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Are Shipping Container Homes Legal In New York?

Sustainability is a hot topic as many container home enthusiasts are looking for affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to building a new home. That’s where shipping container homes in New York come into play. 

Shipping containers provide a unique source of construction materials you can use to build beautiful homes.

Many people opt to rent an apartment, but this is expensive, plus you don’t own anything. So why not consider making a small investment and getting a shipping container home in New York?

Check out these tips to learn about shipping containers in New York.

The short answer is yes, shipping container homes are legal in New York. New York state has very few regulations on the construction of new homes. So long as the home conforms to local zoning laws. 

The State’s Division of Codes and Standards offers a set of minimum standards for residential building codes. These include provisions for sanitation, safety, fire prevention, energy conservation, and access for disabled persons. 

These standards cover new and existing homes but do not require any specific materials in new construction. 

This means container homes can be built within the state, as long as they meet all other requirements.

Do You Need A Permit To Build A Shipping Container Home In New York?

Yes, you need a permit to build a shipping container home in New York. The Department of Buildings requires building permits for all types of construction, including mobile homes and modular homes. The DOB does not have any special requirements for shipping container homes.

Suppose your property is in an area where there is no zoning code or subdivision ordinance.

In that case, you will only need a plumbing permit from the New York City Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

But this is extremely rare since most residential areas have zone or subdivisions into smaller sections with various restrictions. 

These restrictions depend on the types of buildings built there. These include how many stories high they must be or how far or close they should be to the streets.

Read More: 11 Mistakes to avoid while building a container home

Cost Of Building A Container Home In New York?

Building shipping container homes will cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $175,000. 

Of course, the price tag is going to vary depending on things like location and structure size. But you can be sure that it will cost somewhere around this much.

To know the cost of building a container home, you should know how much land you want to build use. You must also consider the zoning laws that apply.

After that, you need to consider whether or not you will hire someone to design the plans for your home.

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Then there’s the matter of how many containers you’ll need (the more containers, the more expensive). 

And finally, there’s the actual construction process. This can differ depending on whether you work with contractors or do all of the work yourself.

The good news is that DIY container homes are pretty easy and inexpensive to build! If you choose to go this route, it’s better to work with an architect specializing in container homes. They know what materials and techniques you need for your particular project. This can help ensure everything goes smoothly during construction.

6 Best Container Homes In New York

Below is a list of six of the best container homes in New York. They include

  • Tivoli container house
  • C-Home Hudson
  • North Branch container home
  • Livingstone manor container home
  • Roxbury container home
  • Caroll house

1. Tivoli Container House

A sample of Tivoli homes
Courtesy: Discover Containers

The Tivoli Container House is a single-family residence in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. The construction of this house involves 12 standard 20-foot shipping containers.

The Tivoli Container House is a contemporary interpretation of traditional shingle-style architecture. It takes cues from the local vernacular while introducing modern twists. 

The home includes a gable roof with exposed rafter tails, wide eaves, and an overhanging front porch. The front facade is clad in lap siding, while the rear has a metal standing seam roof.

The container’s indoor/outdoor patio dining area has two side cutouts plus an open end. You get great breezes and views in all directions and shelters for inclement weather. 

And the beautiful back porch, just a few steps away, offers additional seating or space to mingle with guests.

The home is also very comfortable, with radiant heat embedded in the polished cement floors of the ground.

The home’s charm and comfort have made it a popular rental on Airbnb, delighting numerous guests worldwide.

However, the original owners eventually were ready to move on from this project. They put their home up for sale in 2019. 

It sold for $735,000 that year, and since then, new owners have not kept it as a short-term rental.

Still, the home continues to inspire container house fans around the world. And perhaps one day, it will once again welcome visitors who hope to see its unique construction in person.

2. C-Home Hudson

A example of C-Home Hudson house
Courtesy: LOT-EK

The C-Home Hudson is a shipping container home outside of Hudson, New York. It is an excellent example of the simplicity and power of repurposed design.

Before moving, Dave and Victoria lived in Brooklyn. They wanted a small getaway from the city noise, so they purchased a plot along the Hudson River. This property was just right for them!

The design of this container home is simple and elegant. In high-end homes, you won’t find any bold structural changes, such as cantilevers or bridging. Their simplicity often creates an ingenious effect.

Instead, the design is a three-plus-three design. Each container level forms a row parallel to and adjacent to the rows above and below it.

But from this large rectangular form, they make angular cuts in the metal skin for window installation.

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If you fold the material along the line of cuts and down in a similar fashion to its attachment, then when opened out again, an exact copy will be visible.

The same trick is employed in the back of the home, with cuts slanted vertically for drainage purposes. On top of this structure sits a roof deck that continues this pattern to its highest elevation.

