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About 1 in every 4 home businesses employs at least 1 person. Most new homes are not designed for the home business, although increasingly provision is being made for a home – office in many new home designs.

Your new house design will be an important part of keeping your sanity and a smoothly running dual purpose household. I would recommend that you separate traditional living areas from your business/office. This does not necessarily mean a separate building but the office could be separated by a hallway or garage and/or have separate access for business clients. This will ensure that normal household activities and routine is not disturbed during business hours.

Depending on the type of business also give consideration to issues like parking, (on-site rather than street), storage space, noise reduction and telecommunications. Many local authorities are very strict on their licensing requirements for the establishment of a home business. You must be very sensitive to neighbours’ rights to privacy in a residential area and include in your house design consideration of how to minimise neighbourhood disruption caused by visitations by business clients, delivery vehicles and the like. If delivery and storage requirements are considerable, make sure access (and not too many stairs!) is suitable.

Also think about networking your computer system between the home and office, and having separate telephone and fax lines so as not to mix “business and pleasure”.

On a broader level you will need to think about your insurance cover. Normal home and contents insurance may not cover office furniture, computers and the like. Public liability and workers’ compensation cover should also be arranged.

Finally, you need to carefully consider the tax implications of your home-office. Not all of the proceeds from sale of a dual purpose family home may be exempt from capital gains tax. If depreciation of the building, water, gas and electricity bills are written off or apportioned as a business expense for tax purposes, this may mean that part of the sale proceeds of the home may attract capital gains tax. Talk to your accountant about this.

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