Everything You Need To Know About Making A Mobile Home Your Office
Running a business from home can be a great way to get out of the office, spend more time with family, cut down on operating costs, and be flexible with your time. However, it comes with its own challenges. You might feel like you need to become an interior design expert overnight just to get your home office up and running.
In this article, we would like to help you by providing you with all the most essential information regarding the permissions you need and how to implement your home office space.
Permission to run a mobile home office
Unfortunately, there may be some licensing that you need to apply for to legally run a mobile home business. These licenses can be provided under local city, state or federal jurisdiction. They also depend heavily on the type of business you run and which of your services will be provided from your home.
Sales Tax Permit
Each state has its own revenue organization that you’ll need to register with. You might also need to apply for this permit if you sell to people in other states. This permit ensures your compliance with tax regulations and commits you to pay your taxes.
Either state or federal authorities may require these licenses. They permit you to be able to work within a certain field such as medicine, financial services, etc. For example, you need a license to operate as a realtor or bookkeeper.
Health and safety permits
We will help you make your home a healthy and safe working environment later on. However, if you plan to employ or have clients come to your home office, you will most likely need to apply for local health and safety permits.
Federal Employer ID (or FEIN)
You only actually need a FEIN for certain types of business (like an LLC). However, this is a handy identification to apply for as it allows you to fill out many business forms and applications without using your personal identification.
In most cases, cities “zone” areas for particular uses. Residential areas are often zoned accordingly, and businesses are not allowed to be run in them. This is to protect the peacefulness of the residents. You can apply for an exemption if your business does not impact the neighborhood.
Fictitious business name
If you want to name your business something other than your personal name, you need one of these. It could even be considered as serious as fraud if you advertise or accept payments under anything but your legal name without registering for one of these.
Federal licenses and permits
The federal government also have their say when it comes to certain types of businesses and industries. Here, you can find a full list of federal licenses you may need to apply for.
Yup, you even need a permit for those. Some people would be annoyed looking out their windows and seeing business signs all over the place. You will need to apply to put up any business signs, particularly if the area isn’t zoned for business.
Mobile Home Park
Even if all your licenses are in place and you have the proper permissions from local authorities to run your home office, it might mean very little if your mobile home park doesn’t allow it. If the lease agreement explicitly restricts the use of a home in the park as a business or office, you will be at the mercy of the park management.
The biggest reasons for this is that a business can disturb the other residents or lead to safety concerns. If you can prove the opposite, the management might make an exception in your case. The park management can get into legal trouble if they allow you to run a business without the necessary business which only makes it harder to convince them.
How to create your mobile home business
Today, mobile homes come in all different shapes and sizes. If you plan to use yours as a home office, you should be mindful of this fact throughout the buying process. The good thing is that many mobile home manufacturers, with computer-aided design, can adjust floor plans or create custom floor plans at little extra cost.
Determine your needs
There are a few important questions you need to answer before you can choose a mobile home or when you think about changing the layout:
- Is the house a dedicated office space or will you live in it as well?
- How many employees do you plan on having?
- What are your storage needs?
- Do you want an open plan office or divide it into cubicles?
- Will you have clients at your office and how do you want to accommodate them?
Only by answering these questions will you be able to make an informed decision.
Choose your working space and your living space
A typical double-wide mobile home has:
- 3 or 4 bedrooms
- 2 or 3 bathrooms
- An open plan kitchen and dining room
- Living room with or without a vestibule.
- A walk-in pantry
- Washing room
If you plan to live in the home as well as use it for an office, the first thing you need to do is divide your home into a working area and living area. Even if you are working from home solo, most people find having a dedicated “working” space is the best solution for their productivity.
What are your options?
Take the rooms dedicated to you or your family out of the equation. Try and pick rooms that are as close to each other as possible as the living space and the rest as the office space. Now, you can see if you have any extra rooms that can be used as offices or storage space.
- Working from home: If you are working from home, either use an entire room as a dedicated office or partition a section of your living room. Use an “L”-shaped desk or room dividers to section off your “office.” This article by HGTV shows you how to make a home office space.
- Reception area: If your home has a vestibule, this would be the obvious choice for a reception or waiting area. However, a dining room or living room that’s neat and comfortable is more than adequate.
- Multiple employees: If the entire home is an office, equip rooms as offices. You can then use the entire living room as a client reception or also divide it with room dividers.
- Staff kitchen: If you want to keep the real kitchen for your family’s use only, a washing room or walk-in pantry can easily be converted into a staff kitchen. Otherwise, you can convert all the rooms and living room into office space and use the dine-in kitchen as a canteen.
Go with ergonomic furniture
Ergonomic furniture is not just another one of those fancy terms made up to sell more of something. This type of furniture is made with how humans interact with them as well as the health and safety of their users in mind.
