A live/work property is exactly this offer. For those whose work would usually require separate premises, a live/work unit presents an opportunity not only to save a lot of time but also a lot of money.
Put simply, running your business from a live/work unit means you are paying for one building not two.
That means one mortgage or rent to pay, one gas bill, one electricity bill, and so on (see below).
That really matters in the UK, where property prices in many areas are very high already and still rising.
It matters in particular to those starting their own freelance careers or businesses. The cost of running physical premises is usually the biggest cost of all for a new business. If you can cut this one out, your business will be able to invest more in marketing, networking, equipment, materials. Live/work is great for enterprise.
What better place to start and grow a small business than home? And what better place to expand it, taking on associates and staff, than a live/work property that gives you the space to work with others without losing the advantages of home working?
Having a live/work property can potentially half your premises costs. And that's not all.
Working in a live/work environment will mean no commuting costs. The Telecommuting 2000 report estimated that commuting accounts for 25% of the total cost of car ownership, around £500 per year (source: www.flexibility.co.uk). For much more on commuting costs see the report.
Live/work also usually means a residential rather than a commercial mortgage - with rates often 2.5% less and over 25 not 15 years. And there is usually no VAT or capital gains tax liability, unlike commercial/business premises where these apply.
There is also emerging evidence that homes converted to live/work, with home or garden offices can increase property values. Homefinderuk.com reports a differential of anything between £2,450 and £80,000 between similar houses located in the same area with and without a home office.
Then there are also those hidden daily costs that commuting workers pay for that live/workers don't need to: fewer suits and smart clothes to buy and dry clean, fewer expensive lunches and coffees, less mileage on the car so fewer repairs. Few of us track how much we spend (or save) on these things, but they soon add up.
Meanwhile various home expenses can legitimately be claimed as business expenses if you work from home, from computers and phones to decorating and repairs to workspace parts. Even the newspapers and TV for some businesses.
The list goes on and on. And so do the savings that live/work can create.
Take the test
TOCS (the Total Office Costs Survey) estimates an office workstation to cost on average £8,000 pa in a typical office. This rises to £18,000 in central London.
TOCS includes all costs - not just rent and rates, but heating, lighting, IT, all facilities costs, insurance, etc. Want an idea of how going live/work would compare? Take the test here or try Flexibility's 'flexiprune' test here.
If you don't believe us...
Here is what www.workwiseuk.org, which is supported by BT, had to say on 2006 national work from home day:
'Forty seven working days per year, 8 hours a week, 17 miles a day, 2,906 miles per year – that's what the average UK commuter faces.'
'The savings of working at home will not only be in time but also in cash: apart from the transport costs there is the cappuccino and Danish on the way to the office, lunch in the pub and, for some, congestion charges and parking. A typical train commuter could save £12 a day (£5 on the train journey, £2 on coffee and snack, and £5 on lunch) and a typical road commuter £14 per day (average 17 miles @ 40p per mile, £2 coffee and snack and £5 lunch) or £30 per day in London if the £8 congestion charge and £8 parking fee are included. Potential savings could be between £1,152 and £2,880 per year.'
You won't be alone
Live/work is no longer a fringe approach to making money. Home based businesses are a growing part of the UK economy (over one million people are self employed and working mainly from home). And if we are to guess future trends, the findings of a report by the Small Business Administration in the USA are significant:
- home based businesses' turnover is over $530 billion pa
- 52% of small businesses in the USA are based at home
- home based businesses have higher net incomes than those that are office based.
The research was conducted by analysing tax returns submitted by people claiming home business/office related expenses. The author of the report is upbeat about future prospects, believing that the number of home business owners will continue to grow, influenced by factors such as technology, demographics and lifestyle (source: Enterprise Nation).
Not yet convinced? Here is a checklist for you. See if any of these could apply to you if you choose the live/work approach:
- no mortgage or rent on separate workspace premises
- no heating bills for separate workspace
- no electricity for separate workspace
- no IT equipment, telecom bills, broadband for separate workspace
- capped monthly 'residential' phone packages from as little as £6 a month for unlimited landline calls 24/7
- no insurance for separate workspace
- no rates for separate workspace
- no commuting costs
- mainly council tax rather than business rates
- lower car costs - use it less
- claim home equipment against tax, eg computer
- residential not commercial rate mortgage
- fewer suits, work dresses, shoes etc
- lunch at home not out
- make your own coffee, don't need to stop at the stand
- low risk of VAT and capital gains tax on your workspace
- work more if you want when you want, so earn more
- divert premises cost saving to the business, so earn more.
The list goes on and on. And, if you live/work, so do the savings...