You need to follow your state’s shipping container zoning laws to put shipping containers on your property. Read this blog to learn about the laws, permits, and building codes. Know how you can source containers in 2,500+ locations easily. 

The use of shipping containers for personal and commercial use has increased over the years. To regulate the use of shipping containers outside their traditional role in transportation, governments, and regulatory organizations have established shipping container zoning laws that differ from state to state. Following these laws and obtaining the necessary permits is important. We’ll discuss more about this later in the blog. 

Another thing that is equally important is to source your containers that fulfill the terms set out by these laws. To help you with this, we present to you an online container marketplace to buy and sell 11+ types of shipping containers in all conditions at wholesale rates! 

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            Do you need to follow shipping container zoning laws for your business?

            A common question you may think about before getting a shipping container is, “Can I put a shipping container on my property?” The short answer is yes, but you need to follow the shipping container zoning laws.

            Zoning laws regulate land use and building structures within specific areas to ensure safety, proper land use, and community standards. These laws can dictate where and how shipping containers can be used, such as for storage, office space, or retail purposes. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal issues, and potential container removal. 

            If you’re using the container only for a short period, you’ll encounter fewer requirements and will likely only need a temporary use permit. However, if the container is intended as a permanent structure, you must comply with more rigorous standards and regulations.

            Let’s explore some common regulations you’ll need to follow for placing containers on your property. 

            Common shipping container regulations to follow 

            Some common container regulations you need to follow to put containers on your property are building codes, HOA rules, deed restrictions, and getting permits from authorities. Read on to know more. 

            Shipping container zoning laws

            Building codes

            Building codes are a set of regulations that govern the design, construction, alteration, and maintenance of structures. The International Code Council (ICC) publishes two key codes: the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC). 

            These codes provide comprehensive guidelines for structural integrity, fire safety, plumbing, electrical systems, and energy efficiency. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have their own code and safety standards. In most cases, shipping container codes in the IRC will apply to container homes built on permanent foundations. 

            Consult container home contractors or local government to find out about the codes in your area. 

            Permissions and permits 

            You will likely need a building or shipping container permit before installation of the container. In some cases, a temporary use permit is required for short-term placement. Permit requirements vary greatly, and in some municipalities, hiring a permit expediter can be beneficial to guide you through the process.

            HOA rules and Deed restrictions 

            Deed restrictions are legal agreements that limit the use of land or property. Homeowner associations (HOAs) often enforce additional rules governing property use and aesthetics within their communities. 

            Deed restrictions and HOA rules may include prohibitions or guidelines regarding the placement, appearance, and use of a shipping container on a residential property. They aim to maintain uniformity and preserve property values within the neighborhood. Review these regulations carefully before considering the installation of shipping containers on your property.

            Storage container permits 

            If you’re using containers for storage, you’ll abide by a different set of rules than those that apply to a shipping container home. The specific requirements for obtaining a storage container permit vary depending on the municipality and the intended use of the container. 

            For example, getting permits for a storage container is easier in low-traffic or rural areas. However, you will need to comply with more rules if you want to place it in a high-density or residential area. Let’s explore this further in the next section. 

            Shipping container on residential property vs commercial property 

            You’ll require different permits depending on where you’re setting the shipping container. In general, rural areas have fewer permits as compared to urban areas. 

            Commercial locations 

            Commercial uses of containers fall under the International Building Code (IBC), which covers a broader range of structures, including container offices, container home communities, retail spaces, and industrial buildings. A business using containers for commercial purposes must adhere to more comprehensive IBC standards. This includes stricter requirements for fire safety, accessibility, and overall structural integrity. 

            For example, the municipal code ordinance 7-7-106 of West Valley in Salt Lake County, Utah, has the following regulations for the commercial usage of containers: 

            • Cargo Containers shall not be stacked on top of one another;
            • Cargo Containers shall be completely screened from view from any public street through fencing, Landscaping, or Building placement;
            • Containers shall be located on concrete or asphalt; and
            • A building permit shall be obtained.

            Check with your local municipality codes to ensure you’re meeting all requirements for using containers for commercial purposes. 

