What is a Ground-Level Container Office– And is it Right for Your Business?

If you’re looking for a temporary workspace, there are lots of options out there. What’s right for your needs?

We’re all familiar with the layout of a traditional office space– several floors of cubicles in which everyone works together throughout the day. But in recent years, there’s been a growing shift in what workspaces look like. Many businesses, large and small, find that they don’t actually need a large office complex– their time and resources may be better spent on smaller, cheaper offices that can be relocated and reorganized as necessary as their needs change.

As far as smaller, more modular office spaces go, there are plenty of options available out there. Among these are office trailers and ground-level offices, but which one will work best for you largely depends on your specific needs.

So what are all the differences and similarities between office trailers and ground-level offices? Where is each most useful? And how can Rent-A-Container help get you started on pulling together your small office space? Here, we’ll go through the pros and cons of each office type and point you toward the right path for your business.

Ground-Level Offices, Office Trailers, and Modular Offices– What’s the Same and What’s Different?

A container office setup outside of a building in a parking lot

Ground-level container offices share several traits with other temporary office space options. Image courtesy of The Container Pros.

As we’ve mentioned, there are several options out there for temporary office space solutions or even just for small workspaces– ground-level offices and office trailers are just a couple of them. But what are the differences between these office types, and where do ground-level containers really shine?

Most modular offices require some construction once they reach their destination. Although it takes significantly less labor and money to build them on a given site, you will need to put some real thought into the layout of your space, how big you need your modular office to be, and what utilities will need to be installed. Since these offices often take some work to install, they’re difficult– although not impossible– to move.

Office trailers are attached to a truck from the very beginning– a trailer that has been modified to serve as an office is hitched to a truck, and that’s about all there is to it. This makes office trailers extremely mobile– all you have to do to move them is to secure all your belongings inside and drive to a new location.

Ground-level offices, in contrast to other modular offices, are usually installed outdoors– they’re very popular on construction sites. They are not suspended off of the ground, have no steps leading up to them, and are also not on wheels the way office trailers are.

The materials used to make these offices also differ. The construction materials for modular offices vary greatly, but office trailers are frequently made out of aluminum. Ground-level offices are flexible, too, but it’s extremely common to find them made out of modified shipping containers– which are, in turn, constructed from corrugated steel, an extremely strong metal that withstands bending and breaking more than many other materials.

What are the Pros and Cons of Different Types of Offices?

2 office containers stacked on top of one another.

Ground-level container offices offer several advantages that other types of modular offices lack. Image courtesy of Kingmoor Park.

If you’re just starting the hunt for your temporary or small office space, it may be difficult to tell what drawbacks and perks come with each type of office. What are the pros and cons of different types of office solutions?

Modular Offices

A modular office inside of a warehouse

Modular offices come in many shapes and sizes, but are more difficult to install and move. Image courtesy of Portafab.

Modular offices come in many, many different arrangements and styles– they can be small and implanted into a bigger building, stand multiple stories tall, or be freestanding. In this sense, they are versatile workspaces. However, it does take more work to install them, depending on your needs, where you need them to be located, and how big you need them to be. For example, building a small complex of modular offices is going to be more involved than simply plopping a one-story ground-level office on your worksite outside.

Office Trailers

A storage container office trailer setup in a lot.

Office trailers are extremely mobile, but require more maintenance than many of their more stationary counterparts. Image courtesy of Pacific Portable Services.

As the name suggests, office trailers are extremely mobile– they are permanently installed on a set of wheels, and all you need to do to move them is to drive to a new location. This sounds appealing to those whose businesses demand that they show up at several worksites in a short amount of time.

But it’s not all perfect with these temporary offices. Since office trailers are permanently on a set of wheels, they are limited in what they can carry– too much equipment and too much weight can damage the chassis that supports the office. If your office needs to be able to house some heavy equipment as well as your work desk and papers, you might run into some problems with an office trailer.

In a similar vein, wheels, axles, and chassis require maintenance– not only in relation to the amount of weight and pressure put on them, but also in response to the terrain that they travel over. Especially on construction sites, the terrain is not always smooth, and this can force you to bring your work to a halt in order to repair your office trailer. Your wheels can also sink into the ground if it’s too soft, which can damage the office as well as the wheels and axles– so these types of offices usually do best on solid, even concrete.

Ground-Level Container Offices

A ground level container office setup outside of a shop.

