Could I live in a Shipping Container?

As our ‘1001 things to do with a shipping container’ feature shows, you really can do pretty much anything with a trusty shipping container.  These big metal boxes are incredibly versatile, and we enjoy helping our customers to re-purpose and re-furbish them into something brand new – and the more unique the project, the better!

A question we are often asked is “Could I live in a shipping container?”

Perhaps it’s the rise of home makeover shows like George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and Grand Designs, it could be the growing realisation around the need for more sustainable living and reducing waste, or perhaps it is the generally high cost of getting onto the property ladder – suddenly Shipping Container homes are becoming a ‘thing’, but would you really want to live in a container?  How viable a prospect would a shipping container home be?

We have rounded up some of the headline facts, to help you decide:

Do you need planning permission for a shipping container in the UK?

Planning permission can feel like a minefield, but we will try to simplify this one for you.  Shipping containers are generally classed as temporary structures, so they are usually exempt from planning permission requirements.  However, different authorities have different rules and regulations so you should always check with your local planning authority before placing any orders. We can’t offer anyone a blanket guarantee.

You should also be mindful that building a home out of multiple containers could affect the conditions around planning permissions.  If you are planning to live in your container home for a prolonged period, it could no longer be classed as a temporary structure, and you may need to seek permission for your home.

If you intend to make a house or structure with more than one shipping container with walls removed to make a bigger open plan space, this will normally mean that the structure is no longer classed as temporary and it is likely that you will need planning permission.

Permanent electrical and water connections may mean that a container is no longer classed as a temporary structure, and as such they may now require planning permission.

Do I need planning permission for an extension to my existing home?

According to the Planning Portal UK website: “An extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission” – however, this is subject to certain limits and conditions which you can view here.

Do I need planning permission to put a shipping container home on my own land?

You may wish to use a shipping container to extend your existing property or place a container to become an additional dwelling on your own land (like an annexe or guest room).  If you are placing the container in your own garden, it is unlikely you will require planning permission – as long as you don’t live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and the container is not going to cover more than half of the area of land around your existing property.

If you are placing the container onto your own farmland to live in, you may need to seek planning permission for a change of use to your property from Agricultural to Residential.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – always check with your Local Planning Authority beforehand to avoid upsets later.

What’s it like to live in a shipping container?

Your shipping container home can be as basic or as luxurious as you choose to make it.  If you are designing a container home from scratch, you would be well-advised to seek the advice of a professional architect or designer – particularly one who has experience of working on a similar project before!  They will help to guide you and explain any limitations.  A great place to start for inspiration are social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram where other shipping container homeowners have shared their remarkable projects.

What are the positives of shipping container homes?

As we have already said, shipping containers are very versatile and adaptable so there are seemingly endless possibilities for customising them into your own home.  Think of Shipping containers as being giant, stackable Lego blocks that can carry up to 30 tonnes of cargo and have up to 200 tonnes of weight stacked on top. Shipping containers are readily available globally and whilst they aren’t designed for housing, it seems to make a lot of sense to use them as big building blocks.

Other plus points are the sustainability and low carbon-footprint of shipping container – you are essentially recycling on a huge scale!  The cost of a container home is much lower than building or buying a traditional property (especially if you already own the land!), and they are always readily available – there is no shortage of shipping containers out there just waiting to be ‘re-homed’ and used as your home!

What should I be wary of when considering a shipping container home?

When purchasing a ‘used’ container you should be wary of any structural damage from previous use.

You should also be mindful of the potential heat-conductivity of what is essentially a steel box – ensure your container home is correctly insulated and sufficiently sealed to prevent any future heat, insulation and condensation issues.

Purchasing your container from an established, reputable seller like Budget Shipping Containers will help to avoid any of these potential issues.  Any container purchased from us is guaranteed to be structurally sound, and in good working order.

I don’t know where to start with designing or building a container home!  Can I buy a ‘ready-made’ version?

A prefab shipping container home is a good option for anyone looking for a ready-made home, without the expense and commitment of designing and building one from scratch.  Our prefab container homes can be customised to your own requirements and delivered to you ready to move into!  You just need to arrange any required planning permissions for the land, and ensure you have water, power, and sewage connections.  You will also need to make sure you have good site access for a large artic lorry on hard-standing, solid level foundations.

What next?

Once you have considered your various options for living in a shipping container home, you might need some expert advice – and that is where we come in.  Please feel free to get in touch with our team to ask any questions about purchasing a new or used shipping container for conversion into a home, or to speak to us about a prefab shipping container home.  In either instance, we would be very happy to help.

Do you need a shipping container? offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 7pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).

Image Credits

Instagram images used with permission from Royal Container Homes 

Adobe Stock Images © [P11irom] / Adobe Stock  and © Aisyaqilumar / Adobe Stock

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