Cleared Garage Bay

Office Update

My home office has come a long way from the bend in the hallway where I used to work. And now it’s time to take the next step.

Why build my own home office, when I’ve got a perfectly good bedroom in the house that will do? Well, there are a few reasons. But they might all boil down to one reason: we home school our four kids. That means that a) we have kids and b) they’re home all day. To drive the point home, the oldest three are boys and if not kept completely occupied they will yell and scream, either while playing together or fighting together.

So yeah, it’s loud in the house. A bedroom upstairs just doesn’t block out the sound. Sure, I use background noise, listen to music, and keep the door shut.

It’s not enough.

So I’ve tested the sound qualities of the new office. It’s a garage bay separated from the house by an insulated wall. In addition, on the home side, the wall has built-in shelving and a fireplace, providing additional sound protection. I’ve had the kids sit in our family room and yell while I listened from the garage bay. I can hear them, barely. It’s ten times better than the bedroom I work from now.

So what’s left to do?

Well, I’ve had four contractors come by to give me bids for the work to turn our garage bay into a home office. Three of the four eliminated themselves pretty easily. One emailed me before getting a bid back to say that he was bowing out. One wouldn’t give me an estimate – he works primarily in commercial, but does residential only on recommendation by family and friends. A third sent me an excuse for not getting an estimate within the week, and now, two weeks later, hasn’t communicated since. But my first estimate was from a guy I’d helped move a year ago, and he’s been responsive to my questions and ideas. He’s busy, so he hasn’t been able to start yet, but I feel confident that he’ll do a good job.

The process of getting multiple bids from different contractors was good. I was able to discuss the unknowns with four different people who all approached them from different perspectives. One big unknown for me was how to handle heating and AC. We live in Boise, ID, where it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Of the four different contractors, I got three different approaches to the AC/heating problem. One recommended a window AC unit and baseboard heating. Two recommended pulling a duct from the home system. Another recommended a mini-split system. Each approach had its pros and cons: initial cost, efficiency, control. I actually liked all three ideas well enough, so this wasn’t a deciding factor. I could probably convince the contractor I have to go with any of the three, but I’m sticking with his recommendation of a mini-split system. Though the up-front cost will be a little higher, it should be the most efficient, won’t put extra load on our home AC/furnace, and it will give me more control over the office temperature, independent of the home. The fact that we can crowd the whole family into the office when our home AC inevitably goes out is also a nice benefit.

So, having picked a contractor and worked out the HVAC plan, the next step was clearing the garage bay. It was still full of random stuff from our move last summer, as it became the default storage room for the house. Actually, the process started before the contractors came. I began by moving stuff piecemeal over a few weeks. Once it was clear enough for the contractors to come in, move around, and look things over, I did that, and continued the piecemeal clear out. Then, last Saturday, I spent a few hours moving all the rest, taking down wall mounted shelving, etc. The only thing remaining to do is sweep it out before actual work begins.

Cleared Garage Bay
Cleared Garage Bay

And that’s where I’m at now.