Doing Business From Home in Ontario

Working from home has its advantages. No more morning commutes. You can dress any way you want and make gourmet meals instead of bagged lunches. How about those “business use of home” tax deductions? 

Finding the Right Home For Your Business

Working from home is a lifestyle. Just pop the laptop onto the desk in any bedroom corner or expropriate that family room. Too bad the kids are so noisy. Goldie the Lab sure likes hamming it up for Zoom. That got a few laughs. Wish she’d get her wet nose out of your face.

When Your Home is Your Palace

Your home was a suburban paradise or high rise retreat before you started using it as your full-time office. Naturally, you want to veg out on the couch after a hard day’s work. Not every home has a dedicated work space with a door you can close (and lock). Realistically, it’s time you sized up whether your home is up for the task or you should take advantage of low interest rates and go house hunting.

Adjusting to Working From Home

You need peace and quiet to concentrate. That means setting boundaries. If 8:30 to 4:30 is your work time, the kids need to know not to interrupt you at your desk. Are they old enough to get it? Can you resist that teary face if they don’t? Look out. Who’s watching they don’t climb on the counters, open the door to strangers or topple down the basement stairs?

Separating Home From Work  

Now that you’re at home, office creep is setting in. The kids are used to you playing with them after work. With your home office just down the hall, nothing’s stopping you from getting up at 4 a.m. to tap out a report or just take a few minutes after dinner to send a few emails. Minutes turn into hours. Next thing you know, the kids are in bed. They’re sad and you’re mad. Can you really leave your work behind?   

Making Space for a Home Business 

Switching to e-commerce takes some finagling when you’re used to selling trinkets from a quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake Queen Street storefront. Think about where you will store your wares and where couriers will park. Could the neighbours complain? If you made crafts or assembled overseas goods in the back of your store, you may have to press the garage or basement into service. Could you afford to rent a studio, storage space or warehouse in these times? 

How Much Room Home Businesses Need

So let’s measure your home to see if you have the space you actually need (calculations courtesy Houzz): 

  • 122 to 183 cm wide x 61 to 91 cm deep x 74 to 76 cm high for a desk 
  • 76 cm of walk-around space between your desk, room door and other furniture
  • 122 to 152 cm between your desk and chair so you can circulate easily
  • 107 cm square for a desk chair, more if you need to swivel or move to reach office equipment
  • 102 cm square for a side chair or 102 cm deep x 157 cm long for a love seat
  • 46 to 61 cm square for a printer 
  • 36 to 41 cm wide x 20 to 25 cm deep x 36 to 46 cm high for shredders
  • 38 to 46 cm wide x 74 cm deep for vertical file cabinets
  • 76 cm wide x 46 cm deep x 81 cm high for two-drawer laterals
  • 91 cm wide x 122 cm high for two-shelf bookcases (30 cm deep x 41 cm high for each shelf).

Measurements are just a guide. Take a measuring tape along while you’re shopping or check dimensions before you buy.

Placing Furniture in Your Home Office

Arranging office furniture for maximum efficiency is key to enjoying your work. Use ruled graph paper to plot where your desk, file cabinets and office equipment will go. Give yourself plenty of elbow room. Figure out in advance where to put waste baskets, white boards and the expresso machine. Check if your printer or shredder opens from the top, side or back before you back yourself into a corner.

In the Zon(ing)

Not all municipalities or strata councils are equal when it comes to home offices. A business licence or council permission could be required. Local bylaw officers will want to know if you are a sole proprietor or business corporation — your decision determines if personal or corporate assets are at risk. Get legal advice if you are venturing into business for the first time.

The Devil’s in the Details

Before you decide your home is just right for your work space, think about all the little details that go into making a home a business office or art studio:

  • insurance for use of your home and car
  • parking restrictions
  • environmental regulations for products you use
  • potential fire hazards
  • heating and ventilation 
  • and capital gains if you sell your home.

Qualms? A real estate agent can help you find something that works for optimum work-life balance.

Legal Advice on Closing Ontario Real Estate Deals

Axess Law Ontario real estate lawyers review your agreement of purchase and sale to protect your legal rights before you buy a home for your business. Make an online video call from anywhere in Ontario 7 days a week, day or evening, at times that work for you. Book your appointment by calling toll-free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or using our online booking form. Our licensed Ontario lawyers can meet with you in person at our Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Ottawa, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices. 

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.

Photo by Aline Ponce|Pixabay.

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