Start your empire (and not an engine) in your garage

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Choose Your Room

Converting your garage into an office space may seem like a good idea at the time, but consider your options before you commit. If you need a home office that’s more spacious than a spare room, and enables you to shut off from the noise of home life, then converting your garage is your best option. But, if you work from home so that you can keep a constant eye on the kids, it may work better to just convert your spare room.

See more: Getting your home office to work for you

Clear It Out

All too often, converting a spare room or garage turns into a half-effort, where the office space serves as a workplace and storeroom combined. Don’t do it! It gets all too easy to keep adding to the clutter, so commit to your conversion, and be ruthless when clearing it out. If you must, use every single one of Marie Kondo’s best tips, and enjoy the process of letting things go.

Read more: Marie Kondo's top tidying up tips

Storeroom, No More

Once you’ve cleared out and cleaned it up, you’ll need to find a different storage space, so think carefully about your options. It may work for you to install a wooden shed in the garden, to use as a storage facility for your tools, bicycles, and all the items that used to live in your garage. Alternatively, a storeroom under the house could be put to good use, or re-organise your guest room to create sufficient storage space.

Your Car’s New Home

Of course, converting your garage into an office space is going to have a significant effect on one of your most important assets: your family’s cars. Typically, parking your car inside a garage is a great way to keep it safe and protected from nature’s elements. If your car’s old home is going to become your office, however, you’ll need to think about how to solve this new home for your car conundrum. We suggest:

  • Considering ways to scale back on the number of cars your family uses: Do you really need two cars? Would it be more cost-effective to cut down to one, and then use ride-hailing services, like Uber?
  • Installing a carport: Find a suitable space in your garden to install a car port and buy a cover for your car, to protect it from dust, dirt, and weather conditions.
  • Building another garage: It might seem like a silly solution, but this might just be the best option for you, especially if your family only uses one car and there’s enough space within your property for a small garage.

Don’t Skimp

Creating a professional, effective office space for your home business means you’ll need to spend money on it. That’s not to say you need to blow your budget or forget about finding quirky solutions to your new office problems, but it’s better to get the professionals in when making such a huge change to your home. For this, we recommend:

  • Calling in the experts: That means finding a professional, reputable, and correctly qualified home renovation specialist.
  • Assessing your home plans: Work with your appointed professional team to ensure the renovation you plan on undertaking won’t affect the integrity of your home’s frame. You may need to apply for a building permit or have your plans approved by your municipality and body corporate, before you can convert your garage into an office.
  • Checking for problems: Make sure that your planned renovation doesn’t affect any of your home’s plumbing, load-bearing beams, electrical wires, or similar. It would be awful to discover you’ve hit an important water pipe, while installing those lovely downlights.

Open It Up

Garages are famous for being terribly ventilated, so your first plan of action needs to focus on improving that. Remember that, the more natural light you’re able to usher in to your new office space, the better it is for your health and it’ll help keep your utility bills down. Installing big windows, and replacing the roll-up door with a sliding door are two good ways to do this. You may also want to install air-conditioning for those hot summer months: if your budget doesn’t extend to doing that immediately, plan for it anyway.

Paint And Renovate

Once all the structural changes have been made to your new office, it’s time to get inspired and add your personal touch to this professional space. Choose soothing paint colours for the walls, and start decorating your office space in a way that reflects your work and personality.

Pick The Right Equipment

Your home office should be fitted with comfortable, functional equipment that supports the work you do. That means it’s time to shop! If you can, aim to create more desk space than you think you need, and install ‘too many’ shelves. We’ll save you the thinking time on this one: you can never have enough shelves or desk space!

Read more: 10 rules for working from home.

Get Connected

Before you open for business, and settle in to your new space, do yourself a big favour: check your Internet connection. If you’ve assumed your home WiFi network provides adequate coverage for your new office, check again. You may need to add a booster facility to your network, or improve your bandwidth facilities to ensure your new office can function optimally. You don’t want to waste time at your new desk, troubleshooting a flimsy Internet connection.

Enjoy your first day in your new office!

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