If your job requires you to get work done at home, whether you work from home full-time or sometimes need to bring homework on the weekends and in the evenings, having dedicated office space is essential. While setting up your computer in a corner of your kitchen, living room, or bedroom can work in a pinch, it won’t be a good long-term solution.
To effectively work at home, you need separate office space, which will allow you to get in a “working mode” mindset, remove distractions, and increase productivity. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to set aside an entire room or even find a large enough room to use as an office. In many cases, converting your garage into your home office can be a great option.
Things You Need to Consider
1. Insulation and Temperature Control
The most common problem when converting garage into apartment is the temperature control. If you are renovating your garage, you must make sure to add extra insulation to the ceiling and exterior walls. This way, it will keep the warm temperature once it’s in there.
If your garage is attached, you can easily have the temperature control as your main house and this is the most money-saving solution. However, detached garages are the newest home designs nowadays so you can choose to invest in space heaters and window-type air conditioner units to solve this problem.
2. Electricity and Plumbing
Garage renovation can be expensive, also when it comes to basic utilities. This will cost you about $3000 each for electricity and plumbing. However, if your garage is attached to your main house this won’t be painful because you can reroute the existing wires and pipes to your new apartment.
3. Contractor vs DIY
Many homeowners nowadays become ambitious and wanted to start doing their home renovations and makeovers. But keep in mind that DIYs are easy for simple projects. However, a full garage renovation can really become complicated and will need lots of tools and contraction knowledge. If you turn your garage into an apartment, you will need to meet the required building code and pass the inspection. The best way to make sure to pass this inspection is to hire a contractor.
Finishing Your Home Office Space
While you might be tempted to do the bare minimum on this conversion in the interest of cutting costs, that can be detrimental to your productivity. Keep in mind that you’ll potentially spend several consecutive hours at a time in this space, so plan your home office in a way that makes it an enjoyable space for you to work.
If you live in an area with particularly hot or cold weather, you’ll need to have your garage insulated. Depending on whether you need to have a professional-looking office, you might want to consider finishing your garage.
You can go with professional services or use the multitude of information on this topic online to DIY the project. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll need wiring, insulation, and drywall. Some garages are partially finished and already have drywall. In that case, you’ll only need a garage-door insulation kit to keep the climate of your new office controlled.
To keep the climate comfortable in your garage-office, which most likely won’t be connected to your home’s HVAC system, you may need to add a portable air-conditioning unit, heater, or dehumidifier depending on the weather where you live.
In addition to dealing with the walls and insulation, if you choose to DIY your garage conversion, you’ll also want to change the concrete floors. Simple ways that you can change the floor include using an epoxy coating to modify the look of the floor or using garage floor mats, interlocking tiles, or carpeting, which can be installed directly onto a concrete floor.
Although making an office that you enjoy is important, you need to make sure to address the essentials. Whatever business you’re in, your office should provide the right tools to handle your workload. Determine how you’ll make sure you have a strong internet connection, how you’ll handle in-person and video meetings, and whether you have the tools/workspace you need to get your work done.
Creating a Functional Workspace
First, you’ll need to choose the right desk. Depending on how much clutter ends up on your desk while you’re working, you should consider desks with storage or a simple writing desk that only has a tabletop. Writing desks can still be an option if you prefer that style but need storage – you can add desk organization tools to keep your workspace clean and organized. You may also need a filing cabinet and other office storage to keep important items that you don’t need to access every day.
Make sure that you get a desk that’s conducive to how you work, such as having one that’s sufficiently large if you use multiple computer monitors. Additionally, there are options that can make it easier for you to spend less time sitting if you work for long stretches at a time. Standing desks allow you to work while on your feet, and there are a lot of different options on the market.
If you want to always work standing up, you can get a fixed standing desk, but if that’s the route you decide to go, you’ll need to check the height to make sure it’s in a comfortable position for you. There are also standing desk converters, which can go on top of a normal desk. Among the more expensive options, you can also consider adjustable standing desks, which either be manual or electric.
Another important consideration is how you’ll manage your power outlets for your office. You’ll likely need to buy extension cords, but you should consider getting a power surge protector as well to protect your work computer or laptop from damage.
To keep your space neat and your wires organized, get cable covers for power cords that interrupt walkways as well as cord clips and cable organizers to keep numerous cables from cluttering your home office and becoming a disorganized mess.
You may also need to invest in tools that help your internet WiFi reach your garage. Often, people keep their router in a central location in the home, and its signal may not reach the garage or can be weak if it does. You can choose between devices like a Wifi extender or repeater to strengthen the signal, a powerline adapter for stronger wireless or wired connections, or an inexpensive USB WiFi antenna for your computer.
Making a Comfortable Workspace
In addition to your work essentials, you’ll want to add things to your home office that make getting work done easier and limit distractions. This includes buying office equipment that reduces your likelihood of discomfort or pain when you’re working long hours.
