I’m often asked by people where the best place to build a shipping container home is.
Honesty, I think it comes down to personal preferences. What makes a perfect location for someone might make it a terrible location for someone else.
With that said, there are still factors which are applicable to everyone, such as affordability and the strictness of local planning regulations.
Anyone who has been around shipping container homes knows that it can be difficult to get a permit to build. This is why finding land in the correct area is one of the most important stages of your build.
So, in this article I’m going to talk to you through what to look for before sharing some of the best states to build a container home in…
Background to Zoning Regulations and Building Codes
Unfortunately, you can’t build a shipping container home anywhere you want.
It’s important though not to confuse building codes and zoning, they are two separate things.
Zoning regulations will state where a house can be built.
These zoning regulations help to keep similar buildings near each other, for instance by zoning an area as residential you can be certain that Walmart won’t open a warehouse next door to you! However sometimes the regulations can be excessive and restrictive.
Whereas building codes stipulate the standards for the construction (i.e. how a home should be built).
Generally these regulations will cover key aspects of your shipping container home construction, such as:
The type of foundation you need to use
The minimum square footage requirements for each room
Minimum requirement insulation value
Energy efficiency of your home
And much more…
If you are incredibly lucky, you can sometimes even find land that falls outside of ‘zoned’ areas, meaning you are free to build without a permit. It’s important to remember though that you will likely still need to meet the building codes.
The Best States to Build In
Now we’ve covered zoning permits and building regulations, I want to look at the best places in the US to build a shipping container home.
For each state assessed, I looked at the affordability, flexibility of local planning regulations and the acceptance of shipping container homes.
Before we continue it’s important for me to state that you can run into regulation complexities in any state and there are no guarantees when applying for a building permit!
So in no particular order, let’s take a look at each state in turn.
Texas would make a fantastic location to build a shipping container home.
It has a proven track record with several shipping container homes already built here, both large and small.
They also have several large off-grid communities such as the Garden of Eden farm.
Texas is also known for having lax building regulations. However, like in any state, you should avoid looking to build in a large city as this is where the regulations are generally the strictest.
If you’re considering Texas be sure to avoid stricter places like Dallas and Austin, and head for more rural/agricultural areas.
Next on our list is The Golden State, California.
California is notorious for strict land use and limiting the number of new properties being built, so it might surprise some of you that it makes the list.
There have been several successful shipping container home builds already, which suggests approval for shipping container homes could be possible.
If you’re considering California you should head north as the land tends to be more reasonably priced there and ordinances are less strict.
Third on our list is Tennessee, it is generally considered a great all-rounder and one of the freest states in the US.
On the Freedom in the 50 States report, it is ranked 7th for land freedom meaning there isn’t too much local interference and regulations preventing you from building.
Additionally, it also makes a great place for people looking for off grid living as well. Most plots of land will have access to water and the farming season tends to average more than 250 days a year. Unlike other areas in the south, Tennessee also experiences all four seasons.
As for price, anywhere near Blue Ridge Mountains can be expensive, so look for land in West Tennessee if you’re looking for affordability.
It’s our hope that in due course shipping container homes will become widely accepted and local city planners will account for them.
I hope the list of places above has helped you.
Whilst there can be no guarantees with building permits, working with more progressive, or relaxed, local planners can certainly help!
If you’ve found land that you’re interested in purchasing make sure to thoroughly research it before you decide to buy it. Take a look around your local neighborhood- do you notice any unorthodox builds? Are there any shipping container homes already built here?