Frequently Asked Questions

A list of our frequently asked questions is as follows:

  1. How do I enquire about availability and get a quotation?
  2. How do I place an order?
  3. How do I pay?
  4. Can I pay by credit card?
  5. Is there a minimum hire period?
  6. Do we need to insure the hired equipment?
  7. How do you deliver?
  8. How do I check if you are able to access our property or business?
  9. How much does delivery cost?
  10. Can you drive across a grass paddock with a lorry?
  11. Do we need foundations?
  12. How do we connect the units to services?
  13. Do we need to apply for building regulations?
  14. Do we need planning permission?
  15. Our health and Safety manager needs further information before he will allow delivery
  16. The cabin or container I am interested in buying or hiring has electrics - how do we know that this is safe to use?
  17. The electrical certificate that you have provided is only valid for 3 months, why is this?
  18. What happens if I have a problem with the unit during the hire period?
  19. We have lost the keys to the cabin (or container)
  20. Why should we use Portable Space?
  21. What sort of portable cabin do we need?
  22. We would like to hire a site (office, toilet, canteen, drying room) using your steel anti vandal cabins, what colour will they be?
  23. What is a modular building?
  24. What is the difference between a shipping container and a site store?
  25. What size are shipping containers?
  26. I only need the container for a short time; I do not really want to buy it!
  27. What is the difference between a one trip and a used container?
  28. How long will a used container last?
  29. What colours of shipping container are available?
  30. If we buy a container what maintenance do we need to do?
  31. I have heard that containers condensate, is this true?
  32. Do containers smell?
  33. How do I know what I am getting?
  34. I want to get rid of an old container. Can you help me?
  35. Can you temporarily store my container?
  36. What if my container needs repairing?
  37. What is containerisation and how did ISO shipping containers come about?

How do I enquire about availability and get a quotation?

During office hours please feel free to call us to discuss your requirements, or please use the online quote form you will find on each page of the website. For a more detailed enquiry please add items to the shopping basket and check it out as an enquiry rather than online purchase. Or simply email us info@portablespace.co.uk

How do I place an order?

We require a written order for both hire and sales purchases; this can be by email, fax or letter. Some items can be purchased directly through the website, please add them to your shopping basket in the usual way. For orders involving detailed conversion work, we will require you to send back a signed copy of the agreed CAD drawing.

How do I pay?

Just like when you shop online Portable Space require payment in advance for anything we sell, we can accept payment by bank transfer (BACs or CHAPS or credit card). The only exceptions are public institutions such as schools and hospitals or any government department with officially recognised purchase orders. For hire related orders it depends on whether you are an individual or business - for new hire customers and subject to a credit search we usually require payment in advance for the delivery and collection costs plus the first 4 weeks hire. If you are a business then depending on your credit score we might be able to set up an account straight away. Please discuss payment options with our business development team or direct with accounts@portablespace.co.uk

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes we take all credit cards including American Express, in some circumstances there might be a small handling fee when accepted over the telephone.

Is there a minimum hire period?

Yes, a three week minimum for chemical toilets and welfare units, a four week minimum for all other units (if you are organising an event and only need the unit on site for a couple of days this is fine but the minimum hire charges apply).

Do we need to insure the hired equipment?

Yes, as soon as the cabin is delivered to site it is your responsibility to look after it and insure it until we have collected it from site. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further details.

How do you deliver?

All units are delivered by HIAB lorry, with the exception of  chemical toilets  and  towable welfare units  which are towed with a transit style van. On restricted or unusual sites we may need to deliver by alternate means, this can involve 4wd, forklift, telescopic handler or even man handling our flat pack range of cabins and storage containers. This will be discussed with the business development team at order placement.

How do I check if you are able to access our property or business?

We can get a lot of information about access by discussing with you over the telephone and using Google Earth; in the event that we are still not sure then we will undertake a site visit. The main things that cause us problems are weak or low bridges, overhanging branches and trees, underground services and man holes, overhead cables and electrics and restricted entrances less than 10ft (3m) wide especially if they are not in a straight-line.

How much does delivery cost?

Delivery cost is affected by the size and number of units being delivered to a single location, how quickly you need the unit, and if you are flexible with delivery date and time. Basically the more time and notice you give us the greater the chance that you will receive your delivery exactly when you need it at the best possible delivery rate. We are normally booking transport 3-5 days ahead.

Can you drive across a grass paddock with a lorry?

We are not normally able to leave made up ground or roads, our lorries have a very high front axle weight because of the crane just behind the cab. If there is a soft place you can be sure that we will find it! Please contact us to discuss your requirements as we can usually come up with a solution.

Do we need foundations?

