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Old 07-11-2012, 10:12 PM   #1
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Can a person legally live in a shipping container on their own land?

Do you guys know if this is something one could actually do? What part of the government would I have to contact to ask a question like this?

Fyi, it would be one person, no dependents like children or stuff like that.

Thanks for the help

Ok, nevermind. I figured it out. It will be a residental dwelling and will have to follow those rules.

sorry for wasting bandwidth : )
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:18 PM   #2
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:27 PM   #3
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yeah i'm pretty sure you can do it.

in chilliwack.
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:44 PM   #4
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seriously in Chiliwack? Do you guys know if all the municipalities around here have pretty much the same building requirements or are there some municipalities that may be more relaxed than others??
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:58 PM   #5
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:02 PM   #6
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Every municipality has slight variation in building codes and bylaws.

I'm not sure if there's a clear cut answer to your question, because you're entering a very murky realm within code since people do not normally use a shipping container as a residence. It has the potential to be considered a temporary structure or new construction. If you can't get it to conform to temporary structure codes and bylaws then you'll end up paying more than a standard structure would cost to build it to new construction codes.

I need to ask, why?
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:03 PM   #7
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Any residential dwelling must conform to building codes and regulations, regardless of what city you live in. This includes wiring, structure, plumbing, etc.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:07 PM   #8
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Generally, if someone is in a position where they have to sleep in a shipping container, they don't usually worry about whether or not their shit is up to code and standards of their municipality.

Are you planning on being smuggled into another country in the near future? Just lock yourself in a closet, it'll be equally useful.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:15 PM   #9
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Well, right now I'm studying in University hoping to become an electrical engineer and then hopefully into the field of renewable green energy. Im an adult student (mid 20's) and have been working for the last 4 years doing various electrical and drywall contracting stuff.

I figure I could use the money saved up and buy a container to live in for the next 4 years while I go through school. Because of that, all I would probably need is a small generator or something for light to do my homework.

Anyways, I figure I could vlog my adventure on youtube as I tried to build a home one container at a time. I already know how to use AutoCAD and Inventor a little bit, so I used that to explain my ideas on youtube and also learn to be more efficient with the program. (Since we used it in our curriculum). On the youtube channel, we could discussing ideas about how to make the place better. We can assign metrics to parameters such as thermal efficiency and power consumption and devise cool experiments to measure these things.

It would kinda be a cross between Khan's Academy and Holmes on homes. Lol

And if the channel got huge, perhaps I could get some sponsors from some companies for some really expensive solar technology and cool stuff like that.



My dream is that the youtube channel would become huge and could get me into building equipment for people with the same idea.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:20 PM   #10
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Cool idea, I love the concept and would watch the channel. Turning shipping containers into affordable, green housing has a huge basis of support already. One of the essential questions here will be, where would you actually put the container?

You might be able to get it considered as a mobile home.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:21 PM   #11
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http://www.feeldesain.com/shipping-container-house.html

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Old 07-11-2012, 11:22 PM   #12
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You can legally build a home out of a shipping container. It's nothing new. However, you have to retrofit it so that it conforms to regulations. I can't state for certain as I'm not entirely familiar with bylaws, but I believe there needs to be an alternate escape route (ie: windows), a heat source, and a structure that's approved by an engineer.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:43 PM   #13
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Well, I wanted to find a place where nobody would bother me if I was building something. Everything I build I would pretty much look like a shipping container from the outside. Building the home would be a small part of it.

For example, here is a video I saw on youtube

this thermal exchange tank featured here cost about 80,000 dollars from the manufacture. So I have some ideas how I could insulate a container to obtain an R value of almost 100. Now If I could actually build a real one on my property without any hassle, that would be pretty sweet.

In my head it would look something like this. Imagine you drove pass a small piece of farmland everyday. On the first day, you noticed only 1 shipping container on the property. But every 6-12 months another would be added to the ones already there. Eventually, after 4 years, there might be 8 sitting on the property. (various projects, one is a boiler room, one is an electrical, others are dwellings, some are water resevoirs)

Lol, do you think I could actually do this somewhere around here and not draw questions from City Hall?
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noventa View Post
Well, I wanted to find a place where nobody would bother me if I was building something. Everything I build I would pretty much look like a shipping container from the outside. Building the home would be a small part of it.

this thermal exchange tank featured here cost about 80,000 dollars from the manufacture. So I have some ideas how I could insulate a container to obtain an R value of almost 100. Now If I could actually build a real one on my property without any hassle, that would be pretty sweet.

In my head it would look something like this. Imagine you drove pass a small piece of farmland everyday. On the first day, you noticed only 1 shipping container on the property. But every 6-12 months another would be added to the ones already there. Eventually, after 4 years, there might be 8 sitting on the property. (various projects, one is a boiler room, one is an electrical, others are dwellings, some are water resevoirs)

Lol, do you think I could actually do this somewhere around here and not draw questions from City Hall?
In Vancouver it would be very difficult to get City Hall to allow it, because the restrictions on property use are so stringent. In theory a shipping container based home could be equivalent to a laneway house. I don't see anything in a quick skim over of the regulations that would prohibit it, but the city does regulate design as well and they prohibit shipping containers on residential properties for storage... I see doing this in an urban area involving a very long, hard fight to get it approved, worthwhile, but not necessarily practical given your current situation.

http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/BYLAWS/...c11.pdf#page=7

Now.. on a farm property.. say, in Langley Township, where a secondary mobile home unit is pretty common you would have a much better shot. The key with a mobile home being that a true foundation wouldn't be required.

How do you plan on getting a R value of 100?
You could achieve that with 16" of closed cell spray foam, but it would cost $10-12k and you would lose a ton of living space. It would be expensive both because of the amount of material required, and because multiple trips by a truck and crew would be required since the foam needs to dry. In conventional structures when you begin hitting extremely high R values significant issues with air flow that negatively affect the structure develop, a shipping container might not have as many issues but a minimal amount of air circulation would still be necessary. If you have some sort of extremely inventive idea on how to insulate the structure, an engineer would need to sign off to get it approved by the city and that can be quite the process (I've been through it).

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Old 07-12-2012, 08:03 AM   #15
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There is an entire sub-Reddit devoted to the idea.

http://www.reddit.com/r/ISBU/


Quote:
From someone who has explored this: DON'T.

First, shipping containers are practically made of toxins in order to prevent bugs and corrosion.

Shipping containers have high levels of chromates or lead in the paint due to the marine coatings. Even the very recent "non-toxic" phosphate paints are still toxic to fish. They're typically made in China/Asia, places known not to care much about lead / heavy metals pollution. The wooden floors are typically made of non-sustainably harvested tropical hardwoods and impregnated with highly toxic pesticides. So basically you have to rip out the floor, sandblast every square inch of painted surface, and only then can you start construction - but there are still more problems. The most popular way of putting in windows/doors is a plasma cutter or fireman's saw or acetylene torch, which burns the metal and coats every interior surface with toxic metal dust. Shipping containers are also terribly heat conductive (being steel) and hard to heat and cool even with spray-in insulation. Also, the structural integrity is badly compromised when you cut the corrugated steel walls to put in windows/doors so making multistory designs becomes dicey.

In gutting a 2 TEU container (8000 lb) via ripping out the floor and sandblasting, we generated 1700 lb of hazardous waste (contaminated blasting media plus the wooden floor), which cost us $365 to dispose of. This is actually on the low side, most sandblasting rules of thumb specify 1 pound of media per square foot is normal so you might run as high as 2500lb of blasting media alone. That, and blasting a ceiling clean is absolutely awful work. And now you have to go back into the same confined space with a stinky paint sprayer to put non-toxic paint back on.

1700lb is 20% of the container's weight. Not quite "made of" toxins, but certainly bad and far far less toxins and waste are generated by constructing a steel building of equivalent dimensions.

Secondly, any insulation you add on the inside decreases your livable space (4" of insulation doesn't sound like much but that drops your interior width from 7'8" to 7', an 8% reduction!).

IMHO, the only reason to use a shipping container as a house is if it is actually going to be shipped on a ship, train, or truck to various locations around the world, used for awhile, and shipped somewhere else. This means that it retains all of its structural strength and has no windows or other cuts in the exterior, as that's the only way a shipping company will take it. The best way I've seen of doing this is to fill the entire end of the container with two glass doors inset behind the structural steel doors that allows light and air exchange in the structure.

Due to these factors, the best thing to do with shipping containers is to crush and recycle them, not use them as houses.

I used to think that shipping container housing was cool until I did some research. I was involved with an artists' collective here that wanted to do a shipping container art center, but we settled on a conventional steel framed structure - it's recyclable, sustainable, and long-lasting with no added toxins as it's meant to be a habitable space from the get-go.

This is not to say you can't repurpose containers - we did. Without having to do anything at all to them, we used them as nice storage sheds.

tl;dr Drop the idea entirely. Go with a conventional steel framed building.
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:43 AM   #16
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:20 PM   #17
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Those who go through the trouble can make some pretty pimp homes.

There's one in Victoria
The Tyee – Is this Canada's Most Affordable Green Home?


Also pics of others.



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Old 07-12-2012, 01:45 PM   #18
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its a nice dream/plan, and it would be cool to see. but it won't end up being your cheapest housing option. also, to be honest, i don't think you have the dedication for such a project. it's one of those things that falls apart for 99% of the people that try.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:14 PM   #19
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You have to comply to the regs of your municipality, that isn't to say that choosing to build a home out of containers is a bad idea, in fact it's a pretty smart financial decision (if you want to live that way).

Shipping containers are built to withstand a LOT of weight, they have to be like that to be able to stack them as high as some office buildings.

Really it's up to the decision makers in your area, it's common sense by now, and it really doesn't take that much time to read up on what your home needs to be, to be legal.

Of course it isn't as simple as it sounds, as others have noted, but it's an interesting concept that's been proven to work with enough... work!


My two cents.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Those who go through the trouble can make some pretty pimp homes.
i would hardly call these "living in a shipping container", more like "shipping container inspired houses"
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:35 PM   #21
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i would hardly call these "living in a shipping container", more like "shipping container inspired houses"
It might not apply to the specific homes you're talking about, but the appeal is that a shipping container is a modular platform.

It takes a lot of time and money to build a home from scratch, using raw materials for everything.

It takes less time and money to buy a bunch of containers, strip the finish on them, and configure them to work with the design.

All it takes after laying out where you're going to use the containers, is to build whatever else needs to be built conventionally according to the desired design.


Of course it all depends on how much or how little you use in terms of container's themselves, but I can definitely see the draw to this mode of construction.

It's easier to build a home out of pre-made lego than it is to build a home out of toothpicks (in general). I have seen designs that are 95% composed of containers, and they didn't look bad or uncomfortable to live in.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:40 PM   #22
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Reminds me of Tron

and an old video I remember watching:
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:49 AM   #23
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OP needs to stop watching TRON Legacy

edit: Jace beat me to that reference!
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:03 AM   #24
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damn, I was not expecting something so cool,

I was expecting a hobo shipping a container on some abandonned land and living in it
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:06 AM   #25
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how is this any different than pitching a gazebo/tent (a metal one) in your yard (if you own the land) and living in it?
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