Can I Put a Container Home in My Backyard?


Are you thinking of shipping container homes? If you’ve ever dreamed of an alternative and sustainable living space, container homes offer an exciting and innovative solution. These unique dwellings are created by repurposing shipping containers, transforming them into stylish and functional living spaces. Still, can you really put a container home in your backyard?

Don’t worry! Let’s explore the ins and outs of container homes, guiding you through the key considerations, regulations, and creative possibilities involved. From understanding the legal aspects and obtaining permits to discovering the best states for container home construction, we’ll provide you with valuable insights and expert advice.

Whether you’re fascinated by the idea of reducing your environmental footprint, seeking a more affordable housing option, or simply drawn to the modern and minimalist aesthetics of container homes, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to experience an exciting journey that merges creativity, functionality, and sustainability as we uncover the world of shipping container homes together.

Key Takeaways

  • Building a shipping container home requires obeying the laws and regulations specific to your location.
  • Consider the restrictions on container size, placement, and usage imposed by your local authorities.
  • Obtain the necessary building permits to ensure your container home meets safety and code compliance standards.
  • Safety is paramount when placing a shipping container on your property.
  • Different states may have varying levels of acceptance and favorable conditions for building shipping container homes.
  • Shipping container homes can be energy-efficient when designed properly, with insulation, sealing, and eco-friendly features.
  • Thorough research, planning, and adherence to legal requirements will contribute to the successful and compliant construction of a shipping container home.

What’s a Container Home?

What a container home is

A container home, also known as a shipping container home, is a type of dwelling that is constructed using repurposed shipping containers. These containers, typically made of steel, were originally designed for transporting goods across long distances via ships, trucks, or trains. However, due to their durability, modular design, and cost-effectiveness, they have gained popularity as a building material for residential structures.

Container homes involve converting one or more shipping containers into livable spaces. The containers are modified and customized to create functional rooms, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. The containers can be stacked or combined to create multi-level or larger homes, offering various design possibilities.

Why Make Home with Shipping Containers?

Shipping container homes offer numerous benefits. There may be challenges to consider, such as insulation, ventilation, utility connections, and adherence to local building codes and regulations. Still, there are several reasons why people choose to build or live in shipping container homes:

A shipping container home
  • Affordability: Shipping containers can be a cost-effective building material. Compared to traditional construction methods, using shipping containers can potentially save on construction costs.
  • Sustainability: Container homes are often favored for their sustainability and eco-friendliness, as they make use of existing materials and reduce construction waste. They can be built relatively quickly and may provide an affordable housing option in certain contexts. Repurposing shipping containers helps reduce waste and promotes recycling. By giving new life to these containers, you contribute to a more sustainable approach to housing.
  • Durability: Shipping containers are built to withstand harsh conditions during transportation, making them inherently durable. They are designed to be weather-resistant and structurally robust, providing a solid foundation for a home.
  • Mobility: Container homes can be easily transported and relocated if needed. This mobility feature makes them appealing to individuals who may need to move or relocate frequently.
  • Flexibility: Shipping containers offer a versatile and flexible building material. They can be stacked or combined to create larger living spaces or customized to fit specific design preferences.
  • Speed of construction: Compared to traditional construction methods, container homes can be built relatively quickly. This can be advantageous for those seeking faster occupancy or who have time constraints.
  • Unique aesthetic style: These homes can be found in various styles, ranging from minimalist and modern designs to more elaborate and luxurious setups. With proper insulation, ventilation, and utility connections, container homes can offer comfortable living spaces comparable to traditional houses. Many people appreciate the modern, industrial aesthetic that container homes can offer. With proper design and customization, container homes can be visually striking and unique.
  • Innovative design possibilities: Container homes allow for creative and innovative architectural designs. They can be designed with various configurations, sizes, and layouts, enabling customization to suit individual needs and preferences.

Can I Put A Container Home In My Backyard?

Can I put a container home in my backyard

Yes, you can put shipping containers in your backyard. It’s very obvious doing such a thing when you own the property. But, there are rules depending on the purpose. The ability to put a container home in your backyard depends on several factors, including local zoning regulations, building codes, and any restrictions imposed by homeowners’ associations (HOAs) or other governing entities.

Placing a container home in your backyard may be allowed in some areas, provided that you meet certain requirements. These requirements could include obtaining the necessary permits, obeying building codes, and complying with setback regulations (which specify the minimum distance between structures and property lines). Some jurisdictions may also have limitations on the size and height of structures that can be placed in residential backyards.

