Can You Put a Shipping Container In Your Backyard?

Yes, it is indeed possible to put a shipping container in your backyard. In recent years, shipping containers have gained popularity as a versatile and affordable alternative to traditional forms of construction. These containers are widely used for a variety of purposes including storage, mobile offices, housing, and even commercial spaces.

Before placing a shipping container in your backyard, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, you need to ensure that you have enough space to accommodate the container. Typically, a standard shipping container measures around 20 to 40 feet in length and requires additional space for installation and accessibility.

Secondly, you may need to check with your local authorities and homeowner’s association (if applicable) to ensure that there are no zoning restrictions or permits required for placing a shipping container on your property. Some areas have regulations that limit the usage of shipping containers for residential purposes or have specific guidelines regarding their placement.

Additionally, it is crucial to consider how the container will be delivered and maneuvered into your backyard. Access to your yard should be wide enough to accommodate the delivery truck and crane necessary to lift the container. If there are limitations regarding space or accessibility, alternative delivery methods such as tilt-bed or flatbed trucks may need to be employed.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the container’s foundation. Shipping containers can be placed directly on the ground, but it is recommended to install a secure and level foundation to ensure stability and prevent issues like water pooling or corrosion. This could involve using concrete footings or pillars, wooden beams, or even helical screw piles depending on your local building codes and individual needs.

To sum up, placing a shipping container in your backyard is possible, but it requires careful planning and consideration of factors such as space, regulations, delivery, and foundation. By taking these elements into account, you can successfully incorporate a shipping container into your backyard and create a functional and unique space to suit your needs.

Can You Put a Shipping Container In Your Backyard?

There are several aspects to this question that must be answered individually. So let’s talk about each one in-depth.

How Hard Will It Be to Put a Shiping Container In My Backyard?

The first aspect of this question is how hard it will be to place a container in your backyard. Can you do it yourself, or will you need the help of professionals?

Fortunately, placing a storage unit onto concrete can take as little as two people and takes around five minutes. Putting one into grass will require shovels and additional time for clearing, but this is still very quick.

If you’re considering a corner spot, however, be aware that these containers are around 20 feet long and can’t turn at 90 degrees. If there’s no way to get it onto your property without turning the container in an awkward position, do not buy it. Just get in touch with a professional mover and ask them for a solution.

Do I Need a Permit to Put My Shipping Container On My Property?

The third aspect of this question is whether or not you need a permit to place one in your backyard.

Most cities require that the container be placed at least 20 feet away from any property line, which can make it difficult for corner placement. Add that to neighbor complaints and you’ve got good chances of getting in legal trouble.

In order to prevent any legal issues, you should obtain a permit. You will have to submit the following information to obtain a permit for your shipping container:

  • The location of the container on your property.
  • The physical condition of the container
  • The length of time your container will sit on your property

How Can I Obtain a Permit to Place a Shipping Container On My Property?

Since each city and municipality has its own rules and regulations to determine if you are granted permission to put a portable container in the yard of your property, the answer to this question depends on your location.

You can research online, but the only correct way to find out the process for obtaining a permit would be to check your local laws. You can either contact the city council for help or consult a lawyer for guidance.

Furthermore, you should also familiarize yourself with the International Building Code and the International Residential Code, which generally influence all permits. Those codes are updated every couple of years. So you should ensure that you learn about the latest ones.

Another type of building regulation we recommend learning about is Property Zoning.

Zoning is an algorithm that divides up huge swaths of urban property in order to determine what may be constructed there. It is controlled by city governments and may vary with rezoning regulations, depending on a city’s growth and development strategy. So your chances of obtaining a storage container permit will be influenced by your local zoning regulations.

One last thing we want to mention here is that it typically takes anywhere from ten to twenty days to get a permit for putting a shipping container on your property. So the earliest you should apply for a permit is about a month before you purchase a container. We actually recommend getting a permit before making a purchase. That way, you can rest assured that your time and money spent on the purchase can’t go to waste.

Should You Put a Shipping Container In Your Backyard?

There are several reasons to put a shipping container in your backyard. However, it comes with some downsides as well. To help you decide whether the upsides outweigh the downsides or vice versa, here’s a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of placing a container in your backyard.

Pros of Putting a Shipping Container In Your Backyard

As you can guess, the main benefit of having a shipping container is the extra space it provides. You can use that extra space for a lot of purposes, including the following:

  • Turn it into a home office
  • Store your tools in it for easy access
  • Keep some of the extra belongings that you don’t use frequently
  • Rent it to someone who’s willing to pay a good price
  • Turn it into a big gym

The opportunities are endless!

Cons of Putting a Shipping Container In Your Backyard

Unfortunately, shipping containers conceal dangers that you must be aware of. Firstly, shipping containers are airtight, which means there are no drafts, leaks, or entry for air unless the door is opened.

