Sam and Graeme Johnson standing in front of a brand new shipping container from NZBOX

When you’re a teenager, deciding what career path to follow can be a daunting task. When 15-year-old Sam Johnson from Helensville started thinking about the trades as a potential option, his father, Graeme, thought he would do something to help his son make an informed decision.

Graeme bought a brand new shipping container from us at NZBOX and together with his son have embarked on a project to convert it into a tiny home.

The ultimate learning experience

Graeme and his son are, by their own admission, not the most experienced builders around. They do, however, appreciate a good challenge and have done a tremendous amount of research, including engaging with the online community about things they haven’t done before, like welding.

The beauty of the project is that it involves many different aspects of the trades like prepping the site, carpentry, electrical work, welding and good ol’ Kiwi ingenuity like building a bed that lowers from the ceiling. It’s given Sam the perfect hands-on learning experience and opportunity to create something very impressive from scratch.

Challenges and pay off

With a project like this, there are always going to be challenges. Graeme has jokingly said “Tolerating a 15-year-old boy” has been one of the biggest as well as making sure he himself isn’t “Doing the doing” instead of Sam.

The videos they’ve posted on their YouTube channel proves this isn’t the case with Sam fully involved every step of the way.

Once the project is finished, they intend to sell the container home and once the costs to the parents are recouped, Sam will be able to use the rest of the profits to spend on buying a car.

As well as the positives of learning trades skills and making profits from the project, it has also been a fantastic bonding experience for father and son – a greater reward than all else combined.

Sam and Graeme’s story was recently featured on 7 Sharp which you can see for yourself below!

Sam and Graeme installing window frame to container home

Interested in container modification?

If you’re interested in starting your own container modification project like Graeme and Sam, feel free to get in touch with us today and we’ll do our best to make sure you get the right container for the job required!

Man standing in an empty shipping container

Shipping containers have been used for the transport and freight of all kinds of trades goods for decades. In recent times, however, they’ve become increasingly used for storage by both organisations and individuals across New Zealand and abroad.

We thought we’d showcase just some of the ways shipping containers are being used for storage purposes that might even inspire you to do the same.

Business documents

Any business owner will know just how much documentation is required to keep the administrative and regulatory cogs of an operation compliant and functioning. In short, it can be immense and documents like tax records, need to be retained for at least 7 years. Even for small businesses this amount of documentation can quickly stack up and for medium-large sized organisations – the storage of these documents becomes an issue that needs addressing.

Shipping containers have become great storage solutions for documentation for organisations allowing them to keep documents onsite but out of the way. This relieves pressure on storage space within an office space and with lockboxes easily fitted, it is often a much more secure option too.

Farming equipment

With agriculture being the biggest industry in New Zealand (representing around 70% of New Zealand’s exports) it’s no surprise that farms across the country have become big users of shipping containers as storage solutions. The amount of farming equipment required to manage a farm in this day and age is a lot more than you might expect. Tractors, farm trucks, wagons, mowers, scythes, rakes, mulchers, cultivators, balers – the list goes on.

While much of this can be stored in the barn/shed of a farm the increasing demands on storage, especially with new forms of equipment and machinery being introduced means that many have turned to shipping containers for back-up storage. Not only is it a much more cost-effective solution compared to building a new shed but it’s a flexible one too given the transportable nature of shipping containers.

Food and drink

One solution that might not immediately come to mind when it comes to shipping container storage is food and drink but with Reefer containers, in particular, it is definitely an option that can be utilised. Reefer containers are essentially refrigerated containers that are also insulated allowing for controlled temperature environments to be established and maintained, making it ideal for perishable goods.
Supermarkets have used refrigerated containers to help manage supply issues and restaurants have also found them useful during peak times when regular storage doesn’t suffice. For individuals, this option is less common though we have seen some creative uses like that of temporary wine cellars where temperature control is a great benefit.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Refrigeration industry (@refindustry) on

Furniture and household items

Whenever you move into a new home, it doesn’t take long before you start to use most of the space between the four walls of your comfortable abode. After a few years, you often replace or upgrade bits of furniture and then have to think about what to do with the old ones. For a variety of reasons, you won’t necessarily want to dispose of these things completely so storage is the way to go.

Shipping containers can be a great choice here as they’ll allow you to free up space inside your home, keeping it as clutter-free as possible. If you get one that is water/weather tight and one with vents or whirlybirds you’ll also avoid any worries about mould and mildew damage. Many people also use shipping containers to move house too which is fast becoming a popular service around the country.

Gardening equipment

Gardening is a great joy for many New Zealanders as a way to relax, unwind and get close to nature. While many homes have garden sheds, if you have a large garden then the shed you have may not be large enough for your needs.

