still be salvaged or a new set is necessary.
Some used Conex boxes have penetration and pin holes. Even the toughest of steel panels can get this damage either by accident or deliberately when installations have to be done. Depending on how you are planning to use the containers, you can have these holes patched for full weatherproofing. To make sure you are looking for the right elements, tag along a professional to help you with the inspection.
Steel and Corrosion
You may think that finding rust is a red flag and that you should walk away and find another unit, or better yet, select a brand new one. The truth is that most of the rust on steel are just on the surface, and the reason for that can be more clearly seen under the microscope. Steel is mostly made of iron and carbon. Now, iron is known for oxidizing quickly. When an atom of iron combines with an atom of oxygen, iron oxide (the chemical formula for rust) is formed.
To improve iron’s resistance to oxidation, carbon is added. The combination is called steel. The level of corrosion resistance of steel depends on the amount of carbon used and the type of environment the steel will be exposed to. Steel is not as unyielding to corrosion as non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper, or silver, but it can maintain its useful properties for a very long time. The rust of the surface of your container’s steel panels may just be superficial and can be done away with by scraping and recoating.
Clean, Coat, Patch, and Weld
As soon as the unit is delivered to your property, perform the necessary restoration right away. Don’t wait until the next rain to fall before you clean and paint the exterior surface of your unit; otherwise you are only subjecting it to further weathering. Before you paint though, you have to make sure all holes have been carefully patched, missing gaskets replaced, and loose parts already welded. This way you don’t have to leave behind some areas uncoated just to be able to perform these tasks moving forward.
You can have half of the job done by simply turning to a trusted Conex box supplier. With a company like Equipment Management Services, you can be sure that the unit you will purchase is of good quality, whether it’s brand new or used. Their products are even more accessible than those from other providers because EMS has off-dock shipping container storage and maintenance facilities in Houston. There other offices are in Dallas and Seattle.
Restoring a Used Conex Box for Different Applications
Upon restoring the good condition of a used Conex box, it can then be utilized for a number of applications. Conex boxes or shipping containers are highly versatile and can be modified into storage, commercial sites, and housing structures.
There is no doubt that shipping containers make for extremely durable construction materials. However, because they can be repurposed to serve a broad range of applications, they are also gaining popularity as people turn to more eco-friendly and sustainable construction material options.
Whether you are repurposing used containers for personal projects or commercial investments, you’ll definitely be able to save a lot on overall costs. While you most likely have a specific purpose in mind prior to purchasing and restoring your shipping container, here are other applications also worth considering.
The most basic and common application of a re-purposed Conex box is storage. With proper shelving and organization, you can store all kinds of materials and equipment in a single container.
Conex boxes are brilliant storage space solutions for both residential and commercial settings. Most homeowners in need of additional storage space opt for Conex boxes that can be placed within the property. The boxes are usually placed in the backyard to store furnishings, tools, supplies, and other household items.
For commercial settings, these are just a few examples of industries that benefit from using repurposed freight containers for storage:
- Agriculture – Farm machinery and supplies
- Educational institutions – Documents, records, and sports equipment
- Retail – Seasonal inventory
Conex boxes are also fast becoming the material of choice for facilities specializing in self-service storage or storage units for rent. Almost 53,000 storage facilities are in operation in the United States alone as of 2018. Due to the high demand for their services, storage facilities have become a solid real estate investment, especially with their high returns and low startup costs.
Using repurposed shipping containers is common among storage facility owners. Those who are just starting their storage facility business are drawn to Conex boxes because they can be quickly transported, positioned, and secured in place. Shipping containers can be added to vacant land as the need arises, so there’s no pressure to invest more than necessary.
Building a traditional storage building can be much more expensive than using Conex boxes. Perhaps the best advantage it has over traditional facilities is that when properly restored, shipping containers have tight seals which prevent dust from settling and rodents from entering.
