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Home office

Live-work real estate: Most spaces advertised as "home offices" are alcoves or windowless rooms that cannot legally be called bedrooms. The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law says rooms for sleeping must have at least 80 square feet of floor space, no measurement less than 8 feet, and window area that measures at least 12 square feet and is also at least a 10th of the area of the room. There are also rules about how much space needs to be between the window and the next lot. In addition, there are exceptions to this rule for some older buildings, according to an official at the New York City Department of Buildings.

A room that falls outside these parameters is given another name -- media room, den, library, dining room -- but more and more these days it becomes the home office.

According to New York City zoning rules, up to one quarter (or 500 square feet, whichever is less) of any apartment may be used for a "home occupation," which includes most desk jobs -- though not interior decorating, real estate, insurance and selling stocks, among other professions. Generally speaking, said Michael Slattery, a senior vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York, occupations that are perceived to generate noise, odor or too much pedestrian traffic are not permitted.

In parts of Lower Manhattan, up to half an apartment can be used for a home occupation, and up to three outside employees can work there. A broader range of occupations is allowed, as well.

Three employees in a home might seem like a crowd, but not in No. 1A at 7 Dutch Street, a ground-floor apartment in the financial district. The 3,400-square-foot two-bedroom three-bathroom duplex loft includes a 1,200-square-foot office in the basement with a separate entrance and a bathroom.

The 50-Foot Commute
Published: May 20, 2011
Home offices have become so desirable that they are now showing up as amenities in new construction.


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