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Are Shipping Container Homes Legal in Utah? Facts & FAQ

shipping container house

Are shipping container homes the new craze in homebuilding? Well, they’re definitely becoming more popular by the year, or so it seems. These metal boxes are strong enough to stand up to long ocean voyages and tough enough to withstand harsh outdoor elements once they’re retired from their original job as a shipping crate.

And many homeowners are choosing to repurpose them as eco-friendly homes that are big in style but small in footprint. These are just some of the many reasons why so many people are looking into creating a shipping container home of their own.

It’s also important to note that some states do not allow you to build homes using these containers as a base. But what about building one in the state of Utah? Is it legal to build shipping container homes there? Yes, you can build and live in a shipping container in the state of Utah.

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Is It Legal to Build Shipping Container Homes in Utah?

There are no laws prohibiting this. However, you will need to ensure that your home abides by all local building and compliance regulations. This includes making sure you use the appropriate foundational materials, create the right electrical infrastructure, and install the ventilation correctly.

It’s important to check your local building codes before attempting to install and live in one of these homes. It may also be beneficial to get a professional contractor for the job. They’ll be more familiar with laws and regulations when it comes to building in your area, especially one that specializes in shipping container homes.

Why People Love Shipping Container Homes

red shipping container house
Image Credit: ChompooSuppa, Shutterstock

People across the globe are discovering the benefits of building with shipping containers. They’re also discovering the many different ways you can repurpose a shipping container. However, one of the main reasons people love shipping container homes is that they’re extremely affordable.

And because of their compact size, shipping containers also make excellent homes for those with little space. Shipping container homes offer several advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs and situation. So, before you consider building a shipping container home, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of these structures from an owner’s perspective.

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The Pros of a Shipping Container Home


As we mentioned, shipping container homes are one of the most affordable types of homes you can purchase. But it’s not just the initial purchase price that is affordable. Shipping container homes also have very low maintenance costs. This makes them an ideal choice for those on a tight budget.

A shipping container home in the woods
Image By: ANGELOXWU, Pexels

Easy to Build

Not only are shipping container homes affordable to purchase, but they are also easy to build. This is especially true if you hire an experienced shipping container builder. If you are considering building your own shipping container home, it is important to note that there are certain building regulations to keep in mind.

Quick Build Time

Shipping container homes can be built in a relatively short period of time. This means you can have a finished shipping container home in a matter of a few months. The average time to build a home can range anywhere from three months to a year or more, depending on the size of the home. Given that shipping containers are smaller and have a pretty simple build, they can be built in a way shorter time frame.


One of the best parts about building with shipping containers is the fact that you can customize your structure in many different ways. The thing is that you won’t really need a contractor for all aspects of the home building, as you can do much of the construction yourself with a few extra hands on deck. Sure, you’ll need a licensed electrician and perhaps a plumber for certain legal aspects of the build, but you can save a lot of money by doing some of the smaller things yourself.

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The Cons of a Shipping Container Home

Even though shipping container homes have many benefits, there are also a few cons to be aware of before making a decision.

A shipping container ready to be built into a tiny home
Image Credit: seyfi durmaz, Pexels

Less Space

Shipping containers are compact structures that may not offer much space for living. So, if you prefer a lot of space or have a large family, a shipping container home may not be the best choice for you. But if you’re someone who doesn’t mind tight spaces or live the single life, it may be worth considering.

Potential for Condensation

Another potential downside to a shipping container home is the potential for condensation. This is especially true if the container is not properly insulated. So, it is important to take measures to prevent this from happening. This can be a huge issue when it comes to window insulation and consulting an expert for this aspect of the build might help you prevent a lot of issues with moisture and mold once the build is finished

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The 8 Steps to Build a Shipping Container Home

1. Find the Right Location for Your Container Home

Shipping container home under construction
Image Credit: Lucas de Lara, Pexels

While repurposed shipping containers can be used for a number of home types, you should first take a look at your site and determine what type of home would best suit your needs before you even begin the process of finding a shipping container. For example, if you’re building a home for multiple people, you’ll need a larger container.