3. North Branch Container Home

The North Branch Container Home was created from four shipping containers stacked two levels high, separated into two banks of three containers each.

This container home is both physically and visually well integrated into its surroundings. It was built on the side of a small hill, then juts out into an open meadow, so it fits right in!

The home is situated in a grassy clearing with a serene pond fourteen feet deep, and mature trees grow all around the property.

The home’s first floor is made up of two twenty-foot shipping containers, set four feet apart and resting on a concrete foundation. This space includes guest bedrooms, bathrooms, mechanical systems, and laundry, all within an efficient use of space.

There are two forty-foot containers. One resting on the other and each supported at one end by a twenty-foot container positioned against a concrete foundation.

The main bedroom and bathroom are on this level. This includes the public spaces of the kitchen, dining room, and living area.

Thanks to the four-foot gap between the two containers, each level’s floor area were expanded. The first floor would be about 320 square feet with just containers. Once it is finished, this space will measure around 400 square feet.

The second floor is now 800 square feet rather than 640; this change was made by stacking containers.

This home was most recently sold in early 2020 for $365,000. However, it’s uncertain how much the house originally cost to build. This is because the earlier owner had turned it into a short-term rental property.

Read More: Unique states that openly allow shipping container homes in the US

4. Livingston Manor Container Home

With its clean lines, striking color scheme, and clever use of natural elements like trees as support beams, the Living Manor Container House blends seamlessly into its stunning surroundings.

While living in New York City, Robyn Volker and Anke Irmscher purchased the six-acre property years ago. The home was intended as a retreat from urban life, a place to unwind after working long hours in Manhattan’s fast-paced environment.

The basement level consists of a 20-foot container parallel to the side of a hill containing storage and mechanical equipment like water pumps. The home is accessible only through its exterior doors.

The 20-foot containers are set on top of and perpendicular to the 40-foot containers, each with one end resting on top of the hill.

The strength of shipping containers allowed them to bridge over this 32-foot wide gap and create a shaded area underneath the house perfect for relaxing in hammocks.

The exterior of the house is framed by three things: its color, windows, and roof. Volker chose an orange marine-grade paint to bring uniformity to the containers and boldly proclaim their cargo box origins!

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Read More: Is a container home a good investment for daring homeowners?

5. Roxbury Container Home

The home is located on six acres of land, just a short walk from the village of Roxbury. The exterior walls are made entirely out of wood planks, adding to the rustic look and feel while blending in with its surroundings.

The floor plan features two bedrooms, a full bath, a kitchen dining area, and a living space. This contemporary home is flooded with natural light and views of the landscape from within the secure confines of containers!

Warm hardwood floors make a home livable regardless of the season, and in warmer weather, there is also an expansive garden area perfect for picnics or other outdoor activities. 

In addition to the spectacular mountain views, the deck provides shelter from prying eyes.

This tiny container home in New York is an irresistible retreat. Its simplicity evokes a cabin, but this space feels decidedly more than that name implies! Come for the scenery, but stay for the cozy ambiance!

6. Carroll House

Unlike most container homes, which follow the rectangular form of a standard cargo container, the Carroll House uses stacked and angularly cut containers to create an unconventional profile.

The project’s main idea is simple: Take a regular 25-foot by 100-foot lot in Brooklyn and line up shipping containers on it. 

But there’s a twist: Two levels of stacked containers will make up most, about 90 percent, of this “microcity.”

Instead of placing the house’s primary living spaces at ground level, it begins with an underground parking garage and basement accessed from a street-level ramp.

In order to make room for the ramp, some of the containers were cut at an angle. If you’re wondering what a media room inside such a container would look like, with sloping floors on two different levels! You might be surprised: it has stadium seating.

The same angle is continued as it extends up to the top of the building, where cuts in containers are used once again. This time, however, they start from the front and slope toward the back.

The structure comprises a series of cascading terraces, with the cut pieces re-used in other parts. This made it an environmentally friendly exercise, as well as aesthetically pleasing.

The home’s exterior is painted in a neutral light brown. This stands in sharp contrast to its towering height and striking angular cuts, two features that make it look like nothing else on the block.

Inside, you’ll find a modern home with plenty of public and private spaces, and despite being in the middle of the city, its sloped layout and decks on each level make an outdoor-friendly living style.

Read More: Amazing cost to build a shipping container home


Perhaps the fascinating thing about shipping container homes has to be the diversity of housing options they provide. 

From single-family dwellings to large-scale condominium complexes, shipping container homes are simple and effective options for architects and builders in New York. 

As long as you have all the appropriate permits, there seems to be very little to stop this trend from becoming one of the hottest housing trends sweeping across our nation.

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