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Building Inspector and Shipping Containers.

2026 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Matt0987
Building Inspector and Shipping Containers.

Ok, so play along with me. Much like avoiding, (not evading!) unnecessary business taxes, I would like to help a client of mine “avoid” the jurisdiction of the building dept.

My client has large freestanding building built to code and zoned for industrial use. It is a large free span space with sprinklers, exit signs, proper egress doors, etc.

Now, we want to place a couple of Sea Containers or Shipping Containers inside the building for various uses in his business. For example, one would be used as a small photography studio. Another will be used for abrasive cutting and grinding, a way to keep the “dirty area” separate from other areas. And of course, he can move theses units around easily with the proper dollies and a flatbed truck. That flexibility is really what we are after.

So, how does one “classify” these “Cells” for lack of a better term? For example if one used the back of a straight job truck that was properly registered and insured as a mobile photo studio, to my understanding the BD (Building Dept.) has no jurisdiction over the truck. Of course that is debatable, but that is not the point. Many business take a box truck and have it boldly painted “fast cash” or “We Buy Homes” etc and park them in their parking lot in order the avoid the zoning laws with regard to signs. In the towns and states I am familiar with, unless the town adopts a new ordnance, there is nothing they can do.

Another example is a movie set. Obviously, Frodo Baggins home in the Shire did not meet the standard building codes for occupancy. Nor does The Myth Buster’s outdoor parking lot bunker, which is a Shipping Container btw.

Also, you have industrial equipment. Specialized mobile equipment, like a TBM (LOL) and alike.

So, if you wanted to have a “hands off” situation with regard to Mobile Equipment Cells, (MEC) and the BD what might be your approach?

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A shipping container is in no way shape or form considered a building much less a permanent structure. Faced with a similar situation, my company wanted to build a storage shed off the side of the for shop equipment and were declined permission. Don't know why but the reason is un-important. As a result there has been a Connex box next to the building for a good 10 years now. Since it is not a permanent structure or classified as a building the local officials had nothing to say. The only official I know has any interest is the fire inspector who checks it during regular inspections. Just my experience.
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