Researching and understanding the specific regulations and guidelines applicable to your location is crucial. This information can be obtained from your local government offices, such as the planning department or building permits division. They will be able to provide you with the relevant information regarding the permissibility of container homes in your backyard.

Rules and Regulations for Container Homes

If you’re really excited about building your own shipping container home, there are important factors to keep in mind when it comes to placing the container on your property. From legal regulations to obtaining building permits, let’s check out these considerations in more detail:

Laws and Regulations

When it comes to alternative housing options like shipping container homes, legality is a top concern. You may be wondering about the rules regarding using a shipping container for temporary storage or as an extension to your backyard home.

In the United States, the International Building Code (IBC) sets the standards for all types of homes, including shipping container homes. It specifies regulations such as the required distance between a shipping container home and other structures, as well as the wind loading capacity it should meet.

In the United Kingdom, regulations permit the storage of shipping containers in backyards as long as they are at least five meters away from roads. Though, if you reside in a national park or a protected area, additional regulations might apply.

It’s important to recognize that laws and regulations vary by location. Start by understanding the limitations involved in building a shipping container home and then familiarize yourself with the necessary permits and compliance requirements.

Restrictions for Container Homes

Before purchasing a shipping container, take into account any restrictions that apply to their use on your property. Factors such as container size, location, and duration of placement should be considered.

Some regulations, for instance, impose height limitations or restrictions on the total area covered by fixtures.

Also, shipping containers themselves are typically not permitted to exceed 200 square feet in size. In certain neighborhoods, shipping containers may only be allowed for storage purposes and not as permanent dwellings. Due to these limitations, it’s advisable to consult local experts or your homeowner’s association for specific information before considering a shipping container home.

Building Permits

Obtaining a building permit is essential when constructing any type of dwelling, including a shipping container home. Building permits ensure that the construction adheres to safety standards and local regulations.

To obtain a building permit, you usually need to submit architectural drawings or plans of the proposed structure, along with a detailed description of the construction process. If everything aligns with the requirements, the building permit will be granted, allowing you to commence construction.

While many areas permit shipping containers in backyards, several factors can influence the approval of building permits.

These factors may include the container’s structural integrity, its intended use on your property, zoning regulations in your neighborhood, and proximity to other structures, among others.

Although obtaining a building permit adds an extra step to the construction process, it ensures the safety and compliance of your shipping container home with local codes.

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Residential vs. Commercial Property Guidelines

The guidelines for placing shipping containers differ between commercial and residential locations, and they are often governed by specific codes. Let’s take a closer look:

Residential vs. Commercial property guidelines

Commercial locations

In commercial locations, the guidelines typically derive from the International Building Code (IBC). For instance, let’s consider the regulations set by the municipal code ordinance 7-7-106 in the city of West Valley, Salt Lake County, Utah. According to this ordinance, the use of cargo and storage containers in commercial zones is allowed under certain conditions:

  • Containers cannot be stacked on top of each other.
  • Containers must be placed on a concrete or asphalt surface.
  • Containers should be fully screened from public view, particularly from public streets.
  • Obtaining a building permit is necessary.

Residential Locations

For residential zones, the guidelines typically follow the International Residential Code (IRC). Referring again to the municipal code ordinance in West Valley, Utah, the regulations for placing containers on residential properties are as follows:

  • Cargo containers are generally not allowed on residential properties.
  • Temporary residential storage containers may be permitted for remodeling and construction purposes for a maximum duration of six (6) months, but only with a valid building permit issued by West Valley City.

Best Way to Make a Container Home

Creating a container home involves several crucial steps and considerations. Here is the best way to make a container home:

The best way to make a container home

Step 1: Planning and design

Define your needs in terms of the number of rooms, layout, size, and overall design aesthetic. Collaborate with a professional experienced in container home design. They can help optimize the use of space, ensure structural integrity, and create a functional and visually appealing design.

Insulation is crucial to regulate temperature and energy efficiency. Plan for proper insulation to maintain comfortable living conditions. Incorporate windows, skylights, or glass panels strategically to maximize natural light and enhance the sense of space.

Step 2: Source and Prepare the Containers

Select high-quality containers that are structurally sound and in good condition. Consider factors such as size, number, and configuration of containers based on your design requirements.

Thoroughly examine the containers for any damage, rust, or potential structural issues. Clean, repair, and remove any hazardous materials before starting the conversion process.

Step 3: Structural modifications

Work with a qualified engineer to assess and approve any necessary structural modifications. They can provide guidance on cutting openings, reinforcing walls, adding supports, or joining multiple containers together.

