Delivery of the first shipping container!

Delivery of our first shipping container to build our tiny house in Upstate New York!  This post shows pricing and delivery info.

We’ve been so busy Upstate over the last few months! This weekend we put down the wood for the garden boxes, but before I get there, I have to backup a few months because I have a few posts to catch up on.  If you aren’t following long, Matthew and I bought land in Upstate NY where we’re building a weekend getaway

First up – the first shipping container arrived!
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You might have read in the original post but Matthew and I have dreams of building a shipping container vacation home one day. A shipping container home is literally a home made out of recycled shipping containers.  Shipping containers travel around the world by ocean delivering all sorts of things.   You can buy them used, or one use, and they come wind and water tight so they are pretty strong and long lasting.  Shipping containers are a great option in building something environmentally sustainable as you’ll be reusing.   A bonus is that they look pretty cool.  If you’ve never seen a shipping container home or are confused by what I’m talking about, click here to check out photos.  Beautiful, aren’t they?

What’s the ultimate goal? We’re not sure.  Will the future home be made out of shipping containers or will it just have that aesthetic?   We’re not sure, but we wanted to start the wheels turning in the shipping container direction.    Since we just have land, and we’re building the garden, we needed safe storage for tools, wood and other supplies.  It made sense to us to start thinking about getting a shipping container as it could be #1 container for our future Upstate home, while acting as a sturdy storage  container in the meantime.  If we decide we don’t want to do a shipping container home, it will probably end up as extra cool guest house one day.  So either way, we’ll be giving this container a new life to live.

We stated talking about shipping containers a while ago and I’ve been pricing them for about a year.   Your best bet is buying them off a shipping container company who has direct ties to the ports, since they’ll literally be coming off the ocean, on to a flatbed truck and then delivered to wherever you are.  I priced around with a few different companies and was surprised to see prices were all so different.  I’m glad I did my price check because we ended up saving thousands of dollars.  Also, I learned that prices of shipping containers literally change from week to week depending on how many they have at the ports.  With that said, availability also changes depending on what size you want.   Shipping containers come in all sizes, with the most popular models being 20 or 40 feet long (they’re 8 feet wide).  We wanted a 40 foot container, but we also wanted a high ceiling container, so we were looking for a 40 foot high cube container which is 9.6 feet tall.  Tall containers aren’t as easy to find, but they also aren’t hard.  Most likely a popular port will have some high containers, or they’ll be easy enough to track down.  We also went the route of getting a used container instead of getting a brand new one to save even a few more thousand dollars.  We were worried we were going to regret getting a used one, but in the end it all worked out and I wouldn’t have done it differently.  The container looks more worn than a brand new one,  but once it’s fixed up inside and outside, I’m not sure if justifies the extra money if you’re on a budget.   We bought our container off modalART which was a good choice. If you’re looking for a container, I’d recommend them.  We’ll definitely use them again if we buy a few more (ultimate goal is to have a 2-3 story container house). They were easy to work with, as well as recommending us trusted trailer delivery services.  Shipping containers are huge and they’re made out of steel, so you’re going to need a trailer to deliver them.  Keep this in mind when budgeting as this is a significant cost.  It cost $1100 to deliver the container from the port in Newark NJ to Upstate NY.  If you’re going to buying a few containers, then it’s that price x container as you need a truck per container.

So no more chatting… here comes the first one!  

BEEP BEEP.  7 AM.  Look what’s waiting for us on the road!
Shipping Container Delivery

Delivery was fun… I say fun because since our land is in the mountains, everything is sloped.  Now try getting a 8,000 pound container delivered by trailer on hilly land that is wet from Winter. Yeah, it’s going to be fun.  I talked to my Dad, who’s a previous truck driver, about delivery and he pretty much confirmed that there was going to be no way the truck was going to be able to get on the land.  The driver confirmed this pretty quickly when we met him.  By the way, the delivery driver was awesome and super helpful during the entire process.  He said that he delivers lots of containers in the Catskill region (mountains) and it’s always a battle of getting them to the spot where people want them.   If you’re getting a container and aren’t on hard, flat land, make sure to think about this. 

He backed the truck up as far as he could go (his tires were going to get stuck, so he couldn’t come any further) and then we loaded some 6×6 wood underneath so he could load the container onto the wood.    It was 15 degrees out that morning, and I was shivering, but I was so excited.

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So, ok, awesome the container is delivered.  High 5s all around.
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But because the trailer couldn’t get on the land, the container was not where we wanted it.  The container was sitting at the very NW side of the  land, near the entrance.  We wanted the container on the NE side, near the garden.  We were going to be storing all of our equipment and power tools there, so it was important that it was close.

You can see the garden in this picture. Also, what a view. <3
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So how were we going to be able to move it?
I called around to a few places asking for help, asking if anyone knew anyone who could help us move it.  This is why small towns are amazing, within 30 minutes we had a excavator down the road on the land willing to help us out on short notice.   The great new is that yes, we were going to be able to move the container where we wanted it that day! The bad news is that it cost us a additional $500.   So out came the check book (seriously, a check book!).

