Types of Live-Work Units
Typically, the business is on ground level and faces the street. The most traditional arrangement places the living quarters above the business, but living space may also be alongside the commercial space or behind it. An artist’s loft might simply be a bedroom over his studio. At the other end of the spectrum, a live-work unit might be a three- or four-story townhouse, with commercial space on the first floor and the family residing in a spacious home on the remaining floors. Local municipal codes often control the types and arrangement of live-work units available.
A live-work unit cuts your commute time to seconds, and because all you need to do is walk from your bedroom to your office, you avoid the cost of gasoline for commuting to work. You do not have to brave scorching summer heat, torrential spring rains or bitter winter snows to go to work. Lunch can be a healthy, inexpensive meal prepared in your own kitchen rather than a rushed, expensive affair at a crowded restaurant. A live-work unit offers similar advantages to a home office, but it is often easier to prove your deductions to the Internal Revenue Service for a live-work unit than a home office.
Workaholics might find it more difficult to stop work when there is no commute time involved. If you have children, there might be limited places for them to play outdoors. Some cities, such as Sunnyvale, California, have strict rules about live-work units, including a prohibition against renting out part of the unit, employing more than one non-resident and having more than three delivery trucks, vendors or customers arrive by vehicle at your location in a single day.
In the 19th and early 20th century, zoning restrictions were unknown in many American cities. As the 1900s progressed, however, municipalities began restricting where people could live and conduct their business. Areas zoned for residential use could not be used for commerce, and areas zoned for commercial use could not be residential. Such arrangements helped to ensure that citizens did not have their lives disrupted by the noises or traffic often associated with commercial endeavors. However, zoning laws also made life easier for city officials. Commercial property was normally taxed at a higher rate than residential, and grouping similar properties together made it easier to monitor the tax rolls. Safety regulations vary by whether a property is commercial or residential, and the restrictions made it easier to conduct inspections and ensure compliance. The zoning laws are typically the biggest challenges faced by those building or purchasing live-work units. Cities are often unsure how to handle taxation on such mixed-use properties and which safety codes apply.
Article written by: Jeffrey Joyner, Demand Media
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