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Tips for Buying Used Office Trailers

Used office trailers can be a faster, more affordable alternative to building new. They come in a range of sizes and are easily customized to virtually any need. However, like commissioning the construction of a new building, buying used still requires several considerations. To help you find the right building and get your project up and running sooner, here are some tips for buying used office trailers.

The process for finding and buying used office trailers can be broken down into four parts: budget, permitting, intended use and timing.

Remodeled used office trailers
ModSpace remodeled used office trailers to construct its permanent office in Hartford, CT.

Budget

As with anything else, knowing your budget before you go shopping is essential. Much like buying a new or used car, shopping for a used office trailer has several considerations beyond the price of the building. Here are a few things that will impact your budget.

Do you have a site?

You likely have a planned space for your new building. If you own it, great. If not, find out what the land costs and permitting requirements will be.

Will you need any custom work done to the building? If so, is it simple or extensive?

Used office trailers come in all sizes and conditions. A used office trailer that has been recently remanufactured may cost more up front, but it will be ready quickly, have fewer additional costs and may even come with a warranty that can save on future costs.

Older buildings are generally less expensive, but that lower cost commonly comes with some additional work. Balance your savings with the cost of any work needed. Will you need the seller do to this work or do you plan to do it yourself? If you’re doing the work, make sure you have the knowledge, resources and budget to complete the work within your required timeframe.

Modular office building
Certified Remanufactured Building (CRB) from ModSpace.

Do you need your provider to set it up for you?

Setting a modular building on its foundation can be simple or complex. If you have no plans to move the building or are operating in a professional setting, you’ll want a semi-permanent setup with a good foundation, hidden anchors, skirting and custom steps, decks or ramps. A building that may be moved from site to site requires a much simpler setup.

Are utilities accessible at your planned site?

If power, gas, water and sewer facilities are readily available at your site, then you only need to determine if you or your provider will make the final connections. If no connections are available, you’ll need to find suitable alternatives or pay service providers to bring connections to your site. Depending on your proximity to services, these costs can stack up significantly. Again, a well-informed sales person should be able to talk through your options.

Permitting

Uncle Sam plays an important role in all new construction, even when it involves used buildings.

What are the applicable Federal, state and local zoning and permitting requirements?

You will likely need permits for your building. But do you only need a building coded for use in your state, or do you need official state-stamped drawings before any permits are awarded? And does your building need to be ADA compliant? A good sales person should be able to answer these questions or at least point you in the right direction.

Intended Use

For many, how you plan to use you building seems like a no-brainer. But how you plan to use your building impacts everything mentioned above, plus several additional factors. With your budget set, here are some of questions to ask based on your intended use of the building.

What size building do you need?

This is determined by the average number of people that will be in the building and how you plan to use it. If your new building will be used as a sales office, you’ll want enough room for your sales team and any customers that come and go. You’ll also want to plan additional space for upgraded professional furniture and, most likely, a restroom.

Alternately, if you plan to use your building as a project management office, you need enough room for your team and any regular visitors. It’s best to plan for additional room in professional settings where you are likely to meet with customers. Again, a good sales representative should be able to provide some guidance.

Do you need a special configuration?

If space at your site is not an issue and your intended use is relatively simple, this may not be a factor. But when space is in short supply or you have special needs, such as private offices, both men’s and women’s restrooms, a product showroom or a full-service kitchen, you’ll want to make sure to choose an appropriate building and incorporate any modifications into your budget and timeline.

Is this a professional or industrial setting?

If you’re going to be hosting customers, commercial carpet, upgraded furniture and features are your best bet. You may even add exterior trim to match the surrounding buildings and landscaping. If it will be used by workers at a remote field location, tile with durable furniture is the way to go.

Do you have any special furniture requirements?

Drafting tables, conference tables, cubicles and kitchens all take up additional space and may require different flooring and utility connections. Make sure these factor into your budget, size and layout plans.

Are you in a severe climate?

If you’re operating in Phoenix or North Dakota, plan to add top-grade insulation to the floor, walls and ceiling as well as a first-rate HVAC system, if not already equipped. Energy costs in severe climates can be sky high. Upgrading your insulation now will save on energy costs in the long run.

What are your long-term plans for the building?

It’s important to have an idea as to how long the building will be in place. If you plan to move it from project to project every six months, you’ll want a good set of steps and folding furniture that can easily be moved with the building. If the building won’t be moved for several years, custom steps and ramps, skirting, a finished foundation and landscaping will make your team and your customers more comfortable for the duration.

Timing

This one is simple. When does your building need to be operational? Used office trailers can be in place and operational in days or weeks, not months, as is common for conventional construction.

Timing also plays a big role in selecting the right used office trailer for you. Renovations and customizations take time. If your timeline is tight, you’ll want a building that that can be ready with limited changes.

Purchasing a used office trailer may seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. A good used office trailer provider can guide you through the process, assist in permitting and even perform much of the work for you so that your building is up and running faster, and for much less than building new.

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