After we agreed on it, he left the land and then came back with a big front end loader. This was going to pick up the container and move it to the other side of the land.
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By 11AM in the morning, our container was set up and placed near the garden.  HOORAY!  Eventually the outside of the container will be painted. 
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Now won’t you come in and see what a shipping container looks like?  Eventually it will all be cleaned out, the floors will be sealed (to be safe from chemicals), the walls will be insulated, etc.  But it’s still pretty cool inside raw.
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I love the industrial doors on the container!
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For locking, we got a heavy duty cargo lock from Equipment Lock that works great. 
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And how tall is it? It’s tall!
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So now that we have our container set up on the land, it’s time to get building that garden. The inside of the container will start to get remodeled eventually once we figure out what’s the next step.

For now, welcome to our container!
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  • I have lots of catching up to do but I had to stop by and check out this post. Love seeing what you’ve been doing upstate. Your garden is really coming along, and that container is going to be so cool when you creative guys get done with it…can’t wait to see!!!

  • How exciting! The Hubs wants to get a small one for the back of our small (2 acre) lot to store our gardening stuff, thus freeing up space in the garage. Plus it would be handier. I am so excited to see what’s next. (Supposedly there is a shipping container shopping complex in Tulsa’s future—can’t wait to see how that shores up!) (Get it?)

    • Got it – good one! 😉 That’s great Debra, you’ll have to show me pictures! I love shipping container shopping areas! We had one in Brooklyn (check it out: Dekalb Market) but unfortunately it closed. 🙁 It sure was pretty (and colorful!).

    • Thanks George! Just being up there on the weekends building is already super relaxing (and tiring, but in a good way!).

  • How exciting!! When we owned our farm in Quebec, ships loaded with containers used to pass by below on the St. Lawrence River. Since my husband was in the int’l merchant trade (banking) at that time, we had books with lots of info. about ships which carry containers, so we could look up the name of the ship in one of the books and find out where the ship was registered.
    You know, not too long ago I saw a really cool house made from four shipping containers – two on the left & two on the right. They were connected together by a passage in the middle. It was awesome!
    I’m sooo happy for you guys and we’re having so much fun ‘going along with you guys’!! ; o )

  • Wow, Congratulations! What a feat getting your container situated where you wanted it. Looking forward to seeing the progress you make with the remodeling. That, plus the garden and you are going to be very busy – but FUN busy 🙂

  • Hi Pamela!

    I really like your idea of a shipping container home. Recently I’ve been looking into the Tiny House on Wheels idea as a means of sustainable living. One of the advantages of that was supposedly you don’t have to pay a higher property tax because the dwelling isn’t on a foundation. Do you know if this logic also applies to a shipping container home? In terms of an acreage of bare land having lower property tax without a “real house” ?

    • Hey Rachel! Awesome to hear you’re thinking the same. It really depends on the state, and municipality. I’ve seen some stories saying that they got tax benefits, or low/no taxes on the house, to some people saying the tax assessor came out and they were shocked by what they were being taxed for. If you contact your town hall they should be able to answer this question quickly for you. Once it’s time for ours to be built we’ll be going the foundation route. Good luck!

  • This is awesome! I have watched a lot of programs about turning shipping containers into buildings, and it sounds so cool! I love that it is an economical way to build. Good luck figuring out how you want to use it!

  • I think the idea of a shipping container house is definitely interesting. I don’t know if I’d be able to pull it off personally, but I’ve seen some pretty cool designs online for that type of house. Good luck with the remodeling, and I hope it doesn’t get too hot or cold in there!

  • This looks so cool! Regardless of what you decide to do with the container, it sounds like you have plenty of options you are willing to explore! This is very creative and unique! Nice work! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I do think the idea of a shipping container house is unquestionably interesting. I don’t know if I’d manage to draw it off personally, but I’ve seen some lovely cool designs online for that sort of house. All the best with the modifying, and I hope it doesn’t get too hot or cold in there!

  • Hi ,

    Any idea where to get a cheap small plot of land to built a small container house in upstate new york. We live in lower westchester now……ready to drive 1.3 to 2.15 hrs


    • Hey Ananda, if you use any of the popular real estate websites you should just be able to search for land. If you search for something like “land for sale in catskills” you will find personal real estate agent websites that have their inventory listed. If you want referrals to who I used send me a email.

  • Thank you so much for posting.. I’m thinking of buying land but my biggest question is how do you go to the bathroom and shower?

    I’m sorry if you have already answered this before.

    I feel like I’m in this with you. I think it is amazing that you are doing this. For me it was so overwhelming. You guys make it possible.

  • THIS

    Thank you so much for this. First – we’re neighbors. We live in New Kingston and have land in Bovina Im thinking of doing this on. We live in a StageCoach Inn we bought for a $1.00 – disassembled and had moved piece by piece here – and now we’re looking for a second project with containers – Ive been online for weeks and your blog really helped me focus – thanks so much
    Frank & Terry

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