I'm in the sticks in TN. Here we have codes for septic and for
electric. We have NO building codes or zoning, however I did build the
garage to pass a real inspection. I could build a 10 story tall factory
1" along the property lines and no one can do anything about it.
(except burn it down)
Exactly! We have no fire code. Anything I do I would be doing strictly
for my insurance company. I guess I answered my own question. I'll
talk to my insurance company.
By the way the garage is block. I was thinking of building block walls
as the divider in the garage. And up top the trusses are plenty strong
for drywall. If I get lucky I may be able to build studded and drywall
walls instead of block.
You need a business permit from the town, you may need a welding permit from
the town, you need business insurance, the building must meet fire code for
welding. That may or may not mean a sprinkler system. If you employ
anyone, you have to have workman's comp and meet OHSHA requirements.
Before commiting any money to this, talk to the building inspector, the fire
mashall, and your insurance agent. Oh, and plans for any changes to the
building may have to be drawn up by an architect before they will be
approved. If you have zoning laws or land use laws, talk to those people as
Is it fun yet?
I ran a home based service business out of my garage for 15 years when I
was up in PA, so I know a little about running a business out of a home.
I got tired of it and decided to move so I closed the doors after 15
years. No way will I have an employee, too much added paperwork. And
as I replied to another post, there is no city/town/township government
building inspector, because there is no building code here!!!!!!!!!!!!
For real, there is NO building code or inspector. There are only
electric and septic codes/inspectors!
The most important people I have to answer to is my business insurance
and their inspector. I just thought maybe someone here had possibly
done something similar and could tell me if I'm going to have to build a
block wall as a divider, or if I can frame and double drywall it.
I will start looking for business insurance and ask them the questions.
Heh, it's like that up here in northern MN - and even for septic systems
I think we only need inspection after install (no permits beforehand).
It's a little different across the street, because those houses fall under
a different township with different rules...
(They're talking about changing though so permits and inspections would be
required for building where I am, which would really suck - and except for
a few rich folk along the lakefronts the population density just isn't
high enough for anyone to get upset even if their neighbor *does* build
Even in non-code areas, however, it is probably a good idea to follow
one of the model codes as a starting point. If the area ever does 'go
code', you won't have to worry about grandfather clauses. And in the
meantime, you and your family will be safer, you may have an easier time
getting insurance and financing ('code compliant' gives bean counters a
warm fuzzy feeling), and it will be easier for you or your heirs to sell
the place when the time comes.
IOW, have some pride, y'all. A few minor quibbles about some details
aside, 'Code' simply means doing a good workmanlike job with quality
materials, instead of throwing up some hillbilly shack.
(Yes, I am only talking about safety-related codes like structural
engineering, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc. Zoning is a whole other
ball of wax. That is between you and your neighbors, either armed or
In 2007 we moved our business from one location to another. While the town
as very good to work with, it still required a lot of paperwork and
oversight. as did many other branches of government. A homeowner pays 1% of
a project cost for inspection fees. Commercial pays 3%. That adds up when
you are talking $75,000 for electrical work alone. Twice a year we pay $150
to have backflow preventers tested, Four times a year we pay $800 to have
the sprinkler system tested. Hoist inspection, fire extinguisher inspection,
All of our contractors, such as welders had to be certified, etc.
Well, since you later (why later???) allowed as how you're not in an
area w/ zoning and in TN, insurance for business use of the dwelling
specifically will be required, obviously. There's the question of
liability as well, of course.
Depending on the specific County you might not be required for a
business license but probably are. You do need to do all the other
stuff tax- and registration-wise for State and Feds, of course
(including sales tax, self-employment FICA taxes, etc., etc., etc., ...)
It's more than just an issue of business insurance. It's an issue of
any existing insurance on the property and what effect this has on
it. I hope the garage isn't attached, as I seriously doubt any home
insurance company is going to cover the house with a welding business
in the garage. And even if it isn't attached, the garage is likely
covered as a structure on the existing policy.
Since he's living in no mans land where he says there are absolutely
no zoning or building laws, which I find hard to believe, I'd start
with talking to the current insurance company.
The answers are yes, no, definitely, maybe, I'm not sure, and I don't know.
It starts with zoning. And it ends with neighbors. You are allowed to do
some work in your own garage. But in most zoning codes, you may not
increase the traffic to the neighborhood by having customers come. You may
not have supplies of your "stock in trade" stored. You may not produce
noise that neighbors can complain about. Your activities cannot be visible
from the street. Just SOME things in SOME zoning laws, maybe not where YOU
If you live in a rural area, or a neighborhood where a lot of people already
do this, then you can probably get away with it. It all comes down to the
neighbors. Once one of them call you in, and there's a paper trail, a code
enforcement officer MUST write a disposition of the case. So, a lot depends
on your neighborhood.
The next thing is safety. Welding is a highly dangerous business, and NO
insurance company will cover losses even if you are just hobby welding your
bumper in your own garage. No zoning commission is going to give you a
variance unless you live in such a rural area and have enough property and
the shop is a ways away from the rest of the house. It doesn't come under
home occupation permit.
Next is the insurance issue. If you are doing something you shouldn't be
doing, and you have a loss, it would be like calling the insurance company
and saying, "Hey, my meth lab blew up, and I need an adjuster to come look
at it and fix the half of my house that burned down." Insurance companies
vary, but most will not write policies for commercial activities in
residential zones. Welding is its own bag of snakes. Then you have to have
liability insurance if you go out and do work for others at their site.
Then there's vehicle insurance, unemployment insurance, worker's comp
insurance, FICA, TIN's, etc, etc, etc.
Now, if your shop is going to be a Shade Tree operation, and your
neighborhood is conducive, and your neighbors are not anal complainers, you
might be able to do light work and get away with it. I got into becoming a
steel erection contractor by starting off in my garage, and making
ornamental metal there. I was in a rural area, and my neighbors all had
shops and it was a farm type atmosphere. One could barely hear what was
going on the property next door, as it was 1.25 acre minimum, but most had
more than that.
Lastly, don't let anyone piss on your dream, and don't limit yourself. If
you think you can do good, find a way. I evolved from my garage and a used
truck to a full fledged business, but the biggest blossoming occurred when I
took the risk and got my contractor's license and got a shop where I could
do the work and not be limited. It opened me up to a commercial market that
I could not touch previously. Before, I had been dealing with tire kicking
homeowners at a thousand a job max for a week's work, and on the commercial
side, I took in five times that some days. Two tips: do all you can for
cash and Fuck Obama and all his taxes, and employees are the kiss of death,
do all you can by yourself, or one or two other trusted people if you can
find that many.
Steve, retired steel erection contractor. Welding since 1974, and still
have a shop where I make cash in an Ag-1 zone. Underwater welder, 1g, 2g,
3g, 4g, 6g, 6gTIG, and 2g caisson certified with 6010 open root and 72 pass
cover with .072" wire and argon shield on 1.5" wall thickness 36" diameter
(this ain't my first rodeo)
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