Home-based businesses must conform to special regulations in addition to the regulations associated with the product or service being offered. Below is 10 facts that you must be aware of before opening your doors on your new Idaho home based business.

15 Facts: Idaho Home Based Business

1. Business license and or special license: To get information about licensing on your new business contact your county clerk’s office. If you rent your home or apartment, check your lease agreement or covenants to be 100% certain a home-based business is allowed.

2. Legal Requirements: The business must be operated by a full-time resident of the home and not an employee. The business must be a secondary use for the home, not the primary. The character of the home, interior and exterior, cannot be changed from that of a residence

3. Codes & Ordinances: The business must comply with local health, safety, and fire codes and with city and county ordinances: If you live inside city limits, you may be required to conduct all business activities inside the home, not in a yard, garage, or outbuilding.

You must also comply with local regulations concerning signage, traffic, number of employees, parking, noise, and air, waste water, or soil pollution. You may not be able to store supplies or materials in a yard, garage, or outbuilding or park vehicles or equipment in your yard or on the street.

4. Food Preparation: Food sold to the public must be prepared in a commercial kitchen, not in a home kitchen. The kitchen will be regularly inspected and licensed by your regional health department. If the kitchen is attached to the home, the adjoining door must be locked when the commercial kitchen is not in use. The kitchen must have a separate exterior entrance.  It must contain special sinks, stainless steel counter-tops, storage racks, refrigerator and more.

5. Child Care: If you care for seven or more children in your home (including your own) and you receive payment for one or more of them, a license is needed from your city clerk’s office or from Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The home will be regularly inspected by the health department and the fire marshal. You and your employees must secure annual training, including First Aid and CPR training.

6. Product/Service Restrictions: Certain products cannot be legally manufactured or grown in a home business. These include fireworks and other potentially explosive items, drugs and drug paraphernalia, poisons, noxious weeds or insects, and sanitary and medical products and more.

7. Service Restrictions: Some services, including those involving adults-only activities, nudity, gambling, loud noise, the sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco or controlled substances or that may violate a city or county ordinance are prohibited in a home based business.

8. Animals: Businesses involving animals are subject to additional regulations and licensing requirements, depending on the type and number of animals and the service provided. A kennel or breeder’s license may be needed; special waste handling and noise abatement procedures may be required, as well as other issues. You may also be required to have additional liability insurance.

9. Employees: Your city or county regulates the number of employees a home business can have and the number of vehicles they can park at the home or on a public street. State and federal employment-related posters must be displayed. You must also have workers compensation insurance, pay unemployment insurance taxes, establish a tax withholding account and comply with OSHA safety regulations.

10. Signage: Most communities regulate the size and type of signage allowed, if any, in a residential area.

11. Insurance: All businesses need insurance, regardless of location. Check first with your homeowner’s insurance agent or an insurance agent who writes policies for small businesses. Not all home-based businesses are covered by homeowner’s insurance, particularly if the primary activity, such as house painting, does not occur at the home. If homeowner’s insurance will cover your business, you may need to add coverage for business equipment, inventory, or a business-owned vehicle.

12. Security: Home-based businesses have unique security issues, including allowing strangers into the home, protecting mail, computer security, and personal safety issues, both in and out of the office. Mail, particularly checks and financial information, can be protected by using a mailing address other than your home address, such as a post office box or a mail box at a package shipping center.

13. Business Telephone: Using your home phone number as your business number is not a good idea unless other family members, particularly children, will answer in-coming calls in a professional manner. If a cellular phone is used for business and you change carriers and phone numbers often, your business will be negatively impacted when customers can’t reach you. Installing a landline with voice mail is the most professional way to handle incoming calls. If you have a fax machine, you will need a landline.

14. Zoning: Before opening a business in a home, check with your city or county planning and zoning department to be certain you can legally do so. Most communities do not allow retail businesses, such as stores or restaurants, to be located in an area zoned for residential use, nor do they allow trucks and equipment to be parked at a home or employees to come and go. If a business is operating in violation of zoning regulations, it could be closed without notice when planning and zoning learns about it.

15. Client Meetings: If zoning regulations, a homeowner’s association or apartment lease do not allow client meetings at your home, if you have young children, an unruly pet, or safety is a concern, you may need to meet clients at another location, preferably the client’s office. If that isn’t possible, you may be able to rent temporary meeting space in an office complex or another facility or hold an informal meeting at a coffee shop or another public place.