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Setting Boundaries for Your Homebased Business How to separate your home from your home office

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Q: Myhomebased business is growing, both financially and physically. Istock an inventory, and despite computers, I have paper files.I'm finding that even space-saving office equipment takes upspace. I need to expand from using one bedroom in my six-room houseto using two rooms. But I'm concerned about disrupting myfamily life. Any suggestions?

A:There may be legal as well as practical answers to this question. Asignificant number of communities have zoning ordinances limitingthe percentage of a home's floor space that can be devoted to ahome business. One state, Maryland, has even codified a limit intostate law. The typical limitation is 20 to 25 percent of the floorarea of a dwelling. Do you need to worry if your home office growsto occupying 28 percent of your home? Probably not, unless you livein a community that sends out inspectors each year to check outhome businesses for their zoning compliance-or if you have anunhappy neighbor, whose complaint might provoke an inspection.

But will the phone calls, business visitors, mail, paperwork andnoisy equipment that come with a growing business invade thesanctity of your home? Or will the productivity of your business beincreasingly disrupted by friends, neighbors, kids, barking dogs,soap operas and peanut butter sandwiches?

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