One thing for consideration before building a container home is to find out which states allow container homes. Since container homes are becoming increasingly popular, many people are beginning to show interest in this building alternative. As such, U.S. states are coming up with codes, regulations, & rules to govern land used for shipping container homes.

To answer the question, “what states allow shipping container homes?”

Well, almost all states and cities are allowing it or already considering it. Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maine, and Michigan, to mention but a few. These cities have regulations in place governing buildings and container homes. However, what’s more important, is to know if your city or county allows container homes.

Although almost all states in the U.S. allow container homes, some states have stricter laws than others. So, continue reading on to find out which states allow container homes and the container home zoning laws for your area. 

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 Are container homes legal in my area?

Well, it depends. Some states are container home-friendly, while others are not. Even for states where shipping container homes are legal, the regulations differ from one state to the other. The regulations also differ between cities. That’s why it’s important to first confirm with your local building authority. 

Some states that allow shipping container homes include: Texas, California, Alaska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri, and Oregon. The International Code Council (ICC) will guide you further on acceptable codes and standards for states that permit container homes. So, you can construct your container home provided you comply with the building code and zoning requirements in your area.

container home laws

What are the housing regulations for container homes?

Housing regulations are standard building rules that every structure must satisfy. Now, in knowing which states allow container homes, you need to know the core housing regulations. These regulations are building codes, and structure types. 

Building Codes

The ICC is responsible for regulating building codes. It focuses on the construction process, with specific requirements that must be met before a permit is issued. Here, it’s important to check the materials you’re using along with the quarter of the container home is in line with the state’s guidelines.

container home laws

Structural Type

Under structural types, there are manufactured, mobile, and modular codes. Each of these structures is treated differently. For example, mobile structures are banned in some states because they’re not permanent structures. 

Modular homes are governed by the ICC’s International Building Codes. Manufactured homes are regulated by the federal Housing and Urban Development’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard. This standard applies only to factory-built homes to be shipped for permanent on-site installation.

Different states also have different permit requirements, zoning codes, and building regulations, which are updated at least once or twice every year. So, before you proceed with your plan to invest in a container home, confirm that your state and local zoning board allows it.

Take California, for example – a luxurious, urban state. Due to the uniqueness of the California real estate industry, you can construct your container home provided it’s within the law. However, while it permits shipping container houses, the land laws and building regulations are more stringent. This is different from the less regulated zones like the inland, North Coast, and Oregon, where the regulations are more lenient.

container home laws

Container Home Property Zoning Laws

Zoning codes regulate where people can build houses. It fragments the urban land space into zones, which helps to place similar buildings in the same zone. The government uses zoning to plan the development of the city and control population density. Zoning laws are the reason why you don’t find industries, residential areas, adult stores, and churches close to each other.

Just like the regular standard apartments and commercial buildings, states and counties also have container home zoning laws. While some states like Texas may not have a container home ordinance, the majority of the U.S. states do. First, you need to determine the kind of structure you want to construct before you approach your local authority.

Container Home Zoning Laws

Zones are typically grouped into two broad categories; commercial and residential, which are then further divided into subcategories. For example, Florida and Tallahassee use the R-1, R-2, R-3, and R-5 residential zoning system. R-M is also included for that of other states like Washington DC.

You can also check out the  Washington state zoning laws and requirements for details on what’s applicable in that area. Better still, you can visit Code Publishing for a detailed guide on the zoning codes, building requirements, and permits for your project. 

Your focus would probably be on the R-1, R.M., or R-2 requirements.

R-1 applies to single-unit residential apartments. R-2 is a two-unit residential zoning code for not more than two residential apartments or duplexes. R.M. represents a multiple zoning code for multiple residential units, which could be attached or detached. 

It’s also possible to change the property zoning through rezoning. However, this process requires rigorous paperwork. There’s also the challenge of existing property owners may not agree to a buy-in for fear of a decline in property value.

Having a house to call your own comes with a lot of planning. For populous areas and big cities, housing space and regulations make the entire process even more challenging, especially when it involves building a container home. Hence, the importance of knowing which states allow container homes to avoid starting a project that’s a potential legal issue.



Now that you know which states allow container homes, the next thing to do is to get a building permit for your container home. Then, approach your local authority and table your building plans. 

While this article is not in any way meant to substitute advice from a qualified professional, you now understand the essentials. You now know why you must comply with the requirements, codes, guidelines, or any other container home ordinances that apply. 


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