These days, many suburban streets are lined with a plethora of signboards advertising services available within the residential properties along the way. Some of these start-up businesses may progress to become large companies, while others are small enterprises not destined for greatness, but nevertheless filling a niche in the market. “The current need for flexible working hours, the increasingly informal style of many businesses as well as rapidly advancing technology have made it easier for more people to work from home, either as part of a larger organisation or as a small enterprise,” says Leon Breytenbach, National Manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division.
When starting a new enterprise, especially a small one-man-show, it is necessary to minimise the outlay on non-essential expenses. It seems logical to turn the study, spare bedroom or outbuildings on your property into an office. After all, rentals are costly and you are not 100% sure how long the enterprise will take to become successful. Working from home also allows hands-on parenting, while not having to commute to work each day reduces the monthly spend on transport. A home-based office can also provide a few advantages with regard to your tax returns.
Anticipating potential problems will make it easier to deal with them if they materialise, before they can become critical. The nature of your business could be a stumbling block. Do you need to make alterations to the property? Will that cause you to over-capitalise on your investment? Do you anticipate numerous cars coming and going, as with a hairdresser or beauty salon, children’s play-group, etc.? Will this extra traffic impact on the noise levels or available parking in the neighbourhood? How will your neighbours feel about disruptions in their peaceful suburb? “In all probability, working from home will save you money, but be sure to consider all aspects of the business and its impact on the neighbourhood before investing too much capital into starting up,” Breytenbach warns.
Be aware of the impact
Sitting quietly at your computer all day dealing with clients via phone or email should pose no problem for anyone. However, neighbours are fairly well informed about their suburban rights, so an increase in traffic, noise, unattractive signage, unpleasant odours, parking problems and other factors could cause a complaint to be registered against you with the city planning department. “To avoid any unpleasantness, be sure you have sufficient parking spaces for clients and employees, be aware of what noise levels the business will generate, keep signage to an acceptable size, and check on the legal ramifications associated with a home-run business,” Breytenbach advises.
Many properties advertised as ‘work-from-home opportunities’ may not be correctly zoned for a particular type of business use. Zoning can be a quagmire of different rulings for different cities and even for different suburbs. There is a move afoot to standardise and simplify zoning regulations, but this has not yet happened. Residential agents selling work-from-home properties may not be sufficiently informed regarding zoning regulations applicable to a home-run business to be able to properly advise a prospective buyer. Discovering, after purchasing a property, that it is not appropriately zoned for your intended purpose will cause extreme annoyance and expensive fixes. Single Residential Zone 1 properties allow very restricted business opportunities. While a B&B, small child-care facility or small home industry may be allowed, all carry specific limitations, as do any other enterprises that require special zoning. “Rezoning can be costly and cause serious delays, but can also significantly increase the value of a property. Applying for a temporary departure is a simpler option but is of limited duration and non-transferable, so it is not always the best solution,” Breytenbach explains. It would be wise, before purchasing a property, to ascertain that the zoning is appropriate for the intended business-type, or else, that re-zoning is possible, should it be required.
Your business should be properly registered in whatever format is appropriate, be it as a sole proprietorship, close corporation (CC), partnership, etc. A business licence may also be required. Employees, if any, should be registered for PAYE and Workers Compensation. Facilities, space and parking should be adequate for employees and clientele using the premises.
Consent from your neighbours is important, so it would be wise to maintain amicable relations with them at all times and try to give as little cause for complaint as possible.
Working from home is a popular and viable option if you go about it in the right way. “With careful forethought and consideration, it can fulfil your office requirements while not causing dissention in the neighbourhood,” says Breytenbach.
Rawson Commercial has offices countrywide and looks forward to assisting you in finding the right property to suit your purpose. Please contact (021) 658 7100 and we will refer you to your nearest office.