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Which States Allow Shipping Container Homes?

Which States Allow Shipping Container Homes?

The average property owner knows little to nothing about building zoning laws in their area, but the reality is that you might have to learn quickly with a shipping container home project. You might think you know which states allow shipping container homes, but the answer is a bit more complicated than you would originally think.

One of the most unique factors of a shipping container home project is that you might actually be limited by location. This is due to building codes and zoning laws throughout the world. If you plan to build your shipping container home in the United States, it can be especially helpful to research. 

If you’re looking to learn which states allow shipping container homes, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn which states allow shipping container homes – and where you should consider starting your shipping container home project today.

Which States Allow Shipping Container Homes?

What is a shipping container home?

Shipping container origins date back to the 1950s, when international trade was at an all-time high after World War 2. As countries began to diversify the goods they wanted to share with each other, there quickly became a need for an industrial transportation option. Companies wanted an option that would keep their materials dry and temperature controlled, while also being able to endure the harsh journey on boats overseas.

This is why Keith Tantlinger invented shipping containers as a box made from high-end steel. It was designed to be durable, to easily interlock with other boxes to economize space, and to be cost-effective for a wide variety of industries. This is our concept of the modern shipping container.
While shipping containers have been around for over half a century, the idea of the shipping container home is still new. Shipping container homes were created as an option to recycle used shipping containers and create sturdy modular homes for victims of hurricanes. Since their entrance into the housing market in the early 2000s, shipping container homes have risen in popularity for their industrial design and eco-friendly building materials.

Shipping container homes are currently being built worldwide and are technically allowed in every part of the United States. However, specific states will help you complete your shipping container home construction with much less red tape. This is based on zoning laws and building codes in each state throughout America.

 
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Top shipping container home states

Top shipping container home states

Again, when it comes to figuring out which states allow shipping container homes, the short answer is all of them. You can build a shipping container home anywhere in the United States. Still, zoning laws and building code restrictions can make some shipping container home locations harder to build than others.

Here is a list of our top four shipping container home states we’d recommend you check out:

Texas

Texas is already known for supporting a wide variety of non-traditional home designs. This is partially because land purchasing and home construction in the state of Texas are affordable. On top of this, zoning regulations are usually much laxer in suburban and rural areas. And due to the size of Texas, there are large parts of the state that are categorized under these labels.

Interestingly, Houston, Texas, also has no zoning laws within the city limits. Builder codes are more strict in this area, but it does make alternative home options more possible. Be sure to check out how to build a shipping container in Texas for more details.

California

A lot of the reasons Texas allows shipping container homes also apply to California. The size of the state, along with the progressive political climate, means laws are more open-minded about unique home designs.

You shouldn’t plan to build an oceanfront shipping container home, but you can definitely build a shipping container in the north and inland areas of California.

Be sure to check out how to build a Shipping container in California for even more details.

Louisiana

State-wide, Louisiana offers neutral zoning laws, which are intended to better support diversity and housing variety. For this reason, you can anticipate no governmental interference with your shipping container home project in Louisiana.

Louisiana also has no minimum wage and has been ranked one of the top states in America for land freedom options.

Be sure to check out how to build a shipping container home in Louisiana for more details!

Oregon

The only restriction in Oregon for shipping container homes is that you will need to plan to live in your shipping container home as a single-family unit. With skyrocketing home prices, shipping container homes have become popular in Oregon for their affordability, small footprint, and unique design. So as long as you’re willing to purchase land to build within areas zoned for single-family homes, Oregon could be a great fit for your shipping container home.

Be sure to check out how to build a shipping container home in Oregon for more details!

Zoning laws and shipping container homes

Zoning laws and shipping container homes

Zoning laws were originally established in developed countries as a form of population control and urban planning. These unique construction rules are used to clarify lot sizes, permitted building materials, and house dimensions, as well as how structures can be used in each zone. For example, some zones only allow single-family homes, which would exclude apartment buildings and commercial properties. 

Since the general rule of zoning laws is to have similar constructions in individual zones, zoning laws play the biggest role in which states allow shipping container homes. Shipping container homes are easy-to-build single-family homes, but the novelty and unique building materials of shipping container homes can make it hard to figure out where exactly they fit within zoning law limits.

In general, it’s easiest to build a shipping container home in a non-urban area. Zoning laws are more relaxed for areas with lower populations. So if you want to live off the grid in your shipping container home, zoning laws could make this even easier for you.

Some of the ways to work around zoning laws are to contact the local government where you’d like to build before you buy land for your project. Make sure you have clear plans for your shipping container home, and be prepared to share details about the life you plan to live with the help of your new shipping container home project.

You also use zoning laws to your advantage if you plan to purchase property that already has electricity and water lines connected to it. Also, search for property options that have easy access to main roads in the area. This may be trickier in rural areas, but it can help solidify your plans to use the lot you purchase as a residential space.

Building codes and shipping container homes

Building codes and shipping container homes

While zoning laws are always a little different based on where you’re building, the International Code Council is the body that determines what requirements a new construction must meet before permits are given. This means there are specific building parameters every new construction must meet worldwide, but building codes can also differ based on which state in America you’re trying to build your shipping container home in.

Other building codes address home mobility vs. permanence. Interestingly, this is a slippery slope for a shipping container home. Because shipping containers were originally designed for the transportation of international goods, your shipping container home can be relocated as needed throughout its life, especially if you build your shipping container home on a platform or with wheels at its base. But both the financing and building code permits for a mobile shipping container home are harder than a shipping container home attached to a foundation.

The best way to guarantee your shipping container home is up to code is to complete a lot of the conversion elements for your shipping container home offsite. Shipping container homes are a type of modular home because most of their construction is done in a factory. This makes their final setup on the land where you plan for your shipping container home to stay quick and easy. But because shipping containers were not originally created to be used as residential buildings, you might have to spend a good portion of your budget on converting your shipping container home into a livable space. This includes adding insulation, removing toxic paint, and reinforcing the steel frame of the original shipping container.

If you are worried about how exactly you will be able to navigate specific zoning laws and building codes in the state where you plan to build your shipping container home, you should connect with a local contractor. It is a contractor’s job to stay informed about construction regulations, and they can help make your shipping container home project seamless up to move-in day.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned about which states allow shipping container homes, the only thing left to do is to get started on your new shipping container home design! Feel free to also check out our shipping container home FAQs, including our tips on how to reinforce a shipping container home. Or read more about shipping container homes on our blog, where you’ll see content like these featured shipping container home interiors.

If you want to learn more before you commit to building your shipping container home, check out our program “How to Build a Shipping Container Home: The Complete Guide.” It’s affordable, informative, and will give you every resource you need to move forward confidently with your shipping container home build.

Alicia Drier is a wordsmith with over two decades of writing experience as an English teacher, marketing assistant, podcast cohost, and blogger. As a copywriter, she gets to daily invest in the research and writing she loves - while keeping the time and energy to be the parent she wants to be.