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Home-Based Businesses Frequently Asked QuestionsThe responses below are intended to clarify the adopted regulations for home-based businesses, which will beeffective on July 1, 2021. An overview of the adopted standards can be found in the Summary of Adopted Home-Based Business Provisions document. A table comparing the previous and adopted standards is included below thequestions
1) What types of businesses am I allowed to operate from my home? Any business that is conducted from or has a business license registered to the home requires a permit, but this does not apply to teleworking allowed by your employer. The following uses are allowed: • General retail sales (such as the sale of clothing or kitchenware) when sale and delivery occur online or off- site (i.e., no on-site customers); • Small health and exercise facility (such as yoga instruction); • Repair of small household items (such as repair of musical instruments or watches); • Office (such as an interior designer, accountant, or doctor’s office); • Barbershop and hair salon (no nail, facial, massage, or other services allowed) – only with special permit approval; • Sewing and tailoring; • Music, photography, and art studios; • Specialized instruction center (such as tutoring, music lessons, or art classes); and • Small-scale production (such as jewelry making), limited to items created on-site and home-based food production, when sale and delivery occurs online or off-site (i.e., no on-site customers, except to view samples only). Small-scale production does not include heavy industrial activities
2) How many customers can I have? Except for instructional uses, special permit approval by the BZA is required to have any customers come to your home. Teaching activities associated with health and exercise or specialized instruction (see above) may have up to four students at a time and eight in a day with administrative permit approval. A special permit may not approve customers for retail sales and small-scale production. Customers are limited to the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m
3) How many employees can I have? With administrative permit approval, one nonresident employee is allowed in a single-family detached dwelling between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM, but no nonresident employees are allowed in all other dwelling types (e.g., townhouses, apartments). Additional employees or different hours could be approved with a special permit
4) How many home-based businesses can I have? Under the previous and adopted regulations, there is no limit to the number of home businesses. However, certain standards, such as the number of employees and the limit of one commercial vehicle, apply cumulatively to the entire site
5) My HOA covenants do not allow home-based businesses. Will the County enforce the covenants on behalf of the HOA? HOA covenants are a private matter to be enforced by the HOA, and the State Code does not allow the County to withhold issuing a permit based on HOA or other private agreements. They may be more restrictive than the Zoning Ordinance provisions, but they may not be more permissive. The application form for an administrative permit will advise an applicant to check as to whether any HOA or other private agreements apply to their property
6) What kind of signage is permitted? The Zoning Ordinance allows yard signs on all residentially zoned lots, including lots having a home-based business, regardless of the message. A single sign is limited to four feet in height and four square feet in area
Total signage on the lot is limited to 12 square feet (i.e. a maximum of three signs that are four square feet or four signs that are three square feet, etc.)
7) What are the parking requirements? There is no specific parking rate for an accessory home-based business use, but if the home-based business is allowed to have customers, an off-street parking space that can be reserved or made available by the person operating the home-based business must be made available for those customers to park. This may include a driveway space or an assigned parking space, but public street parking cannot be used to meet this requirement
8) Can I use my entire home for my home-based business? No, the total area used for the home-based business, including storage, is limited to 400 square feet
9) What if I want to do more than these limitations allow? A special permit may be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow for outdoor activities associated with a home-based business (such as swimming or soccer lessons), a larger area used by the business, additional employees or different work hours, and customers or clients
10) How much will this permit cost? The administrative permit fee is $100, and the special permit application fee is $435
11) Other than the home-based business administrative or special permit, do I need any other approvals? The home-based business administrative or special permit grants zoning approval, but other approvals or licensing may be required, depending on the nature of the business. Home-based businesses are also subject to the Business, Professional, and Occupational License (BPOL) Tax
12) How can I find out about home-based businesses in my neighborhood? Current home occupation permits and special permits for home professional offices and barbershops or beauty parlors are available through the Land Development Information History website. This site allows you to search for a specific address, or expand the search to the block, subdivision, or quad level. Select “Use Permit” as the record type for home occupation permits, and “Zoning Applications” for special permits. Future permits will be available through this portal and new search functions will be available with the future implementation of the PLUS system
13) Are there any additional requirements if the property is on a private well or septic system? Yes, if the property is served by a well or septic system, Health Department approval will be required prior to an administrative permit or special permit being approved. Also, certain items are not allowed to be disposed of in a sewer, in accordance with Ch. 67.1 of the County Code
14) Are there limits on the materials or products that I may use as part of my business? A home-based business may not use, store, or generate flammable or combustible liquids, explosives, or hazardous materials in an amount that requires a permit under Chapter 62 of the County Code (Fairfax County Fire Prevention Code)
15) Am I allowed to have a commercial vehicle? Yes, one commercial vehicle is allowed on a residential lot. The vehicle must be owned or operated by an occupant of the dwelling, must not exceed 21 feet in length, and comply with other standards of the Zoning Ordinance in subsection 4102.1.B(2)
If you have additional questions, please email [email protected]
Home-Based Businesses – Previous vs. Adopted zMOD Standards Previous Home-Based Business Regulations Process of Location and Use Name Uses Allowed Customers Employees Parking Signage Vehicles Approval Size For Any type of Open-ended list of instructional None (the Ordinance Home dwelling; Administrative allowed uses and uses only: 1 No requirement allows yard signs on 1 commercial vehicle Occupation No specific 7 prohibited uses 4 at a time all residential lots) size limit 8 in a day Home Up to 4; Single-family No standard/ Office for licensed or Determined byProfessional Special Permit Up to 6 with 2+ detached; No standard determined by the 1 commercial vehicle certified professional the BZA Office ac. No size limit BZA Any type of No standard/Barbershop or Barbershop or 1 patron at a Special Permit 0 dwelling; No standard determined by the 1 commercial vehicleBeauty Parlor beauty parlor time No size limit BZA Adopted Home-Based Business Regulations Process of Location and Use Name Uses Allowed Customers Employees Parking Signage Vehicles Approval Size For 1 in single-family instructional Any type of Designate one May only include detached; Administrative uses only: dwelling; space for on-site listed uses 0 in other No change; 4 at a time 400 sq. ft. customers dwellings None (other than Additional limits onHome-Based 8 in a day yard signs as allowed the size of delivery or Business Designate one for any residence) distribution vehicles space for on-site Listed uses and Determined by Determined by Determined by Special Permit customers; certain outdoor uses the BZA the BZA the BZA Determined by the BZA
Home-Based Businesses Frequently Asked Questions The responses below are intended to clarify the adopted regulations for home-based businesses, which will be effective on July 1, …
The home-based business permit application can be found under the Zoning Administration Division tab. Questions about PLUS should be directed to [email protected] or 703-324-2222, TTY 711.
Home-based businesses may also be subject to the Business, Professional, and Occupational License (BPOL). If you are unsure of the permits required for your proposed business, see the County’s Starting a Business webpage, or contact BizEX, for assistance. Home-based food production is limited to certain foods.
Questions about PLUS should be directed to [email protected] or 703-324-2222, TTY 711. Customers or clients are not allowed to come to the home with this administrative permit (except for teaching activities associated with a small health and exercise facility or specialized instruction center).
(1) A home-based business must be conducted by the person to whom the home-based business permit is issued and must be located within the dwelling that is their primary residence or in an accessory structure located on that same lot. (2) A home-based business may only include the following uses: