The number of workers whose employment involves telecommuting is rising, so the need for home offices is rising. If all bedrooms are taken, a garage office is an option.
The numbers are impressive; according to undress4success.com, The number of Americans who worked from home or remotely at least one day per month for their employer (employee telecommuters) increased from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008. A 39% 2 year increase and 74% increase since 2005.
They go on to say that about half of all businesses are home-based business. This makes sense because freelancing is becoming more attractive as employer fringe benefits such as health care benefits and pensions keep dropping.
As high-speed internet access becomes more available, a growing number of people are earning extra income or even shifting to full-time freelance work doing things like writing articles for sites like The Green Frugal or this site.
As work-at-home types quickly find out, a computer on the dining table with kids scampering about just doesnt work.
Why a Garage Home Office?
In many cases, all the homes bedrooms are already occupied and/or being used for hobbies or arts and crafts or as a man cave. The garage, especially a 2-car garage, has the potential for configurable space and already offers some degree of solitude.
A Remodeling Plan and Construction Budget
Its easy to get carried away with this type of project. Research and planning are key to a successful outcome. It helps to make a list of all items with the must-haves at the top and the wish list at the bottom.
Then figure out a realistic construction budget, get prices, and red-line the items that just dont fit in the budget. These arent things that can't ever go in; they just have to go in cold storage for a while.
Dont go down the small business loan road unless absolutely necessary. Theres no sense beginning with a large debt load.
Important Home Office Components
Wall preparation. If the walls already have drywall installed on the exterior wood framing, all thats needed is minor repair, texture, and paint. If not, add hanging Sheetrock and taping and floating to the list.
If the walls already have drywall installed on the exterior wood framing, all that's needed is minor repair, texture, and paint. If not, add hanging Sheetrock and taping and floating to the list.
Flooring. For telecommuters or small business entrepreneurs with deep pockets, ceramic tile, carpet, or laminate flooring are great flooring choices. For those on a tighter budget, a Walmart throw rug will do initially; move the good floor to the wish list.
Lighting. Light fixtures are essential in any work area. 2 X 4 4-tube fluorescent fixtures are affordable and standard in any office space.
Heating and cooling. This is dependent on location. For cooling and heating, flex ducts can be routed from the home HVAC system if the capacity allows it, or window unit air conditioners and space heaters can be installed. A much better choice for cooling is a ductless mini-split air conditioner.
Office furniture. A desk and a comfortable chair is required. Shelving, credenza, etc. may be added if needed.
High speed Internet access. High speed Internet access. This one is a must-have in any office today. The good news is that if the home already has it, the cable can be re-routed or a wireless connection can be configured.
Paying for it All
There is a certain degree of flexibility in financing the fitting out of a garage home office. The more the homeowner can do, the more money can be saved on labor. Almost anyone can paint, for example. Entrepreneurs can benefit from bartering with contractors in many cases.
Telecommuting employees may be able to recoup some capital from the employer. One final thing to remember is to review and update the homeowners insurance policy.