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A Garage Office – Creating a viable work space

Garage office

A garage office can be the perfect solution to creating a viable workspace in your home. It is a great opportunity to convert a part of all of the low-value house space into a conducive work area free from the noise and distraction of the main house.

Here are some simple steps to follow to turn a garage into a workspace:

  1. Determine your budget for the conversion project.
  2. Check if you need planning permission from local authorities before making structural changes.
  3. Clear out the garage space, get rid of unwanted items, and clean thoroughly.
  4. Design an efficient layout for the office, considering furniture placement and storage needs.
  5. Make necessary structural changes like removing walls, adding windows, or reinforcing walls.
  6. Replace the garage door with a solid door with a lock for security.
  7. Ensure proper electrical wiring and install additional power sockets as needed.
  8. Install insulation, ventilation, and consider underfloor heating if required.
  9. Choose appropriate flooring like vinyl or laminate instead of concrete.
  10. Set up proper lighting, including natural light from windows if possible.
  11. Install a reliable WiFi network or extend your home’s network to the garage.
  12. Decorate the space with a professional colour scheme and purchase necessary office furniture.
  13. Get all the required equipment like a computer, printer, scanner, and other supplies.
  14. Ensure adequate insurance coverage for your office equipment and potential liabilities.
  15.  Install a security system with CCTV cameras or an alarm for protection.
  16. Establish a work schedule and set boundaries between work and personal life.

The key steps involve assessing the space, making structural changes, setting up utilities, decorating professionally, ensuring security, and establishing work-life boundaries. Read on for further detail on these important steps.

1. Determine Your Budget

The first step to any project is knowing what your budget is. Creating a home office works just like renovating any part of the house – you will need to work within the money you have available to complete the project.

Essential factors to include when creating a budget include:

  • The cost of installations needed such as electrical works or adding insulation during the renovation
  • The cost of purchasing new furniture and office equipment 
  • Insurance costs and necessary ones to have
  • Ongoing or extra running costs such as increased energy bills and internet

Having a defined idea of how much money you want to spend on converting your garage to a home office will ease the planning process.

2. Check if You Need Planning Permission

Find out if you need planning permission to convert the garage into an office. It is often not a requirement but there could be exceptions depending on limitations like the tenancy agreement of the property. You should also check with your local authority before converting the space, especially if any major structural work is required.

For example, buildings that have a garage attached to the main house might need planning permission before making any structural change like the removal of some internal walls.

It is also important to get planning permission if you reside in a listed building or conservation area that usually has stricter rules about making structural changes to their property.

You should consider speaking to a qualified planner if you have questions about whether you need planning permission. Their experience can be useful in safely negating the garage conversion process.

3. Clear Out the Garage

Proceed to clear out the garage after confirmation of whether you need permission to convert the garage space. The clearing-out process is to get rid of unwanted items and will also help you to see exactly what remedial works are needed.

You can utilise the opportunity to declutter and make some extra income from the sales of unwanted items online or as car boot sales. The additional earnings can serve as part of your payment for new office functions or conversion costs. Ensure you clean and sweep the garage after clearing out the unwanted items.

4. Work Out the Space

Work out how much space you need to create a truly functional office. Key factors here include the type of work that you do and the type and amount of equipment needed. Having a big space or a double garage can save you the stress of thinking but you might want to be creative in a smaller space. Either way, proper planning can help you get the most comfort from any workspace.

5. Design the Layout

The next step to working out how much space you need is designing the layout. A proposed workplace design should cover the arrangement of work items and the type of furniture needed.

For example, you need large desks and chairs for people if your work routine involves having office meetings. Another person who works alone probably only needs a small desk and a few shelves.

Other important design considerations for the office layout include planning where to fix the windows and the best position for desks and furniture. Also consider how much storage you need before optimising the available space.

Many people ignore these simple details and later end up wasting valuable office space or purchasing furniture that does not fit the office style. It is best to have a defined layout before making changes to the garage or arrangement of items for the new workspace.

6. Make any Necessary Structural Changes

There is always the possibility that you need to make some structural changes to get the perfect home office. Examples include removing internal walls, reinforcing the external walls or having more windows.

Some people carry out the changes themselves or outsource to professional builders. We usually recommend the latter, especially for complex structural changes and safety considerations. You might want to ensure that the structures remain stable and do not later fail.

7. Change the Garage Doors

The default door types for most garages are roller doors or the up-and-over ones that do not depict a professional office space. Those doors are great if the garage is converted to a storage room but you will need more classy door types if you are setting up a home office, especially if you plan to invite visitors to the space.

In addition to having better aesthetics, make sure the new doors are safe, secure and robust enough to protect your equipment and work materials..

8. Rewire the Garage

The electrical wiring of the garage is important if you plan to use electrical equipment in your new home office. Contact a professional electrician to check the wiring and fix worn-out sockets. You might also need to check the fuse box especially if your job involves heavy machinery that uses electricity.

