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Zoning Laws
and Home Based Business

Zoning Laws must be considered when planning your home based business. Failure to do so could bring your business to a quick end.

Local governments set up the zoning laws in order to regulate land use and to protect it's residents.  Protecting the residents is one of the primary concerns when it comes to zoning for home base business.

With the growing trend toward home base business (about half the businesses today are home based), the zoning laws are becoming more friendly to business.  Zoning requirements can vary greatly from county to county and even city to city.  Zoning is normally done at the local level by the counties, cities and townships.

Zoning Laws Purpose

  • Safety - Will the business threaten the safety of the nearby residents.

  • Nuisance - Will it create odors, noise or activities that the nearby residents would not appreciate.

  • Appearance - Signage is generally prohibited or highly restricted.  Parking of commercial vehicles, generally trucks or vans with a lot of signage will not be permitted. Same would apply to trailers and to using the yard for storage of supplies and equipment for the business.  Even the changing of the appearance of the outside of the house for the sake of the business is generally prohibited.  One would not want a house to start looking like a retail store or industrial shop.

  • Traffic - This can come in several ways.  Neighbors have been know to complain when there were too many delivery vehicles stopping to drop off or pick-up packages.  Having customers come to the house will is generally quite limited.  Employees pose another problem. They are either prohibited or the number is severely limited. Enforcement is generally not a high priority for local government.  Rarely will you ever find a case where they go door to door looking for home businesses.  The zoning laws are normally enforced when there is a complaint from someone in the area.

The key is to use common sense.  Be very respective of your neighbors.  Operate your business with very low visibility, so it does not attract a lot of attention from your neighbors.  Put yourself in your neighbor's shoes, and ask yourself, if I were them, would I be upset with the activity I create.  Remember, there is occasionally a "busy body" resident who has nothing better to do than cause trouble.  

So you will want to know what your local zoning laws are.  The last thing you want to have happen to you is have your local government official come out and shut you down.  A quick trip to the city or township hall can save much grief.  Zoning Laws are often found on the website for your community.

"A home based business gives you all the benefits of a non-home based business without the burden of the high overhead."
~ Larry Louzon

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