Out of the many changes COVID-19 has brought about in Calgary, one of the most prominent has been around work. Where we work, when we work and how we work have all been turned upside down.
People are finding themselves creating workspaces wherever they can in their household, often beside kids who are doing online learning and potentially their spouse or partner who is also hard at work.
All of this has us looking to create more space in our homes, so if you are ready to carve out a working area in your home, we’re here to provide you the kind of insight and inspiration that only a general contractor can offer.
1. Think about the space you have
So you want to build a work area. Great! What kind of space do you have to work with? Are you considering working out of a spare bedroom, or modifying your basement? Are you going to be sharing the space with anyone else? Your partner? A family member? Your kids? This all matters, because if you think that you’ll be able to create a place for you to crush work while your kids also do their online schooling, you’re going to need more space than a spare bedroom, or den will allow.
Maybe you don’t have the budget (or the time) to finally build out your unfinished basement so you need to start with a single room. Before you sit down to start thinking about the rest of the project, you have to analyze the space in your home and how it will work best for you.
2. Think about your work style
Do you need quiet and concentration? Do you have a lot of hardware (monitors, device mounts, etc) you use in your day to day? Do you require a lot of desk space? Do you need to store paperwork? Again, these are very important questions to think about when it comes to a home office. For some of us, we might be able to get away with a small writing desk and a laptop, while others might require a much more substantial desk and work area in our day to day.
3. Safety first
We aren’t doing our job unless we talk about safety and building codes, so let’s make sure your new office has a smoke detector. All bedrooms in Calgary are required by law to have an egress window, and also smoke detectors we highly suggest you make sure that is part of your new workspace as well. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in there, so if there’s a fire emergency, you need a secondary means of escape aside from the door. This is mainly going to be a factor in existing basement rooms, that may have been created without windows, or windows that a human could escape from. Besides saving your life in a fire, windows add badly-needed natural light. Speaking of which…
Pot lighting can offer a much more dynamic and energetic feeling.
Decent, functional lighting is really going to make a difference in how you feel about a place you could be spending over 8 hours a day inside. A simple 2 bulb ballast is just fine for a spare bedroom, but it’s going to get tiresome and stale, not to mention hard on your eyes, over the course of a few work weeks. Our team can work with you to come up with a lighting plan that will suit your needs and budget, whether it involves a new ballast and bulbs, pot lights (our favorite), or even a new skylight or sun tunnel (a very cool innovation). You can also think about upgrading your windows. For a first or second story room, installing a larger window can offer more natural light and give a feeling of more space. Lastly, if you are adding in cabinets or a custom desk, our trade partners have tons of options for cool and unique valance lighting to add an extra dimension.
5. Cabinetry and Storage
Creating a flexible work space in your home could also require storage of some kind. If a room is getting built from scratch, be sure to include a closet. There could be a day when your family expands and that new bundle of joy needs a place to sleep, so be forward thinking and include room for a closet. As we mentioned earlier, you may find yourself needing space for filing, and we can recommend many different styles of custom cabinetry to build around your workspace to keep it functional and orderly. Custom cabinets can also include a custom, permanently mounted desk to create a fully unique working environment.
6. Cables & Electric
Your new room is going to need power. Older homes are notorious for being skimpy on power outlets, so you may want to consider adding in more for your working needs. Will you need cat-5 inputs? A phone line? How is your wi-fi signal? You might need to have more than just power coming into the space, so it’s better to get it sorted after you get the walls built than after.
A wet bar isn’t out of the question if you have the space
It might seem ridiculous to be talking about plumbing when it comes to a work space, but if you have the room and capacity, it’s not out of the question. How far away is your new space from the washroom? Adding in a 2 piece powder room will help you cut down on distractions when you otherwise need to head elsewhere in your home and with your kids or other family members at home a lot more, an extra toilet in the home never hurts. If you’re a serious coffee drinker (or any kind of beverage drinker), there’s also potential to have a waterline or even a full wet bar installed to create a sanctuary where you never have to leave (unless you want to).
Speaking of distractions, how many calls are you on a day? Again, if there’s already a lot going on inside of your home, you may need some help to trim out the noise and chaos. Adding in soundproofing features like double layer gypsum board and resilient channel can go a long way in dampening external noise.
Vinyl flooring can offer up a very clean and comfortable look.
Office chairs and residential carpet are often a bad mix. Maybe your new space will be shared with kids (always messy) or will also serve as a workout area (who knows when the gym will open!)? There’s also potential that the new office area will be built in your unfinished basement, so flooring needs to come into the conversation. As always, there’s no shortage of options with our trade partners from hardwood to laminate to industrial carpeting, but if we had a floor covering to choose, it would be LVT tile with sound reduction underpad. It’s quiet, comfortable and easy to clean.
COVID isn’t going to last forever, so that doesn’t mean your work space has to stay the same. We’ve got tons of ideas around flexibility in these situations, whether it’s a murphy desk that can fold out of the way to allow for a bedroom, or a space that has an open-concept feel during the morning and early afternoon, but converts into a kids play area or TV room later on, we can make it happen. If your house needs space, or just the right kind of space, our team is ready to get rolling. Contact us today to give yourself the home office, learning area or functional room necessary to keep your life rolling.