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  • #31
    You're making a series of broad generalizations that are not accurate for all readers, and while it may apply here you live, certainly not for all of the USA. Many States have few if any global rules, and only local County, City or individual development covenants dictate land use. Where I live in WA (just outside of Seattle), it's unincorporated county. I live in an upscale community where the only rules pertaining to operating a business from my residence is that it cannot impact the quality of life of the other community residents. The recourse to resolve any claimed impact is though the courts. I like it this way...
    I am not making generalizations. I am specifically talking about a machine shop business and no other. That is the key difference because it is considered an industrial use. While you may live in an unincorporated area the same as I do you can't just build a factory without jumping through some hoops. A machine shop is in the same category and this is definitely a case where size doesn't matter. Machine shops are generally considered to be a noise maker. Trying to argue that it isn't noisy will not wash even if true. Some of the machines used in shops ARE noisy such as a big old iron worker chomping on bar stock. Try air arc gouging some time. You can hear that a mile away. CO2 blasting sounds like a jet fighter on afterburner. Even just grinding metal with an angle grinder or using a cutoff saw is pretty loud.

    In King County these businesses require proper zoning and licencing even in unincorporated areas:


    5. SIC 0752, animal boarding and kennel services;
    6. SIC 1721, building painting services;
    7. SIC 3260, pottery and related products manufacturing;
    8. SIC 3599, machine shop services;
    9. SIC 3732, boat building and repairing;
    10. SIC 3993, electric and neon sign manufacturing;
    11. SIC 4226, automobile storage services;
    12. SIC 7334, blueprinting and photocopying services;
    13. SIC 7534, tire retreading and repair services;
    14. SIC 7542, car washes;
    15. SIC 8731, commercial, physical and biological research laboratory services;
    16. SIC 02, interim agricultural crop production and livestock quarters or grazing on properties 5 acres or larger in size;
    17. SIC 0752, public agency animal control facility;
    18. SIC 2230, 2260, textile dyeing;
    19. SIC 2269, 2299, textile and textile goods finishing;
    20. SIC 2700, printing and publishing industries;
    21. SIC 2834, pharmaceuticals manufacturing;
    22. SIC 2844, cosmetics, perfumes and toiletries manufacturing;
    23. SIC 2893, printing ink manufacturing;
    24. SIC 3000, rubber products fabrication;
    25. SIC 3111, leather tanning and finishing;
    26. SIC 3400, metal products manufacturing and fabrication;
    27. SIC 3471, metal electroplating;
    28. SIC 3691, 3692, battery rebuilding and manufacturing;
    29. SIC 3711, automobile manufacturing; and
    30. SIC 4600, petroleum pipeline operations. (Ord. 12823 ยง 10, 1997).
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    • #32
      The zoning laws vary state to state, county to county and city to city. What is legal in one area will be illegal in another. As I understand it nation wide machine shops are considered industrial. Jim Shaper has a situation made in heaven but unfortunately few of us have as liberal enforcers as he does. The problem is if you try to feel them out and they are strict enforcers you will now be watched.

      I am also a friend of the local business license/zoning inspector and I'm sure he knows I do work for pay but he lets me fly so far but there's no way I could get by doing what Jim does as bold as he does it. They would come down on me like a hammer on an anvil.

      Now to the truth of it, whether you want to believe it or not, is if you do machine work for pay your in business and your commercial. You can call it a hobby shop or what ever but if you do work for pay then the government wants you to be licensed, have a tax number, have a federal employers number and pay taxes and fees accordingly. They don't care if your insured or not.

      Whether the powers in your area wants to enforce the law or not is not the issue, your in business. Your insurance company may or may not insure your shop/business on residential property. As I said in an earlier post, there are insurance companies that will insure you with certain conditions on your part. The companies I found were expensive and restrictive.

