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What is a Construction Trailer?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A construction trailer is a portable structure that serves as a temporary office on a construction site. Construction trailers often resemble a large shed or shipping container, and many are actually built using a storage container as a base. These structures can range in size, and are generally identified by their length, which can be given in feet or meters depending on the area. Each construction site may include one or more construction trailers, depending on staffing and storage needs.

The construction trailer generally serves as the heart of the job site, and a great deal of activity takes place inside. It typically includes an office for the project manager and superintendent, as well as a meeting room. Progress meetings with architects and subcontractors are held in the meeting room, and the trailer may include additional rooms for files or materials. On larger jobs, each subcontractor may have his own construction trailer, particularly those in the mechanical or electrical trades.

Traditionally, the construction trailer had no bathrooms, wiring, or heat. Today, these trailers often include bathrooms similar to those found in an RV. They are also wired for electricity, and may include portable heating and cooling units. If the trailer has windows, they are often barred for security. Each trailer may also be wired to local utility lines to provide phone or Internet service to the construction team.

In addition to serving as a temporary field office, a construction trailer may also be used to store materials or equipment that will be used on the job site. Large projects often require separate trailers for things like pipes, drywall, and doors. The trailer keeps these materials protected from rain and theft, as well as other external factors. Many storage trailers include air conditioning or heating to keep materials stored at the required temperature.

Many areas require contractors to obtain a permit before bringing a construction trailer to the site. The contractor may move the trailer using a trailer or railway, and some use a crane to set the trailer onto the desired spot on the site. Depending on its size, the trailer may require footers or other supports. Some contractors also add temporary wooden stairs or decks around the trailer as needed for access. On sites with space limitations, some types of construction trailers can be stacked on top of one another to provide sufficient office and storage space.

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