How do you get a shipping container certified to legally live in?

It would be cool to attach a bunch of those things together and install a bunch of doors, windows, decks, etc. Seattle, Washington

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I should think that if you're going to use a storage container to be part of your home, you might want to make sure that as a building it fulfils all of the regular requirements put up by the council as if you were constructing any other regular building. A storage container would just constitute the materials that you're utilising for the build.

We can do these new containers in all sizes and colors


I can supply anyone in 48 states with shipping containers and fabricated containers.

DavidA3661 year ago

Contact your local municipality. You will need to check your location zoning to ensure residential use is permitted, or if a "variance" can be obtained. Next will be the building permit process, to include site plans, building plans, sewer and water permits and driveway or access road permit. It's all expensive but varies depending on where you live. I am in Southern Chester County Pennsylvania, and if I already own the land, and the land was previously subdivided and or permitted for a single family home, I can usually get all my permitting, drawings, initial driveway with tire scrubber, and all Equivalent Discharge Units for sewer and Equivalent Distribution Units for water, all for $25,000.00. On site water and sewer cost less to permit but much more to build.

Presently, I am building a two, one bedrooms, unit on a small redevelopment site and just to have permission to connect my pipes into the municipal water and sewer cost $11,636.00. That was just for permission, the actual installation cost for material and labor was only about $1,500.00.

I have not tried to build a shipping container home near other traditional residential use, but all the neighbors get to have their say at a public hearing and they will not agree to something they think may devalue their properties. Shipping container homes will be most easily permitted when out of site of traditional planned residential developments. The edge of industrial districts, the fringe of depressed urban neighborhoods or obscure rural areas will probably be easier.

Take some picture into your next municipal planning meeting and when they ask if anyone has any new business, just offer them to the planning commission and ask what they think of the idea. That's free.

Good luck.

NathanR621 year ago

Can anyone provide me with details on how I could acquire land and build a shipping container home in Massachusetts? Much thanks for your response.

I can quote you container prices for delivery to your zipcode.

Happy Fish7 years ago
Here's a nice link for examples of Container homes.

Local codes and regulations will probably apply, but with persistence and reason you might may be able to get waivers.

Cheeries !
i plan on welding 3 across and 2 stories high and placing underground how would be the best ways to engineer this?

i have alot of google sketcup models but i dont think all of them will work

Did you ever get an answer for this? My head of design and build out can answer all of your questions and I source the containers for the project. Feel free to reach out at

AimP2 years ago

Looking for some resources in the Minnesota area. For advice on zoning and other laws as well as cleaning up the paint and pesticides in the container.

There seems to be lots of photos and info on if you should or shouldn't try a shipping container as a home.... and lots of advice on how to do this or that by yourself... but not so much on resources in individual states.

I'm looking specifically for resources on the clean up, prep, zoning or restrictions in MN.

Any help would be appreciated

does any one know if I would be abke to build a shipping contair hime in ohio?

I can supply you with shipping containers and fabricated containers delivered to your zipcode.

pkaa3 years ago


Contains great instructions on how to build DIY shipping container houses

SeanValjean4 years ago
Yeah I think that is how shipping ontario does it as well.
kvc1237 years ago
When I was in the State Dept. I had a friend in the Peace Corps that did live in two containers. One was her bedroom, the other was the kitchen. They were in a 90 degree angle with roof over the area outside. It was quite comfortable, according to me. I don't think she liked it to much. She had it a lot better than the majority of the PC's.
BTW, this was in Africa.
I recently read of a lady that is converting containers into living space. Google it.
shiwilliams8 years ago
I'm not aware that shipping containers are prohibited specifically. If I had to guess, I'd say that you must meet all applicable building codes for your area. (no duh) And that how you do it is up to you. That being said there are some strange rules in some places. I once encountered a town that required wooden fire-blocks to be installed in the walls. This wasn't a problem for most people since they mostly built with wood in that area. However, we were building a metal building, (a warehouse) and it just didn't make sense to us; to introduce a flammable item; in the name of fire prevention! (It would have been the only flammable thing in the structure.) After quite a lot of haranguing with the city inspector, mayor, city council, etc. we were able to get an exception, and they eventually modified the rule. But it was a huge hassle. Bureaucrats are very risk-averse (spineless) in this sense. If you're doing the project yourself, you might even consider fitting the windows, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. at some location with little or no building codes / contractor licensing laws / other restrictions. Then move the units into place when and where you have a suitable one. Also, I see many temporary construction offices and such, built from containers, in my area. If those things are allowed, then they shouldn't be able to prohibit you. Good Luck
randomhat8 years ago
Using a shipping container as a home depends on the individual town/city. At least it does in Canada. I can't remember, but I believe it would be considered to be a type of mobile home. However most townships view the shipping container as basically 'unpretty' and won't issue the permit. Modifying a used shipping container into a home is hard, smelly and very loud. You'd also have to be an experienced master welder. A neighbour of mine had modified a pair of containers into a cabin on 'crown land'. And that's about the only place where the Canadian government couldn't care less about(only woodstoves are now regulated). But you'll need to have a clear cut plan on how to go about doing it(dealing with the insulation and the baffle design of the container) to put in windows and doors. My neighbour didn't and nearly went off his head trying to figure things out.
I don't know, but check with other alternative building communities, like cob, straw, "earth ship", cordwood, etc. They will have faced the same sorts of issues in getting their weird homes approved.
I'd talk to them at your municipal planning office. They may already have been approached with this question and might be able to help. There are two aspects to consider: the living space itself (building codes) and the placement of it (zoning/planning). As for building codes, it would need to meet the international building code standards. This includes things like foundation, walls, plumbing, and heating. It also includes living space considerations. The amount of square feet devoted to sleeping areas, living areas, etc. have minimums. Kitchens and bathrooms (yes, you need them) have to have certain facilities for cooking, water, sewer, etc. For placement of the unit(s) you would, generally, need to put it in a residential zone (as opposed to a commercial zone). This really does depend on your city. It may even be appropriate for an accessory dwelling (like a guest house) if the zoning code accomodates it. Your zoning code may allow for it in certain places and unit density would be a consideration (how many units per lot). For example, if you live in a duplex on a 6,000 square foot lot and the city code allows for one unit per 3,000 square feet, placing an extra dwelling unit on the property would not be allowed.
The only certification you would need would be required by wherever you intend to build your structure and then it would be on the structure itself. You would need to submit your plans for the proper permits with the agency responsible for their issuance. Obviously using a material that is unusual might lead to a few extra questions but if it meets all codes and standards you should be fine.
dosadi9 years ago
I realize this isn't really an answer to your question, but there is an outfit that makes containers that are already modified for occupancy. Even if you're not interested in buying one, it's a good source of inspiration.
Those are VERY cool!
sensoryhouse (author)  dosadi9 years ago
Thanks for the VERY useful link!
sensoryhouse (author)  porcupinemamma8 years ago
try that's where my obsession started.
I've seen pictures of converted containers and I think they are marvelous! What a very cool idea. Please post any info you get. I would like info for Ontario Canada if anyone finds out. I will do the same (and for other areas too.) I spent one whole night trying to find answers to your question, but had no success. :0( Soooo sory I don't have an answer right now.