Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Your house: expense or asset?
For most people their homes are an expense. It takes money to keep a house maintained with all utilities, taxes and fees paid up. You may or may not “make a profit” should you sell your house. However, if you figure out all the money was put into the place year after year, it's rare to actually make money overall. Of course, we all have to live somewhere.
How about turning your house into a real profit center? That can be hard to do. Many of us have home offices, but how many of those produce enough profit to pay for the house and to live on? Some folks mange to do it, mostly professionals like engineers. Usually they don't run into zoning problems as their house doesn't look any different than the neighbors.
Some folks have home businesses that require people to actually come to their house. Someone like a massage therapist might get away with it. Only a handful of people come and go each day. Forget about having a small retail operation that requires a lot of foot traffic. Few residential areas, if any, allow that sort of thing.
What about home workshops? That's a gray area. Much depends on local zoning, how discrete you are, or how well you get along with your neighbors. A guy can go into his home workshop and build a wooden chair and few would take offense. However, should he produce hundreds of chairs, running his saws day and night, he'll most likely get into trouble.
I know a few folks with money making home shops. One guy builds furniture, but they are expensive custom items so he doesn't build a lot of them at one time. Another guy quietly runs a pretty complete machine shop in his garage. He does small jobs the big shops don't want to bother with. My guess is that his location on a dead end road reduces his chances that someone will complain to the zoning board.
Nothing freaks out zoning boards like turning a suburban home into a mini working farm. Tear up the front yard to plant veggies and neighbors freak. Add some farm animals and they really go ballistic. Even something as simple as a permaculture garden will cause problems as it's not considered “normal.”
It's almost like we are not suppose to live free and independent. Who wants to bet that's by design?