How to Remodel a Garage Into a Home Office

The numbers are impressive; there are currently around 20 millionĀ  Americans who work at least few days a month from home and the number is increasing according to NY times.

They go on to say that about half of all businesses are home-based. This makes sense because freelancing is becoming more attractive as employer fringe benefits such as health care benefits and pensions keep dropping. As work-at-home types quickly find out, a computer on the dining table with kids scampering about just doesn’t work.

Why a Garage Home Office?

In many cases, all the home’s 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

It’s 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 don’t fit in the budget. These aren’t things that can’t ever go in; they just have to go in cold storage for a while. Don’t go down the small business loan road unless absolutely necessary. There’s 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 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 are required. Shelving, credenza, etc. may be added if needed.
  • 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.