This month JAM Organizing presents another informative article from a guest blogger. Enjoy!
If your home is too small to support bedrooms and an office, don’t fret. Make use of square footage you already have by turning a portion of your garage into a home office. Not sure where to start? Keep reading!
Consider the Space
Before buying office furniture, think about how much space is actually needed. It can vary greatly depending on what you do. The IRS allows a deduction for up to 300 ft.² of office space. This is a reasonable place to start, and a 15’ x 20’ room is modest yet comfortable. (Before you start painting the walls and moving your desk, contact your HOA and local zoning board to confirm that you can finish out the space without violating local regulations. Usually, if the garage is attached, there’s no problem. However, if you have to erect a new structure or if the existing outbuilding is detached, you may need a special permit.)
Floors, Walls, and Connections, Oh My!
For a comfortable and functional office, you need more that just space. You can’t just stick a desk on a concrete floor and be ready to work efficiently. It’s important to create a space that’s comfortable and inviting, starting with finishing out the floors and walls. Most garages have concrete floors, so the best choices for flooring are laminate, wood, and carpet. Out of these, laminate is your best option because it's water-resistant and available in several different styles.
Next, finish out the space to look like an office. With a few tools and a long weekend (or two), you can frame in an area and finish it out with drywall. The Home Depot offers information on how to DIY this step and lists tools and materials you’ll need to get started. (Because adding walls might be considered changing the fundamental layout of your home, it’s best to call your local codes department and ask if a permit and inspection are required. If you run new electrical to the area, an inspector may get involved.)
For comfort, as well as to protect your computer equipment, the area must be heated and cooled. If your unit is large enough, your HVAC company can run ductwork straight into the new office. However, if your current system can’t keep up with the additional square footage, it may make more sense to add a mini ductless heating and cooling unit to the space.
Next, if your garage isn’t wired for internet or if your current Wi-fi doesn’t reach, invest in a Wi-Fi hotspot. It may also be the most efficient option if your garage is partially underground and can’t receive the signal from a signal booster. Check with your accountant: you may be able to deduct part of the cost.
Finally, after you’ve spent the time and money getting your garage office up and running, it makes sense to invest in organization. After all, a clean and organized space is more efficient and, perhaps most importantly, inviting to your clients and customers.
Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style.
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