Around the UK councils vary on their regulations surrounding the need for planning permission for individuals and businesses using shipping containers for storage. Similarly, shipping containers may be converted into offices, canteens, cafés, toilet blocks, changing rooms, and more, and you should always liaise with the land owner and your local council to obtain any necessary permissions prior to investing into a standard or converted shipping container.
Technically speaking, shipping containers are moveable structures, however, as they are being used more and more for static storage and conversion, they are becoming increasingly more permanent for individuals and businesses.
Whether or not planning permission is required for your shipping container also depends on the environment in which the container is sited. Containers located in and around green belt or on a drive way on a housing estate are more likely to require planning permission to those located on private farm land or business premises.
A quick call to your local planning office will put your mind at rest as to whether or not it is advised that you have planning permission for your shipping container.
The short answer is yes! But, like anything in life, that is very dependent on the funds available to you!
Modern media would have us believe that building a home out of a shipping container is a quick, easy and cost effective process, however, it is not quite as simple as this and a great deal of thought, legalities and permissions need to be considered.
Although shipping containers are temporary structures and so do not usually require planning permission (we do recommend you check with your local council even if you are only using your container for storage as rules vary between councils), if you are considering building a home out of one, it’s obvious that the container will no longer be a temporary structure! Therefore, planning permissions and all of the rules and regulations associated with it, and building control, have to be considered with shipping container homes in much the same way that they have to be considered with a traditional house build.
Whilst containers themselves as the ‘base structure’ are a cost effective item, it is the materials that have to be utilised to comply with building regulations such as lining, window and door specifications, drainage, fire safety etc.. that soon start to mount up!
Furthermore, you cannot just build a shipping container home anywhere, and much like a traditional build, the land is a substantial investment in the process, and that is to say that you would get planning permission to build on the land!
As a 40ft container is the largest standard type available, you would probably have to modify shipping containers to make your container home, you may be chopping sides out to join containers together to create a larger space, but, even if you are just cutting out a section of the container for a window or a door, you would be losing some of the structural integrity of the container. In so doing, the standard loading and stress calculations of the container would be void, meaning that a structural engineer would need to be involved to measure the revised loading and safety capacities of your converted container.
Container houses can also be difficult to mortgage, as technically they are a moveable structure.
In short, yes you can build a house using shipping containers, but, it should be carried out with great care, it is by no means a quick fix or a project to be completed on a budget.