There’s been plenty of research on this topic; not having comfortable equipment for your office has detrimental effects on your health. Having an adjustable ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse to use while you work can improve your posture and better your long-term back and wrist health. Some other tools your office can use are tilting monitor risers or wall-mounted stands to avoid straining your neck.
To add some comfort to your office, you can also add basic conveniences that will make it less necessary to leave frequently and potentially get distracted or diverted by family members when you enter the rest of your home. Simple additions like a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, electric kettle, snack storage, water dispenser, and a sufficiently large trash can will make your time spent in your home office a lot more manageable.
These are especially important items to have if your work requires you to have clients meet you in your home office. You’ll be able to create an inviting space for them by having plenty of convenient amenities in the space where you meet with them. Make sure that you also get chairs, a coffee table, side tables, and lamps or other types of lighting that make the space welcoming.
It’s particularly important in a garage office that you pay attention to how you can make the room have a warm atmosphere because it’s unlikely that it will have any windows, which can be fairly expensive to add. Including things like framed wall art, colorful rugs, and other office decor can improve how both you and any guests in your office will be able to enjoy the space.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: To be able to get a strong WiFi signal, you’ll need to have the router of your home WiFi network close to your office. As that’s not always possible, you might need to purchase devices that can help extend the overall reach of your WiFi signal in your home or can improve your computer or laptop’s ability to receive the signal.
There are several options you can choose between. WiFi extenders and repeaters are great options for helping your WiFI signal reach more of your home. Plugging one in the rest of your home or within your office between where the router and your computer are will address this issue. Other options you can consider are a powerline adapter, which can provide a wired or wireless connection to your WiFi, or a USB WiFI antenna for your computer, which will generally be the cheapest option.
If your work requires a strong, reliable connection, a powerline adapter may be your best bet. Wifi extenders and repeater work by extending the existing wireless signal, which can mean by the time it reaches your office/computer, it will be weaker. Powerline adapters, which work by connecting one to your router (in an outlet nearby) and one in your office, turn the electrical system in your home into an ethernet network.
That way the signal being output from the adapter in your office will be nearly as strong as if you were directly next to the router itself. If your job requires a highly reliable and powerful Internet connection, go with the wired powerline adapter. While it takes away the convenience of having a wireless connection, it will provide you with a stable and fast Internet connection you need.
A: When using a garage home office, you’ll need to take steps to protect your work equipment and office space from water damage and theft. For the first, you’ll need to waterproof your concrete floor, especially if you decide to leave the flooring uncovered or with only an epoxy coating. You can do that by coating the floor with a masonry waterproofer, like Drylok to prevent water and moisture from seeping in after heavy rain.
To protect your expensive equipment from theft, you’ll need to take measures that secure your garage. There are several options you can choose between, including adding a garage keypad, a garage door deadlock (which prevents it from being opened from the outside), or a garage door T-handle lock. If you have very expensive/important equipment, you should also consider purchasing outdoor security cameras to ward off intruders.
A: If you need to start working right away and want to convert your garage over time, you’ll need to get a fixed or adjustable desk, an ergonomic chair, extension cords, a power surger protector, lighting, a desk organizer, and a trash can. As you work in the space, you’ll be able to get a feel for what else you need and can begin to add garage flooring, office storage, ergonomic office equipment, and office decor.
Of course, if you live in an area where your garage can particularly hot, cold or humid, you may need to prioritize getting climate controlling devices like portable air conditioners, heaters, or dehumidifiers.
A: There are many types of projects within a garage-to-home-office conversion that homeowners can often do themselves, including even finishing an unfinished garage by adding insulation and drywall as well as flooring. However, if you need extensive work done to make your home office a professional space, it may be time to consider having professional work in addition to your own projects.
If your work involves bringing clients to your home office, it may be a worthwhile investment to have a professional do larger projects like adding a bathroom, installing additional lighting, adding an additional door for private access, and/or installing new outlets to make your space more functional.
While there’s a lot that you can do on your own to make your home office work for your needs, it may not be enough on its own in some cases. If your business depends on the impression your clients have of you and your workspace, bring in a professional to take your garage conversion to the next level so that you can work effectively and impress your clients.
A: Make sure that you have the right storage tools to keep both your desk and your entire home office organized. If you have designated storage space for everything you need to get your work done, it will be a lot easier to maintain a clean, productive work environment.
Be sure to get a sufficiently large desk, so you have enough space for any desktop equipment you use like monitors, a keyboard, and a computer mouse, as well as a standing desk converter or monitor stand. Then, you can add desk organizers for your important papers, writing utensils, and other items.
For those items that you don’t need to access as frequently, add larger, separate storage options like filing cabinets and other office storage options.