Computer consultant Rod Roesch got a comfortable new waterfront office with lots of windows and good ventilation, not by climbing the corporate ladder, but by remodeling his home.
Although home offices are usually achieved by converting a spare bedroom or corner of the family room, when the business is in the home, offices seem to eventually require remodeling. The reasons cited most often for remodeling are the need for greater comfort, privacy, room for equipment and space to accommodate work.
"You can't gauge what I did with a tape measure," Roesch said of his remodeled Huntington Beach condominium that is headquarters for his Computer Systems Analysis Co. "The new office is the same size as the old office, but it has ambience, and everything fits."
Roesch, who spends at least three days a week in his home office, feels that comfort and convenience are important to productivity. He said that the location of doors, closets and an offset wall made it impossible to properly arrange his old office, so he added a 12-by-15-foot second floor designed exclusively as an office.
In another Huntington Beach home, a formal dining room was remodeled into an office by Newport Beach general contractor Andrew Miner as part of a renovation of his brother Edgar's house.
"We put glass interior doors on the home office for more light and visibility and to create a more pleasant working environment," Andrew Miner said.
Other office remodeling steps included refinishing the walls and ceilings, removing the brick facade from the fireplace to make room for bookshelves and routing telephone, computer, electrical and other wiring along baseboards before putting down new carpeting.
Other home office remodelers have taken less drastic steps:
* An Anaheim man divided his two-car garage down the middle with a self-supporting stud wall and hung a suspended ceiling from the garage rafters to enclose 180 square feet.
* A Garden Grove couple converted their unused formal living room into an office for his auto restoration business and a work area for her leaded glass business. They erected free-standing modular office partitions and hung doors in the entry to close the room off from the rest of the house.
* A family-operated mailing service in Tustin took over the entire garage and all but the kitchen and dining nook of the ground floor of a two-story home. Except for meals, the parents and two adult children live upstairs in their bedrooms and a TV/family room over the garage.
* Newport Beach architect Dick Natland created his home office by commandeering the family's television room and erecting a bookcase in the hallway to hide the entry door. Natland chose the 12-by-18-foot television room because it has an outside entry.
"I wanted the outside entrance for when clients or contractors come to visit and for deliveries of drawings. Also, I wanted to be forced to go outside to get to my office."
By blocking off the interior entry to the room, he could keep his children from getting into the office and guarantee himself the privacy he believes is essential for a business atmosphere.
Natland arranged the room to incorporate a reception area, equipped it with a drawing table that can be converted to a conference table and set up other furnishings and equipment to create a pleasant, comfortable working environment.
Laguna Beach architect Blair Ballard said that although home offices are a growing requirement in new home designs, the home office idea is still new in the remodeling market.
"I think most people are afraid of the IRS and so are afraid to make a big investment in a home office or to claim a tax deduction for one," he said.
Contractor Miner agreed. "I think (home office) remodeling is a step-sister to the new home office concept. But it is becoming more acceptable to work out of your home, and so I expect to see more home office remodeling work in the future," he said.
If you are thinking of remodeling to add or renovate a home office, Miner offers this advice: Take a good look at your needs, create a wish list to work from, and consult with a contractor to find out what are the financial realities.
"In some cases you might find that what you want is not feasible, but I think you'll find you can create comfort--a pleasant environment--at little cost. Most rooms don't need a lot of expensive work," he said.
\o7 Readers are invited to send Home Office questions and ideas to Home Office, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.\f7