When you’re in pursuit of turning your business dream into reality, you have to think big.
Successful entrepreneurs are all united by the driving force of their ambition. Faced with situations that others might dismiss as unworkable, true entrepreneurs are prepared to throw themselves full-throttle into trying to overcome the obstacles in their path– even if that means sacrifice.
Sacrifices Start At Home
One such sacrifice that many business owners find themselves contemplating is a need for business premises… and not having the funds to rent and outfit entirely new premises. It’s at this point that many entrepreneurs may decide to rein in their business plans, or do something different, but a good entrepreneur knows that there are always options to pursue. If their business absolutely needs premises, then they’re going to obtain business premises– whatever it takes.
Unfortunately, what “it” sometimes takes is the home of the entrepreneur. After all, their home is something they are already in possession of. It’s a physical space, with a backyard they can use for storage, and there’s an established gas, electricity, and water supply to the property. When evaluated from a business perspective, there’s plenty of benefits there to consider. It really might work.
The downside, of course, is that their home becomes their office, their workspace. They lose that thing so crucial to a good work-life balance; having their own space.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur who is struggling to afford premises, then you may find yourself considering converting an area of your home into office space. You may have wondered just how much storage you can fit in the backyard; and idly considered how you might need to adapt your property to suit business requirements. Would it be worth it? Is this a step you should take, or a terrible idea from the outset? Let’s dive deeper into the things you need to know when considering converting your home into your business premises…
Know The Difference: Working From Home vs. Premises Conversion
Many people assume that there is little difference between “working from home” and “converting your home for use as premises”. However, this is an oversight, as the differences are actually rather stark. Many people work from home; this requires no adaptation for the most part, just a working internet connection and a laptop.
Conversely, converting your home into business premises is far more detailed and laborious.
So you have to figure out which you really need. Here are a few circumstances in which converting to premises is suitable:
- You need a space to host customers or clients. Most people who work from home don’t need this; if they do, on occasion, have to meet a client, they will arrange it at a local coffee shop/business venue.
- Your business requires you to hold large amounts of stock. While it’s possible to run some small ecommerce-type businesses without converting your home, anything more advanced will require larger storage capabilities than the average home can hold.
- You want to offer a retail space. Some people choose to convert an area of their home into a retail space. This happens for various reasons; not being able to afford conventional retail outlets, wanting to take advantage of a good location (for example, if their house is close to an area that receives a high volume of foot traffic) or just out of preference– it’s a pretty short commute if you live above the store, after all.
If you don’t need any of the above, then you don’t need to consider a full-scale conversion.
If, however, you do need premises for one (or more) of the above reasons, then read on.
The Legal Hoops: A Guide To Jumping Through Them
The process of converting your home for use as business premises is an extensive, time-consuming one, and the biggest time suck of all will be the bureaucracy you have to deal with.
There are so many different legal areas you need to consider prior to a conversion. Here’s a primer on the areas you will need to investigate, the companies you will need to contact, and the notification you will need to give to ensure your conversion is allowed:
- Call your home insurance provider. If you’re going to change the nature of your dwelling, then your home insurance company needs to know. In all likelihood, you will require an entirely new home insurance policy; one that covers you for business as well as domestic use.
- Call your local authority. This is particularly necessary if you’re opening up a retail space; you must have permission to trade from the local government. Obtaining this permission can be a long, slow process; you neighbors will have a right to register their displeasure at your plans, and you will need to prove you are insured for business usage and public liability.
- Learn your codes. You’re going to need permission for a material usage change for your home from three coding sections: Zoning, Business Ordinances, and Business Licensing. Hopefully, your initial call to your local authority will have directed your queries in the direction of these offices, but you are responsible for checking this has happened.
If all of the above sounds worrying, well, that’s because it should be. This road isn’t an easy one, and it will take time to ensure you are fully compliant with local requirements. However, there are plenty of steps you would need to take to register for any business premises, so don’t be unduly deterred by the list above– just focus on the paperwork and make sure everything is in order.
The Conversion Process: What Do You Need To Do?
When you’ve obtained all of the appropriate permissions, you now have to move into the conversion process itself. There are numerous areas you’re going to need to consider.
- What rooms are you going to dedicate to the business? A common choice is to convert the ground level of your home and “live” on the second floor. This works well, but what about the kitchen? You may want to adapt your home, which will require consulting with an architect and building firm.
- What about entrances and exits? Firstly, you will be required to provide adequate fire escapes as part of the process you undertake with your local authority. You need to make changes to ensure that all of your business visitors — be it suppliers making deliveries, customers arriving for appointments, or eager shoppers — are able to access your property comfortably. For supplier deliveries, you may need to consider extra wide safety gates to ensure trucks can enter your property boundary correctly to load and unload. For customers, you’re going to need to think about where they will park their vehicles; your neighbors will swiftly turn to anger if the street is blocked up by customer cars.
- Which security changes do you need to make? Home security is always important, but this necessity moves up another gear when your home is also your business. You may want to consider installing extra CCTV systems, and if you have gates, you’re going to want some kind of intercom system installed.
- What do you need to redecorate? If you’re converting a space in your home for business use, that space needs to stop looking like a home. You’re going to need to redecorate, install new furniture, and ensure you have adequate lighting. If you’re opening a retail space, you are pretty much going to be outfitting the entire selling area from scratch– so you need to have room for this in your budget.
- What happens if you want to sell the house in the future? Unless you are lucky and find a buyer who wants a home/business premises combination, you might find that you struggle to set your home for the amount it would be worth if it was still just a home. This is an aspect you’re going to have to calculate into your future financial planning, so be aware of it.
One thing that’s important to remember is that the conversion process will not be rapid. You will need to manage the project efficiently, juggling multiple different issues at the same time, and ensure that you keep an eye on your costs, too. It’s hard work, which begs the question… is it worth it?
So Should You Convert Your Home For Business Usage?
The above sounds like an exhausting list of potential problems, issues you are going to face, and more red tape than you have ever dealt with before in your life. Is it worth going through all of that stress?
The answer is probably “yes”. If there’s a reason you don’t want to invest in commercial premises, then the home conversion is the next best thing. Not only are you able to control everything about the process — there’s no landlord whose preferences you have to take into account, for example — but you will also save a fortune on leasing fees in the long term.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you don’t mind the short-term hassle, then you may just find that converting your home into business premises is the right solution for your business.
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