You are here Home Building, planning & projects Building & renovating Shipping containers

Shipping containers

Whether it’s your backyard workshop, home-office or granny flat, shipping containers are more than their name
suggests. Council embraces the many uses of shipping containers but regulates their placement, so they don’t create unsightly features or create safety hazards. Find out about the type of approval you need and how to apply for one, before placing a shipping container on your property.

  • Short-term use

    You may place a shipping container on your property or construction site as a
    short-term solution for storage when moving house or building.

    In this case, you’ll need a temporary/ construction local law approval.

    An approval is required under the authorising local law for the placement of a shipping container in each of the following circumstances:

    The shipping container is:

    • in place for less than
      • 30 days for a property in the General residential zone; or
      • 60 days for a property not in the General residential zone; and
    • not likely to cause
      • a detrimental impact on the amenity of the area; or
      • harm to human health or safety; or
      • environmental harm; or
      • obstruction to pedestrian or vehicular traffic; or
      • obstruction of a view or vista from any premises.
    • or the placement of the container is permitted under the terms or conditions of an approval issued by the local government for another prescribed activity.

    Any local law permit granted for a period of more than 30 days will also require you to obtain a building development approval for a temporary structure. A licensed private certifier is the best person to get the process started. Find one via the QBCC website and ask for a building works application. The certifier will launch the application and get approval from council on your behalf.

  • Long-term use

    If you’re planning to use your shipping container as a long-term solution or modular building, you’ll need a building development approval. As
    above a licensed private certifier is the best person to get the process started.

    This applies when the container

    • is used as long-term storage or work shed, house or other permanent building, or
    • is used as another structure (eg. pool, fish pond, viewing platform,
      architectural feature), or
    • is fixed to the ground (eg. tied down, installed with footings, electricity or plumbing installed), or
    • it will or has been altered with building works (eg. door, window, awning, patio or other attachment), or
    • if the local law permit has expired, usually after 30 days.
  • Off-property use

    Rarely, you may need to place the shipping container onto council-owned land (eg. footpath). Council assesses this on a case by case basis, call 1300 242 686 to
    discuss your situation.

  • Do you already have the shipping container?

    If you’ve got a shipping container on your property now, contact council’s Planning and Development Team immediately. They will advise you of the best way to have it approved retrospectively. Always get approval before you purchase your shipping container. Otherwise, you may have to remove it, if your application is unsuccessful, or you may face compliance action if the container remains unapproved.

  • Planning to convert your shipping container to a shop or commercial building?

    You may need a development approval. Ask your certifier about this and
    engage a planning consultant if needed.

Download this information as a printable factsheet


File Size


Emergency Management Dashboard

Up-to-date weather, road closure and disaster information.