Shipping containers are again a great storage option here, especially those fitted with double doors which make access a breeze. Many people also opt for the 10 ft shipping container for this purpose given they don’t need as much space offered by a standard 20 ft container. Another option people consider is to modify the shipping container and create a proper garden shed with doors, windows, shelving and sometimes even electrics too.

Hazardous Goods and Chemicals

A specialised niche also exists in terms of container storage with respect to hazardous goods and chemicals, used by a variety of industries. These can include the storage of things like paints, thinners, Class 3 flammables, oils, petroleum etc.

There are specific shipping containers you can get for the transport and storage of such materials called Dangerous Goods Containers which have specialised features that are required to be compliant. These include bunded floors, discharge valves for spillages, large vents for airflow and easy to open doors. Whatever your requirements, we can give you specific advice to meet your needs.


Kiwis love their cars and own a lot of them with among the highest rates of vehicle ownership per capita in the world. With space in a typical double garage or carport quickly used by your everyday domestic vehicles, people often need to look elsewhere for ways to store their sports/speciality/vintage cars.

Shipping containers are great options for these as a standard one can fit one or sometimes two cars at any one time. With ramps fitted at the front of the shipping container (preferably weather tight with vents), you can easily drive them in and out whenever you need. Again, it’s a great, cost-effective solution that allows you to keep your beloved cars close and accessible.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Wm O’Brien Self Storage Cork (@selfstoragecork) on

Some great ways to use your shipping container for storage

As you can see, there are some great ways you can use a standard or specialised shipping container for storage. Whether you’re an individual or an owner of a business (small or industrial) they can offer quick, easy and accessible storage solutions for your needs.


If you’ve recently become the proud owner of a brand new shipping container it’ll probably be in your interests to do what you can to make sure it lasts as long as it can. Don’t get us wrong, shipping containers are naturally strong, tough and durable, but there are definitely a few additional steps you can take to stretch its lifespan to the max.

Coat of paint

One of the easiest ways to increase the lifespan of your shipping container is to give it a coat of paint. You can do this yourself, of course, but a lot of shipping container companies can do this for you using the most suitable paint while saving you the time, hassle and effort.

The new coat of paint will not only look great but will add water and corrosion-resistant properties to your shipping container. As you’ll probably know, rust is one of the biggest threats when it comes to the overall lifespan of a container but a good coat of paint that’s maintained over time will keep a protective layer against the elements.

A good opportunity with paint also comes in the form of branding too if the container is being used as part of a business.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Dominé (@johndomine1) on

Look after your roof

A shipping container is a bit like a house in that it’s only as good as the roof above it. Looking after the roof of your shipping container is therefore just as important.

While you always see shipping containers stacked one on top of another in ports around the world, it’s important to remember that it’s the reinforced corner castings of the shipping container that gives it its strength to withstand these weights. The roofs themselves are not made to support weight and will flex even when walked across.

Container roofs are also flat so they are prone to collecting pools of water, ice, leaves and other debris from their environments. It’s important to clear these off as regularly as possible again to prevent rust and leaks.

Mount your container

Mounting your container on planks, bricks, piles or some other foundation might not seem the most obvious thing to do but it can certainly be something to prolong its lifespan.

The main situation for doing this would be if your shipping container would otherwise be placed directly onto the earth, particularly areas that become easily damp and/or boggy. Without a gap below the shipping container, moisture can easily get trapped which can lead to corrosion in the flooring.

A container on the ground is also susceptible to unexpected flooding which can penetrate the container and cause damage internally as well. The only thing to be mindful of when attempting to mount your container is to do so properly, usually with the help of your container company. If the mounts are uneven, you’ll potentially compromise its structural integrity over time.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Montara (@montara.arqeng) on

Regular lubrication

To get the most out of your shipping container, every part of it requires and deserves your care and attention. The hinges, locking bar brackets, locking bar guides, cam retainers and handles – all of which are found on your shipping container doors, need to be well looked after.

Keeping them well lubricated and greased will give them anti-moisture, anti-corrosion protection and keep them from getting stiff. When joints become stiff, more effort is required to use them and with greater force applied, damage can also be inadvertently inflicted.

Your container doors will probably be the most used part of your shipping container so be sure not to overlook this step as if you lose your doors, the usefulness of your container becomes that much less.


Security may seem a strange thing to include in a discussion about container lifespan but it’s definitely a factor to be considered right from the outset.

Shipping containers are used, primarily for storage, in fixed placements or in transport. Often, the goods inside are of some value and nefarious types may be inclined to break into them, causing damage to the container itself.

A solid lockbox is a great deterrent to stop this from happening. They can be easily installed on any container door and prevent bolt cutters from reaching into your padlock. It’s a really easy step to follow and one that has no negative consequences.


Last but not least we’ve mentioned things that can damage your container from the outside but you should also think about what can happen from the inside too.

