The Ultimate Guide to Building Container Homes in Florida

Can you build a container home in Florida?

It has become quite common to see people build a container home in Florida in recent years. More and more people are focusing on protecting the planet. It’s a great idea to avoid building new homes and instead, we can reuse materials that are readily available, and most probably headed to the landfill or scrap yard.

While building your container home in Florida, you are reusing certain elements, and you’re impressed with how much you can protect and preserve the environment for future and present generations. You can also fully customize everything and make it your own, which is always an exciting proposition.

4x40 feet container home inspiration
Courtesy: 4×40 ft HC shipping container in Australia by @Jake Richards

If you were wondering if shipping container homes are legal in Florida, then the short answer is yes. These are allowed and approved by the local government. However, the thing to note here is that you do need a permit to construct container homes in Florida. You also need to follow the zoning laws and the home building codes. But if you follow these rules and regulations and you get a permit for it, you will be fine.

Are container homes allowed in Florida? Of course, they are. There’s no rule against them being illegal. As we mentioned above, the focus is to stick to the rules and zoning laws. We will guide you with the right steps to follow if you want to build a container home in Florida. That process is streamlined and not overly complicated.

What Steps do you Need to Follow in Order to Build a Container Home in Florida?

Below are the steps needed to build a container home in Florida:

  • You need to have the desired piece of land.
  • Find the right shipping container engineer/architect/contractor.
  • Start working on the building plan.
  • Buy the correct shipping containers (9ft high cube containers preferably).
  • Prepare the land.
  • Start building.
  • Of course, move in and enjoy your stay.

To get you going with your container home build in Florida, we thought it wise to get yourself a copy of the Florida Building Code. Although it doesn’t cover electrical, this book turns out to be exceptionally helpful in answering most of your questions.

Buy/Own the Desired Piece of Land

Before you buy any of the containers needed for this process, you will need a piece of land where you can place the container home. The reality is that you can buy any piece of land, as long as the location itself doesn’t have anything against container homes. Check the zoning laws and see if everything is OK.

Getting the right piece of land is crucial. Generally, container homes are ideal for those locations that are further from the central part of the city, many even get them on a hill or a higher ground. But this can be a great pick for any location, just find the right piece of land and you will be more than OK here.

Read More: Ultimate Truth About Shipping Container Homes in California

Back view of a 4x40 feet container home
Courtesy: 4×40 ft HC shipping container in Australia by @Jake Richards

Find the Right Shipping Container Builder/Contractor in Florida

You might not be able to build a container home in Florida on your own, which is why you may need to hire a third party to do that. The great thing to note here is that hiring an expert is a very good idea. Go for a company that focuses exclusively on creating these types of homes. In addition, these contractors are known for the fact that they will help with permits too, and that alone can be very helpful.

In fact, some might even get the permit for you. And yes, most of them might even sell and deliver containers to you. If you really want to do this on your own, you still need a supplier for containers, as that’s what will give you the best value and results. That’s why finding a business that is focused on this type of solution is crucial here.

inspecting a container home
Shipping container home contractor

Start Working on the Building Plan

After you know the land you are working with and you know where to get the containers, your focus is to work with an architect. The architect will help you create the best building plan and also ensure that all your ideas are met.

A good rule of thumb is to take your time and write down all the items that you need. This will give you a very good idea of what to work with, what items you need, and so on. The more you know and the more elements you can focus on, the better the results you can get in the end for your container home.

In case you choose to handle the permit process on your own, talk with your architect and ensure that he takes the zoning laws and building codes for your Florida container home into account. This way you will have a plan which is not affected by any of those laws and regulations.

Otherwise, if you ignore that, you might be prone to various disadvantages and issues that might arise during or after the construction of the container home.

Buy the Necessary Shipping Containers

Now that you know how many containers are needed, you must purchase them. The reality is that you need to purchase way more construction items and consumables than you need. This is because you will end up with various parts that can’t be reused.

