Temporary placement of shipping containers
  • Last updated:
  • 22 Sep 2020

Council manages the placement of shipping containers. There are rules in place to make sure shipping containers are:

  • safe
  • do not impact the amenity and
  • meet any other legal requirements.

A temporary shipping container may:

  • need a building approval or
  • need a local law approval or
  • be self-assessable.

Refer to the fact sheet[324KB] and application form[294KB].

Self-assessable 

There are times when you do not need an approval from council to place a shipping container on a property temporarily. 

Construction sites

You may use a shipping container temporarily on a construction site, if the shipping container:

  • is being placed on a construction site and
  • is being used for the purpose of construction works and
  • is being removed when construction is complete and
  • is being placed wholly within the property and
  • is not detrimentally impacting the local amenity and
  • is not causing environmental harm and
  • is not obstructing pedestrian or vehicle access and
  • is not obstructing a view or vista from any premises and 
  • does not need a building approval.

You do not need approval if all of the above criteria are met.

Construction site means a site where:

  • there is active construction works or
  • works have temporarily ceased for no more than 30 days.

Property zones

Please see the Development.i site report for information on property zones. Refer to the quick reference guide included on the fact sheet for more information.

You may use a shipping container temporarily on a property if it is:

  • in an urban zone and the shipping container is being placed for less than 30 days OR
  • not in an urban zone and the shipping container is being placed for less than 90 days

And if the shipping container: 

  • is being placed wholly within the property and
  • is structurally sound and is placed in a safe manner and
  • is not detrimentally impacting the local amenity and
  • is not causing environmental harm and
  • is not obstructing pedestrian or vehicle access and
  • is not obstructing a view or vista from any premises and
  • does not need a building approval.

You do not need approval if all of the above criteria are met.

Other council approvals

You may have another council approval which includes the shipping container. This might include approvals such as:

  • temporary events
  • using council land
  • commercial activities etc

The permit will outline if your approval includes the shipping container and the conditions you need to comply with.

Building approvals

A shipping container needs building approval when:

  • it is used as a building of any type i.e. house, secondary dwelling, bedroom, office, shed, workshop, music studio, hobby room etc. or
  • it is used as a structure i.e. swimming pool, viewing platform, fish pond, fence, screen, architectural feature etc. or
  • it is used for long term storage or
  • it is fixed to the ground i.e. tied down to footings or slabs or electricity connected or plumbing installed or
  • it is altered with building works i.e. doors or windows installed, attachments, awnings or patios added or
  • the local law permit expires.

Applying for a building approval

Private certifiers issue building approvals. There are many private certifiers within the Sunshine Coast area. Refer to the internet or phone directory.

Local Law approvals

A local law approval is needed if the placement of the shipping container is not self-assessable.

Applying for a temporary (local law) approval

Complete the application form and provide all the required information to council. Please note that application fees are non-refundable. 

An approval will not be issued where the shipping container is likely to:

  • harm human health or safety
  • cause environmental harm
  • obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic (without a traffic management plan)
  • obstruct a view or vista from any premises (without their consent)
  • be detrimental to the amenity of the area (i.e. it is rusted, broken or vegetation around it cannot be maintained)
  • be in breach of any other relevant law.

If approved, the permit holder will be required to:

  • keep the shipping container wholly within the property boundary
  • keep the shipping container at the approved location
  • ensure services are rust free and in a consistent and maintained painted finish
  • maintain grass and other vegetation in the proximity of the shipping container
  • not change or use the shipping container in such a way that would prompt the need for an approval under the Building Act 1975

Permits will only be granted for temporary use:

  • in an urban zone the maximum time a permit can be approved is for 90 days
  • in a zone which is not an urban zone the maximum time a permit can be approved for is 180 days

Council land

To apply to place a shipping container on council-controlled land, you need to: