Zoning for Business (at Home)

Your home is the ideal place to start an online business. Working out of your house makes business set-up quick and easy, and it equates to low overhead. Before you convert that spare bedroom into an office, however, you need to determine whether you're allowed to operate a business from your home.

The answer typically comes down to a single word: zoning. Most cities and towns have zoning ordinances that define how a particular piece of land or group of properties can be used. They further specify which types of activities can occur there. For example, some neighborhoods are zoned for residential, which means that only single-family homes can be built in that area. Other areas might allow multifamily (apartments) residential. In the area of commercial or business use, the zoning becomes more complicated because businesses are often separated by types of industry. An area might also be labeled mixed use, which allows both residential and some types of limited commercial activity.

How do you decide whether your residential neighborhood is zoned for business? Check with your city's licensing or planning department. When you provide your address, the city clerk can tell you whether your neighborhood has any restrictions that would prevent you from opening your business.

images Some cities and counties make zoning maps, along with a detailed list of city ordinances, ...

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