Shipping Container Home Laws & Permits USA


If you are interested in shipping container homes, it is recommended to check local container home laws and regulations of the area where you live.

This is the best way to make sure you are not going to break any regulations if you start building a home by using shipping containers. The guidelines presented below are meant to give you useful information and bring some light into this case.

While shipping containers were built with a particular purpose, and that is to ship large quantities of goods across the world, many noticed their incredible potential in terms of re-purposing them.

Because they were built to be solid and reliable, with a capacity of holding up to 55,000 lbs., it’s easy to understand why some thought about using them for home building.

Driven by the idea of recycling and re-purposing large metal containers, of having a modern and unique-looking home, and of the versatility promised by this solution, the demand for shipping container houses increased. In the present day, this building sector alone reached a value of several billions of dollars.

However, one cannot use shipping containers for the building of a home without proper permits. And permits cannot be obtained if the containers are not approved by the regulating entities in charge of this aspect.

Who are the regulating entities that can release the required approvals? The International Residential Code and International Building Code are responsible for the conversion of shipping containers into units adequate for human occupancy uses. The International Code Council was the first entity that released an official guideline regarding the use of shipping containers in building commercial and residential units.

This guideline was issued on February 2016 and it is called ICC-ES AC462. It is expected for the Modular Building Institute and National Portable Storage Association to put their imprint on the future regulations. Still, most of the regulations in this sector are issued by the local building code entities, so it is definitely worth checking them out.

What Kind of Permits Do I Need for Shipping Container House


Just like any other building project, everything starts with a design. Ideally, you should get the help of a professional designer that can come up with the best design for your shipping container home, by following the area where you live. Still, it would be advisable not to proceed to anything complex or to invest too much until you talk to a representative of the local municipality.

Because local regulations may be different than the ones issued by the state, it would be ideal to clear this aspect out before you begin spending consistent amounts of money on your dream. However, presenting a design made by a professional to the building commissioner will show that you are determined and committed to respect the standards and build a reliable home right from the start.

You may be required to present a document containing the technical specifications of the containers you are about to use, together with a technical drawing of the containers. This is usually requested for the authorities to see if the containers are indeed suitable for becoming a residential structure. If this is a requirement, it can be quite tricky to get all of this information because you will have to track down the manufacturer of the container, which is, in most cases, located in China.

You see, shipping containers are usually leased to a number of companies throughout their lifetime, so you will have to go down the line until you manage to find out the provider of the container. If you are lucky enough, the provider or manufacturer will be able to give you a specs sheet and technical drawing.

Finally, you will need a permit from your local authorities. Although shipping container houses are not something new, many areas are still not used to such requests and might not know how to address your permit application. It may be a challenge to even locate the person that is issuing the permit, but it is always a good idea to start by talking to the one in charge of building permits in your area. A building permit is not always required, so if this is your case, just skip this part and get down to building your shipping container home.

Container Home Laws – Is it Legal to Build Shipping Container Home in My state


For many residents of the USA, a shipping container home may be one of the most affordable ways to finally have the home of their dreams. But, before you include this on your wish list, you should make sure that it is legal to have such a home built in the state where you live. So, the question of whether it is legal or not to build a shipping container home in your state arises.

The answer to this question is that most US states allow the building of homes out of shipping containers. Out of those that don’t allow it just yet, many are considering it and even looking for ways to properly regulate this aspect.

However, bear in mind the fact that even if your state allows the building of shipping container homes, your city or county may not. So, again, check your local laws regarding this aspect. To find out about the legal terms in your area of residence, you will have to contact the county or city planner and check out the recommendations in this case.

Even if you obtain approval from the planner to build a shipping container home, you will still have to respect the zoning of your area and building coding that is applicable where you live.

What are Shipping Container Building Codes


Besides zoning, you will also have to pay attention to building codes. This is extremely important, as such a code will tell you what standards should be respected when building something in a particular area. Thus, you won’t be able to build a structure that doesn’t respect the standards of the building code existent in the area where you want to build it.

When you apply for a building permit, one of the things you must do is to prove that you will comply with the building code belonging to the area where you want to build your shipping container home. Only if you make proof that you will comply, you will be able to receive the approval you need.

In the US, these building codes are, in general, provided by the International Residential Code and International Building Code. They can also change, once a year or once every two years, so it is worth checking these codes out before you start your building project. It is worth mentioning that some states use their codes in this sector, so building codes are among the first things you should check before coming up with the design of your shipping container home.

Can I Apply Online for Permits


Yes, you can apply for a permit online, as long as you know to which department to send your application and if you have all the required documentation. This is why talking to someone from the municipality could help out.

You will find out more details about the local regulations concerning the matter of shipping container homes and what is needed in order to start building one. When you have all the information you need, you can start collecting permits, finish your home’s design, and everything else needed to apply for a permit online.

Obtaining a permit, regardless of its nature, is a task that requires a lot of time and patience. Luckily, there is a way to get the permit you need online. By accessing Online Permits you can apply for the permit you need comfortably and conveniently. However, make sure you have everything needed in order to send an eligible permit. This means that you should already have all the approvals required by your local legislation.

What is Shipping Container Zoning


Every state in the US has specific zoning regarding the areas available for building purposes. The zoning will indicate the type of building that can be made in a particular area. The zones are created in such a way that they will help a city develop in a harmonious way and according to the plans made by the municipality. Not all cities have zoning, like Huston for instance, which is an exception from this rule. So, before starting your shipping container home project, you should check the zoning code of the area where you plan to build it. The zoning code will tell you what kind of buildings are allowed there, so you’ll know how to make the design of your future house.

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