You’ll also want to see if you have access to the right type of transportation to load the container onto a truck. Next, consider things like existing power lines and natural water sources. You don’t want your shipping container home to be too close to any of these important structures. You’ll also want to make sure you check with your local municipality for any zoning issues that might apply.

2. Decide on the Layout

Once you’ve decided on the type of shipping container home that you want to build, you’ll also want to sketch out a rough layout of your home’s floor plan. You can hire an expert architect or builder for this, do this on paper, or you can use a CAD program if you’re more comfortable with that.

Make sure you do some research into the standard layout of a shipping container. You’ll find that many containers have the same basic layout. The main difference might be the size of the containers, which will dictate both the size of your home and the materials that you need to use.

3. Choose Your Materials

three storey container house
Image Credit: Hithesh S, Unsplash

The next thing you’ll want to do is decide on the materials that you’ll use to build your container home on the interior and exterior if you don’t want to maintain the traditional shipping container look. You’ll likely want a mix of both new and reclaimed materials. For example, you can use new lumber to frame out your home, but you can use reclaimed bricks or cinder blocks for the walls. Consider different roofing material options and decide if you want to go with a traditional roof or a steel roof.

For your roof, you can choose from a variety of materials, including metal and corrugated metal. You’ll want to make sure that whatever you choose for your roof is low-maintenance and will be able to withstand the outdoor elements for years to come.

4. Build the Foundation

Once you’ve decided on your building materials and have a rough layout of your home, it’s time to start building your foundation. This will vary greatly depending on the type of soil where you’ll be building your house. For example, if you’re building on sandy soil, you’ll likely want to use a concrete pad for the foundation. If you’re building on clay soil, you may want to consider a gravel pad as a foundational base. Once you have the foundation in place, you can place the shipping container on the foundation.

5. Install Windows and Doors

black and white container house
Image Credit: Jed Owen, Unsplash

Before you start work on improving your walls and interior space, you’ll want to install the windows and doors. This will give you a better idea of how the layout will actually look when it’s finished. You’ll want to be sure that the openings are properly framed and that the frames are securely fastened to the wall.

6. Build the Walls

Now it’s time to build your walls if you don’t want to use them as-is. As mentioned, you can use cinder blocks or bricks for the walls. If you go with cinder blocks, you’ll want to use a concrete mix to seal them and make them watertight.

You can also use traditional wooden or steel studs to create an entirely wooden wall. The best way to go about this is to frame the walls just as you would for a regular home. You can either frame the walls on the inside or outside of the container.

7. Install the Roof and Flooring

interior of a container house
Image Credit: Jed Owen, Unsplash

Once you’ve got your walls built, you can start installing the roof. You’ll want this to be securely fastened to your walls. You can either install a traditional roof or a steel roof. For the flooring, you’ll want to make sure that you use a durable material that can withstand the elements. Many people choose to go with a concrete slab for their floors. You’ll want to be sure that you’re installing your slab properly to ensure it lasts for many years to come.

8. Add the Finishing Touches

Now it’s time to add the finishing touches to your shipping container home. This will vary depending on the type of home you’ve decided to build, but you’ll likely want to add wall coverings, electrical wiring, plumbing, and a roofing system.

You’ll also want to make sure that you install all required safety features, such as sprinkler systems and fire alarms, throughout your home. Once you’ve finished up and moved in, you can celebrate your success by knowing that you’ve repurposed a shipping container for a stylish and affordable home.

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Building a shipping container home in the state of Utah is possible. And there are so many different ways to go about it. Still, ultimately you’ll need to make sure that you’re erring on the side of caution concerning its layout and building materials as well as making sure that it complies with local building codes.

Whether you decide to live in a simple shipping container home with little decor or one that’s decked out with modern amenities and stylish finishes, then your options are limitless. Also, there are a ton of building experts who perform these jobs exclusively, so if you need help, just check out local builders in the area.

Featured Image Credit: Tillo2015, Shutterstock


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