All our units are designed to be supported on the 4 corners; our units do not come with jacklegs as standard (we can fit these to all steel anti-vandal cabins for a small weekly charge). We level up units on the corners by using pre-cut wooden shims that our drivers keep in stock. For individual units hard standing is usually sufficient and our drivers carry enough wood to level up a cabin with a 300mm fall over its whole length eg: over a kerbside. We can double stack units on smooth level concrete or tarmac. For units placed on soft surfaces and especially for double stacked units you may need to provide additional foundation pads, if you are unsure please discuss with our business development team who will arrange a site visit to advise if necessary.

How do we connect the units to services?

We do not make any electricity, water or waste connections; it is your responsibility to make the necessary arrangements with a suitably qualified person. For sites which do not have access to water we can supply bowsers and booster pumps . For sites without mains sewage or underground septic tank you will need our waste tank and emptying service and without electrics we can arrange for a generator . If you do not have any services then you probably need a static or towable welfare unit . Please ask us for further details.

Do we need to apply for building regulations?

All our hire units fall outside of the building regulations, as they are below the required size; please see the documents below. In some circumstances some of the larger units that we sell can require building regulations but we will discuss this with you before delivery.

MPBA-EPC Building Control Modular and Portable Guidance February 2011

Do we need planning permission?

If the unit is being used as part of a construction project on a temporary basis then this is normally included within the planning consent, otherwise you will need to check the planning history for your site and contact your landlord. As different regions and district councils can take slightly different views, please do not assume because the container is portable that you do not require planning permission.

Our health and Safety manager needs further information before he will allow delivery

Our drivers carry all health and safety, training and inspection certificates with them in the lorry; they are trained to carry out risk assessments using a generic assessment. Please let our business development advisor know beforehand if you know of any restrictions so that these can be pre-recorded for the driver. Drivers will report to the site manager to discuss safe operations before starting work. Portable Space are ISO 9001:2008 and Safe Contractor accredited to give you the confidence that you are dealing with a responsible and careful business. For more info refer to health and safety  for further details.

The cabin or container I am interested in buying or hiring has electrics - how do we know that this is safe to use?

All portable units with electrics are tested by a qualified electrician before delivery, however during the transportation process it is possible that components might become disturbed; it is your connecting electrician’s responsibility to retest the cabin on delivery.

The electrical certificate that you have provided is only valid for 3 months, why is this?

The reason for this is the portable and transportable nature of the cabins means that they need to be tested more frequently than a fixed building. In any case as mentioned above it is your responsibility to retest the cabin on delivery and then decide a suitable inspection frequency after that.

What happens if I have a problem with the unit during the hire period?

We cover all basic maintenance, for example if an electrical item breaks we come and replace it, or if the unit developed a leak we would come and repair it. We will repair any requested items but will have to charge for damage caused by misuse or vandalism.

We have lost the keys to the cabin (or container)

We usually keep spares for the hire units and can send additional copies out for a small charge. If you need same day key delivery service then the best solution is to check first and then come and pick the keys up from our head office, if you need us to deliver same day we will do our best to keep the cost to a minimum however if a special trip is needed deliveries are done at our standard hourly charge out rate. For sold units we do not keep any spare keys, if you are locked out you may need our team to remove and refit the lock.

Why should we use Portable Space?

Started in 2002 we are dedicated to offering affordable and reliable portable accommodation, storage and transport solutions to help you build a better business. Please see about us for further information.

What sort of portable cabin do we need?

We generally supply three different types of portable cabin, details for which can be found by following the links below.

Steel anti-vandal units : with steel shutters and security locking features these are tough units and ideal for sites where security is potentially a problem and life is generally harder. We have one of the most modern and well kept fleets of cabins in the South East. They also make comfortable office units.

Timber Jackleg cabins : a timber building that some clients feel is aesthetically more pleasing than steel units and better suited to use as an executive office. From the basic unit we can offer many options to upgrade the specification - such as double glazed windows, 3 part dado rail style electrical trunking. We have limited numbers of these for hire, with most clients choosing to buy for a long term requirement.

Flat pack : man portable and flat pack solution designed for restricted sites, especially suited to city centres and projects in and around London (multi storey car parks and tubeline applications). Usually delivered on HIAB as close as possible to final destination, or with van and trailer combination.

Mobile : towable units for transient sites or sites with restricted access for a lorry, delivery with 4wd drive is available for off road accommodation requirements, storage can be supplemented with flat pack units delivered on 4wd and trailer.

We would like to hire a site (office, toilet, canteen, drying room) using your steel anti vandal cabins, what colour will they be?

All hire units are painted Dark Blue RAL5013 or RAL5010.

What is a modular building?

Modular buildings comprise of a number of cabin sections which are joined together to form one large building.  Here at Portable Space we do not generally get involved in the supply of modular buildings.

What is the difference between a shipping container and a site store?

Shipping containers  are designed to an ISO standard for transporting cargo around the world, there are many different types and they are usually plated to carry around 28 tonnes when loaded (the capacity of the container is clearly marked on the doors of the container together with a unique reference number starting with 4 alpha digits). Shipping containers have 2 vertical bars on each door to pull the door closed onto a watertight seal. The floors are usually 28mm thick marine ply or equivalent and designed to allow loading with a forklift truck. The steel is a specialist steel known as Corten steel which prohibits rust. The robust nature of a shipping container makes it ideal for storage purposes, the only real limitation for storage is when standard 6m lengths of pipe and steel need to be stored as it is too short. Please refer to the specification tab for individual product items for further details.

