It’s a little unusual, living in the box that brought your stuff. Ok, maybe, quite unusual. But there is good reason why people in Australia and the world over have been choosing these utilitarian metal boxes to construct their homes.

For one, shipping containers offer significant cost savings when used for construction. They’re also eco-friendly, quick to put up and very durable. It’s these main reasons that have seen the shipping container rise in popularity to become one of the more popular alternatives to traditional building materials.

If you’re considering constructing your home using shipping containers, then you might be wondering if there are any legal obstacles to overcome before commencing the project. Well, just like any other type of construction, building with shipping containers will undergo the same scrutiny a regular construction project would in Australia – if not more.

We’ll briefly check out the legal specifics of shipping container home construction in Australia to give you an idea of what to expect.

Permits are a must

It’s important to note that you will need to have the necessary building permits and approvals before you commence your shipping container home build. While Australia has multiple territories, all with their own local laws, the umbrella laws that cover home construction make it perfectly legal to use shipping containers to build a house – you just need the nod from your local council.

In most localities, you’ll not be required to have a permit if you want to use a shipping container within your property for a short duration. After 30 days, however, you will need a permit to have such a structure on your property. And since your house will last for longer than a month, it’s suffice to say that a permit is mandatory.

The requirements for building approval

Like any other type of home, your shipping container home build has to meet certain requirements before it gains approval for construction. The following are the things that are taken into consideration before your home is approved for construction:

  1. Structural integrity. The house you are about to put up needs to be structurally sound for the safety of inhabitants as well as other people. You’ll, therefore, need to have an architect as well as an engineer draw up plans for a structurally sound building before construction can be approved.
  2. Habitability. Just like any other home, your shipping container home needs to have all the basics that make for a modern-day habitable dwelling. Plumbing and ventilation are a must and different jurisdictions will have their own little additions to the definition of a habitable dwelling.
  3. Zoning laws. Your shipping container home needs to be in adherence to the local zoning laws. If a particular area does not allow for the construction of residential buildings, then you’ll have trouble convincing your council to sign off on your project.

Some areas might prohibit the construction of multi-storey buildings while others might require houses to be built with specific materials such as fire proof materials for areas that experience bush fires. Whatever the laws of the land are, you will need to follow them.

  •  Aesthetics. Nobody wants eyesores in their neighbourhood. The main reason why there is a bit of hesitation when you’re building with shipping containers is that nobody wants an eyesore. Luckily, modern shipping container home designs are just as aesthetically pleasing as traditional-style homes. Your shipping container house will either need to blend in with the surrounding or be an outstanding architectural masterpiece if you want to be approved.

What about shipping container home extensions?

If you’re looking to add on to your existing home with a granny flat or a shed, instead of building a completely new building or replacing an older one, then the laws might be slightly relaxed.

In some areas, you can extend your home without getting much interference from your local council provided the new building is up to standard. You might not even need to do much to get approved if the extension is behind your house and not visible from the street.

For larger multi-storied extensions, however, you will often need to get the approval of your local council before you can begin construction.

Professional help makes things easier

To navigate through all the muddle of getting your shipping container home approved for construction, it would be a great idea to get professional help to guide you along. This can be in the form of an architect or a planning consultant.

You want the person helping you to be well versed with the local building codes and planning regulations. For this reason, it’s recommended that you enlist the services of a local architect or planning consultant; or at least someone who’s well educated on your area’s building legalities and stipulations.

Although shipping container homes don’t face major hurddles when it comes to council building approvals In Australia, it’s still something to keep in mind when you’re about to commence your project. The fact that container homes offer a 5-star energy rating also helps make them more appealing to the concerned authorities.

Talk to Tiger Containers for more information

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