Reinforce the container’s structure to ensure it can withstand the intended loads, including roof loads and additional floors, if applicable. Cut openings for doors and windows, and properly frame and install them. Plan and install electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, considering the specific requirements of your design.

Step 4: Interior finishes and systems

Choose appropriate materials for flooring, interior walls, and ceiling finishes based on your design preferences and functional needs. Consider factors such as durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance.

Hire licensed professionals to install plumbing and electrical systems, ensuring compliance with local codes and regulations. Install custom cabinetry, countertops, and fixtures to meet your storage and functional requirements. Consider space optimization and utilize creative storage solutions.

Step 5: Exterior and outdoor space

Apply weather-resistant coatings or cladding to protect the container from the elements and enhance its aesthetic appeal. Plan and create outdoor spaces such as patios, decks, or landscaping to expand your living area and enhance the overall enjoyment of the container home.

Step 6: Permits and regulations

Research and comply with local building permits, zoning regulations, and any other applicable codes or regulations. Engage architects, contractors, or consultants experienced in container home construction to ensure compliance with regulations and obtain the required approvals.

Step 7: Utilities and Services

Coordinate with local utility providers to connect water, electricity, and sewage systems to your container home. If desired, explore off-grid options such as solar power, rainwater harvesting, or composting toilets to reduce reliance on traditional utilities.

Step 8: Quality control and safety

Schedule inspections during different stages of the construction process to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards. Consult with professionals such as architects, engineers, or contractors to ensure proper quality control and adherence to safety guidelines.

Which States Allow to Build Shipping Container Homes?

The suitability of states for building shipping container homes can depend on various factors, including local regulations, climate conditions, and availability of resources. While preferences may vary, some states are often considered more favorable for container home construction. These states include:

  • California: California has a vibrant container home community, and its temperate climate makes it conducive for year-round living.
  • Texas: Texas has a favorable regulatory environment and a large land area, providing ample opportunities for container home projects.
  • Florida: With its warm climate and extensive coastline, Florida offers great potential for container homes as vacation properties or beachfront residences.
  • Oregon: Oregon has a progressive approach to alternative housing, and its mild climate and environmental consciousness make it an attractive state for container home enthusiasts.
  • Colorado: Colorado’s mountainous landscapes and growing interest in sustainable living make it a popular destination for container home construction.


1. How to place a shipping container safely on your property?

The ground where you plan to place the container should be firm, level, and able to support the weight of the container. If necessary, hire professionals with the proper equipment, such as cranes or forklifts, to safely lift and position the container. Depending on your location and local regulations, you may need to anchor the container to the ground or secure it to a foundation to prevent shifting or movement.

2. Can I convert a shipping container into a legal permanent residence?

Yes, it is possible to convert a shipping container into a legal permanent residence. But, it is essential to comply with local building codes, regulations, and permit requirements. Consult with local authorities or a professional architect to ensure that your container home meets all the necessary legal and safety standards.

3. Are shipping container homes energy-efficient?

Shipping container homes can be energy-efficient when designed and constructed properly. Insulation, proper sealing, and strategic placement of windows and doors can contribute to energy efficiency. Also, incorporating eco-friendly features such as solar panels and energy-efficient appliances can further enhance the sustainability of a container home.

4. How long do shipping container homes typically last?

Shipping containers are designed to withstand harsh conditions during transportation, and with proper maintenance, they can have a long lifespan. Generally, a well-maintained container home can last for several decades. Yet, factors such as the container’s initial condition, exposure to weather elements, and maintenance practices can affect its longevity.

5. Can I finance the construction of a shipping container home?

Financing options for shipping container homes may vary depending on the lender and the specific project. Traditional mortgages may not be readily available for container homes. However, alternatives such as personal loans, construction loans, or specialized lenders who cater to alternative housing projects may offer financing options.

Final Thoughts

Shipping container homes have gained popularity as innovative and sustainable housing options. But, navigate the rules and regulations surrounding their placement and construction to ensure a successful and legally compliant project. Before starting planning on a container home, know the local laws and regulations pertaining to your specific location. This includes understanding building codes, permit requirements, and any restrictions or limitations that may apply.

Take necessary precautions to ensure a solid and level foundation, employ proper equipment if needed, and consider factors such as anchoring and ventilation to maintain a secure and comfortable living space. Researching the best states for building shipping container homes can provide valuable insights. Consider factors such as local acceptance, climate conditions, and availability of resources when selecting your ideal location.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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