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August 2016: You Asked.

How do other communities regulate shipping-container homes?

I am looking for examples of zoning codes regulating homes constructed from shipping containers.

We Answered.

While there has been a tremendous uptick in interest in shipping container homes, relatively few localities have added provisions to their codes to explicitly address these structures. Shipping containers typically require extensive (and expensive) modifications in order to make habitation comfortable, or even possible. Consequently, it is often more accurate to think of the shipping container itself as a building material and not as a type of factory-built housing. In many communities, there is no inherent conflict between building codes and shipping containers as a building material.

Because shipping containers are not inherently suited for human habitation, the most common regulatory barrier for shipping container homes is an explicit prohibition on using shipping containers for housing. But, a few communities that permit shipping containers for accessory storage also include provisions explicitly authorizing shipping containers as a building material. And a few other communities define and regulate shipping container homes as a distinct housing type.

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