Home for good
An increase in combined living and working spaces means mixing business with pleasure is now easier than ever, says Stephen Pritchard
Sunday 04 October 1998
The problem is all the more acute if the business employs staff, or if there are deliveries or visitors. At best, the result is cramped chaos; at worst, there are neighbour complaints and uninvited visit by local planning department officials.
Even so, live/work apartments are a happy alternative to the expense and inconvenience of renting a separate office or studio. Physically, a live/work apartment can be identical to a normal, residential flat. The difference is that the flat is sold for combined business and residential use - and has planning permission for both.
Live/work developments are successful because everyone knows where they stand. There are thousands of people who work from home every day in spare bedrooms, loft conversions or basements and no-one knows. If the business use is little more than a desk and a computer, the authorities are not going to be concerned. But for larger, noisier, busier undertakings, live/work spaces get round the potential nuisance of running a business in a residential area.
Image is a factor, too. Some small companies want a business address, especially if clients visit. A slick city-centre loft or apartment is a better meeting place than a kitchen table in the 'burbs. "You can have a bona-fide business address," says Philip Jackson, residential sales manager at agents Stirling Ackroyd, which specialises in live/work space in London. "You can have business deliveries or despatch riders and no- one can complain. You can legitimately have people visiting the office."
Most early live/work developments were on the fringes of the City of London and that is where most of them are still built. The first wave of live/workers rented, rather than owned, their homes. They took leases on large, cheap office and warehouse space in areas like Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Hoxton. Pioneers included artists, designers and photographers who needed space. Working and living under the same roof saved on costs, and meant creativity was not constrained by office hours.
Brad Lochure bought his former printworks in Shoreditch, East London in 1996. An artist, Brad had rented studio space in West London but found the short-term leases disruptive. It took some time to find a suitable building: he needed natural light, combined with ground-floor access to load his large canvasses. "This place has been absolutely fantastic," he says. "I can come down at 1am and do an hour's work without leaving the front door. Plus there is a ready-made community of artists here, and a lot of them happen to be my friends."
Developments like Brad's have proved successful but success has brought its problems. Many live/work developments were "without ratio". The buyer could decide how much - or how little - space he/she wanted to use for work. The result was an influx of professional people who had little or no intention of using their space for business.
In response, planners are becoming more cautious, and they may insist that as much as half the floor space is used for business. In some cases, this means the ground floor is an office or studio space, with the flat above: effectively, a return to "living above the shop".
Now live/work developments are slowly spreading out of London. In Leeds, the city council is encouraging live/work space in areas like Holbeck; developer Urban Splash hopes to start a scheme in Manchester next year. The most advanced project is in Sheffield, where Gleeson Homes plans to include live/work space in its Cornish Place project, a former cutlery factory. "We are converting the building into a mixture of office, residential and live/work space," explains managing director, Clive Wilding. "In our experience, live/work apartments work best in a mixture of other houses and offices."
Live/work accommodation is becoming more expensive. The areas that pioneered live/work space in London have moved upmarket with property prices in areas such as Clerkenwell rising sharply in the past year. Live/workers are looking further afield, to Southwark or Tower Hamlets for space, while developers are taking on sites in more conventional, residential areas. In Fulham, Stonehurst Estates has built "atelier" apartments, each with office and flat, on the site of an old bakery. Most have been sold, with prices starting at pounds 265,000.
Purchase price is not the only cost with live-work apartments. Buying one means paying business rates on the work area and possibly VAT too. There may be capital gains tax to pay on the work area when it comes to selling up. Despite this, live/work space holds its value well. According to David Salvi, a partner in London agency Hurford, Salvi, Carr, live/work space now sells for the same price as residential flats.
"The flexibility of a property with one of two uses has to be more valuable than straight office or residential space," he explains. "As live/work grows and more people work from home, they could even sell at a premium above residential space." It could be one case where mixing business and pleasure does pay.
Life & Style blogs
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
Coachella Festival 2015: from Kendall Jenner to Alexa Chung, stars and festival-goers parade their boho best
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
- 5 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...