Live/Work Buildings in East Vancouver
East Vancouver has a number of Live/Work buildings, but the guidelines on Live/Work buildings definitely aren’t clear. I often have people call me to ask if a certain type of business is allowed in a Live/Work building, but unfortunately it’s not a question I can offer a specific answer too. At the end of the day, the City of Vancouver would determine if your type of business is suitable for the Live/Work space to offer you the tax benefits you’re looking for, and unfortunately, the City likely won’t give you a straight answer until you own the unit and submit the business application. You’ll also have to ensure that the building itself doesn’t have bylaws that would prohibit certain types of activities that you need to run your business (i.e. visiting clients, noises, etc).
For the most thorough information about home based business units, see this City of Vancouver’s Live/Work and Work/Live Overview (found here).
This issue is pretty convoluted, but here’s a quick summary of the different types of “business” from the City of Vancouver’s Overview. The hard part comes in determining if the zoning of the Live/Work building you’re interested in matches the zoning you need to run your business out of your home. Here’s a quick summary of the different types of home based businesses:
Why are Live/Work Units Important?
Homeowners can kill two birds with one stone by legally living and working in the same space, thus saving the costs that would be required to rent a separate work space, travel to that space, and maintain that space. One of the biggest benefits is you might be eligible for a tax write-off. Typically (and this can depend on the situation) you can write off 70% of the space as business and 30% as residential (in normal residential units you can only write off 25% as a business). Take to your tax accountant for more information.
One key factor you need to make sure you do prior to buying a Live/Work unit is to make sure the GST has been paid on the unit. Businesses can defer GST tax to the point that if the amount hasn’t been paid when you purchase a property, you may be responsible for paying it.
Finally, talk to your mortgage broker about financing requirements for Live/Work spaces so you know if it’s something you can pursue.