After years of fighting to be seen as a home-based business and not as a commercial space, Lunenburg business owner Anna Shoub says she is overjoyed with the changes being proposed to Nova Scotia's building code.

Shoub owns The Hat Junkie, where she makes and sells hats from her home on Lawrence Street. The changes mean she'll be able to grow her business.

"I just have been fighting for all home-based businesses in rural Nova Scotia to be able to operate above ground and not to be faced with prohibitively expensive and unnecessary renovations to their homes," she said.

Red tape

From the beginning, Shoub was granted the proper permits to have a business in her home, but was then visited by the town's building inspector. 

The inspector viewed her business as a commercial property. Under this designation, Shoub would have to make several expensive changes in order to keep the business open. Some of these included the addition of fire walls, accessible doors and a barrier-free washroom. 

But under proposed changes announced Monday by the province, Shoub's home business would be exempt from building code rules intended for commercial spaces. 

Hat Junkie

Anna Shoub's businesses, The Hat Junkie, is operated from her home on Lawrence Street in Lunenburg, N.S. (Anna Shoub)

As an example, she would not be required to have additional washrooms, if the changes become law. Shoub's home business would also be exempt from the barrier-free design requirements needed for commercial spaces.

A home-based business is defined by the province as a business operating within someone's home. The operators must live in the home, and the business cannot take up anymore than 25 per cent of the floor area.

More details on the proposed changes can be found here.

Reducing the burden

Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill said in a news release announcing the changes that small business is important to the economy.

"These proposed changes would reduce the regulatory burden for home-based businesses and avoid unnecessary costs for owners," he said.

Shoub agrees. She calls it not only a victory for herself but for home businesses throughout the province.

"I cried out of joy — tears of joy," she said. "It's been what I've been trying to say for so long. If you put these burdensome regulations on businesses it prevents growth and also prevents young families from supporting themselves."

The Hat Junkie

Proposed changes mean The Hat Junkie wouldn't be required to have additional washrooms. (Heidi Jirotka)