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Working at home - could it work for you?

With the rising costs of property, many people are looking to maximise the use of their land by bringing a business ‘back home’ and establishing a ‘home office’. A home office (also called a “home occupation”) is a business, work activity, craft or hobby that is run from a person’s home.

Many people with small-scale businesses, or who work in certain occupations find it convenient to use their homes as their workplace and this is increasingly in popularity throughout Auckland.

Home Offices are possible on many sites in the Auckland region, subject to meeting certain rules and Standards. Lets take a look at some of the things you need to consider.

The benefits of home office

Home Offices are a great way to maximise the use of your property and can help foster small businesses until they become big enough to move into a commercial or industrial area. Home offices provide employment for local people, can reduce the requirement for a long commute for employees and are often a favourable location to work. Home offices also reduce vehicle use for those who live on the site and contribute to bringing a greater mix of activities into suburbs where many residents leave every day to go to work.

What is a “Home Occupation” in planning terms?

A home occupation within the Auckland Unitary Plan is defined as a ‘Place where an occupation, business or homestay activity occurs which is secondary to the use of the site as a dwelling’. If you’re operating a small scale business and you will live on the site too, you may be able to operate your business as a ‘Home Occupation. If you meet the relevant rules, these are often permitted activities meaning you don’t require resource consent.

The rules for home occupations typically provide for 3-4 people to be involved in the business with 1-2 of these people living on the site. The type and level of activity is restricted and this often includes restrictions on delivery hours, commercial vehicles, parking, storage of rubbish and what can be sold.

Are you in the right zone for a home office?

First you need to find out what zone your site is in to determine if you can establish a Home Occupation. You can do this by looking at the Councils district plan maps. These are usually available on-line. The rules related to ‘Home Occupation’ activities depend on the zone your site is located within. Typically sites that are zoned for residential purposes can accommodate a home office provided the business does not exceed rules and standards. It’s important that you look into this first, get advice and then examine the risk associated with any resource consent application.

If you’ll be making a good investment in establishing or moving a business to your site, we would suggest obtaining a Certificate of Compliance from the Council. This is similar to a resource consent but is written confirmation from the council that the activity is permitted. This provides you with certainty and means you won’t receive a visit from the Council Compliance Officer in the future!

Other preliminary investigations

You also need to be aware of other legislation and controls that may affect your ‘Home Occupation’, for example transport restrictions or health and safety requirements, that may affect the suitability of your property. Also check any covenants and other title restrictions; you may find that a business on the site is restricted.

If your business doesn’t meet the permitted home occupation rules, you will require a resource consent. The resource consent will need to provide rationale supporting the home office in that location and will need to provide an assessment of effects on adjacent properties and the wider environment.

What else should I look at?

Don’t forget about the practical issues too:

  • Where will people park?

  • Will there be any sale of goods from the property or services that requires customers or trucks to visit the site throughout the day?

  • Is your business noisy? Do you meet the noise rules?

Your answers to these questions can all trigger the need for resource consent also. It’s also possible that Council Development Contributions will be required. You can get an estimate of these from your local Council in advance.

Other issues include:

  • Do you need a building consent for changes to buildings? Is any part required to be fore rated?

  • Do you need to provide disabled access?

  • Do you need consent under other legislation?

A specific business in mind?

We can’t stress enough the importance of upfront investigations. In the case of home occupations this is especially important, as only businesses of a certain scale and nature can establish.

If you have a specific business in mind, give our friendly team a call to discuss - 09 427 9966 or e-mail us on Look forward to hearing from you!

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

Brittney is a qualified RMA planner graduated from Auckland University with first class honours

Brittney has experience in land development work and has also worked processing and lodgement of resource consent applications. She also provided project management and general communications.

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