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Home PLUS office? design

LHardin's picture

My husband are I are looking to build and we are having a real problem finding home plans that incorporate a business in the home. I am a marketing consultant and work from home. My clients are all over the country so I rarely have clients here. I do have a college intern part time.

My husband is an professor/accountant/tax consultant/writer.  He sometimes has clients come for meetings, has an assistant during tax season, and sometimes has a 2nd accountant here as tax season gets hot and heavy. 

 We live in an old (though remodeled) Craftsman cottage that I love, but when we have clients in, they have to march right through the living area and kitchen to get to his office. There is no room to remodel further on this lot. We have 4 bedrooms which is now more like 3 offices and 1 bedroom. We use the dining room as a conference area when more than 2 people show up at once. We are being overrun with filing cabinets in the garage.

I'm thinking we should build a home with a wing, or some sort of courtyard arrangement with office to one side and our private spaces to the other. I'm looking to give us more privacy in our living quarters. A 2nd entrance to the office area also looks to be necessary.  We would prefer not to do a 2 story (unless we install an elevator) because of husband's knee problems. I have been all over the Internet looking at plans and can't find anything that addresses this particular situation - plenty with dens or offices, but nothing where the residents are seriously doing full blown, full time work from home. Anyone seen anything like this? Or do I have to find an architect? Help!

(post #175930, reply #1 of 8)

Your needs are too specific to find stock plans for such a thing.  This is a good example of when the services of an experienced professional are worthwhile.

Just think of all the trouble people might get into trying to set up wills, trusts, business plans, estate plans, incorporation, and so forth by going to the bookstore and buying some forms where they would just fill in the blanks.  It would be similar to your situation.  For a building you describe you'll be spending $250,000 to $500,000?  The way the building functions for you (and the way it makes you feel to be there is part of function) is greatly determined by the skill with which it is created.  There are considerations with regard to code, taking into account the site (views, orientation to the sun and wind, traffic, parking, topography, soil conditions), privacy, security, aesthetics, services, accessibility, what kind of office space you need (waiting areas, conference rooms, audiovisual), what kind of professional image you wish to convey, whether or not you entertain in your home, how separated you want to be from home when you are working, how guests can tell which entrance is for clients and which is for friends, what type of environment fosters the creative activities of study and writing, cost, maintainability, energy efficiency, and so forth.

Just like you would help clients through complex matters in your professions, you'll get much better results from working with a architect.  It's what architects are for.

(post #175930, reply #2 of 8)

I was pretty sure that's what you were going to say. So, how do I find an architect in very-small-town-America? The yellow pages shows three, and I know for a fact that 2 of them are not trained architects, they are builders, and that's just not the same.

If I have to leave town for this, where do I find an architect who has some knowledge/experience of just this kind of issue? I have poured thru books and magazines and don't really see this issue addressed - surely other people are working from home?

I don't just want to throw a dart at the yellow pages or a directory. We remodeled a kitchen 6 years ago and hired a "kitchen designer". We spent time answering all the form, function and "how will you use this" questions and paid her well. The plans were a disaster! No flow, ugly design - she just didn't "get" us. We paid her promptly and then threw out the plans and did it ourselves. The kitchen is beautiful and works well. (Didn't hurt that the general contractor was very experienced and a genius).

I don't mind paying someone to do what they do best, while I do what I do so I can pay for it. But how do I find someone who does this best?

(post #175930, reply #3 of 8)

My father was a builder for 25 years and you pick up a lot of experience in that time that is valuable. Just because they aren't licensed architects does not mean they don't have good ideas or haven't done a project like yours before.  So I would give them a chance to show you some plans or photos of previous projects they have worked on.

I have seen plans on the internet for projects similar to what you are talking about when we were building our office.  We did not find any that were exactly what we wanted so we ended up doing our own.  We are residential remodelers and both our of fathers are in the construction business so we have a background in this sort of thing.  If you don't have a history in the business I would not attempt to do it all yourself but there is nothing wrong with sketching up your basic idea and taking it to someone for them to base their design on.

If you talk to the locals and are just not impressed with their work you can find an architect. Try going here  This is like going to the bar association to find a lawyer. 

(post #175930, reply #4 of 8)

"... the general contractor was very experienced and a genius). I don't mind paying someone to do what they do best, while I do what I do so I can pay for it. But how do I find someone who does this best?

Unless s/he is deceased, I'd ask the GC. Good professionals like to work with other good professionals, so that is probably your best lead for finding a good architect.

Tend to agree w/ the other (post #175930, reply #5 of 8)

Tend to agree w/ the other poster ... with the activities you describe, talk w/ a professional. You didn't fill out your profile, so don't know where you are located.

Home office w/ occasional clients ... important to have some separation w/ the private side of the house. Many ways to do that. I had a similar situation. I used my entry sunspace as the split between my office and house and it worked well. You can have the same entry or you can separate the entries with similar results.

Well planned, though can be important. If you are really working a lot from your home office, it makes a lot of sense to have it well planned so that you can enjoy it and keep it separate from your private life.

There ain't NO free lunch. Not no how, not no where!

Clewless, buddy............. (post #175930, reply #6 of 8)

Check the dates on these old threads.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


DANG!!! WASTING MY TIME ON (post #175930, reply #7 of 8)

DANG!!! WASTING MY TIME ON OLD STUFF ... thanks for the heads up and reminder ....

What the hey ... they are all old posts!!!!?????   I'm about ready to can this site. The activity after the change is just not there. What we used to see in the responses on certain topics ... it just isn't there. A guy might be luck to get a half dozen responses to a good solid question/topic where before, people would be falling all over themselves to put in their two cents.

There ain't NO free lunch. Not no how, not no where!

Sometimes more is better............ (post #175930, reply #8 of 8)

and sometimes it's not.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.