Tell Me More: Choosing a Construction Trailer
There are three main questions you need to answer before you're ready to shop for a construction trailer:
1. How much space (land) do you have to put it on? Make sure you measure the available room for your trailer. Having it delivered only to find that it partially blocks a driveway or sidewalk is an expensive and embarrassing mistake.
2. How many people will it house? A very rough rule of thumb is that construction trailers should include 100 to 150 sq ft per person. So a 12' x 60' single-wide trailer, with 720 sq ft, can handle 5 or 6 people. This will change as you include bathrooms, meeting rooms, or storage space.
3. How long do you need it for? Between 80% and 90% of office trailers are leased, not sold. Knowing how long you'll need yours will help determine the price you'll pay and availability.
Once you know these answers, you can consider the size and type of construction trailer you need.
Construction trailer sizes
Construction trailers are available in widths of 8', 10', 12', and occasionally 14', and lengths of 16' to 64'. At the upper end, 12' x 60' is a "singlewide", and a doublewide is 24' x 60' - simply two singlewides put together. Some common sizes are 8' x 24', 8' x 36', 10' x 30', 10' x 40' or 42', 12' x 50', 12' x 60', and 14' x 64'. Every dealer will have different sizes in stock and can help you determine which size is right for you based on occupancy, use, and available space.
One important caveat: not all dealers measure size the same way. To best compare sizes, make sure dealers are quoting you sizes based on the size of the box - the usable floor space. Some dealers include the trailer "tongue" in their measurements - the piece that connects to a hitch for towing - and that adds 4 feet of unused "space." While that external dimension is useful to know for site planning, that extra 4 feet does not give you any more space inside. You should specifically ask for both internal and external dimensions.
Choosing the right trailer
It's common to find construction trailers in vendors' fleets that are 10 or more years old. While vendors do clean and repair their units between rentals, older trailers may have more wear and tear. So ask how old the unit you're considering is. If it's more than 10 years old, ask if it's been refurbished or had any major repairs recently.
If you're working with a dealer in your local area, visit their facility and check out the unit. There's no better way to get a sense of the condition of the trailer than taking a look yourself. Some dealers will email you digital pictures of the units, as well, which is great if you're not able visit the dealership.
Because their use is almost always temporary, it's best to emphasize features and price when choosing a mobile office, as opposed to appearance or durability. Here are some of the interior features you should evaluate.
- Wiring. All construction trailers should be wired for electricity, including overhead fluorescent lights. Newer models may also include some basic telephone wiring.
- Climate control. Smaller models often have electric baseboard heating and through-wall air conditioning. Larger and/or newer models more commonly include central HVAC systems that do a much better job of climate control while reducing your utility bills.
- Energy-efficient windows. Low-E glazing on construction trailer windows helps reduce heat transfer and reportedly saves between 30% and 50% on electric and heating costs.
- Restrooms. If you're getting a model larger than 8' x 30', you'll probably have the option to include a bathroom.
- Security. Ask if the doors include deadbolt locks or security bars and if the windows include security screens to prevent break-ins. Steel doors are another option to enhance the security of your office trailer.