            Residential locations 

            For residential uses, permits must comply with the International Residential Code (IRC), which focuses on one and two-family dwellings and townhouses.

            For example, Oregon easily allows container houses as single-family homes in areas with a population below 10,000 residents. There are other local rules you may need to follow for container house construction or for placing shipping containers on private land. 

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            Things to consider before placing a shipping container on your property 

            Here are a few things to consider before you place shipping containers on your property. Most local laws depend on the following factors. 

            Assessing the size and space of your property 

            Before placing a shipping container on your property, it’s essential to assess the size and available space. Ensure the container fits within your property boundaries without violating local requirements or obstructing access. Additionally, consider how you will move the container on your property safely. Also, consider the size of the shipping container you’re planning to use. Here’s our guide on how to move a shipping container.

            Consider the container land 

            Once you’ve accessed the size of your property, prepare the land properly to ensure the stability and longevity of the container. Shipping containers should be placed on a solid foundation, such as a gravel pad for a shipping container to prevent shifting and settling. This foundation helps distribute the shipping container weight evenly and protects it from ground moisture and potential corrosion.

            Site preparation

            Apart from preparing the container land, you should also plan for necessary utility connections like electricity, water, and sewage. This is important if you’ll be living in a shipping container. For storage purposes, consider placing additional container locks or adding shelves in the container for more storage space. 

            Consider maintenance and durability 

            Even though shipping containers are quite durable, they still require regular upkeep to prevent rust and wear. Maintain containers by regularly inspecting for rust, ensuring proper ventilation, and applying protective coatings to prevent corrosion.

            Additionally, plan for any container modifications such as insulation, windows, or doors to ensure the container meets your specific needs and complies with local building codes.

            Safety and environmental concerns

            Lastly, consider the safety and environmental factors before you put a shipping container on your property. Ensure the container is structurally sound and properly anchored to withstand weather conditions and prevent accidents. Be mindful of fire hazards by ensuring proper ventilation and not storing flammable materials inside the container.

            Now let’s explore some common laws for different types of container modifications. 

            Common laws for different kinds of shipping container construction

            There are multiple ways to modify containers into functional spaces, and each has a separate law that you’ll need to follow. Here are a few of those. 

            Shipping container homes

            Container homes are permanent structures as compared to simply placing a container in your backyard. Thus they have more shipping container home zoning laws.

            Modified container home

            Check your local building codes which might dictate the length of time the structure can remain and the specific modifications required. Many areas also require that container homes meet the International Residential Code (IRC) standards, which cover structural integrity, insulation, plumbing, and electrical systems.

            For example, container homes in San Diego, California require a separate electrical, mechanical, and plumbing permit regardless of whether installed on a temporary or permanent basis.

            Shipping container storage shed or storage container homes 

            Using containers for storage typically requires fewer permits than homes, since they’re mostly considered a temporary structure. However, it’s important to check with your local authorities as some municipalities may have guidelines for the appearance and placement of containers to maintain neighborhood aesthetics.

            Some locations may even restrict placing storage containers on residential properties. For example, the municipal code of West Valley City in Utah prohibits temporary residential storage containers in Agricultural and Residential Zones except for moving purposes or construction and remodeling purposes.

            Container offices

            Adapting containers for office space or commercial properties requires that you meet meticulous commercial property standards. This involves modifications such as installing windows, doors and ensuring ADA-compliant access. 

            Shipping container patio 

            Many homeowners also consider placing a shipping container in the backyard as a patio. The building permit typically pertains to setbacks from property lines, height restrictions, and aesthetic considerations. 

            Consult with your local authorities to make sure your container has all the necessary permits. While some locations are meticulous about giving container permits, others are more lenient. Let’s explore a few of those below. 

            Which states allow shipping container homes?

            Most states in the US allow shipping container homes, considering that you’re adhering to the zoning laws. However, some states like Texas, Oregon, and Louisiana have more container-friendly regulations. Read on to know more. 

            Laws for container homes in Oregon 

            Oregon has strict building regulations but is also known for its off-grid containerized housing unit communities. The state easily allows container houses as single-family homes in areas with a population below 10,000 residents

            Laws for container homes in Louisiana 

            Shipping container homes are legal and increasingly popular in Louisiana due to lenient zoning laws. Make sure to adapt container homes to withstand the region’s heat and humidity for comfort and longevity.

