The Perfect Home Office

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We are all seeking ways to reduce costs to help weather the current economic storm. This is particularly true for those of us in business for ourselves. One of the simplest ways to reduce significant overhead costs from many small business owners is to work from home. There are ample dollar-related reasons to work from home: working from home eliminates rent or mortgage payments on a separate office, eliminates commuting costs, and reduces electrical, water utility, and internet fees. In addition, working from home recovers time lost to commuting, avoids office politics and distractions, and can allow for a more flexible work schedule. However, the idea of working from home makes many business people worried about how it will affect the balance between their professional and personal lives. They also worry about the professional image it portrays, their ability to avoid distractions and resist the temptation to stay in pajamas all day, and the amount of space that the home office will occupy in the house.

One simple way to mitigate these concerns is to set up your home office outside of your home in a separate outbuilding. By moving the home office just outside, and detached from the home, you can create a perfect setting that requires you to get dressed before leaving the house, keeps work (and that always nagging email) out of your personal space, and distances you from distractions found within the home. It also provides a professional setting for meeting clients and to have phone conversations without distractions in the background.

While a standard home-improvement store type shed probably does not meet most people’s idea of an ideal working environment, a custom shed can provide the perfect attractive and comfortable home office situation. A made-to-order shed can be designed to meet your exact home office needs, with ample day lighting, built-in storage and sited to enhance your backyard. Costs for a custom shed vary depending on size, details, and finishes, but generally start around $8,000 for an adequately sized and outfitted office space. Compare this cost to adding a comparable sized addition to your home, and the detached home office becomes an even more attractive alternative.

When planning for a comfortable detached home office, allow adequate room for a desk with rolling chair, office equipment such as a printer, fax and phone, and storage along with any other items necessary for your office to function properly. Also consider taking advantage of common shed space-saving ideas such as loft storage and built-in cabinets and shelves. Plan electrical, phone and internet outlet locations to complement the space plan. Another important item to allow for is ample daylight; installing French doors and windows on at least two walls can make a small office feel more open and spacious. Heating and cooling requirements vary based on local climate, but a space heater or wall AC unit may be all that is needed if floors, walls and ceilings of the outbuilding are fully insulated. Finish the space off with pleasant interior materials, colors, and furnishings rather than standard institutional finishes and you will have a functional and satisfying home office. Couple this with some good backyard gardening skills, and your twenty-second morning commute can become the most anticipated part of your day.


Posted on December 17, 2008 10:13 pm
  1. Jay Kerr

    Fabulous article. You can save a lot of money in the long term by creating a home office. I figure that I now save $23K a year by having a home office instead of renting, driving to work, eating out every day etc. I just wrote a similar article about the pros and cons of a home office.

    In these lean times I don’t think you can go wrong by “going home”.

  2. Steve Quillian

    What a great idea! I like the thought of having that much more time to spend with my family. Not to mention the possible write-off as a business expense!


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