      To mdred68, I suggest you go to insurance agencies in your area and ask about what you want and get quotes. I suggest you also look on line and get quotes from them. Keep in mind, if you do work for pay your in business, call it what you want but your in business and your considered commercial.
      Last edited by Carld; 11-06-2009, 11:21 AM.
      It's only ink and paper


      • #33
        Mostly, it comes down to common sense. If you live in a neighborhood with 50 foot wide lots and your neighbors hate you, you better go find a building in an industrial park. BUT, if you live in an area where your nearest neighbor is a half mile away and everyone plays nice, it can be a whole lot easier to bend the rules.

        I would venture a guess that most zoning departments spend more time figuring out how to bend the rules than enforcing the rules. Think variances, re-zoning, special use permits, etc.

        You can hardly pick up a big city newspaper and not see some article about walmart or someone else with deep pockets wanting to re-zone and area to fit what they want to do. Mostly it comes down to how deep are your pockets and is it a good fit.

        I spent some time in Kingman Arizona recently. There was a huge pi$$ing match about building a new Walmart. Lots of opposition. Zoning and traffic issues. Walmart won. I suspect Walmart could buy the whole city of Kingman many times over if they wanted to.

        Oh, by the way. On the insurance thing. Probably is a good idea to at least have a liability policy if you will be doing work for the public. I have a friend who owns a die shop. Someone lost some fingers in a die he had built. He ended up paying a $10,000 deductible on his policy to settle out of court. The lawyers told him going to trial was too risky.






        • #34
          Originally posted by Evan
          I am not making generalizations. I am specifically talking about a machine shop business and no other. ...

          ... deleted ...

          Well... seemed to me that you were saying you can't run a machine shop from your home because it's residential. I figured that was pretty general.

          Mileage varies, it definitely depends on where you live, and the scope ("small business"?). Not everyone runs arc gouging and ironworkers... and the original post was "small scale", not setting up a foundry. My BIL's in Montana live in Unincorporated County, and run pretty messy noisy businesses from their homes. They have insurance, licences and occassionally a few mad neighbors.

          If I wanted to make my existing lathes, welders, grinders, milling machines etc machines "commercial", sure I'd need a County business license.. and in any case I have to adhere to noise, environmental regulations etc etc, but that doesn't stop me from operating my business UNLESS a lawsuit determines it interferes with the quality of life for the other member of my community - a subjective standard that I wouldn't try to test blatantly, but it can worked with; I have to live here also.

          Because of the lack of land use regulation, communities here often set up very specific rules to disallow pretty much all such non-residential activities (hobby or not...). Ours didn't, but we can if we need to (if we could get 66% to actually agree..). Where I live, it's "let live"... and it's why I live "out" here instead of in the city. I can even burn brush piles (with a free annual permit). Oh, forested 3-5 acre lots and lake front sure help

          Heck, you want noise? I ran a sawmill in my backyard for a 6 weeks. My wood shop makes a heck of a lot of noise... often.. lol.... but my neighbors like me, and if they don't I'll complain to the county about their dogs
          Last edited by lakeside53; 11-06-2009, 01:03 PM.


          • #35
            It's the same here. I help out the neighbours and we all know each other well. I could run any business I like from my garage as far as they are concerned. Nobody complains about noise since we all run machinery of some kind, chain saws, tractors and heavy machinery and we all have dogs that bark. During the warm up to hunting season it sounds like a shooting range around here too.

            Point is though you won't get insurance for an industrial use on residential land even if is a permitted use. You just might be able to insure the shop if you drop the home insurance.
            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


            • #36
              lakeside53, what Evan is saying is you can't LEGALLY run a machine shop in a residential zone. If you do work for pay in your shop or on your property for pay your in business and your commercial. The terms business and commercial go hand in hand as far as the government is concerned.

              If you live in an area that the officials and neighbors look the other way that is nice but your still in violation of any zone laws that restrict what ever you may be doing. The fact that everyone is letting you get by with breaking the law is nice and I have no problem with that at all.

              With that said I still say it's best to keep a low profile because once the cat is out of the bag you can't stuff him back in.

              None of my neighbors care what I do either but if someone gets mad at me they can cause all kinds of trouble.
              It's only ink and paper