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Are Shipping Container Homes Legal in North Carolina?

Shipping containers are a relatively new building material concept with endless opportunities. 

As shipping containers are strong enough to carry cargo shipments safely even during extreme weather conditions, they also make durable building materials. 

Since they may be converted and constructed off-site, they also produce more building flexibility. Many homeowners are also drawn to their eco-friendliness. They love its design, cost, and its potential revenue if converted into a rental or vacation home.

Due to its numerous benefits and its potential to offer a cheaper living, many states have adopted the concept of shipping container homes as a legal home building structure.

States like Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Alaska are open to using shipping containers as the main house material. North Carolina is also reported to be allowing the construction of shipping container homes.

Shipping Container Homes in North Carolina

Tiny homes, including those built from shipping containers, are gaining popularity as affordable, eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives to conventional housing.

In North Carolina, some cities already allow the building of shipping container homes. Areas like Carolina Beach, Wilmington, and New Hanover County allow customized shipping containers to be used as homes.

However, there is a particular place that banned shipping container homes. Kure Beach outlawed the use of shipping containers as housing material in 2016, after hearing about the Conchs’ construction.

During a meeting, Kure Beach mayor Graig Bloszinsky said there were 15 residents who did not want the town to allow the container homes. The town’s planning and zoning department board voted 4 to 1 to disallow container homes. The council ultimately voted 3 to 1 to ban them from Kure Beach.

But despite the Kure Beach banning of shipping container homes, there are places in North Carolina that have a whole community of shipping containers. Wilmington, for instance, has a community called the Cargo District.

What makes the shipping container homes loved by the frugal, minimalist, travelers, artisans, DIYers, and engineers are its sustainability and affordability. A used 20 ft or 40 ft shipping container can be bought for as little as several hundred dollars. It is not surprising that some industry professionals consider it as the future of home construction.

Facts About Shipping Container You May Not Know

While shipping container homes are increasing in popularity worldwide, the modern shipping containers were actually invented by a North Carolinian.

According to the New York Times, Malcolm Purcell McLean reinvented worldwide shipping more than 60 years ago and was called the “Father of Containerization”.

McLean was an entrepreneur who started working as a truck driver. He was the son of a farmer. His legacy began when he dragged empty tobacco barrels into an old trailer.

Three years after high school, Malcolm together with his siblings opened the McLean Trucking Company.

According to his obituary, McLean gets the idea for shipping containers in 1937, while he watched longshoremen loading and unloading goods in Hoboken, New Jersey. He thought sorting and packing cargo into containers would make the entire process more efficient.

McLean then, therefore, sold his share of the trucking company in 1955 and bought an Alabama steamship company.

Proof Shipping Container Homes Are Allowed In North Carolina (A Case Study)

Here are some of the proofs that will confirm that shipping container homes exist in North Carolina and are allowed as permanent residences.

1. A shipping container home in West Jefferson, North Carolina

The Casa Club has featured a traditional yet very impressive shipping container home in West Jefferson. It is built by owners Bibi Villazon-Abbott and Don Abbott.

The 640 sq. ft. shipping container home has a matching basement that used two-40 foot high cube containers. The house has a wooden decked area of 720 square ft., a bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen, and even a fireplace.

2. DIY Shipping Container Home in Asheville, North Carolina

Ryan Naylor in Asheville, North Carolina has built a beautiful shipping container home. He and his ex-partner wanted to build a home out of as reusable materials as possible. They wanted to have an impact on the environment with the construction of their home.

They happened to come across the idea of using shipping containers while looking for other homes that reused materials. So, they decided to have a home out of shipping containers.

They love the idea of having a shipping container home as it uses less energy to re-purpose them than to recycle them. They also like its cool design that adds a fun industrial feel to the home.

What urged them to really use a shipping container as the material is the thought that they would be the first to build the first shipping container home in their hometown.

Are Shipping Container Homes Allowed In North Carolina

 Image Source: Tiny House Life

While some parts of North Carolina outlawed the construction of shipping container homes, some parts of the state consider, if not allow, the construction of this type of home structure.

By looking at the information stated above, we can conclude that shipping containers as a home alternative is legal and allowed in North Carolina. People are already using container homes not just as permanent homes but even as rental or vacation homes in which they earn additional income.

The best thing to do, however, is to check the zoning laws and building codes in your area to ensure that you are building your dream container home legally.