Using a portable storage container to transport your belongings to a new home may sound appealing, but there are things you need to understand before you book a unit.

One of the main attractions of storage containers is that you can load them at your own pace, arranging for a delivery when it suits your personal schedule. However, when compared to traditional self-storage facilities there are many differences in regards to pricing and logistics.

Every method of moving has its advantages and disadvantages, however. Choosing the best storage option for your move or project depends on many factors. For those considering PODS, or a competitor like 1-800-PACK-RAT or U-Haul, here are some of the most important things to know before you book.

1. You’ll Need to Secure Your Items Inside.

Portable containers typically are dropped off outside homes. Because you will do the loading, it also will be up to you to make sure that your items are adequately secured inside the unit. The goal is to prevent damage in transit. Your items can get jostled around, like they would in a moving truck. Whether your container is moving a long-distance or just across town you’ll want to make sure their is no movement or shifting.

Follow similar methods as you would when loading a moving truck, such as placing the heaviest boxes on the bottom of the storage container. Use bungee cords or rope to tie down items to the interior railings. Fill empty space with blankets, pillows, balled up paper or plastic, etc.

2. Your Unit Might Not Be Climate-Controlled.

If you plan to transport items that are sensitive to extreme temperatures, be aware that your storage container will not be climate-controlled while sitting on the street or driveway in front of your home. Climate-controlled storage facilities, on the other hand, offer optimal temperature and humidity levels to protect valuable items from damage.

Riaz Karim, program manager for the PODS portable storage container company, said that while his company’s containers aren’t climate controlled, many of its storage centers are. If you are storing sensitive items (like vinyl records) in between moves in a storage container, it may be good idea to ask if temperature and humidity levels are controlled at the warehouse your container will be kept at.

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3. Not All Units Are Waterproof.

Ryan Carrigan, founder of the moveBuddha moving cost comparison service, notes that containers are made with a variety of materials, including metal, wood, and canvas. You should make sure the unit you use has no openings that will allow water intrusions, he advises. Prolonged exposure to rain and humidity could encourage mold or mildew growth on items such as books or wood furniture.

4. Units Come in a Variety of Sizes.

If you base your container selection solely on price, you may end up choosing a unit that’s too small for your belongings. Containers may be around eight, 10, or 16 feet long, but this varies by moving company. PODS containers come in sizes that are seven, 12 or 16 feet long.

5. Not All Communities Are Container Friendly.

How long can you keep a storage pod in your driveway? That depends on where you live.

Henry Godfrey, owner of Henry Laurent Estate Sales, noted that parking regulations for containers vary by community.

“Permit fees can range from $10 to hundreds of dollars,” he said.

If street parking is prohibited altogether, containers often can be placed at other locations, such as on lawns and in driveways. However, some HOAs may have rules that prohibit placing a storage pod in your driveway for a certain period of time, or at all.

6. A Container May Damage Your Lawn.

If you must park a container on your lawn, be aware that grass dies when deprived of light. The longer the unit remains in place, the more likely it is that your turf will be damaged.

7. There May Be Unexpected Fees.

To understand your full costs, you should ask portable container companies about their storage, pickup, and delivery fees. Read your contract carefully and make sure you’re aware of all potential charges.

8. You May Have to Pay for Damage to the Unit.

If your portable storage container is damaged while parked at your home, you may be responsible for the cost of repairs. It may be wise to pony up for extra insurance coverage just to be on the safe side. Such containers could be targets for theft or vandalism the longer they remain in the same spot.

9. Your Property Could be Sold for Debt Repayment.

If your portable unit goes into storage during your move and you don’t pay your bill, your property could end up being auctioned off to repay your debt, just as it would at a traditional storage facility.

10. You Might Have Uninvited Guests.

Pests, such as insects, sometimes invade storage containers when they are left on the ground or street. This is most likely to happen when the containers are parked outside for extended periods, he said.

Portable Storage FAQs

Can PODS be placed on grass?

PODS can be placed on grass. If it is just for a few days, the grass underneath will most likely be fine. Prolonged storage on your property will kill the grass underneath.

Will a POD damage my driveway?

PODS are delivered using a sophisticated fork lift system, which will place the moving container ever so gently on your property. Barring a freak accident, PODS won't damage your driveway.

Are PODS storage facilities climate controlled?

Some PODS storage locations feature climate control, but not all. Contact the company and ask if there is climate control where your container would be stored. The PODS containers themselves are not climate-controlled.

Can I put a POD on the street? In general you can put a POD on the street in front of your house temporarily. If you live in a city, you will certainly need to get a permit. Other areas may also have rules or prohibitions regarding the parking of containers. The container company should know what is required for your specific area.

Can I put a POD on the street?

In general you can put a POD on the street in front of your house temporarily. If you live in a city, you will certainly need to get a permit. Other areas may also have rules or prohibitions regarding the parking of containers. The container company should know what is required for your specific area.

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Emmet Pierce