Charles Hall
Charles Hall

Flatpack Container Vs. Used Shipping Container

Charles Hall

Flatpack Container Vs. Used Shipping Container

Used shipping containers have become a common solution to storage problems for both domestic and commercial users. These structures have grown in popularity and today they are being used for everything from simple storage solutions to modern Air BnBs. So, what are the benefits of our XPanda range and why would we recommend that you use our products rather than used shipping containers?

In order to guarantee that the shipping containers are fit for use in transit they have to be CSC safety approved. What does CSC safety approved mean? Well, essentially every 30 months shipping containers undergo a quality check by an authorised inspector. This check will determine whether the container is fit for purpose, whether this is transporting goods across the high seas or putting them on the back of a cargo train. When users buy a used shipping container, what they are purchasing is a shipping container that has failed this quality check. Unfortunately, when these products are sold, purchasers are unable to find out the reasons why containers have failed the CSC inspection.

We love shipping containers, and we think they’re very useful to all that own them. However, we aren’t convinced that a used shipping container is the right solution for most people that buy them. That’s why we are the proud suppliers of our XPanda range of flat pack containers and buildings that we designed to tick every box that a used shipping container does and more.


Why pick a flat pack container over a shipping container?


If it’s hard to move, its expensive to move.

For starters, shipping containers are big, heavy, and expensive to move. This comes as no surprise though, as a run-of-the-mill 20 ft shipping container will weigh anywhere between 1.8-2.2 tonnes and require a crane or hiab (with access to the site).  Our range of flat pack buildings and containers solves these problems by being able to move each component by hand to site. This is essential for places where access is likely to be via alleyways like London, or even back gardens where access is often way too tight to even think about using something like a shipping container.

The temperatures inside can be a problem.

Secondly, temperatures inside a shipping container can be a problem. As you’ll know, steel conducts heat very well, meaning in direct sunlight it’ll get very hot and vice versa in the shade. This is a bad idea for storing things that are sensitive to changes in humidity or temperature such as technology, wooden furniture or food. We solved this problem with our flat packed XPandaStore by making a simple “snap in” insulation kit that you could install into your existing unit in around 10 minutes. After we found the need/want for insulated units was higher than we anticipated, we redesigned the XPandastore to have fully insulated wall and roof panels straight out of the factory so they look and function even better.

The possibility of rust and corrosion

If you’re thinking of repurposing or converting your old shipping container, you need to be aware of the fact they require a lot of maintenance. They are not corrosion or rust proof at this point, and perform best in a moderate climate with little rainfall.  Our flat pack containers and cabins are fully galvanized and waterproof so you don’t need to worry about corrosion. You’ll not need to lift a finger to maintain your flat pack container either to make sure it stays rust free and waterproof.

Be aware of toxic exposure when repurposing

Most shipping containers will need to be treated with multiple insecticides to meet the global import and export regulations and procedures. If you plan on converting your shipping container to an office space or work space, you could face toxic exposure. Of course, you don’t want to risk your health or anyone else’s, so it’s strongly recommended you remove the containers wooden floor where these insecticides can harbour. Our XPanda range of buildings however, are not exposed to any insecticides of any sort as they don’t need to be.

The French Guiana Job

Charles Hall

The French Guiana Job

There is never a dull moment when I’m on an install and it certainly takes you to some
interesting places. I was telling Charlie one of my many tales the other day and it got me
reminiscing. Back in my hayday, when I was a younger and more adventurous man, I was asked to supply and install an entire school in French Guiana. Made entirely from flat pack materials.
A strange sensation washed over me, that I had been there before, albeit briefly (more of
that later), so after grabbing a map and reading Lonely Planet for some extra advice, I
jumped at the chance of re-acquainting myself with this remote, beautiful and surprising

The outline of the project ( a school for children of Foreign legion soldiers) was to get six
classrooms, an assembly hall, a food hall, sanitary block and various offices into a remote
region called Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, a small town in the far west of the country that
bordered Suriname. Famous for the prison where Papillion was incarcerated , I can safely
say that this is one of the remotest parts of the world I have ever visited.

3 months later the final spec was agreed , we manufactured the flat pack buildings and
shipped them to French Guiana. We then transported them by road some 400 miles to the
site, and let me tell you that alone was an adventure in itself.
My role was to train the local team in the art of flatpack building installation, then oversee
the project through to completion.
The morning of our first meeting was finally upon us, and after a restless night in 40 degree
heat with no air conditioning, yet another new experience to add to my belt , I set off in my
hired heap of a vehicle for the site.
The area had been cleared of jungle ready for the new build, and I was greeted ( a term I use
very loosely) by a couple of bedraggled looking local men. After 10 minutes of trying to
work out what each other was saying, with one throwing his hands up in the air and walking
away when it seemed no communication was inevitable, It dawned on me that this was my

A map of French Guiana

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Birth of the XPandaStore

Birth of The
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Charles Hall

Birth of the XPandaStore

The original idea for our flat-pack, man-portable buildings was formed from experiences in military tents during my fathers (Andy) time in the army in the 1980’s.

Tents were either very cold or very hot, depending on the weather, not to mention draughty and unsecure. There had to be a better way to accommodate personnel and goods, whilst keeping them man portable. They would often operate in locations with no heavy lifting gear and only basic tools. So, Andy started to work on new ways to improve on their current soft-walled structures.

Many years passed while the idea was being slowly developed!….

Various prototypes were tested, and finally in 2002, we launched the Mk1 XPandaStore. This single skin structure was the very first of its kind in the UK, and was designed for the storage of goods, and could be assembled in previously inaccessible locations. The concept was good, and multiple improvements have been made over the years to make it stronger and more secure.

It should be noted that some of our competition are still selling a copy the Mk1 XpandaStore under various brand names, so it has certainly stood the test of time. Almost 20 years old!

storage containers near me

The Original Mk.1 XPandaStore

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