Whether you work at the office or home, you will likely spend more than 8 hours a day in a seated position, the worst position for your body! This can lead to interrupted blood flow, cardiovascular issues, and numerous back and spine issues.
Yes, we are well aware that many people opt to start their business from home to save money. However, to maximize your productivity and your ability to keep working long-term, it’s a non-negotiable. Your plain old kitchen chair and table simply won’t do.
The most important purchase you will make is to buy an ergonomic office chair. An ergonomic chair has a number of essential features to help you stay as healthy as possible.
The benefits of an ergonomic office chair:
- Adjustable: This is important because not all people have the same body size and type. A chair needs to be able to house your body comfortably.
- Armrests: You need armrests. They support your shoulders and neck. If they are adjustable, that’s even better.
- Headrests: A headrest helps because it keeps you from dropping your head backward and because it’s good for your neck and shoulders to rest your head now and then.
- Wheels and swivel motion: Being able to swivel and roll the chair is better than dragging a chair across the floor. The action of dragging a chair isn’t good for your knees or lower back.
- Breathable fabric: Breathable fabric like mesh chairs helps ventilate your body. This reduces sweat which is much more hygienic and comfortable. Mesh chairs are also more durable and easier to clean.
If you are serious about minimizing the time you (or your employees) stay seated, you can even invest in kneeling chairs or standing desks. These aren’t for everyone (especially standing chairs), but they do have their health benefits.
The rest of the furniture isn’t as important. Adjustable desks are great because they can be set to fit perfectly with their chairs and for different people. Real office desks with shelves and plenty of leg space also helps keep the place organized and productive.
An organized and functional office requires adequate storage space. The one biggest drawback using a mobile home as an office space is that they usually don’t come with enormous amounts of storage space in the shape of cupboards, closets, etc. In most cases, these aren’t suitable as storage for large numbers of files or other office equipment anyway.
Therefore, chances are that you will need to invest in some extra storage. Exactly what you need depends significantly on what business you run from home. If you are a bookkeeper or lawyer, you probably have heaps of paperwork and files. As an online seller, you most likely need to keep some inventory at your home. If you are a contractor or handyman, you probably have many tools that need to be stored somewhere.
The best thing to do is to realize that there are many different types of storage. We all know the most common ones like filing cabinets.
- Credenzas are a very stylish and modern type of storage that can also be extremely versatile.
- Tambour cabinets are perfect for storing plenty of files and paperwork in an orderly fashion.
- Mobile caddies can also be a great way to store files and easily move them around the space if you have employees.
Storage solutions for larger items
It’s a bit harder if you need to store something other than files. For someone who sells a product from home, it’s probably best to dedicate an entire room to your inventory. You may even want to construct a shed outside of the house. It’s not recommended to store items in the roof cavity or underneath the home. Both these areas can be vulnerable to water damage.
If you can keep the place dry with proper skirting and a waterproof tarp, the underbelly could make decent storage space for your tools and equipment along with your gardening tools. You shouldn’t store these in your cupboards or cabinets as shelving can easily be damaged by heavy tools.
Remember, if you want to build a shed, don’t build it to lean on your home. Any additions that bear on the mobile home’s structure could cost your home its HUD compliance.
Healthy and Safety
How you should make your home a healthy and safe working environment depends entirely on what kind of office you run. One of the biggest concerns and that’s relevant no matter what type of business you run is fire safety. Health and safety permits are often required if you want to be able to employ personnel on any premises, including a home office.
The HUD code and the NFPA 501 rules have strict fire safety protocols and requirements for mobile homes. These are among them:
- The home must be equipped with working fire alarms in the kitchen and adjacent to sleeping rooms.
- Every room must have an unobstructed route to an exterior door.
- A mobile home must have at least two exit doors.
- There must be a fully serviced fire extinguisher.
Your home must at least fulfill these requirements if it’s to pass a safety check by authorities.
Other requirements depend on your type of office and can be much more stringent. For example, if you work with food, you will need to be able to prove that the conditions for handling food are sanitary. If you work with chemicals, you will need to prove that you know what you are doing and that necessary safety precautions are met.
General, accessibility is not policed as stringently for mobile home offices, and it’s only really relevant if you attend to see clients at your home office or if you plan on hiring employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be your informing document when deciding if it’s necessary to make your home office accessible.
One standard feature of mobile homes that could cost problems is the fact that they are almost always raised up significantly from ground level. If at all possible, you should install a ramp that wheelchair-bound or motor impaired users can use as an alternative.
If you are planning on hiring people with disabilities or are mindful of the fact that some might turn up, you can find out more about disability in the workplace here at DMC.
Your mobile home is ready to be your office!
It might not be easy or simple, but a little bit of extra planning and work can leapfrog you over the awkward beginning stages and right into a productive future. If you missed our previous article, be sure to review the benefits of a mobile home office.
Time to fire up your creativity, put on your thinking hat, and start making your mobile home office!