So yes, having more of them is a crucial aspect to keep in mind. Talking with the builders is also helpful since they will offer proper advice. This way you will know exactly how much you need to spend and how many containers are actually a good fit.

shipping containers at a yard
Stacked shipping containers in a yard. Make sure you get a watertight container while making the purchase.

Flattening the Land and Preparing it

Flattening the land is simple. Usually, you do that by adding sand/gravel. Not all sand types might work, depending on the land type and other factors. The idea is to have it all ready so you can set the foundation.

Can I Build a Container Home in Florida? How do you Apply for a Permit?

Yes, Florida is one of the states that allow shipping container homes, but as we said, you do need a permit. The permits involve plumbing, electrical, and building permits, so you don’t have to get just a single permit to begin with.

You need 3 of them, but the building one is crucial in the beginning. For some cities in Florida, a permit is not needed, but you have to talk with the building department to see which is the case in your own situation.

What you need to keep in mind is that applying for a permit is easy, but receiving one can take multiple months. So yes, once you have the land purchased, you do want to apply for a permit right away. This way you can avoid your building process being halted.

Before you start the construction process, if you plan to go off grid and learn all the skills you’ll need, then definitely grab yourself this book. It’s got a great deal to teach you about homesteading, and literally all you need to know.

Starting the Construction Process

After you receive the permit, you need to work on the foundation. What a lot of people think when it comes to container homes in Florida is that they don’t need a foundation. Yes, these container homes also need a strong foundation too. You must dig slabs that support the containers and even invest in rebar so you can reinforce the concrete.

Once the foundation is set, pour concrete and ensure everything is set exactly the way you want. That’s why hiring a home builder is crucial here, because this is not just something you can do on your own. Unless you have the right tools and connections, of course.

Building the Container Home

After the foundation is set and cured, now you want to add containers to the foundation. You need to start building the house and focus on plumbing and any of the other relevant factors. This is important because you always need to think about comfort. Focus on the things that you really need for your container home and also insulate the floors if you want. Cutting the container to add doors and windows is extremely important.

An example of a possible Inside view of a container home in Florida
Courtesy: 4×40 ft HC shipping container in Australia by @Jake Richards

Furnishing Your Florida Container Home

Once everything is ready, you can start furnishing your home. Adding all the stuff you need in the house is one of those tasks that will take time. Also, you do need to ensure that you take into account things like having a pet, extra residents, and so on.

This is why having the best plan and working with an architect is crucial. You can still make some changes on the fly, but you want to avoid that by creating the right plan and sticking to it properly.

Outside view of container home
Courtesy: 4×40 ft HC shipping container in Australia by @Jake Richards

What Should you Know About Zoning Laws in Florida?

Zoning laws are important because you will have a much better understanding of the process and what restrictions you can deal with if any. Generally, container homes in Florida are guided by the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, also known as HUD. The lands are divided based on the planning department, and they create spaces suitable for certain objectives. Then all those zones have subdivisions.

How does this affect you and your container home? Shipping containers are not allowed in the R5, R15, and R7 areas. But aside from those, you will be allowed to build without a problem. You still need to check and see if construction like this is permitted. Working with a professional building team is important since they can help do these things for you.

Inside a kitchen of an affordable sea can home
Courtesy: 4×40 ft HC shipping container in Australia by @Jake Richards

Conclusion

Thankfully, building a container home in Florida is allowed and it’s actually a great idea if you want to protect the environment. It’s a great set of rules that you can focus on and you will be impressed with the results and experience overall.

Plus, the fact that you have control over how you can fully adapt and customize your home is great. You still need to ensure that you follow the rules, but once you get a permit it should all be ok. Yet it makes sense to hire an architect and the right building team to bring your container home dream to life!

Not ready to build a shipping container home in Florida? Here are some small projects to keep you busy in your backyard.

Read More:

Mistakes to Avoid While Building a Container Home

Are Shipping Container Homes Legal in North Carolina?

Can you Finance a Container Home?

Building Shipping Container Homes in Florida: What you Need to Know

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