Do I Need a Permit to Put a Shipping Container on My Property?

Do I Need a Permit to Put a Shipping Container on My Property?

A permit is official permission to buy, use or do something. It is issued by the government after one has applied for it. Obtaining a permit requires paying a fee and proving a capability to conduct the activity applied for and abide by the rules guiding its issuance.

Where it concerns land, permits give one party the authority to conduct an approved act on a particular property which is a piece of real estate like a parcel of land or a building.

However, shipping containers are used in the transportation of goods via rail, sea, air, or road. Made of steel, wood, or corrugated fiberboard, they are designed to be strong enough to withstand the rigors of shipping, handling, and storage.

Being cheap and available, they have in recent times been used as an alternative to traditional building materials and are now used to create houses and office spaces in countries like the United States of America, France, England, New Zealand, etc.

They are also used in the entertainment industry as temporary sets. When these containers are stacked on top of each other, they become a sort of scaffold that big sets can be built against.

However, the question is, do I need a permit to put a shipping container on my property? The answer is yes,  depending on the location, a permit may be needed for the erection of a shipping container on the property, especially if you plan to permanently keep the shipping container on your property. 

Can I Put a Shipping Container on My Property?

Yes, you can put a shipping container on your property if the local authorities permit it. Where you are not sure of what the prevalent regulations are, make inquiries in that regard, consult appropriate officials to enlighten you on the possibility of putting shipping containers on your property.

Shipping containers are a unique and versatile means to make one’s dream home. They provide a cozy and comfortable space for one. However, there are laws that guide an activity such as this. Local and state laws, as well as Homeowners Association rules, must be considered.

Are Permits Required for Storage Containers at Home?

Depending on your area or municipal, permits are required for storage containers at home especially if the storage container is on a short-term basis. Most times, where the storage container is not intended to become a permanent feature on the land, a permit will not be needed.

Moreover, every local municipality, county, city, and state will have its own peculiar requirements guiding the storage of shipping container homes on either a temporary or permanent basis.

A storage container on a property located in a neighborhood with a high population density and lots of traffic might present difficulty in obtaining a permit. In a highbrow neighborhood in a busy city, a storage container might be seen as an eyesore, a blight on the integrity of the beauty of the environment.

The opposite is the case in rural areas. In such places, no one will bat an eye if a storage container is erected on a person’s property. A permit is most often not needed.

One can put a shipping container on the property provided certain factors are put into consideration. These important factors include the rules of the local city, municipal authority, and home owners’ association, location of the container, time frame the container will be on the ground for, and the appearance of the container.

For instance, a lot of objections will be raised against the erection of a container that is dirty and rusty in front of a house in a pretty neighborhood for about a year. If the container was clean and well painted and placed behind the house where no one will see it for a short interval, lesser objections will be raised.

When do I Need a Permit for a Shipping Container on My Property?

While shipping container homes look great and might be a perfect addition to the general landscape in some areas, they are not legal in most places.

A permit should be obtained before any work begins on the shipping container. So, before the shipping container is constructed or set upon the property, approval should be sought and obtained by the appropriate authorities.

The appropriate authority, in this case, could be the neighborhood homeowners’ association, local municipal authority, city council, or the state as a whole. Even in rural areas where a permit may not necessarily be asked for, it might not hurt to ask questions before embarking on a project of such magnitude.

These storage containers can be used for different purposes including being used as houses, offices, party venues, or hospitals. Also, there are separate laws that one must adhere to before constructing any of these facilities using traditional methods.

Considering the fact that these containers can serve different purposes, different rules guide the usage of shipping containers for either of these functions.

One must look into what these exact rules are before obtaining a permit so as to ensure that needless confusion and bureaucratic red tape are avoided.

The rules guiding the creation of a hospital will differ from that of a home. Using residential home guidelines for a hospital would lead to the creation of a death trap.

Nonetheless, considering the hazards associated with shipping containers, one must be aware of what these dangers are and the ways to avoid them before obtaining a permit. It will not do to have to move out of the container hours after settling in because of toxic fumes from the container’s walls.

To avoid such a waste of resources, one must research these dangers, the ways to forestall them, and the amount of money needed to make the shipping container livable. A permit can be obtained after that.

You can obtain a permit after conducting proper research on the shipping container, its grade, size, and color. That way, one will embark on the project knowing that all the necessary tools are available.

Pros of Having a Shipping Container Home on My Property

One advantage is the creative freedom the owner will get to erect something of his own taste and specifications on his property. Most houses in America are bought from previous owners.

So, the owner might have to manage whatever he likes and do some interior work to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

A shipping container home will grant the property owner the opportunity to design the home exactly the way he wants it and deems fit.

It also shows how progressive one is. The property owner will not necessarily need to scream how modern and in tune with today’s reality he is.

The mere sight of a shipping container home will tell whoever comes across him that the gentleman or lady might not be a close-minded tough nut after all.

It is also an effective way to manage limited resources. Where the property is too small to fit something large but too big to be left fallow, it can be put to use as space for a shipping container home. Since shipping container homes are small, they would serve as an effective way to manage the property.

Can I Have a Shipping Container in My Backyard?

Yes, you can have a shipping container in your backyard provided it is legal. The purpose on which it is set up must be within the bounds of the law. Depending on the location, the necessary permits should also be obtained from the necessary authorities and must be erected following the applicable rules and regulations.

The hazards must be expelled too. It will not do to have a shipping container full of toxic chemicals and rusted sharp-edged in a neighborhood with children. So, you can have a shipping container in your home as long as it is safe.

Do You Need Planning Permission to Put a Container on Your Land?

This is dependent on one’s location. A state like Alaska might not necessarily require planning permission before putting a container on land as they are quite lenient with such issues. The opposite is the case in a state like California.

To know if permission will be needed, attention should be paid to the local rules and regulations. If a neighborhood agreement was signed before purchasing the property, the wordings of the said agreement should be looked over to ensure that it is not violated.


The important thing to note is that proper research should be carried out. Know the rules that apply and follow them to avoid being in the wrong and wasting resources. Check the applicable laws and liaise with suppliers before taking any step.