A Guide to Regulations and Licenses for Shipping Container Conversions

Investing in a shipping container conversion offers many benefits for businesses and therefore, has become a highly popular choice for many business owners. Shipping container conversions are an affordable and eco‐friendly building option, and they allow for unique, functional, and stylish spaces to easily be created.

Shipping containers are highly accessible and can be installed and converted quickly. For most shipping container conversions, some paperwork is normally required though. This article will look at the required regulations and licences for various shipping container conversions.

Shipping Containers Used For Events

Shipping containers are becoming a highly popular choice for event spaces. These practical and high-impact container spaces are normally temporary which means planning permissions may not be required – but every local council has its own set of codes and regulations for temporary structures. Therefore it is important to know what exactly is required from your local council before proceeding with the event planning, as the last thing you want is to build and deliver a great concept only to learn that you aren’t legally allowed to execute it.

It is essential to have all the proper structural documentation to acquire the necessary permits. Permitting boards are more accepting of shipping containers as temporary structures if they have proof that the containers are structurally sound and meet applicable codes. This can be proved with the following documents: Wet Engineered Stamped Drawings, which are plans that have been signed/stamped by an engineer and not electronically signed and printed. This demonstrates that the drawings have been evaluated by a licensed engineer.

Life Safety Plans, which are plans that detail critical building features as they relate to applicable building codes. These plans typically contain information on fire alarms, emergency exit strategies, occupant loads, and power and fuel shutoff locations. Quality Assurance Specifications, which are reports that include how the container’s materials are welded together and if the welders are trained and certified in the practice.

Shipping Containers Used For Small Businesses

Many people starting small businesses have opted to use cost-effective converted shipping containers as wok spaces instead of renting or buying an expensive office building. A converted shipping container is a great space for dozens of different business ventures, such as book stores, clothing retailers, or art galleries. Converted shipping containers are an ideal choice for start-ups because of their versatility and affordability.

A small business is not considered temporary so you will need to acquire planning permissions for your shipping container structure. Once planning permission has been obtained from local councils, containers can be placed on-site in a matter of weeks. So contact your local authority to discuss all required planning permissions and apply for all licences as early as possible.

Planning permissions may not be needed if the structure is an addition to existing premises, but it is best to always check to avoid any hefty fines. Also always remember to obtain any small business licenses you may require, which are also generally granted by individual local authorities. And if your structure is intended to benefit the local community, there is the option to apply under the Community Right to Build scheme instead of going through the normal planning process.

Shipping Containers Used For The Food Industry

From small-scale restaurants to food stalls, shipping containers have become a popular choice for business owners in the food industry. The first step in setting up a shipping container restaurant is to fulfil all the legal obligations by applying for a business licence and health and safety certification.

You will also have to contact your local council to get zoning and operation permissions before setting up your converted shipping container.  In the UK, if you want to set up a permanent container‐based business then you would normally first require planning permissions before any building can begin.

Contact your local council or visit their website for an overview of the drawings, documents and other information you will need to submit to them and to find out the timeframes they work within.

Shipping containers are highly versatile and can be adapted for so many different uses. We hope this article will help you to be more informed on the regulations and licences you may require for your shipping container conversion. Always remember that it pays to contact your local authority before beginning any structural work and that paying for an unnecessary application fee is far preferable to any hefty enforcement notices you may receive for proceeding without one.

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