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Home Improvement 2006  

Favorite projects

  Our interactive package takes you on a room-by-room tour of new ideas at various cost levels.
Remodeling room by room
  Home office  

Project: Home office remodel
Many home offices have to be multifunctional, doubling as a guest bedroom, kids' playroom, hobby room or game room. Or a couple might share the space, each with different business needs.
What that means in a remodel: plenty of preplanning and lots of thought about phone lines, electricity, outlets and wiring.
A midlevel home-office renovation averages $13,143, according to the most recent survey by Remodeling magazine. And you get about 72.8 percent of that cost back when you sell.
The big trend: more power. Office machines, computers, entertainment systems and gaming systems use a lot of electricity. If you're doing a remodel, you want to look at all the ways you'll use the room. Then consider what machinery you have now and what you plan to add over the next few years.
Lighting is also more important. Homeowners are mixing different sources and types of light (natural, incandescent) from a variety of fixtures (task lighting, overhead, indirect).
And, like every other remodeling project, homeowners are personalizing the home office, adding mementos or design touches of their own.
DIYers can handle a number of home-office projects. Wiring is something best left to the pros, "but an earnest DIYer can do wall and ceiling patching, painting and, depending on their abilities, assemble office furniture," says Paul Winans, chairman of the board for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
What should you look for in a professional? A contractor with plenty of experience with home offices and access to pros skilled in handling special wiring needs. "The average electrician can't deal with Cat 5 wiring," says Winans. "So your contractor might have to bring in a specialist."
A good contractor also will suggest ways to upgrade as new technology becomes available. "With every advance, it gets more complicated," says Winans. "It's hard to anticipate what the needs will be down the road. So if you can, have a contractor run more wire or run in a flexible conduit. That gives you greater flexibility and won't entail tearing the walls up."

Picture courtesy of
-- Posted: April 12, 2006

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