International Standardization of Shipping Container Homes

International Regulations Shipping Container Homes

What are The Regulations?

Re-purposing shipping containers for the making of homes is a trend that rapidly rises. It is a good thing that we can find ways to re-purpose items instead of disposing of them, especially when it comes to large, metal items.

Considering the solid construction of a shipping container and its ability to withstand harsh conditions while carrying impressive loads, it’s no wonder people see it as a great building material. However, not every shipping container is suitable for homemaking.

There are standards to be met for a container to be declared suitable for home building. At a global level, the International Code Council is the one that issued, for the first time, an official guide in this sector. But, besides checking this guide out, you should also check the local regulations concerning shipping container homes.

What made people consider shipping containers for the making of homes? The fact that it is extremely hard to break into a box made out of solid steel made many consider this option.

After all, safety is one of the main things we think about when designing a home. Besides this, using a shipping container to make a home will shorten the building period of the house and will significantly cut down costs. Because this industry sector developed fast in a very short while, standards were mandatory. Thus, the International Code Council stepped in and provided the first guidance available worldwide.

Of course, more regulations will appear in the future, but for now, it is worth knowing that many states are using this guidance to regulate shipping container homes.


Why standards matter?


To have a shipping container home on your property, you will need to obtain a permit from the local authorities. In most cases, you won’t be able to get it if the shipping container does not respect the ICC-ES AC462 evaluation service.

This evaluation service, issued by the International Code Council, determines which containers are suitable for homemaking. So, a shipping container must be AC462 compliant in order to obtain the permit you need to build a home with its help.

Known as the Acceptance Criteria for Structural Building Materials from Shipping Containers, the AC462 will make sure that the available standards and codes are met by shipping containers. In other words, only the most suitable shipping containers will be declared valid to be used as building materials. This way, safety, reliability, and sturdiness are ensured.


New guideline released in 2019


The International Code Council even released a guideline in 2019, meant to help people safely use shipping containers that were re-purposed for building homes. This new guideline provides details about how to design shipping container homes, how to review them, and how to approve them as building components.

Considering that it’s expected for this industry segment to reach a value of $75 billion in 2025, better regulations, standards, and guidelines are needed. The new guideline can be purchased online, bringing light into this sector for home and land owners, architects, engineers, builders, and state authorities. With its help, shipping container homes will offer the best for their future owners and residents.


Things will evolve for sure, as better regulations are on the way


Considering that trends show growth of demand in the sector of shipping container homes, it is expected for regulations to continue changing in the future. What to expect?

Well, many things are learned on the way, as customers, builders, and others learn more about the real value of shipping containers in the building industry. The guideline released in 2019 is only a step toward achievements that will happen in the future.

For example, in 2021, it is expected for shipping containers to be included in the newest edition of the IBC or International Building Code. So, yes, we can say that there aren’t any formal building codes for shipping containers just yet. Of course, there are codes formulated by smaller regulating entities, but things still need to be improved in this sector.

Present codes and regulations will do for now


Concerning the codes one should follow, the AC462 Structural Building Materials from Shipping Containers is one of the best available at the moment. This guide is currently used by many professional building companies when it comes to making a home out of a shipping container.

It provides all the information required to build a safe and durable home out of materials coming from re-purposed shipping containers. In the future, things will be simple and approving processes will take less time than today.

Everything will change once the 2021 IBC Edition is released and governmental authorities adopt it. This way, regulating entities will become much more familiar with shipping containers, as they will be accepted as official building materials for homes.

Until 2021, it takes a bit more time, patience, and research to get all the approvals for a shipping container home. The good part is that the majority of US states are already accepting shipping containers are building materials for a home.

There is only a very small number of states that are currently not accepting such solutions. However, there are high chances for this to change, especially after the IBC Edition will be made official.

What to Expect from Future Regulations


When it all started, there weren’t many regulations when it came to shipping container homes. It was something new, just like anything else, but it soon gained a lot of traction.

Once the popularity of these homes grew, it was more than obvious that regulations were needed. Thus, entities in charge of emitting regulations in this sector started evaluating the possibilities of turning shipping containers into homes. After a lot of research and field testing, they were able to come up with a set of regulations meant to help all the parties involved in the making of shipping container homes.

The first official guideline regarding the use of shipping containers for homemaking was released in 2016, by the International Code Council and was called ICC-ES AC46. Since then, many things have changed and an updated guideline was released this year as well. The G5-2019 Guideline, also released by the ICC, offers improved guidance and recommendations for those interested in having and building shipping container homes.

The whole idea behind these guidelines is to enhance safety standards and make sure shipping container homes provide both security and comfort, besides resilience in time. It is worth mentioning that the guideline is available for a price, as only a draft version is available for free.


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