Mobile Office Trailers 101
Mobile office trailers provide ample working space without the expense, time and hassle of building a permanent structure. Your mobile office trailer can be rented or purchased, and a wide range of sizes and options are available.
What are Mobile Office Trailers Used For?
Because of their easy installation and portability, mobile offices can be used for a variety of different purposes, including:
One of the most popular uses for portable offices is construction trailers. The temporary nature of these offices means that they can quickly be deployed to a construction site and removed at the end of the project.
In addition to office space, these trailers can also be used as storage space, service rooms, temporary accommodation and more. They can easily be placed at strategic locations throughout the construction site for easy access and use.
When schools are overcrowded or renovation work is being done, mobile office trailers can be used as temporary classrooms. Many mobile offices have HVAC systems that keep the room comfortable, and the open floor plan allows teachers to set up the space however they need.
Ground Level Offices
Portable offices can be used for ground-level offices, providing easy access to the space. Because the entryway is nearly flush with the ground, it’s much easier to load and unload items.
The most obvious use for a portable structure is a temporary office. If your team is working on a temporary project and you need to be on location, a mobile office will provide the space you need until the project is complete.
These structures can even be used as secondary offices.
Emergency Crisis Structures
In times of crisis and natural disasters, a mobile office can be used to house supplies, provide basic medical care and even serve as a temporary shelter. Once the situation is under control, the trailers can be removed or sold.
7 Key Advantages of Portable Office Structures
Regardless of their use, portable offices offer a number of benefits, including:
#1 – Portable and Temporary
The most obvious benefit of having a mobile structure is that it’s portable and temporary. The portable nature of the structure means that it can be placed wherever you want. And because it’s temporary, there’s no need to worry about laying a foundation or doing any additional work to the site.
The office can be removed whenever you want, and you can reposition or relocate as necessary.
#2 – Quick Construction
Because it’s not a permanent structure and pre-fabricated, mobile offices are quick and easy to deploy. They can be delivered and set very quickly.
Stick-built structures take much longer to build and often require approval from the county. These are permanent structures in most cases, which isn’t ideal for construction sites or other jobs of a temporary nature.
#3 – High-Quality, Durable Structures
Portable offices are made with high-quality, durable materials. They provide a safe and functional space where you can store even valuable and sensitive items.
#4 – Affordable
Compared to permanent structures, mobile office trailers are much more affordable. You also have more options. You can rent the office, or you can purchase it. If you’re on a tighter budget and only need the office for a short period of time, renting may be the more economical option.
Compared to the cost of renting or leasing office space, mobile offices are far more affordable. Renting office space in a building can cost anywhere from $30-$80 per square foot in the United States. With an office trailer, you may spend $200-$1,000 per month.
#5 – Flexible Options
Mobile office trailers can be customized to your needs. Whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll find that it’s much easier to find a trailer that meets your needs.
With permanent structures, it’s time-consuming and expensive to expand or change the design. With trailers, you can expand your space by simply bringing in more trailers. You can also try out different sizes and layouts to find one that meets your needs without having to renovate.
#6 – Security
Many portable office trailers have security features that will protect your items. Important documents can be locked up and stored in the trailer. Temporary fencing can even be installed to further secure restricted areas on the site.
When security measures are in place, you can store computers and other equipment without worry.
#7 – A Temporary Home Base
Trailers provide a semi-traditional office space where you can meet with clients and discuss plans without being disturbed. The trailer also provides a centralized space where employees and subcontractors can work together. Workers know exactly where to go if they have questions or problems.
Should You Rent or Buy Your Office Trailer?
For many businesses, the decision to use mobile office trailers is an easy one. But the real dilemma comes in deciding whether to rent or buy the structure.
The answer really depends on your budget, how long you’ll need the office and for what purpose.
Mobiles Offices for Rent
For small construction projects, typically portable offices are rented. A construction trailer rental is the most economical option in this case because the project won’t be extensive, and the builder or contractor can choose a trailer that’s just the right size/layout.
If you only need the space temporarily and don’t really care about customization, renting may be the better option for you.
Renting may also make sense if you:
- Are on a tighter budget
- Don’t want to make such a large investment
- Want to try before you buy
Advantages of Renting
- You’re not responsible for maintenance or repairs
- No upfront investment required
- No need to worry about relocation costs
- When you no longer need the office, it can be removed
- The most affordable option
Disadvantages of Renting
- No ability to customize the trailer
- If long-term, costs of renting may be higher than buying
- Rental prices may change
Office trailer rental prices will depend on the company you’re leasing from and the size of the office. The larger the unit, the higher the rental cost.
- For an 8’ x 20’ trailer, rental costs can range from $100-$200 per month.
- For a 10’ x 40’ trailer, rental costs can range from $150-$300 per month.
- For a 12’ x 60’ trailer, rental costs can range from $300-$500 per month.
In addition to rental costs, you can also expect to pay for delivery, setup and removal.
- Delivery and setup can cost up to $1,500.
