When a home occupation crosses the line for neighbours

Home occupation is a viable alternative to the daily commute, but when is it time to leave home? I am a strong believer in home occupations, but there are limits and there are times when it is not the right answer.

Home occupation is a viable alternative to the daily commute, but when is it time to leave home?

I am a strong believer in home occupations, but there are limits and there are times when it is not the right answer.

It makes sense for someone who works behind a desk, on the phone or laptop to not have to commute to a nondescript office or cubicle if he can do the work at home. Expenses would be less, a smaller wardrobe, fewer appointments at the hair dressers, cheaper lunches, less transportation costs, etc., and you would benefit on possible deductions from percentage of rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.

So why not?

You get to answer all those calls offering free cruises, lower interest rates, surveys, or you get to deal with sick or unruly children, drop-in guests, and requests for baby-sitting or coffee. You are never away from work, never far from the phone, desk or computer.

Growth could be a factor. OK, it is only you sitting at a desk, but then you perhaps need an assistant, co-ordinator, a shipper-receiver, cold-caller, delivery driver, stamp-licker, and a family member won’t do. Then what?

Perhaps you have overtaken the garage so there is no room for the car, maybe you are constantly jockeying the cars in the driveway. You have the busiest driveway in neighbourhood, or you have the only driveway filled with logo-clad vehicles or the only garage with commercial or industrial equipment parked in it.

Now it may be time to leave home. You will not benefit from the deductions and you will have to endure the extra costs, and you will not enjoy the lower costs of sales than your competitors, but it is time to leave home.

Municipalities usually have rules regarding activities, number of employees, number of vehicles, etc., but monitoring and enforcement can be cumbersome or non-existent. But if you are wondering if it is time, it probably is. Your neighbours might be getting tired of the increased traffic, the extreme number of non-residents visiting, or perhaps the view.

What neighbour would not want to come home and watch commercial traffic, listen to commercial noise, after investing their life’s blood into a home where trees were once visible or birds could once be heard?

Who would not want to stand in their backyard among roses and newly mowed grass to gaze over the fence at commercial equipment and goods? What is better than awakening to employees showing up at your neighbour’s house, in the early morn, starting up and loading company vehicles after you worked late the day before, or was up all night with a sick child?

A home occupation is a serious and viable answer but it is not for everyone and it is a hard habit to break. There is a line that should not be crossed and it can sneak up on you quickly so you need to be vigilant. Is it one delivery a week or is it one delivery twice a day? Employee picking up their paycheques or is it the weekly staff meeting — when does it cross the line?

There is a reason why we have commercial and industrial districts. The residential area is for residences, for children, for retirees, for laughter, for families, for enjoying life, and a place to get away from the rat race, not for businesses and industrial enterprise.

A home occupation is for the discreet and the minute it becomes less than that it is time to leave home. If you have to ask, it probably is.

Garfield Marks

Red Deer

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