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Remodeling your home office

ImprovingCosts: On average, $10,526, according to 2002 figures from Remodeling magazine, an industry trade publication.

Value added: 55 percent of the remodeling dollar comes back at resale, according to Remodeling. "Of all the projects we track, this returns the least," says Jim Cory, a senior editor. In some parts of the country there's not much demand for the home office. But in others, especially larger metro areas, it can be a big selling point.

New trends: "Technology is really the king of the home office," says Lou Manfredini, author of Mr. Fix-It Introduces You to Your Home.

Features to consider: How many phone lines do you need? Would quad outlets, as opposed to the standard two-plug residential variety, better accommodate your computer, fax, scanner, etc.? How much power will you need in the room, and might you need an extra circuit? Where do you need to place certain machines to be most efficient, and where will you need outlets?

And where is the room, in relation to the rest of the house? Do you need total quiet or do you want to be able to keep an eye on the kids?

Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: "Think through whether you have the proper amount of knee space," says Darius Baker, certified remodeler and committee vice chairman for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. "Allow enough room for the computer [so that you] still have room to work."

 

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Want to get the latest technology without rewiring the house? Do what "This Old House" general contractor Tom Silva does in his own home, go wireless.

New products: "Everything is getting smaller," says Manfredini, a home improvement expert for Ace Hardware Corp. Space-savers, like flat monitors, smaller CPUs and folding, adjustable keyboard trays, are great options to save space. Also, pros are installing Category 5 wiring to handle current and future technological needs. For a clean look, electricians "fish" the wiring through the walls, through several holes in the drywall, putting an end to the tangle of electrical cords.

Special problems: What's modern today could be mothballed tomorrow. Just like a corporate office, the home office needs to prepare for upgrades. "That little bit of planning up front will make your job a lot easier," says Manfredini.

Biggest mistake: Do-it-yourselfers, unless they are part-time electrical contractors, don't do a neat job with all the wiring needed for a totally modern office. Home offices also need enough outlets. And, whoever is doing the job, don't skimp on the lighting.

Professional or DIY: Homeowners can probably install storage, paint and hang new closet doors. "They can do plaster, tile, blueboard -- it depends on where their expertise lies," says Silva. But for rewiring, call a pro.

-- Posted: July 1, 2003

 

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