Security is not an issue as Conex boxes have locks on the door handles. Larger items can be stored as the doors of Conex boxes provide a bigger opening. Some containers can even accommodate trailers, automobiles, and other vehicles.
If you’re looking to expand your storage facility, constructing a new building wouldn’t be a problem. You can easily move and reposition the freight containers in favor of another layout. Even narrow areas in the property can be utilized thanks to the shape of shipping containers.
Shipping container offices are another popular application. Compared to concrete buildings, container offices are cheaper and faster to construct. A container office can be built with almost half the cost of a traditional office structure.
With repurposed Conex boxes, you’ll have the advantage of mobile and flexible offices. You can take your workplace where your business needs to be. As shipping containers are built to survive constant movement and harsh ocean travel, you won’t have to worry about transporting your office to far-flung areas of operation.
Made of rigid steel, Conex boxes are stronger and more durable than wood-framed temporary structures. When a project ends, you can simply move and transport your shipping container offices. These portable offices can be used again for other projects or they can be sold.
Using repurposed shipping containers is an excellent solution not only for field operations but for actual office locations. Their industrial-grade steel makes for long-lasting office spaces that can be used for years. Aside from their practical attributes, shipping containers also add a trendy and modern look to leasing offices.
Cargo Container Homes
It seems like a play on words but used container boxes are one of the biggest trends in “out-of-the-box” housing. With homeowners looking to save on constructing houses, cargo containers offer affordable and reliable materials for building the homes of tomorrow. Recent surveys show that building with used Conex boxes allows savings of up to 3/4 of a traditional home’s typical construction costs.
While you have to consider state laws and zoning permits, building with shipping containers
can be a relatively quick construction. Building time can take one or two months when using shipping containers, while average construction time of traditional houses is eight months.
In recent years, more and more people are also becoming aware of their impact on the environment. Another great benefit of repurposing used shipping containers is that you are significantly reducing the waste that goes with building a house. By using upcycled containers, you prevent these items from ending up as waste, too.
About 3,500 kilograms of steel is repurposed every time a 40-foot container is used in constructing a home. A common house layout usually makes use of five standard shipping containers, so that means you’ll be recycling around 17,500 kilograms of steel!
Alternative Home Workplace
With increased connectivity, a growing number of people are shifting to working remotely. In fact, data from the US Census shows that at least 8 million employees worked in the comfort of their homes in 2017. This number is expected to rise as other studies report that those working from home are more productive and save their company money in the long run.
The only drawback in the work-at-home trend is that a lot of people have difficulties in finding the ideal working spot. Lack of space and budget constraints often make it impossible to have an office within the home.
This is where the compact size of the used Conex Box proves its advantage. You can simply tuck it away in a secluded corner of your backyard and have an instant quiet place to work.
Why use the old portable toilets when you can have a real bathroom set-up in your location? Ablution containers are boxes that feature washing equipment, showers, and toilets. They can be fitted with all kinds of bathroom amenities, depending on how you are planning to use them.
Ablution facilities made from Conex boxes can be used in different circumstances. While construction industries typically use them on their work sites, ablution-type containers are also ideal for events where a lot of traffic is expected. These containers are now being used in big events, such as exhibitions, festivals, fairs, conferences, and tournaments.
You can customize containers to accommodate both single and multiple users. Those who need full bathrooms with a complete set-up of tubs, showers, washbasins, and toilets can create one that has these modern comforts onsite. Ablution containers can also be built with modular units or partitions for male or female public washrooms.
There are two kinds of ablution Conex boxes:
Sewer-Connected Blocks. These ablution boxes are ideal for locations which have direct access to a sewer connection.
Self-Connected Blocks. These ablution boxes don’t need access to an external waste tank or a sewer connection. Self-connected blocks feature a container for the waste and for the gray and black water, as well.
Building an ablution box on your own can be quite difficult. Aside from the fittings and plumbing fixtures, you must take into consideration the water and waste generation. No need to worry, though, because there are plenty of contractors who offer low-cost fitting services.
