Skip navigation

Project: Make Space Legal

Help

Project: Make Space Legal

It is vital that you make the organization legal having formed the legal container.  There are regulations for your organization regarding the facilities, your liabilities as well as tax status.   You must do the following to comply with the regulations.

Get Liability Insurance
Role who does itGoverning Board, Founding Team
Description

This should be the main aim of the founding team after the hackerspace is incorporated as a legal entity.  Usually to rent or acquire a space, liability insurance is required.  Also, it is needed to cover public events held by the hackerspace whether or not you have a space of your own.  It is also recommended that a policy be bought that includes general liability insurance and insurance for the governing board of the hackerspace.  As most insurance companies are unfamiliar with a hackerspace, one can describe a space as a community center or educational organization to be able to get insurance.

Estimated Time3 months
Level of EffortModerate, need to keep in touch with the insurance company and need to be able to develop a case for insurance as most insurance companies are unfamiliar with what a hackerspace is.
Complete Inspectors Compliance Checklist
Role who does itFacilities Manager/Group, Governing Board, The Landlord (If You Are Renting)
Description

For a hackerspace to be a public entity, you must be able to pass a basic building inspection to ensure the building meets safety and health standards for public access and for the type of work associated with member projects.  The inspection will usually cover structure, wiring, plumbing and sewage and if applicable, gas and fire suppression.  You will also need to pass local building codes, fire codes, ADA requirements and others.  Check your local Department of Public Work’s office for codes that you must meet and to find out who you have to contact for a building inspection.  That will enable you to know what you must meet on the compliance checklist.  If your building does not meet codes, you and/or the landlord will have to either put in the effort to repair and/or retrofit the building to meet codes.

Estimated Time

Depending on the amount of work needed, 1 week to 3 months.  Longer times for major reworks of the facility.

Level of EffortDepending on the amount of work needed, easy to major effort.  More effort for a major rework of the facility.
Schedule Building Inspectors
Role who does itFacilities Manager/Group, Governing Board, The Landlord (If You Are Renting)
Description

Once you have completed the Inspectors Compliance Checklist, you are now ready for a building inspection.  Get in touch with your local Department of Public Works to schedule an inspection.

Estimated Time

Dependent on availability of inspectors.

Level of EffortLow
Get Occupancy Permit
Role who does itFacilities Manager/Group, Governing Board, The Landlord (If You Are Renting)
Description

Once you have completed the Inspectors Compliance Checklist, and have passed the inspection by the building inspector, you get your occupancy permit.  This signifies that a building surveyor is satisfied and has approved your building as being suitable for occupation.  You can start moving in once and holding public events when this piece of paper is ready.

Estimated TimeComplete me!
Level of EffortLow to moderate depending on how easy it is to reach your building inspectors.
Obtain State Non-Profit ID #
Role who does itGoverning Board, Founding Team
DescriptionIn order to avoid taxes for business and to be able to receive certain grants for education, your hackerspace needs to obtain 501c3 status.  Depending on your state, you will need to file additional paperwork before applying for 501c3 status; e.g. articles of incorporation, application for tax-exempt status, etc.  This step can take the most time and will require a fair amount of knowledge of your region’s legal system around non-profit status.  Be wary as often, some banks and other entities will not do business with you until you have the full articles of incorporation, tax-exempt status and non-profit status.  It is noted that a completed organization description and bylaws is required for the tax-exempt status filing.  It is advised that a lawyer, other legal professional or someone with legal experience help you with the effort.
Estimated Time6 months to a year depending on the knowledge of the people working with you and the efficiency of the state entities with whom you are filing.
Level of EffortModerate.

 

Need help?

Knowledge

The notebook section provides a way for you to store and share information with your group members. With the book feature you can:

  • Add book pages and organize them hierarchically into different books.
  • Attach files to pages to share them with others.
  • Track changes that others have made and revert changes as necessary.
  • Archive books that are no longer of interest to the group. Archived books can be reactivated later if needed.