When Suzanne went looking for a home earlier this year, she knew she needed to find a place that would accommodate her counseling service business.

When Suzanne went looking for a home earlier this year, she knew she needed to find a place that would accommodate her counseling service business.

Ideally, the house would have a separate entrance leading to a room which could be used as an office, and which could be somehow cordoned off and kept separate from the family’s living space. After two years of looking, she finally found the perfect house in Monticello, Indiana. It has an excellent first floor layout, including the hoped for separate entrance leading directly into the office.

There are a lot of wonderful reasons to locate your office in your home, include convenience, cost, a terrific tax deduction, and depreciation of the property. Millions of Americans currently have home based offices. For those of us who work out of our homes, there are several issues to keep in mind when looking for the right property.

-Size of the Home

Think about how much space you and your family need to live, and then think about how your business operates. Different types of businesses have various special requirements. A counselor, accountant or writer may only need a single room to work in. A growing public relations company or crafts manufacturing company may not only need several rooms, but an area to warehouse documents or product.

By the time Ray, a public relations executive in Chicago, had outgrown his home office, he had several employees working out of his basement. Suzanne, on the other hand, needed only a single room, preferably on the first floor of the home, in which to work with her clients.

Sometimes you might see a home you like better for your business than for your personal life. When my husband, Sam, and I were looking at single family houses a few years ago, I saw one that I thought I liked. True, the house itself wasn’t much, but it had a heated four car garage with a soaring loft above it. A perfect spot for writing, I thought, completely ignoring the fact that the house itself was poorly constructed and too small for our living space requirements. Be careful not to make this mistake.

-How’s The Neighborhood?

Once you figure out what size your home should be, it’s time to think twice about the neighborhood in which it is located.

Safety is a big concern for those of us who work out of our homes. We’re there all day, and if the neighborhood isn’t safe, you’re going to be concentrating on who might be breaking in through your window rather than your work.

Also, is it the kind of neighborhood that suits your professional needs? Is there access to the other businesses you serve? Is there access to copy shops or business supplies? Is there an appropriate place for a business lunch nearby? Is the home across from a school? Will you be distracted by children playing at recess and at lunch in the schoolyard?

-How Strict are the Local Ordinances?

Many municipalities have local ordinances which forbid the operation of home businesses in residential neighborhoods. Others may not necessarily ban the business, but they’ll ban the tools of the business, including computers, typewriters, and copy machines.

While it’s unlikely that your local officials will hunt you down, there may be neighbors who object to the daily traffic in and out. They might turn you in, which could result in a fine. It’s best to check this out ahead of time.

If after awhile, you find your new house getting cramped, it may not be time for a new home: It may just be time to find a new home for your home office.