Moisture build-up from within a container is definitely a cause for concern, especially in climates where humidity is a factor and those where the difference in temperatures between daytime and nighttime are extreme. Moisture from within not only leads to corrosion in the same way it does from the outside but will also potentially damage your goods by mould and mildew.

Vents and whirlybirds will encourage and regulate the airflow and temperature inside your container. Whirlybirds are particularly good at providing an escape route for hot air within, while at the same time bringing cool air in which is exactly what needs to happen to keep it moisture free.

Make sure your container lasts as long as it should!

As you can see, there are some easy tips to follow to ensure your shipping container has the lifespan it should. You might not need to follow every single one of them depending on your situation but the more you do, the more likely you’ll be to have a container that goes the distance.

An apartment block made out of shipping containers

Shipping containers were invented in the 1950s and revolutionised the way goods were transported all around the world. While millions of containers still perform this function, a new revolution has been taking place in recent years where other uses of shipping containers have been found.

We thought we’d share some of these innovative uses of shipping containers which showcases some great ingenuity and creativity.

1. Container homes and housing

The development of shipping container homes and housing has grown to a point where it is now an important part of the tiny homes movement. With the cities and lifestyles becoming increasingly cluttered, more and more individuals and families have chosen to downsize their living. The container home solutions that have evolved from this have been quite remarkable and have shown people how much they can do with small amounts of space.

At the other end of the spectrum, others have used multiple shipping containers to create large and lavish homes complete with all the mod-cons found in a brand new build. Shipping containers have also been used in apartment-like configurations and for social housing too showing just how versatile they can be.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by LUXURY CONTAINER HOME (@container_homeliving) on

2. Retail shops and malls

Another recent trend has seen shipping container retail shops and malls emerge all around the world. This has been for both temporary pop-ups and permanent fixtures alike. While many large brands have jumped on this bandwagon it has also been a great, cost-effective solution for specialised and boutique stores with smaller product ranges and budgets.

Some great examples of this include the Boxpark malls in the UK and Common Ground in Seoul, the largest shipping container mall in the world made from 200+ large shipping containers!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ♡ yanyanlee ♡ (@yanyan0627) on

3. Pop-up bars and cafes

As good as they are for retail shops, they are arguably even better for pop-up bars and cafes. A 20ft shipping container is almost the perfect size for baristas and/or bar staff to operate behind and can be easily modified with side opening doors etc to serve their eager patrons.

Not only that, they can be fairly easily wired and plumbed for all your catering needs and some even reinforce their roofs to create a nice rooftop seating/dining spaces. Their transportability means they can be easily picked up and moved from place to place.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by +28squares (@plus28squares) on

4. Workplaces and offices

Going to work in a shipping container five days a week is a bit of a strange thought but it is something a few organisations are turning into a reality for their employers.

As with most decisions to do with business, the main appeal comes down to the bottom line with shipping container sites seen as an affordable alternative option. One of the most well-known examples is the Box Office in Providence, Rhode Island built from 32 up-cycled shipping containers. It caters specifically to startups/entrepreneurs and small businesses and has proved to be a highly successful enterprise.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ModernHousing (@ubermodernhome) on

5. Portable cinemas

A great example of a fun and ingenious use of shipping containers are those which have been turned into portable cinemas. In its travelling form, they look like any other shipping container that you’ll see on the back of a truck.

Some of these remain in this form with a projector fitted inside the container with seating facing towards the screen at one end. In the more elaborate versions, a push of a few buttons sees the shipping container completely transform, with its sides expanding out to allow for much more space, almost exactly like that of a small cinema. Either way provides for an enjoyable and unique movie-going experience.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Intentional Business Coach (@sarah_taylor_net) on

6. Portable toilets/Ablution blocks

If you’re organising a big event, festival or project the one thing you don’t want to overlook are the toilet facilities, for obvious reasons. In days gone by, the main choice would’ve been the portaloo (or equivalent) but the experience of using one can often be less than desirable.

Shipping containers, however, have provided a new accessible alternative, with the capacity to be fully plumbed with actual toilets and basins offering a more satisfactory experience. They are also typically much more sanitary with hygiene being a very important factor these days that should never be ignored.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CEPODS™ (@cepods) on

7. Medical Clinics

The portability of shipping containers has made them an excellent option for getting much-needed services to people living in particularly remote areas. This includes medical services with shipping containers being modified and transformed into mobile medical clinics which can be easily picked up and moved from one place to the next.

This has been especially useful in Third World countries where access is a real issue and remote healthcare and clinics are the only way to get people the medical attention they need. They have also been used in areas afflicted by disaster, natural or otherwise, where existing services have been damaged or destroyed and emergency healthcare is required.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Western Shelter (@westernshelter) on

Some great uses of shipping containers

As you can see, there’s a wide range of uses of shipping containers with these just being the tip of the iceberg. As specialists in shipping container sales, hire and modification – we’re always happy to explore these ideas and more with our customers so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to know more!