Ground-level container offices are relatively easy to transport and extremely durable, making them excellent choices for temporary office spaces. Image courtesy of Pac-Van.

Ground-level offices, especially ground-level container offices, combine the best characteristics of other types of small offices. Requiring no wheels and usually no foundation, it’s pretty easy to install these– you may need a crane to set one on your worksite, but that’s about it. You won’t need to maintain any wheels, and you won’t have to worry about your office reaching its upper weight limit while on the ground. This makes ground-level container offices rather stable, like many traditional modular offices.

But the pros don’t end there. Although it can’t be denied that ground-level offices aren’t as mobile as office trailers, which are ready to go at a moment’s notice, you still aren’t sacrificing your office space’s mobility overall. You may need a crane again, but it’s relatively easy to pick up a ground-level container office and set it on a truck to be transported to the next worksite. After all, shipping containers are designed for shipping.

Security is also a huge benefit with ground-level container offices. With other modular office options, your security benefits will vary greatly. Especially with office trailers, with their ease of transport, there are always security risks. But shipping containers are made of thick, rust-resistant steel, which is difficult to break through and also helps protect your work materials from water. If you lock your container office properly, you’re unlikely to have any issues with break-ins– it’s tough to get through a shipping container uninvited.

Where is Each Type of Office Used?

A construction job site with a crane in the background and lots of building materials laying around.

Different types of small offices are useful for different industries and work environments. Image courtesy of Jobsite.

Modular offices can be installed in most places, but they’re frequently found inside other buildings– such as warehouses– or in complexes made up of a collection of them. They tend to be most useful for businesses whose space needs change routinely, but who stay in the same place geographically.

Office trailers are often found with businesses that operate on multiple sites at once. In a fast-moving industry that requires you to have an office at multiple locations on short notice, an office trailer can be a lifesaver.

Once again, ground-level container offices are useful in both situations. Since they are both semi-permanent and semi-transportable, they can cater well to many different industries. Sometimes you’ll find them in a relatively fixed location or in a larger warehouse as a designated workspace. Other times, you’ll find them on construction sites, where they will stay until a project is completed before being picked up and moved elsewhere.

How Much Do These Offices Cost?

A red shipping container office.

Modular offices vary in cost based on size, quality, and type. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Now that we know the benefits and drawbacks of each type of small office space, we come to another important consideration– cost. What does each type of office cost?

Overall price varies based on the type of office you’re purchasing, its size, and its quality. But there are some estimates you can keep in mind when figuring out how much of a budget you have to work with.

Modular offices, for example– whether small implant offices or office complexes– can cost anywhere from about $5,000 for a small, independent one to upwards of $35,000 when utilities, higher labor costs, permits and other features are factored in. This is still much cheaper than a traditional building, of course– building a full office building can cost you anywhere from $300 to $800 per square foot.

Office trailers vary just as much in price– anywhere from around $6,500 to upwards of $40,000. This pricing makes sense for a particularly high-quality office trailer. If it’s a good size and as easy to move as these offices are, the price will understandably be higher.

Generally, you’ll have some more control over what the overall cost of your ground-level container office is. Since these offices are often made out of shipping containers, the factors that make up the bulk of your end price are the shipping container itself and any modifications you make to it. If you don’t need many modifications– for example, if your office is only needed onsite for one project and doesn’t need to house you long-term– then a ground-level container office can be pretty cheap. At Rent-A-Container, our containers run between $1,100 and $5,000 for a 20′ container or $1,350 to $9,800 for a 40′ container.

You can see right away that this is much cheaper than most alternatives. Even if you add modifications, like air conditioning, insulation, or electric, you still have a good chance of coming out with a lower price for a ground-level container office. There are lots of options in terms of how much space you need your ground-level office to have, too– besides coming in different lengths and offering more space than your average modular office, shipping containers can also be joined together to make a larger interior space.

How Can Rent-A-Container Help?

Shipping containers stacked on top of each other that read 'Business Storage Made Easy.'

Rent-A-Container can help you get started on your own ground-level container office. Image courtesy of Rent-A-Container.

If it looks like a ground-level container office is right for you and your business needs, then Rent-A-Container’s catalog of affordable shipping containers is an excellent place to start your search. Our shipping containers come in a variety of sizes– from 10’ to 40’– and can be bought or rented at a competitive price when compared to other companies. Buy a nice shipping container from us and add a couple of modifications to suit your needs, and bingo– you have an affordable ground-level container office to carry out your daily business whenever and wherever you need to be.