Shipping containers are primarily constructed for shipping, storage, and handling. However, people have recently discovered several innovative uses of the boxes, and you’re likely here because you’re one of these innovative thinkers, aren’t you?
Well, great idea! But have you asked yourself if it’s legal to have one of these structures in your backyard?
Do you know the requirements of owning and keeping one at home?
This article expounds on what you need to bear in mind before putting a shipping container in your backyard. It covers the legal requirements before adding one to your backyard, a few dangers of owning it, and how to choose the best one for your project(s). Let’s delve right into the details now.
So Can I Have A Shipping Container In My Backyard?
Yes, you can have a shipping container in your backyard if you’re compliant with your local area’s legal code. Keep perusing for more information.
Innovative Uses Of Shipping Containers
Before you even buy one, you must have a solid reason for acquiring it. So what do you want to use the box for? Do you plan to make it a home-like Patrick Bradley in Northern Ireland — or Patrick Partouche in France?
Well, that’s up to you, but thanks to the engineers for including containers into their architectural designs.
Shipping containers have also been used as public toilets and office spaces by several engineers. Other innovative people have also used them as emergency hospitals.
For example, the government of Italy, through architects Carlo Rati and Rota Italo, built intensive units using shipping containers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The units proved very useful, especially given that all hospitals were full of patients.
Many entrepreneurs also prefer using shipping containers as hotels, shops, and other commercial units. Famous examples of shipping container commercial structures include the five-story Stow-Away Hotel in London, and other remarkable hotels, showrooms, studios, and shops in Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Costa Rica, and other towns.
You can also use a shipping container as a library, bedroom, secure storage room, mini-shop, reading room, birthday party room, and others.
There are limitless options when it comes to using the container. The more innovative you are, the better.
The Legality: Who Issues The Rules?
If you’re interested in buying and keeping a shipping container in your backyard, you need to know if local authorities have no problem with the purpose for which you want to bring it.
Some of the authorities with which you need to confirm if you’re doing the right thing include Neighborhood Regulations, Homeowners Associations, Municipal, County, State, and Federal Government laws.
Let’s now take a look at some of the regulations that usually apply in these situations.
The Legality: Some Of The Main Laws
Property Zoning Laws
Shipping containers are accessory structures, which are subject to Property zoning regulations. Zoning determines where buildings should be located. That’s why you’ll always find industries in a town clustered in one area.
It’s also the same thing that makes residential areas be in specific corners of a town. If your town’s liquor stores and churches aren’t in one area, it’s due to the effect of zoning.
Different states and towns have different zoning laws. While some authorities allow you to have containers in residential areas for as long as you want, others permit you to have them for only a limited period (e.g. a month).
Others also don’t allow containers in residential areas. A few examples of what zoning laws may affect include;
I). Lot Size
Zoning laws may affect the number of containers that you can add to a specific lot size. The laws differ between states and other local authorities. However, most authorities do not allow more than one container per 2 acres of net land space.
II). Shipping Container Size
There are various cargo container sizes. Depending on your government’s recommended size, you must purchase the container appropriately. Most states/cities allow individuals to have 320 sq. feet shipping containers.
III). Accessory Structures
The total square footage covered by a cargo container includes the area covered by its accessory structures. That said, your city/state’s zoning laws have provisions for the maximum area needed by the container and its accessory structures.
Building codes refer to laws that dictate the construction of any building in an area. It’s important to comply with them before purchasing a shipping container for storage or use in your backyard.
While most building codes across the world adopt the International Building Codes, some states like Massachusetts have modified building codes.
Please check with your authorities to make sure that you’re on the right path. Building codes may affect the following aspects and more.
A set of modifications to your shipping container may be permissible by the law. Some may be prohibited. For example, building codes may only allow a given range of colors to be painted on the container’s exterior.
II). Conditions Of Used Shipping Containers
It’s important to check what the underlying container was used for before it came to your yard. If the previous use can pose current risks to the user and his environment, the law can’t allow it.
III). Room Dimensions
Building regulations that govern other structures like brick-and-mortar houses also apply to cargo containers. For example, if you’re using it as your home, it must have a standard-sized bedroom, living room, and other room sizes like in other houses.
Do I Need A Building Permit To Have A Shipping Container In My Yard?
Yes, you need one. Most governments need you to have a building permit before purchasing and placing a cargo container in your backyard. Therefore, be sure to go through the paperwork (or get a specialist to do it for you) before ordering the container.
Some Common Disadvantages Of Having Shipping Containers In Your Backyard
The first danger of using a shipping container lies in its ventilation system. The box’s structure has no air spaces that can let you breathe healthily while you’re inside unless the door is open. You need to modify it (according to the law) if you want to use it for regular commercial purposes.
Likewise, it’s dangerous to use a cargo container with hazardous paints or remains of what it was used to transport. Such problems often arise when the underlying container isn’t bought new from the manufacturer.
Otherwise, those acquired from the manufacturer are usually very healthy.
The Bottom Line
The perks of having a shipping container in your backyard are boundless as long as you’re in compliance with the local laws, rules, and regulations. Always feel free to contact the relevant authorities for detailed information about what you need to do and have before installing one in your backyard.