There are also DIY kits for ablution blocks, which are affordable and easy to install. Using these kits, you can convert your repurposed Conex box into ablution blocks that are comfortable, practical, and portable.
Undoubtedly, creating a personal swimming pool from a used Conex box provides the most enjoyable outcome among all the other applications. These repurposed swimming pools are an environmentally friendly and creative alternative to traditional swimming pools.
A 20-foot shipping container can hold approximately 10,000 gallons of water while a 40-foot container can hold roughly 20,000 gallons of water. An off-the-shelf swimming pool solution used Conex boxes are cleaned and rust-treated first. They are then fitted with another layer of steel or a vinyl-liner insert within the corrugated steel frame.
This second layer adds both strength and aesthetics to the pool. If you’re into a trendier design, you can have windows or viewing walls made of fiberglass that shows off the inside of the pool. Filtration systems and other electronic contraptions are also easy to add to repurposed Conex boxes.
It’s no wonder that shipping container swimming pools are making a splash worldwide. Aside from being budget-friendly, you won’t have to worry about the building work and long preparation that come with a traditional swimming pool. Repurposed Conex pools are often simply placed in the backyard and a deck is built around it for accessibility and to provide extra pool space.
When it comes to building commercial spaces out of used shipping containers, the only limit is your imagination. Conex boxes have been repurposed to become restaurants, bars, cafes, bookstores, retail stores, and more. They have become a popular building solution, especially for those who want their business operational as fast as possible.
Upcycled shipping containers are often seen in food parks or at marine-themed enclaves around beaches. Small businesses can benefit greatly from the low building and maintenance cost. You can even let other businesses use your Conex box space as a pop-up store for their products.
All around the world, hotels are committing to sustainability and are actively reducing their carbon footprint. As shipping containers can withstand the harshest climates and environments, they are being used to construct hotels from the snowy mountaintops to idyllic coastal villages. Used shipping containers can also be converted to accommodations that are ideal for camping and fishing sites.
Shipping containers make for exceptional emergency facilities. All the characteristics you need in an emergency building—sturdiness, practicality, and portability—can be found in repurposed shipping containers.
Upcycled Conex boxes can be used as personal disaster shelters at home. Hundreds of households in the country have taken to building shelters from shipping containers where they can store provisions and where they can hide out during emergencies. Some people also choose to place shipping containers below ground to serve as a bunker.
Temporary shelters made from Conex boxes are also becoming more common throughout the world. Natural disasters and human conflicts have displaced millions and millions of refugees. These temporary shelters can house up to six persons per shipping container. Containers provide scalable and instant housing, while keeping costs down.
Used shipping containers can also be repurposed into medical facilities during emergencies. They can be shipped into remote areas with the medical supplies and equipment already arranged inside them. This means that the pop-up medical clinics can be fully operational in a few hours or days upon arrival.
Shipping containers are especially effective in providing a sterile portable set-up. Surgeries and other procedures can be done and even intensive-care layouts can be replicated. Repurposed containers can also serve as a ward for patients needing continuous medical attention.
What to Remember When Re-purposing Conex Boxes
Amidst all the possible applications, one thing remains true: the used Conex box you choose must be of good quality. The success of a professional retrofitting or a DIY project still depends on the condition of the shipping container being used. Converting used Conex boxes for functional living, working, event, and leisure spaces won’t be a success unless you’re working with the best materials.
Equipment Management Services is proud to be one of the most dependable suppliers of used Conex boxes and shipping containers. As the largest off-dock container storage and maintenance facility in the US Gulf Region, they can cater to all kinds of requirements. The used containers they provide are inspected thoroughly so customers can buy the exact units they need with full confidence.
HISTORY OF CONTAINERIZATION, worldshipping.org
11 Surprising Working from Home Statistics, Fundera.com
Recycling Steel Shipping Containers, GreenHomeBuilding.com
Modular and Disaster Response. ClinicInACan.org