Question on opening up a B&B

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06/24/2015

Hi,

 

I am a newbie here.. Smiling  I am turning my home into a B&B, filled out zoning applications, and received a email from the town zoning admistrator and he tells me that I need to fill out applications with the state health  depth, and fire inspections, then he will bring it up to the board.. My question is I would like to know if my home will be approved by the town first before I go and contact the state and spend  money and then the town says no..  Shouldn't the town approve it first??

__________________

Wanda

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Please do not think for one moment that we are discouraging you. We are trying to help - and trying to keep you from wasting money. I was a start-up. BUT my city did not have zoning when I started - we do now. AND since I am on the Planning & Coning Commission, made sure B & Bs would have no problem in my city (I want more of them & so does the Mayor).

From experience (first 10 years of 3 with shared) you really DO want to have private ensuite bathrooms for each guestroom if possible. Just adding that one ensuite raised my revenues by 1/3 the first year after it was installed. Rate increases helped also of course.

You are correct that the town comes first. The Zoning Code should be a public record so you can get a copy of it.

What area/region of the Country are you in? I ask because each State and city in that State can be different.

ChrisandShelley's picture
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04/13/2014

Wanda,

I have no earthly idea, but I did want to wish you luck. We are new innkeepers and we love it!

Good luck!!

C

__________________

Christopher and Shelley Smith, Innkeepers
The Wildflower Bed & Breakfast, Mountain View, AR

 

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01/19/2015

Keep in mind, if your house is residential (USA), a lot of restrictions will probably be slapped on that would not apply to a commercially zoned house.

For example, your neighbors will probably be allowed to voice their displeasure (hearing), you may be allowed only a tiny sign affixed to the house, sprinklers installed, architectural drawings, lawyer, kitchen issues, setbacks, parking restrictions, #rooms restrictions and a lot of other stuff.

And you can go through all that and easily be turned down.

It is anything but a formality.

I would start with going to the zoning office, and get the code book or the site that has the code, and find out the zoning classification of the house (R-1, R-2, agricultural, conservation district, etc. etc.) and LOOK UP the permitted, conditional and forbidden uses. 

Does not matter what anyone promises or assures you.  Your house's zoning + "use" will be the final word on whether even worth pursuing. 

__________________

[admin note: Created enough waves and discourse to be shown the door.]

 

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01/19/2015

I forgot to add - the biggest headache we are facing is septic.  Around here, once you exceed 700 gallons capacity, you have to do a "septic plan" which they said was 6 months "optimistically".

For a 3 BR house, it requires 400 gallons.  Therefore, we would be required to add 100 gallons for each additional bedroom.  Any outside visitors (such as having a salon, spa, retail, etc.) requires an additional bathroom, adding 400 gallons capacity required.  800 gallons, if you need men's/women's bathrooms.

In other words, if you have a small septic, keep any expansion to 700 gallons, else you are facing a lot of pain.

Also, once you exceed 5 guest rooms, you are subject to ADA requirements.  B&B with <= guest rooms, owner occupied, single building is exempt from federal ADA requirements.  You would also need to check state/county/local for any further limitations to this...

TheBeachHouse's picture
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again, ADA does not apply to resident inns in this area.   Do not be discouraged, however, do know the requirements before you go ahead.

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TBH

 

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Huh?  That is incorrect in the USA.



If you are in the USA, the ADA applies fully everywhere, to every business, commercial or residential.  Local or state cannot trump federal law.  Each and every business or B&B that thinks otherwise is not correct.

The federal exemption is ONLY for owner occupied (must live in the B&B itself), 5 guest or fewer, single building.  And local/county/state law might add further ADA restrictions.

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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undersea wrote:

Huh?  That is incorrect in the USA.



If you are in the USA, the ADA applies fully everywhere, to every business, commercial or residential.  Local or state cannot trump federal law.  Each and every business or B&B that thinks otherwise is not correct.

The federal exemption is ONLY for owner occupied (must live in the B&B itself), 5 guest or fewer, single building.  And local/county/state law might add further ADA restrictions.