9. Add Windows

Your garage office space is not complete without windows for ventilation and allowing the presence of natural lighting to freshen up the air but you might need to obtain permission from your local authority before installing windows in the garage office.

A good office window must be secured and strong enough to withstand some impact. Building experts also recommend installing security bars as extra protection for the window spaces.

10. Install Insulation and Ventilation

Due to their primary purposes, garages are often not very well insulated. Consider installing insulation in the walls and ceilings to keep your home office space warm in the winter and cool in the summer for optimal working environments all year around. You should also have ventilation systems or dehumidifiers if needed to prevent condensation or damp challenges.

  1. Choose the Right Flooring

Flooring is another important component of an ideal office. Most garages will have a cold concrete floor as that’s suitable for their intended use, but if you want to make this more office friendly, you could consider covering the floor with vinyl or laminate flooring to trap dust and create a more professional aesthetic.

The type of flooring you use must depict a professional setting and should be easy to clean. You could also consider underfloor heating options if the space tends to be chilly.

12. Add Lighting

The type of lighting you install has a significant effect on the aesthetics and productivity of your office space. Good lighting will provide enough light for the work that you’re doing without needing to strain your eyes. Natural light should always be preferred, but will need supplementing with internal lighting for the winter months.

There are different artificial lighting alternatives and the best one depends on your intended office design. We recommend fluorescent lights for garages because of their brightness and energy efficiency. LED lights are another option if you want energy-efficient lamps but they are more costly.

13. Install WiFi

More people rely on WiFi connections in their homes and this is even more essential to ensure that work can be completed in your home office too. It is optional if your garage is attached to the house and uses the same network but if there is a large distance between your home router and garage office space, you may need a signal booster or even its own wifi connection.

A WiFi extension can also be helpful to boost the connectivity signal in your garage. It is more important when the office space is large or has walls and obstructing structures that can affect the signal strength of the router to the garage.

14. Decorate the Office

The fun part of creating a viable workspace involves the finishing touches like decoration that makes the space personal to you and your business and hopefully somewhere where you will want to work!

Whether you go minimalist with a few fresh flowers or want to go to town with bold prints and paints on the walls, this is the time to bring the project together with a well thought-out colour scheme, materials and items.

Consider wall-mounted shelves for proper organisation of documents and some work items. A well-decorated office portrays a professional image while looking organised with a neat set-up.

15. Purchase Computers and Other Necessary Equipment

It is necessary to get certain equipment when moving from a traditional office to a home office for the first time. That includes a computer, printer, scanner and other office supplies that enable you to carry out your work duties especially when it is a personal space.

You can also consider high-quality ergonomic chairs and desks instead of regular pieces of furniture. The idea of a home office is getting the best comfort needed for optimal productivity that a regular office might not provide.

16. Get Insurance for Your New Office

Getting a good insurance plan is another step towards creating a viable workspace in your home. For some people, they struggle to see the importance of insuring a home office especially when they already have a home insurance policy.

The truth is that some of these insurance policies have limitations and might not cover the operation of a business office from home. You need insurance for your new office against damage and theft of office equipment and furniture.

Liability insurance is also necessary for people who plan to have visiting customers and work colleagues. Having this type of insurance protects you in case an accident or injury occurs to anyone on your property.

There are other insurance types to consider depending on the nature of your business. We have professional indemnity insurance that protects you against claims of losses or damage to clients because of negligence in a service you offer.

17. Install a Security System

Install a security system, especially if your garage is not part of the main building of your home to detract burglars and thieves from attempting to breakin.

One of the best security practices for a home office is getting CCTV cameras to survey and act as a deterrent to intruders. It is useful in investigating suspicious activities on your premises and keeping watch over expensive work equipment.

Another effective alternative is to install an alarm system that alerts you via your phone when a certain security system is breached.

18. Start Working

Once you’ve got the new workspace set up and functional, it is time to start working. Be sure to set healthy boundaries when working from home so you still have distinct working and relaxing time, despite not needing to move far from you home to engage in work mode.

One good solution is to make the new garage office feel like a real office as much as possible. You should also draft out a schedule of when to start work, break times and what time to leave work.

Your approach to working from home will significantly affect how other people in your house respect your new office and privacy during your work hours. You can explain to your children or partner who are around what times you will be working so they do not disturb you during those hours. These simple strategies can help to create a healthy work/personal life balance.

Final Thoughts

Creating a viable workspace from the comfort of your home or garage is an excellent idea but requires lots of planning. You can do this on a tight budget or really go to town with all the mod cons if you are able to.

The new home office is one where you will be spending a lot of time and it is important to make it very convenient and conducive to a productive working space – whatever that may look like for you.

You should also prioritise setting up security systems like CCTV and alarms to protect the expensive equipment. More importantly, contact your local authorities for permission if the conversion of the garage to an office requires significant structural changes.

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