Home-Based Business Basics

For many entrepreneurs, home-based is the best fit—at least initially. Starting a business from home has numerous benefits—flexibility, no commute time, lower start-up and operating costs—as well as foreseeable drawbacks—no fringe benefits, family life disruptions, insufficient space.  However, if producing your product or service creates noises, odors or interferes with your neighbors’ parking or lifestyles then it may not be a good idea for your business to be from home. Also, it is important to verify with your Home Owners Association, HOA, if applicable, to ensure that they do not have specific limitations on home businesses.

Does Your Home Qualify?

Many fundamental steps for creating a home-based business are the same as creating any business. It is important to comply with additional permits, licensing and other legal requirements depending on the type of home-based business and associated activities. If you need to modify or remodel your home to accommodate your home business find out what type of construction you can do yourself, or when you will need a certified professional through the City of Dallas Building and Fire Code Inspection Division zoning section.

What is NOT allowed for any home business?

In addition, as described by the City of Dallas Zoning Regulations as described on by the City Attorney Office, a home-based business, also called a home occupation, cannot:

1.       Use an advertisement, sign, or display relating to the home occupation on the premises
2.       Use a street address of the premises on an advertisement, sign or display off the premises
3.       Involve more than three people on the premises at one time, other than the residents of the premises
4.       Conduct any activities relating to the home occupation, including activities on any porch, deck, patio, garage or unenclosed or partially enclosed portion of any structure, unless conducted entirely inside the main structure
5.       Use equipment other than ordinary household equipment
6.       Generate loud and raucous noise, that renders the enjoyment of life or property uncomfortable or interferes with public peace and comfort
7.       Sell or offer or advertise products of the home occupation at or on the premises
8.       Generate vehicular traffic that unreasonably reduces the availability of on-street parking spaces on surrounding streets
9.       Generate parking congestion that unreasonably reduces the availability of on-street parking spaces on surrounding streets
10.   It may not occupy more than 25% or 400 square feet of the total floor area of the main structure, whichever is less.

Where can you find permit information?

If the above mentioned list is not followed you will need find the proper permits through the City of Dallas Permit Center to get a permit for a different use of your residence.

A Certificate of Occupancy, CO, is a document which permits land and/or buildings to be used for specific purposes. The City of Dallas requires a CO if the use of a building or portion of a building or land is changed. According to the Building Inspection Division, a new CO is needed for:

1. The first use of land or a building.
2. A change of use of land or a building.
3. A change of tenant on and existing CO.
4. An existing use increases or decreases floor area.

Need more assistance?

The Small Business Administration has a suggestion for state regulations and general guidelines for what permits to look for when starting a business from home depending on the type of business. For more information about zoning and permits if you do not qualify to be a home-based business, please contact the Permit Center. There is also an application checklist for the required documentation for a CO.

For more assistance with starting your home business, or if you are looking for a mentor, contact the Dallas B.R.A.I.N. We will be able to connect you with one of our partners based on the unique issues that home based small businesses face.