Pay Attention to Zoning Laws When Considering a Professional Home Office

Pay Attention to Zoning Laws When Considering a Professional Home Office

Taryn Williford
Mar 15, 2012

If your idea of a home office is a cozy spot to read blogs and check emails, you don't need to pay attention to your city or county's zoning restrictions. But if you're a professional work-from-homer with visiting clients or employees of your own, you might need to make a few moves to ensure you're O.K. with Uncle Sam.

Where you live is most likely within your municipality's "residential" zone, and the land has been approved for people to live there. But if you begin to turn your home or apartment into a live/work space, you could be crossing into "commercial zone" territory.

Home Improvement blog HouseLogic explains it this way:

If your business is simply you, a computer, and an occasional client dropping by, your separate structure will likely fall under residential--not business--zoning laws. However, if you have several employees and a stream of customers, you may run afoul of zoning laws that restrict commerce in residential areas.

If you want to err on the safe side, head to your local government and apply for a zone variance. If your live/work arrangement is approved, you'll be officially exempt from local residential zoning laws.

But beware: If your local government allows you to use your home workspace as an official place of business, you might be required to adhere to local place-of-business guidelines about fire safety, handicapped access, restroom facilities and adequate parking.

(Image: Gregory Han for Sonja's Savvy Sophistication)

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