Home Businesses

This guide is intended to provide you with an overview of the permitting process for establishing an at-home business, which requires a zoning permit for a home occupation.

The Denver Zoning Code defines a broad range of home occupations and categories of occupations. Generally speaking, whether you are running a child day care from your home or simply using a home office for freelance work, if you intend on doing business from your home and using your home address as a business address, you must obtain a zoning permit.

Help Me Get Started . . .

Before you start your project, you need to know what regulations apply to your property and what factors may impact your project. You'll need to consider:

Zoning

Zoning establishes standards for things such as the size and location of structures and acceptable uses for your property. Before you begin, you need to be sure your project is in compliance with the Denver Zoning Code. Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine the zoning for your property. In the results, click on your zone district for descriptions and definitions. Click on your neighborhood context for general information on zoning in your area; then follow the link provided to see the Denver Zoning Code.

As applies in this case, zoning sets parameters for running a business from your home.

Building Code

Denver Building Code provides minimum standards for building in order to safeguard public safety, health and welfare. The permitting and inspection process ensures that all home projects meet these standards and that all dwellings are safe and habitable at the time of construction.

If you plan on remodeling a room or office in your home to accomodate your home business, you may need a building permit. NOTE: You must secure a zoning permit for your business before your proceed with obtaining appropriate construction permits.

Addtional Permits

Although most home businesses only require a zoning permit, some require additional permits, licenses, reviews and/or  inspections. See Step 4 below for additional information.  

Most home occupations are allowed in all zone districts, except S-SU-Fx and S-SU-Ix, which are zone districts that prohibit certain types of home occupations. Specific limitations and regulations vary by district, so to determine if the home occupation is allowed on your property:

  1. Find your zone district by entering your address on the DevelopDENVER tool at right.
  2. The results will tell you whether your zone district is in the Denver Zoning Code (Code Version 2010) or Former Chapter 59 (Code Version 1956).
  3. Once you’ve determined which document governs your zoning, proceed to the appropriate Step 2 below.

In the results of your DevelopDenver map search, click on your zone district for your neighborhood context, then look up the appropriate article for your neighborhood context in the Denver Zoning Code

To confirm what is allowed, check the article’s use table (at the end of the article) and look for the table entry “Home Occupations Accessory to Primary Residential Uses Use Classification.”

Lastly, see Article 11, Division 11.9 (PDF) for limitations associated with all home occupations.

NOTE: If you live in a Denver Zoning Code district with waivers and conditions, contact the Zoning Team for more guidance on what home occupations are allowed in your district and the process for securing the appropriate permits.

See Section 59-89, “Home occupations allowed” (PDF). Pages 129-130 list the limitations for home occupations, and page 131 lists home occupations allowed by zone district.

“Food preparation” is not allowed as a home occupation in Former Chapter 59 zone districts. 

"Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales" may be allowed as an unlisted home occupation and requires a special zoning review process. See Section 59-89 (1) m. (PDF) for additional information. 

NOTE: If you live in a Former Chapter 59 district with waivers and conditions, contact the Zoning Team for more guidance on what is allowed in your district and the process for securing the appropriate permits.

A zoning permit is required for all home occupations. Please contact the Zoning Team if you have questions on how to complete the application. 

To submit your completed application by e-mail, scan the completed form and all related materials. Send the electronic files to zoningreview@denvergov.org with "New zoning application" in the subject line of the email.

To submit your completed application by regular mail, send the completed form and supporting materials to:
Development Services/Zoning
Attn:  New applications
201 West Colfax, Dept 203
Denver, CO 80202

To submit your completed application in person, visit the Permit Counter on the second floor Webb Municipal Building (201 West Colfax Ave.) between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sign in for "Commercial Zoning" at the kiosk.

Once you have secured your zoning permit for your home occupation, additional reviews and permits may still apply.

  • Child care
    A business license is required for a child day care based in a private residence. Visit the "Child Care Home/Child Care Center" page on the Denver Business Licensing Center website for additional information.
  • Food preparation
    A business license is required for the location of this type of home occupation. Visit the "Food-Wholesale" page on the Denver Business Licensing Center website for more information. Additionally, building permits and fire approval are required for commercial grade kitchens. See the project guide for kitchen remodels for more information. As part of the licensing process, health inspections of your home facility will be required.
    NOTE: A food preparation business license is not required if you are only preparing "cottage foods" as defined by the Colorado Cottage Food Act, for sale with a Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales home occupation zoning permit.  

 

 To see if your business requires a license, check the Denver Business Licensing Center's business index.

 

New Home Occupation: Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales

Adopted by City Council via text amendment to the zoning code on July 14, 2014, and effective July 18, 2014, this home occupation allows Denver residents to sell raw, uncut produce and homemade cottage foods from their home. Sellers must have grown the produce in their home gardens or off-site at a community garden, urban farm, or another person’s property, and must have prepared the cottage foods at their homes. Cottage foods are defined by the State of Colorado Cottage Food Act and include non-potentially hazardous foods such as tea, honey, jams, jellies, and dried produce.

For rules and requirements associated with this home occupation, information on allowable cottage foods, and best practices, download the Fresh Produce and Cottage Foods Home Occupation Guide (PDF). (En Español)

Home Projects

Every project is different.  Depending upon the complexity of your project, the permit requirements and inspection process may vary from the information presented in this guide.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

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