- Removal costs can range from $500-$1,000.
Rental companies may have a minimum rental term (e.g. 4 months), but if you know you’ll need the trailer for at least a year, you may get a discount for signing a 12-month lease.
Also, keep in mind that rental prices may be higher in the spring or summer months. Demand for portable offices is much higher during these warmer months because this is when most construction work takes place. Lower inventory levels may mean a higher rental price. If you rent the unit in the winter, when inventory is much higher, you may get a lower price.
Portable Offices for Sale
In some cases, it may make sense to buy a mobile office. If you plan to use the office on a regular basis and over the long-term, it may make more sense to buy a mobile office instead of renting.
Buying may make sense if you:
- Need the office for a long period of time (think 10+ years)
- Want a customizable size, layout and features
- Have a bigger budget
Advantages of Buying
- More options and flexibility in terms of design and layout
- You own the structure, so you can do what you want with it
- No need to worry about fluctuating rental fees
Disadvantages of Buying
- Requires a large upfront investment
- Trailers generally don’t appreciate in value
- You’re responsible for the cost of maintenance, repair and relocation
- When you no longer need the trailer, you have to deal with the hassle of selling it
Mobile trailers are typically priced by the square foot. Prices can range anywhere from $50 to more than $200 per square foot for high-end trailers.
But on average, it’s estimated that the price of a mobile office trailer ranges from:
Keep in mind that this figure is for a new trailer. You also have the option of buying a used trailer, but this is a risky option. Used trailers may not have warranties, or they may have other issues that will cost you money to repair or replace.
In addition to the upfront cost of the trailer, you also have to consider the cost of delivery and set-up. Delivery and setup fees can range anywhere from $1,000-$5,000. These costs are in addition to the purchase price. You may also have to pay state sales tax on top of the purchase price.
Should You Rent or Buy?
Ultimately, you need to consider your budget and needs when deciding whether to rent or buy a portable office.
The two primary things to consider are:
- How long you need the office
- How much customization you require
If you’ll need the office for several years, it will probably make more sense to purchase the office. If you don’t have the money to purchase it outright, many rental companies offer lease to purchase programs. This would allow you to take advantage of a lower monthly price and eventually own the trailer.
If you’re looking for a highly customized office space, buying may be your only option. You may be able to get additional features with a rental, but you may pay an arm and a leg for these features.
Keep in mind that the cost of your mobile office, whether renting or buying, will be dependent on your location, size of the trailer and the features you want.
Popular Sizes for Mobile Offices
Mobile offices come in a wide range of sizes. Some of the most common sizes include:
- 8’ x 20’ – 160 square feet
- 8’ x 24’ – 192 square feet
- 8’ x 30’ – 240 square feet
- 8’ x 32’ – 256 square feet
- 8’ x 36’ – 288 square feet
- 10’ x 36’ – 360 square feet
- 10’ x 44’ – 440 square feet
- 10’ x 50’ – 500 square feet
- 12’ x 44’ – 528 square feet
- 12’ x 50’ – 600 square feet
- 12’ x 60’ – 720 square feet
- 12’ x 64’ – 768 square feet
- 14’ x 64’ – 896 square feet
- 24’ x 60’ – 1440 square feet
Keep in mind that some companies may have more size options or even obscure sizes.
What Features Do Mobile Offices Have?
Portable offices may offer a number of features, depending on the company. Some of the most common and popular features include:
Heating and Cooling Systems
Many office trailers come equipped with heating and cooling systems to create a comfortable environment. Climate control also ensures that sensitive documents and valuables are kept at the right temperatures.
Moisture, humidity and high temperatures can damage some items. An HVAC system will help keep the interior environment at just the right temperature.
Office trailers come wired for electricity. Most already have overhead lighting installed. Many now have data and phone connections, so you can start using the trailer for business right away.
Some portable offices have water and sewer connections. Most companies have restroom options, including ones that are ADA compliant. This may be a good option if your site offers water and sewer connections.
The interior of the trailer can often be customized to your needs and may even include furniture. For example, some offices have built-in desks and filing cabinets.
Depending on the company, you may be able to choose a trailer that also offers storage. Office/storage combinations are great for construction sites.
Mobile offices usually come with security features to protect your space and the items inside. Special and complex locking systems may be included as an additional feature.
Mobile vs Modular?
If you’re considering a portable office, you may be wondering whether mobile or modular is the best option.
Compared to modular, mobile offices tend to have more basic options. However, basic doesn’t necessarily mean inferior. Modular offices may be built to higher standards and offer more features. Generally, modular offices are better suited for long-term office uses and may come at a higher price.
It’s also not uncommon for companies to use the words modular and mobile interchangeably. Neither will require a permanent foundation, so they are both technically mobile structures. Modular may not really mean anything and will simply refer to a portable office that can be relocated any time you want.
Mobile offices are a great solution for temporary office needs. They can be rented or purchased, providing flexible options and easy accessibility for businesses of all sizes.