            Laws for container homes Texas 

            Another state that is quite lenient when it comes to container homes is Texas. However, there are some regulations you must follow for your container home. 

            For example, according to the Lancaster Code of Ordinances, “your cargo container should conform to the setback and building line requirements of the zoning district where it will be placed. No container shall be permitted in a location which is nearer to the public street than the main building, except for projects with an active building permit.” 

            Laws for container homes in California 

            Even though California has tough land-use policies, it is one of the most attractive states that allow shipping container homes—if you follow the rules and regulations. For instance, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) requires a permanent foundation system to support containers when stacked (multi-level), when containers are used for residential occupancy, or when containers are supplied with electrical, water, gas, or sewer utilities. 

            Shipping container zoning laws in Florida 

            You can also use a shipping container in Florida to build both temporary and permanent structures. Keep in mind that a temporary permit may allow the placement of a container at a residential building site for up to 180 days after the building permit is issued. The temporary permit cannot be extended. It’s better to get a permanent permit from the authorities for container homes. 

            One of the most important things to consider is how you’ll get containers in these locations. You might rely on your local sourcing network, but they may not have containers at low prices in your desired location. That’s why an online marketplace like Container xChange is your best option where you can even get containers under $1,000. 

            Browse through container offers in 2,500+ locations from vetted sellers. Simply click the banner below to get started. 

            Shipping container zoning laws CB

            How to apply for a shipping container permit for your property? 

            As we’ve discussed, you’ll need the necessary permits from your local authorities to put a shipping container on your property. The specific rules and regulations may vary from one location to another. However, here are a few general steps to keep in mind. 

            • Fill out an application form.
            • Answer all the questions such as the size of the container, size of your property, duration of storage, purpose of use, etc.
            • Attach the architectural drawings or site map of the structure you plan to construct using containers.
            • Pay a fee, if applicable.

            Read on to explore how you can buy containers easily on Container xChange. 

            Get shipping containers at wholesale rates for your business 

            Now that you know all about shipping container zoning laws, it’s time to discover how you can source containers easily using the Container xChange marketplace, including great options like shipping containers for sale in Houston. Here are the simple steps of buying containers on xChange: 

            Browse and compare offers: Hop onto our trading platform to browse and compare multiple offers. We have an inventory of 100,000+ containers for you to choose from. 

            -Negotiate wholesale prices directly with the seller: Once you find the perfect offer, reach out to the seller directly to negotiate and finalize the deal. No need to chase sellers for quotes or worry about container scams because all our sellers are vetted. 

            -Make safe payments: When everything is finalized, pay for your containers using our secure payment feature. To further ease your worries, we offer a 7-day quality assurance period during which you can thoroughly inspect the container. If you’re unsatisfied, rest assured you’ll receive a full refund. Additionally, reach out to our support team easily if you have any questions or concerns.

            Get started by clicking on the banner below to learn how xChange can help you increase profits for your shipping container business! 

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            Shipping container zoning laws: Common FAQs

            Can I put a shipping container on my property?

            Yes, you can put a shipping container on your property. However, you must adhere to local zoning laws and obtain any necessary permits. Regulations vary by location, so it's essential to consult with your local zoning office before proceeding.

            How high can you stack shipping containers?

            Shipping containers can typically be stacked up to 9 containers high when used for transportation on vessels. For modified structures, stacking containers two or three units high is probably best for safety. Consult with your local authorities to know how many shipping containers can you stack.

            Are shipping container homes legal in New York?

            Yes, container homes in NYC are legal. There are several that have been built over the years, with certainly more to come. However, the regulations vary by municipality.

            Is a shipping container considered a permanent structure?

            Shipping containers are classed as temporary structures by default, and if they are only intended as a temporary solution, then no planning permission will be required. But, if you are planning for the container to become a long-term building, you’ll need to get the necessary permits.

            Do you need a permit for a shipping container?

            Yes, you need to meet the building codes and zoning laws, which often require obtaining a permit from the authorities. Generally, permits are based on the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).