Last Updated: February 13, 2023
How Much Does a Portable Classroom Cost?
Summary: Cost of a Portable Classroom
Portable classroom costs depend on size and customization as well as whether you purchase outright, rent, or lease. Monthly rental or lease payments vary widely, from $250 to around $3,500 on average. Buying a portable classroom costs between $40 and $200 per square foot depending on customization options and size. Expect to pay between $50,000 and $200,000 for a portable classroom.
![Cost of a Portable Classroom](office-trailers/(/assets/images/content/(/assets/images/content/portable-classroom-cost.png)
Benefits of a Portable Classroom
There are a number of benefits to a portable classroom, including:
Lower cost: Depending on customization options, you can pay far less for a portable classroom than you would a permanent addition to your campus. This is particularly true if you go with a used unit.
Flexibility: If your school needs additional space, a portable classroom may fill your need. This can happen for any reason, including an unexpected influx of new students, damage to one of your permanent buildings, or growth in your district that bond initiatives haven't been able to keep up with. You can also move a portable classroom to another area of the campus once it's served its purpose.
Speedy resolution: You can get a portable classroom in about half the time required by traditional construction. This can be vital if you had an unexpected influx of students, whether they're from a neighboring district or refugees from another country. Some modular buildings are ready for install in only a few months.
Customization: Portable classrooms can be customized to fit your particular needs. Options are numerous and include everything from small cubicles to large halls, HVAC systems, ADA accessibility, security systems, and even design options to make the portable unit indistinguishable from the permanent structure. Talk to multiple vendors to get a better idea of what's possible and work with your board to determine your minimum requirements.
Cost to Buy a Portable Classroom
The main cost factors for a portable classroom are building size and the customizations or features you choose.
- Expect to pay between $40 and $200 per square foot on average.
- A single-classroom unit averages between $15,000 and $20,000.
- Multi-unit, fully customized modular buildings range from $30,000 on the low end to $200,000 on the high end.
- Expect to pay at least $1,000 for delivery and setup.
Cost to Rent a Portable Classroom
If you have a temporary need, renting a portable trailer may be the better option. Rates vary based on size, features, and the duration of the rental period.
- Expect to spend between $300 and $1,400 per month to rent a portable classroom for six months.
- Delivery, setup, and return costs another $200 to $400 on average.
Cost to Lease a Portable Classroom
As with renting, the cost to lease a portable classroom varies according to size, features, and terms. Interest rate is another factor in determining lease costs. For this example, we look at a modular building measuring 49' x 14' at a cost of $30,950 and interest rate of 8 percent. Here, monthly costs vary according to the terms, or length, of the lease agreement.
- A 12-month lease averages around $2,900 per month.
- A 24-month lease averages around $1,500 per month.
- You'll pay around $1,000 per month for a 36-month lease.
- A 48-month lease costs around $750 per month.
Choosing a Modular Building Dealer
While you want the best price, you also want to make sure you (1) get what you pay for and (2) choose a reputable dealer that stands behinds its product. To that end, consider the following tips:
- Request multiple quotes: You'll get the best price and service if you talk to multiple vendors. This is particularly true if they know they have competition.
- Do your research: Again, price isn't the only factor. How much experience does the company have? Do they have a good reputation? Look online for customer reviews but also talk to other educators who've used portable classrooms. Also, ask the vendor for referrals and check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Review proposals carefully: When comparing proposals, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Ask for a complete list of all costs and services. Consider it a warning sign if any one vendor comes in significantly lower than the others.
- Customization options: Look for dealers who work with you to customize your classroom. One-size-fits-all is rarely ideal when it comes to portable classrooms.
Permitting, Inspections, and Portable Classrooms
Even though it's portable, a modular classroom requires a permit. Check with your local permitting office, but at a minimum they typically want to know:
- Foundation type
- Ground leveling
- Where it will rest on the property
- ADA compliance
- Utility connections
- Sprinkler and/or fire alarm system
Your portable building also needs to meet local building codes. Drawings, whether architectural or from the factory, must be inspected as part of the permitting process. The assembly process may also require regular inspections starting in the factory and moving all the way through to onsite installation.