How to spec a work trailer so daily life won't suck?
August 8, 2008 5:48 AM   Subscribe

My group of contractors works fulltime onsite at Big Agency, and Big Agency has run out of room and is considering getting trailers to put us in. These would be onsite, have water/sewer/electric. I'm hoping to get ideas from people who have worked in onsite trailers on features I should gently suggest Big Agency consider when they are checking out what to buy/rent. Group size is 8 people.
posted by TheManChild2000 to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Make sure they're built with your type of work in mind, as well as your climate.

For example, if you'll be working in shirtsleeves at desks, try to make sure the HVAC & insulation account for that....some trailers have very little insulation, since the builders assume everyone will be wearing full construction gear in winter. Forty degrees indoors can really wear on a person.

You may also want to worry about lighting, the number of electrical outlets, and the total allowed electrical load.

Or not. Kinda depends on what you'll be doing in there.
posted by aramaic at 6:40 AM on August 8, 2008

If you really don't want your life to suck, do all you can to get a penalty attached to using the trailers for too long. As a contractor, you can always make your hourly rate dependent on where you work (ie, base rate + ($20/hour * number of months overdue)).
posted by saeculorum at 7:22 AM on August 8, 2008

Please consider the following points (not necessarily in order of importance):

1. You need a trailer(s) to accommodate 8 people and probably someone at the entrance to keep track of "others" entering the trailer and exiting with your equipment. Having lost two personal laptops this way. In many cases, you will need either a double-wide trailer or consider two single-wides with a breezeway between. Two singles are more difficult for one person to monitor people entering and exiting. Call several national rental agencies for mobile offices for prices, they vary greatly. And they are negotiable.

2. Decide where you want the location of the trailer and decide how many thermostats you will need. One end will be in the sun and roast the employees on that end, while the others are freezing on the other end.

3. Then, if the employees will be working with blueprints, you will need A) some sort of storage--be it hanging or a segmented box for storing them when not in use, and B) a plan table to have the plans open on for ease of use.

4. Often they will meet with the owners (usually monthly) and need a folding table (6' or 8' approx.) as well as maybe eight folding chairs.

5. Telephones for each office as well as the common space.

6. Filing cabinets at least one per office. Shelving for binders as well.

7. A bathroom for the employees and their guests.

8. A couple of portolets for the subs.

9. A good money maker for you would be to rent or purchase (from a store such as Sams, BJs or Costco) a soda machine. You can then purchase sodas, power drinks and such in bulk and, since the workers don't have much money, charge a fair price per can and you'll still make a good profit. (For instance, if you can get 12 sodas at Hess for $2.50 that's $.21 each, and you sell them for $.50, you are netting a $.29 profit per can!) Remember that many of the job sites are not close to a convenience store, and your prices are cheaper if there is a convenience store nearby.
posted by lungtaworld at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2008

In addition to the above, are these new or used trailers?

I used to work for a firm that was in charge of installation of classroom trailers at schools. Euphemistically called "cottages" by the school system.

Ensure that they are properly tied down and leveled.
Ensure that they are properly supported underneath with adequate piers, especially if there is a slope to the ground.
Ensure that proper handicap accesssibility is met in the ramp, doorways and interior.
Ensure that the unit does not off-gas high levels of VOC's and/or is constructed of low-formaldehyde materials.
Ensure adequate power, heating and cooling.

Those are the main points I can remember for now.
posted by mightshould at 7:43 AM on August 8, 2008

Oh, mold is the other thing I forgot to mention; old trailers with ratty carpet and ceiling tiles are breeding grounds for the stuff.
posted by mightshould at 7:47 AM on August 8, 2008

Having lost two personal laptops this way.

Seconding security measures. Although, I don't have experience with effective security measures. Dedicated reception or security personnel? Perhaps bolting everything down? Stuff seems to walk out of trailers pretty easily.
posted by GPF at 7:55 AM on August 8, 2008

Argh, something I forgot to mention before: check out where they intend to site the trailers. Working next to an unmuffled generator sucks enormously, even through walls.
posted by aramaic at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2008

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