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. Every method of moving has its advantages and disadvantages, however.
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, said Amy Trager, an organizing expert from the Chicago area. “You items can get jostled around, like they would in a moving truck,” she explained.
2. Your Unit Might Not Be Climate-Controlled.
If you plan to transport items that are sensitive to extreme temperatures, be aware that your unit likely will not be climate-controlled while sitting on the street or driveway in front of your home. 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.
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.
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. Carrigan says containers may be eight, 10, or 16 feet long, but this varies by company. “You really need to look at specific dimensions,” he said. “They aren’t standardized.”
5. Not All Communities Are Container Friendly.
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.
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 landscaping 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, said professional organizer Deborah Moyer of Carlsbad, CA. 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.
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, said Godfrey.
10. You Might Have Uninvited Guests.
Godfrey says that 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.