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Shipping Containers: Subject to Ontario Building Code & City of Hamilton Zoning By-Law

Hamilton, ON – August 29, 2016 – With the increasing popularity of retired shipping containers being given new life in building or storage, the City of Hamilton is reminding residents and landowners that a Building Permit must be in place before bringing containers onto their properties.

The Ontario Building Code recognizes shipping containers, which range in area from 160 to 320 square feet, as structures when used on land. The construction or placement of any structure over 10 square meters, (108 square feet) requires a Building Permit.

“Shipping containers are becoming a more common sight in Hamilton and for good reason – they are sturdy, inexpensive, roomy, easy to transport and provide secure storage,” says City of Hamilton Manager of Building Inspections, John Lane. “They are also used to build homes. In either case, it is important that residents consult with the Building Division before proceeding with their project.”

Health & safety a top priority

A Building Permit is not only a regulatory requirement – it also assures the property owner that a City of Hamilton building inspector has checked the placement and position of the shipping container and can verify that there are no health or safety concerns, which may include:

  • Structural safety
  • Ground sinking (container must be on a suitable, stable surface)
  • Wind resistance
  • Snow loading
  • Risk of uplift or overturning
  • Proper anchorage

Further, shipping containers are subject to the same requirements and limitations as permanent buildings: they must be properly zoned and must observe property line setback requirements as outlined in the City of Hamilton Zoning By-Law.

A Building Permit for a shipping container can be obtained within 10 to 20 days.

For more information about applying for a Building Permit, please visit the City of Hamilton’s Building Division or contact the Building Division at  905-546-2424, Ext. 2720.

Failure to obtain a Building Permit may result in legal action being taken by the Building Division, including the issuance of an Order to Comply and possible prosecution for non-compliance.