Can I Put a Container on My Land in Ontario?

A Homeowner’s Guide to Compliance

Placing a shipping container on your land in Ontario can be a practical solution for additional storage or even as a living space. However, understanding the regulations is crucial to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues. This guide will help you navigate the requirements, from building permits to zoning by-laws and safety inspections.

Picture 1 shipping container on your land in Ontario

Understanding Ontario’s Building Code for Shipping Containers

The Ontario Building Code classifies shipping containers as structures when used on land, which means they are subject to specific regulations. Containers ranging from 160 to 320 square feet are considered buildings and must adhere to the same rules as traditional structures. According to the Ontario Building Code, any structure over 10 square meters (108 square feet) requires a building permit. This rule applies to shipping containers, regardless of whether they are used for storage or as a living space. 

Understanding these regulations is the first step in ensuring your container placement is legal and compliant.

When Do You Need a Building Permit for a Container?

A building permit is mandatory for any structure exceeding 10 square meters. For shipping containers, this generally means that if your container is larger than 108 square feet, you will need to apply for a permit.

Steps to Apply for a Building Permit:

  • Research Requirements: Check local regulations and gather necessary documents.
  • Prepare Your Application: Include detailed plans and specifications of your container.
  • Submit Your Application: Submit to your local building department.
  • Inspection: Schedule an inspection to ensure compliance with building codes.

Common Pitfalls:

  • Incomplete Applications: Ensure all required documents and details are included.
  • Non-Compliance: Verify that your container meets all local building codes before applying.

Navigating Local Zoning By-Laws

Zoning by-laws dictate where you can place a container on your property. These laws vary by municipality, so it’s essential to check the specific regulations for your area.

Picture 2 shipping container on your land in Ontario

How to Find and Interpret Local Zoning Regulations:

  • Visit Local Government Websites: Most municipalities provide zoning by-laws online.
  • Contact Local Authorities: Call or visit your local zoning office for clarification.
  • Review Zoning Maps: Understand the zoning classification of your property and what is permissible.
  • Residential Zones: Generally, containers are allowed for storage but may have restrictions on size and placement.
  • Rural Zones: Often more lenient, allowing for larger containers and multiple units.

Ensuring Safety Compliance and Passing Inspections

Safety is a significant concern when placing a shipping container on your land. Containers must meet specific standards to ensure they are safe for use.

Safety Standards Checklist:

  • Structural Integrity: Ensure the container is in good condition without structural damage.
  • Ventilation: Proper ventilation to prevent condensation and mold.
  • Foundation: Secure and stable foundation to support the container.

Electrical and Plumbing: If applicable, ensure all installations meet safety codes.

Contact Information for Inspections:

  • Local Building Department: Schedule an inspection to confirm compliance.
  • Certified Inspectors: Hire a certified inspector to conduct a thorough review.

Lot Line Setback Rules for Placing Containers

Setback rules determine how far a container must be from property lines. These rules help ensure that containers do not interfere with neighboring properties or public spaces.

How to Measure and Ensure Compliance:

Potential Consequences of Non-Compliance:

  • Fines: Non-compliance can result in significant fines.
  • Removal Orders: You may be required to remove or relocate the container.


Can I live in a shipping container in Canada?

Yes, you can live in a shipping container in Canada, but it must comply with the same building codes and regulations as traditional homes. This includes safety inspections, adherence to setback rules, and obtaining necessary permits.

Where can I put a container home in Ontario?

Container homes can be built in rural areas of Ontario, subject to compliance with local zoning by-laws and building codes. It’s essential to consult with local authorities to ensure your project aligns with specific area regulations.


Placing a shipping container on your land in Ontario involves understanding and complying with various regulations. From obtaining the necessary permits to adhering to safety standards and zoning by-laws, it’s crucial to ensure all requirements are met. For expert advice and assistance, contact Storage-Tech at 1-833-590-4357 or email

Need Help with Permits and Regulations? Contact Storage-Tech for expert advice on placing shipping containers on your property. Call us at 1-833-590-4357 or email to get started!

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