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How Rising Building Material Costs Affect Shipping Container Modification

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As global effects from the pandemic continue to increase building material prices and delivery times, Southwest Mobile Storage is finding ways to keep shipping container modification costs down and on time.

“We’re always flexible,” our lead shipping container mechanical engineer said. “We do whatever we can to find solutions so our customers get their custom containers on time and budget.”

The combination of world-wide supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and high demand for new construction caused a volatile market with record-high material prices that can increase daily, or even by the hour.

Some essential modification material prices are increasing consistently, like steel, which increased more than 200% since January 2020. Others are fluctuating significantly. For example, lumber peaked at a 379% increase, fell close to normal in late August 2021 and then increased another 40% by October.

Since these materials are necessary for container modification, they significantly influence pricing, and the fluctuations decrease the time a container modification quote stays valid. Before the pandemic, SMS could quote custom Conex boxes 30, 60 or 90 days in advance, but now we can only quote 10 days in advance before it’s outdated.

Our fabrication facility had the foresight to prepare for these building material supply chain challenges, so we stocked up on our most essential supplies several times during summer 2020. Materials cost less per item when you bulk up and we did it before prices tripled, so we can keep our modification costs lower than other companies’.

The same factors that increase prices also create delays. Record numbers of ISO container ships are stuck waiting to dock at ports all over the world. These delays stack up fast, postponing offloading by weeks or months. Then, ongoing labor shortages at ports and in the transportation industry further the delays. For example, it used to take a week to unload and drive building materials from Los Angeles to Phoenix. It now takes a month.

Often, the next stage of a custom container project can’t begin until the necessary materials arrive. These shipment delays put your project on hold, lengthening your wait time.

Because we bulked up, we can complete modifications without waiting for new parts. Plus, with our large supply of materials, your project doesn’t face delays with SMS the way it does with other companies.

High demand for construction materials and limited inventories due to delayed shipments also makes it harder for container companies to find the materials needed to customize shipping containers.

When we need to buy certain materials, we always shop around to find the most reasonable price. Or if a material is going to take too long to arrive or be too expensive, we find a substitute. For example, using a thicker gauge of sheet metal that we already have in stock when we run out of the gauge we need. This preserves the structural strength of the unit, while avoiding any delays and price increases. That way we ensure our prices stay fair for your custom container needs

Because of our foresight of the current circumstances, SMS has the biggest inventory of modification materials and shipping containers available. Combined with our unrivaled 90,000 square foot fabrication facility and staff of more than 40 container modification experts with over 500 years combined experience, you won’t find higher quality custom shipping containers anywhere else.

We always want to provide you the highest quality container modifications at the best value. We’re doing everything we can to limit price increases and delays as much as possible, so your project stays in budget and on schedule. Here’s how else we have your back by continuing to maintain our shipping container inventory and fair prices during these challenging times. Let us help you today.

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