Many buildings tout themselves as live-work spaces, but live-work designations are not all equal. For example, a primarily residential building that has no restriction on working from home can be called a live-work space but it is hardly comparable to a building that allows you to have employee, walk-in customers or clients, public access parking, or locations that allow more hazardous or noisy commercial activity.
Planning and zoning regulations differ in live-work or work-live spaces compared to those that are primarily residential, but do not restrict a home occupation. Typically, these locations are part of an urban renewal between the industrial and residential parts of a city. Creating lifestyle lofts that include workspace, or work space that includes living areas can be a strong part of a vibrant mixed-used development district. Reuse of historic structures that would otherwise be allowed to decay through vacancy typically enjoys some relaxation of the standard residential building codes under state and municipal laws in many areas. However, new construction live-work spaces usually must adhere to residential codes, including the impact on local school districts.
Who lives in live-work properties?
- Artists: the phenomenon of live-work properties started in the artist communities when artists and musicians could not find workspace they could afford and so chose to forego personal space and live in their workspace. Many urban centers offer so-called “Artists’ Protection Zones” that impose certain restrictions on rent increases to keep space more affordable for artists.
- Start-ups: live-work spaces often appeal to entrepreneurs that see their space as an incubator of new ideas. They want to be close to their work so that living doesn’t interrupt the development of their business ideas.
- Virtual or telecommute employees: unlike artists and entrepreneurs, employees that connect to their place of work via the Internet may find that live-work properties have better access to high-speed Internet that other residential areas. While they may not need to have a separate workspace, many virtual employees prefer to be surrounded by the sounds of other people working to keep them on task. Some live-work buildings even offer community spaces for workers to gather, meet each other, share ideas and generally encourage one another. Often, residents in live-work spaces find that they can use each other’s services.
Is a live-work space for you?
Only you can know if a live-work situation will work for you. Often, live-work lofts and warehouse conversions are near to factories, railroad tracks and other noise-producing industries. If you need quiet for your work, a live-work loft might not be the best place for you. But, if you thrive on the energy and industry of others, and like the idea of waking up and walking across the hall to your place of business, studio or office, we can help you find the live-work space that works for you.