Project planning basics for shipping container structures

Project planning basics for shipping container structures

April 13, 2022

Project planning basics for shipping container structures

April 22, 2022
Project planning basics for shipping container structures

Shipping container buildings are an easy and innovative way to add extra space to your life, providing a habitat that can be customised to your needs without having to dig foundations. This is all for a fraction of the cost of building a bricks-and-mortar extension.

Another attraction of a shipping container building is that, provided you have the necessary space, it can be placed almost anywhere on your property with relative ease. If you're thinking about installing a shipping container building and are wondering about planning permission, here's a run-down of the basics.

What can they be used for?

As a flexible, adaptable living-working space, there is barely any limit to how a shipping container building might be used. It's also not unheard of for people to blend their shipping container into the exterior of their property by getting creative with landscaping.

Half-submerging it into a hill or incline, or growing foliage over it can really help it to ‘disappear' into the greenery if you're concerned about the aesthetic impact its presence might have in the garden.

Container Homes

If you're planning to place a shipping container building on empty, uninhabited land in order to use it as a home dwelling, bear in mind that this is something that needs to be looked into carefully, since it could be counted as a ‘change of use' of the land in the eyes of the law.

On the other hand you may simply wish to install a shipping container building outside your existing home and use it as an extension, which is potentially far more straightforward regarding planning permission. A shipping container can be customised with doors and windows to your specifications to make a family-sized summerhouse.

Garden Sheds

Popular and effective, using a shipping container building as a garden shed provides secure, roomy storage for more heavyweight tools and outdoor appliances, which are often expensive and provide an easy target for thieves.

Typically, you don't need any planning permission for a garden shed, provided that you meet certain conditions. These are outlined in detail on the Planning Portal website, which you can view here. Again, double-check with your local authority to be certain. For garden sheds, check out our range of smaller containers, available here.


Of course, the most obvious use for a shipping container is to use it for its original purpose! As storage becomes a premium inside the home, creating extra storage space outside gives you more breathing space inside.

Usually you won't need planning permission to use a shipping container in this way (it's essentially the same use as a garden shed), but it's always best to check with your local authority as rules vary around the country, and it depends on your plot.


Whether you need to apply for planning permission will in part depend on where you would like to locate the site of your shipping container building. If it's next to a highway or road junction, for example, it's possible that planning permission will need to be obtained.

Similarly, if it will be in prominent view of your neighbours, or highly visible as a structure within the local surroundings, planning permission may need to be applied for. Let common sense and community spirit prevail, and ask yourself how your planned shipping container building might impact on your local environment before applying.

Local authority

The variable factors covered here should all be considered carefully before you go ahead with your shipping container building project, since they will affect whether planning permission will need to be applied for.Save yourself from a potential setback and check with your local authority first before ordering and installing a shipping container, no matter what you plan to use it for.

Ultimately, the responsibility of sorting the paperwork for a planned shipping container building will rest with you. Do as much research as you can based on the individual circumstances of your shipping container proposal.

Regardless of whether you need to apply for planning permission or not, once your project has been given the go ahead, do remember to make sure you put your plans in the hands of somebody who will ensure your shipping container building complies with building regulations. We hope you enjoy the fruits of your labour, and we're here to help if you need!

For more information about the high-quality shipping containers that Willbox provides, contact us today.

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Willbox, part of the Williams Shipping Group, has over 25 years’ experience in container hire and new and used shipping container sales. We can supply containers to meet any need, including site accommodation, storage, and bespoke containers modified to your requirements, and our consultancy service is here to help you make the best choice.

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