 

 

My size exempts me from compliance with ADA.   I may have misspoken saying region, but I don't want the op to think she needs ramps and elevators and special bathrooms if she doesn't.  

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

undersea wrote:

Huh?  That is incorrect in the USA.

If you are in the USA, the ADA applies fully everywhere, to every business, commercial or residential.  Local or state cannot trump federal law.  Each and every business or B&B that thinks otherwise is not correct.

The federal exemption is ONLY for owner occupied (must live in the B&B itself), 5 guest or fewer, single building.  And local/county/state law might add further ADA restrictions.

My size exempts me from compliance with ADA.   I may have misspoken saying region, but I don't want the op to think she needs ramps and elevators and special bathrooms if she doesn't.  

What Undersea is doing is making sure the information is clearly stated.  He is correct that ADA exemption is 5 rooms or less, owner occupied.  BUT State/Local can make more strict requirements if they so choose.  (so they could require certain ADA  requirements if they so choose)  That is why it is important to have a run through with your Fire Marshall before anything official to have them point out what they will require.  

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that is all I was saying.  There isn't a general exemption on B&Bs, seemed what you said.  The requirements I listed are my understanding from multiple checks on my part.  Size is only part of it.

If exempted (fed/state/local), none of the ramps, elevators, special baths or other things apply.

On the other hand, the federal govt gives tax CREDITS to put in ADA type stuff.  And it might be a huge differentiator, as there are still people who would appreciate certain things.  It works like this - each and every year:

The first $250 is your expense.

For up to the next $10,000, the government gives you a tax CREDIT for half to do things that support ADA accomodations - putting in handicap/van accessible spaces, widening doors, putting/modifying bathrooms for wheelchairs, etc.

To the clever person, this can be a huge benefit.  Imagine having the government pay for redoing a bathroom (and you can deduct the remaining percentage).  So a $10,000 first floor bathroom for the disabled may cost you only about $3700, depending on your bracket.

A new beautiful wider entrance may only cost you 40% of the true cost...

The required handicap space, etc. etc.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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don't get discouraged until you know for sure.   In our area, sprinklers are not required in a residence.   Usually it is number of rentable rooms that matter.   Around here, under 4 is one set of rules and under 8 is another.   Our kitchen has no restrictions, but the types of food we can serve does.

gillumhouse's picture
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And as we ALWAYS say - before you spend the first penny - GET THE ZONING REGS IN WRITING.

GET THE BUILDING COMMISSION REGS IN WRITING

GET THE FIRE CODES IN WRITING

Ask if the City adopted the State Codes rather than wrote new Codes & Regs.  In West Virginia, cities basically adopt whatever the State Code is. Municipalities can pass stricter, but not less strict laws and Codes than what the State has. Usually, if you are in City Limits, municipal Codes rule. Out of City Limits, County rules.

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06/24/2008

You got that right Wanda!  While it won't hurt to get the info needed from the health & fire departments to know, in general, what you will need; the first thing you need to know is if you can get the proper zoning.  

While we began the zoning approval, we did contact the fire department to have them come by to point out things that could be an issue.  We needed to know what expenses we would encounter along those lines.   

With all the illegals popping up everywhere, they should be happy you are going about this in the proper way.  

I agree that you should call and ask to chat.  You don't have to become his/her best friend but having a friendly chat to discuss the matter is important.  

(S)He may be pointing you to the others first because some of the laws may be more that most are willing to do and makes his job easier in the long run.  

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Thank you!!  Smiling

 

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06/24/2015

 

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

Call the administrator.  Ask to chat.   Get personal.

Also, are there other B&B's in your town?   You might chat with them as well.  

Best of luck!  

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Joined:
05/22/2008

The town administrator around here would have nothing to do with it. The zoning board would be the first place to get approval and he would tell them so. Personal is ok, but with the right people and nothing beats getting it in writing.

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05/22/2008

Absolutely the town should approved it first. Don't do anything else until the papers are signed and the ink dry from the proper authority.

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