Do you need planning permission?
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Do I Need Planning Permission for a Shipping Container Home?

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Planning Permission for Shipping Container Homes
Image credit:
Aron Yigin
In the era of innovative living spaces, the concept of a shipping container home has captured the imagination of many. Yet, amidst the allure of minimalist design and sustainability, a crucial question emerges: "Do I need planning permission for a shipping container home?" This blog embarks on an insightful exploration of shipping container home regulations, diving deeper than conventional advice. We'll unearth lesser-known insights, often overlooked by experts, challenging the status quo. As you delve into this journey, you'll not only gain clarity on the planning process but also develop a fresh perspective on the possibilities of container living. Join us in redefining home sweet home, one container at a time.
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What is a Shipping Container Home?

A shipping container home is a type of residence built using one or more shipping containers. These containers are repurposed and retrofitted to serve as living spaces. While unconventional, they are increasingly becoming popular for their affordability, eco-friendliness, and quick construction times.

Planning Permission: The Initial Step

Planning permission is the first crucial step if you are thinking about building a shipping container home. While the Planning Portal suggests that all new residential builds likely require planning permission, there are some exceptions, known as "permitted developments." You can find more information on the Planning Portal, but it is advisable to consult with your local council and an architect experienced in shipping container homes to get the most accurate guidance tailored to your circumstances.

Local Planning Policies and NPPF Guidelines

Local planning policies, along with guidelines from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), play a significant role in the likelihood of your application being approved. As per the NPPF guidelines, your project needs to comply with sustainable development principles. Ensure your shipping container home fits well within its surroundings both in terms of design and overall impact on the area.

The Role of Building Regulations

Just like traditional homes, shipping container homes must adhere to building regulations. These regulations concern safety, insulation, energy efficiency, and more. An architect can help you navigate the complexities of these regulations, and the local council will inspect your project at different stages to ensure compliance.

Five Benefits of Shipping Container Homes

  1. Cost-Effective: Compared to traditional homes, shipping container homes are generally less expensive to build.
  2. Sustainability: They offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional construction methods.
  3. Quick Construction: Shipping container homes can be built relatively quickly.
  4. Customisable: The modular nature of shipping containers allows for creative and unique designs.
  5. Low Maintenance: They often require less upkeep compared to traditional homes, saving you time and money in the long run.

Drawings and Documents Needed

Your planning application will require several documents, including architectural drawings, site plans, and a Design and Access Statement. Ensure all these documents are submitted to your local council's planning department for a smooth process.

How to Apply for Planning Permission

The application process typically involves submitting an online application through the Planning Portal or your local council's website. You'll also need to pay an application fee, which varies by location and project size.

Fun fact

Did you know?
A standard shipping container can withstand up to 100 mph winds and is earthquake resistant. This makes them extremely durable housing options!

Improving Your Chances: Criteria for Planning Permission

When you're considering building a shipping container home, planning permission is not just a box to tick; it's an obstacle to clear. Let's break down some critical factors that could increase your chances of obtaining that coveted permission.

Sizes and Limits

The dimensions of your shipping container home will significantly influence your application. If your planned structure adheres to the size restrictions set by your local council, the planning process could become smoother. Homes that are too large may overshadow neighbouring properties, and ones too small may not meet local housing standards. Keeping your design within standardised dimensions, say a footprint that matches typical bungalow sizes, can work to your advantage.

Materials and Appearance

The materials you use should be in harmony with the local architectural style. Too bold or unconventional a design could meet resistance. Shipping container homes are often praised for their modern and industrial aesthetic, but this doesn't mean you can ignore local vernacular architecture. Consider using cladding, paint, or other treatments to make the container blend more naturally with its surroundings.

Character and Context

The character of your shipping container home should suit its surroundings. If your property is located in a historically significant area, you may need to make extra efforts to match the locale's established character. This might mean compromising on some of your more avant-garde design ideas, but it could significantly improve your chances of securing planning permission.

Permitted Development Rights: A Loophole?

The term "permitted development" is a bit of a misnomer; it's not so much a 'right' as it is a 'conditional exemption' from planning permission. Here's what you need to know:

What is Permitted Development?

Permitted development allows for certain small-scale building projects to proceed without requiring planning permission. This can include extensions, outbuildings, and loft conversions. However, when it comes to shipping container homes, these rights are often restricted, necessitating a full planning application.

Limitations and Guidelines

Permitted development is not a free pass; several guidelines must be followed. The structure must not be forward of the principal elevation, exceed specific height limits, or cover more than half the land around the original house. Additionally, if your property is in a designated area like a national park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), permitted development rights will be more restricted.

Legal Consequences

Failure to adhere to permitted development guidelines can result in a requirement to remove the structure at your own cost, and you could even face legal repercussions. Always consult your local planning department to clarify your eligibility for permitted development.

Professional Assistance: Why Architects are Vital

If you're serious about building a shipping container home, consider hiring an architect experienced in this area. Here's why:

Planning Permission Expertise

Architects are well-versed in the planning permission labyrinth. They can provide invaluable advice and may even have contacts within the local planning department. This could speed up your application process and improve your chances of approval.

Drawing and Documentation

Architects can produce the technical drawings and documentation needed for your planning application, ensuring they meet all the local council's requirements. These documents can often be complex and detailed, so having an expert handle them is advisable.

Creative Solutions

Perhaps most importantly, architects can offer creative solutions to any planning permission roadblocks you encounter. They are trained problem solvers and can adapt your design to satisfy planning stipulations without compromising your vision. With their help, your shipping container home can meet both legal requirements and your own aesthetic desires.

Arming yourself with this knowledge and expert assistance will place you in a stronger position to navigate the planning permission maze. The dream of owning your very own shipping container home might be more achievable than you think.

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Do I always need planning permission for a shipping container home?
It's safest to assume you do, although there are exceptions.

How much does planning permission cost?
The cost varies but expect to pay at least £462 for a new dwelling.

How long does planning permission last?
Generally, three years from the date of approval.

Can I build a shipping container home anywhere?
No, local planning policies will dictate permissible locations.

Do shipping container homes have to comply with building regulations?
Yes, they must meet the same regulations as traditional homes.

How big can a shipping container home be?
Sizes can vary but local policies and lot size will be determining factors.

Is it cheaper to build a shipping container home than a traditional home?
Generally, yes.

How long does it take to build a shipping container home?
Typically, a few weeks to a few months, depending on the project's complexity.

Are shipping container homes eco-friendly?
They can be, depending on the materials and technologies used.

Can I build a shipping container home myself?
Technically, yes, but consult professionals for planning and construction.

Do you need planning permission?
BeforeBricks is a leading nationwide architecture service.
Learn more
Where next? Well that's up to you, but here are some suggestions... you could contact us if you have any questions, or apply for free quotes from local home professionals.

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