So if you don’t take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe while living in one, this can be quite difficult and dangerous. You should also be wary of putting your containers underground. They might cave in on you from the dirt surrounding them if you’re not cautious.

Furthermore, if you don’t purchase your container from a trusted manufacturer, it might contain hazardous chemicals. Both the wooden flooring and paint used on the container can be harmful to your health. The best way to deal with this problem is to simply stick to buying from a well-known manufacturer. You should request them to refrain from using any potentially harmful substances.

Which Shipping Container Should You Buy?

After evaluating the pros and cons, if you’ve decided that having a shipping container in your backyard is worth the trouble, then your next question should be, “Which container should I buy?”

You will be glad to know that you have several when it comes to purchasing a shipping container.

Firstly, shipping containers can be sold for between $250 and $800. They also come in two primary sizes, 8×20 feet, and 11×22.5 feet; the latter is quite popular because it provides much more usable space.

Furthermore, different shipping containers are built to serve different purposes, including providing storage, office space, and even temporary living area.

That’s not all. You can also choose between several types of containers, including the following three:

  1. Open-top Containers: These are affordable and easy to access. They’re great for storing large items that you don’t use regularly. However, they have no weather-proofing qualities whatsoever. So be careful about where you place them in your backyard because it will definitely rain eventually!
  2. Cargo-Containers: These containers are well insulated and weatherproof. They’re perfect for storing tools or equipment that you need on a regular basis but don’t want to keep in the house.
  3. Living Containers: If you expect to be living off of your container, then this is the one you should go with. This type comes complete with an insulation system along with doors and windows that let in light and air into your home while keeping out water and cold. However, they can get quite pricey so make sure it’s going to be worth it for you before purchasing one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer the most frequently asked questions about placing shipping containers on your property.

1. Do I need any permits for a shipping container in my backyard?

The need for permits when placing a shipping container in your backyard depends on several factors. Regulations vary between cities, counties, and homeowner associations, so it is essential to check with your local authorities. Generally, if the container is intended for temporary use and not permanently affixed to the ground, permits may not be required. However, if you plan to modify it, use it as a dwelling or office space, or if it exceeds certain size restrictions, permits may be necessary. It is best to consult with local zoning departments or building authorities to ensure compliance with any required permits or restrictions for your specific area.

2. So how do you legally store a shipping container safely?

To legally store a shipping container safely, certain measures should be followed. Firstly, ensure compliance with local regulations regarding zoning and permits, as some areas may have restrictions on container use or storage. Next, select an appropriate location with a solid, level foundation to prevent shifting or damage. Install proper security measures, such as locks, surveillance systems, or fencing, to deter theft. Adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent condensation and moisture buildup. Regular maintenance and inspections should be conducted to identify any signs of wear, damage, or pest infestation. By adhering to these guidelines, one can legally store a shipping container securely while protecting its contents.

3. Can I put a shipping container on the property of any dwelling?

Whether or not you can put a shipping container on a property depends on various factors, including local zoning laws, building codes, and neighborhood regulations. In some areas, placing a shipping container on a property may be allowed as a temporary structure or for certain uses like storage. However, for permanent use as a dwelling or as additional living space, it might not be permitted. It is crucial to consult with your local government or homeowner’s association to determine the specific rules and requirements applicable to your property. Additionally, factors like land size, setbacks, and aesthetics may also play a role in obtaining necessary permits or approvals.

4. Which states are the best to build shipping container homes?

There are several states in the United States that offer favorable conditions for building shipping container homes. California is a popular choice due to its mild climate and progressive building codes that allow for alternative housing options. Texas is another suitable state, with its vast land and lenient regulations on container homes. Florida’s warm weather and extensive coastline make it an attractive location as well. Additionally, Oregon and Colorado have emerged as destinations for container home enthusiasts, thanks to their environmentally conscious communities and innovative housing initiatives. Ultimately, the best states to build shipping container homes depend on individual preferences and local regulations.

5. Can I use a shipping container to store material if approved development is occurring?

Yes, you can use a shipping container to store materials during approved development. Shipping containers are commonly used for temporary storage in construction sites due to their durability, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. However, it’s essential to ensure that the usage of a shipping container aligns with local building codes and regulations. You must obtain the necessary approvals and permits from the relevant authorities before using a shipping container for storage during development. It’s also important to consider factors such as the container’s placement, security measures, access requirements, and any specific guidelines or restrictions set by the approving authorities.


If you’ve been considering installing a shipping container in your backyard, it is important to think about all the benefits and drawbacks involved.

Shipping containers can be used for everything from storage space to homes, but they come with some significant costs that need to be considered before making this decision. For example, there may or may not be zoning restrictions on who can use these structures as well as how much property taxes will increase if the structure is installed on your land.

There are also considerations like whether you want something permanent or temporary and what kind of security measures would work best for you.

The bottom line? Before deciding whether this investment makes sense, consider all the pros and cons discussed in this post to ensure that you’re making an informed decision.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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