Site storage containers  usually have a simple key operated locking mechanism and invisible hinges to make them more secure. A lot of the Portable Space site storage containers are compatible for stacking with any  Steel Accommodation unit  of the same size and are available in 12ft x 8ft, 20ft x 8ft and 24ft x 9ft. The 20ft site store is actually slightly over 20ft to enable 6m lengths to be stored. We do not recommend that forklifts are operated inside a site store as this can lead to floor damage.

What size are shipping containers?

For detailed measurements, weights and capacities for all containers please refer to the specification tab on each of the product pages in the website. If you cannot find a container that meets your needs please refer to shipping container conversions where we can modify containers to meet your needs.

I only need the container for a short time; I do not really want to buy it!

Portable Space hire and sell shipping containers, many of our customers choose to hire especially if they are not sure how long they will need the container, we undertake any maintenance issues and offer competitive hire rates with great customer service and professional peace of mind invoicing. Our minimum hire period is only 4 weeks.

What is the difference between a one trip and a used container?

One trip containers have been built in factories in China and used just once to bring cargo into the country, as a result we are able to sell a newly built container at a much cheaper price than if we had built in Europe. All one trip containers have been built to exacting ISO standards.

Used containers have normally been used by the shipping lines for a longer period of time, Grade A containers will have been typically used for less than 8 years and maintained to a high standard. Standard used or  wind and watertight containers  have been used for around 10-15 years. They are structurally sound but will be showing signs of age; they are the most cost effective form of container storage.

How long will a used container last?

The life expectancy of a container will depend on condition at point of sale, a one trip container with careful use and regular maintenance, such as painting and servicing can provide 20-25 years of service. A used container is sold wind and watertight and would have a much lower life expectancy.

What colours of shipping container are available?

Our standard one trip containers are usually available in blue RAL5010; we also stock some containers in dark blue RAL5013 and Dark green RAL 6007. Used containers are in the colour of the original shipping line and usually have large decals (stickers) on the side. If you have a special paint requirement then we can repaint the container in any RAL colour of your choice.

If we buy a container what maintenance do we need to do?

You should periodically grease / oil the moving parts of the door locking gear and door hinges. Maintenance of rust patches at an early stage is the best way to protect the life of the container, the roof of the container is the most important and usually the most overlooked area. Of course if you choose to hire we will rectify any problems as soon as possible and if necessary exchange the container.

I have heard that containers condensate, is this true?

All shipping containers have baffled vents to let air in and keep water out. Any steel box has a risk of condensation - as the air in the container warms up during the day, moisture in the surroundings is released as vapour, this vapour becomes water droplets as the temperature falls again (normally overnight).

From our experience one trip containers are not significantly affected by condensation, however this can be affected by position and aspect. If the items you store are likely to be affected by condensation then our recommendation is to choose a one trip container and undertake regular inspections (both to keep an eye on it and to refresh the air inside). If you experience problems then we can either supply container desiccant to absorb the moisture or fit more vents to wick away excess moisture. In extreme circumstances our container conversion division could line out and insulate the containers with rockwool and plywood or spray the inside of the container using a special insulating material, but this is only necessary with very valuable items.

Do containers smell?

One trip containers smell like new - just like walking into a timber yard. Used containers which have carried many different items in their life will normally have a slight nose. If a smell is likely to cause a problem please let us know when you place your order and we will select a suitable container.

How do I know what I am getting?

The benefit of dealing with Portable Space is that we do not store our stock on the docks! Therefore we can select and control our containers much better (usually the person you speak to on the telephone will visually check the unit matches up with their description to you). For any container purchased from our head office you are welcome to arrange to come and have a look, alternatively we will take photos and email these to you.

I want to get rid of an old container. Can you help me?

If you are looking to sell a container then Portable Space buy back containers of all types and sizes (whether or not it was supplied by us). Please email photos, together with a description of the condition, details of any damage, site postcode, and whether the doors operate correctly. With this information we can normally offer you a price to collect and remove the container over the phone, although in some circumstances we might need to carry out a site visit as the offer is subject to access, condition and location.

Can you temporarily store my container?

If you have finished with your container on your site but need to use it again in the future, please contact us about removal, storage and redelivery to your site. Whilst we store the container we can also inspect, repair, modify and certify the container with a CSC plate for onward overseas shipping if required

What if my container needs repairing?

Portable Space have trained staff to inspect, repair and certify shipping containers with a CSC plate for onward overseas shipping. Please contact us to arrange to restitute the container at our storage facility.

What is containerisation and how did ISO shipping containers come about?

Follow this link for the history of the ISO shipping container