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Home office or office next door: pros & cons?

Hi,

Our tiny software company is currently inside our house (upstairs in a 12 x 14  room plus a storage closet, etc.).

We're considering moving to a larger house (we now have 3 kids).

One option we're considering is a house that has a detached workshop (about 14 x 23') with A/C and heat, etc.

BENEFITS OF THE DETACHED BUILDING
1. Quieter
2. Easier to have additional employees.
3. Marginally eaiser to write off cost on taxes.
(It actually is pretty easy to do this with an in-house office too, as long as the whole room is used for the business.

BENEFITS OF IN-HOUSE OFFICE
1. Easier to pop in to do a bit of work while watching one of the children (say, baby Olivia, who's 7 months old). 

2.  Easier to access office resources, network connection, phone, etc.
If we want to go look at something on the internet, etc., we'd need to walk to the office.  Not a big deal unless it's raining or 30 degrees (F) outside.

3. Easier (mentally) to "leave work".


ANY OTHER BENEFITS of either one?

Entrepreneur
Thursday, July 03, 2003

OOPPS!!  #3 under in-house should have been listed under DETACHED office.

Entrepreneur
Thursday, July 03, 2003

"Easier to access office resources, network connection, phone, etc.
If we want to go look at something on the internet, etc., we'd need to walk to the office.  Not a big deal unless it's raining or 30 degrees (F) outside."

I'm not sure I get this - do you mean if the office is in the other building there will be no computers in the house?

Overall, I'd go with the detached building - I work in an office in the basement and even though the family knows I work here and that "Daddy is at work" I still get interrupted one or more times/day.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Yes, there would be no computers in the house.

OR, if there WERE computers in the house, we'd have the additional trouble of running an ethernet connection from the extra building to the house.

(So, I'd probably just NOT have computers in the house. No sense in spending another $500 + cabling + lost space in the house just for another internet connection.)

TIP: have you posted a note on the door to your office that says "Daddy's working " ?

Or perhaps having some disincentive for interruptions?

Entrepreneur
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Actually, no to the sign, and I need to start.

Regarding the connection - wireless. 802.11b. 11Mbps is plenty fast for an internet connection. Then you can have one terminal in the house for 'net connectivity.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Children grow up to be teenagers. Businesses can grow too. These are both arguments in favor of having the detached office, if you plan to stay in this house long enough for your kids or your business to grow to adolescence.

Teenagers, at least in my experience, pay absolutely no attention to rules. Thus requests like "please keep the noise level down" or "please don't download Kazaa and tie up our Internet connection" have no effect whatsoever. Teenagers are also impulsively curious and will poke around in your files and try to get into your computer when you're away. All arguments for having a detached, and locked, office.

Brad
Thursday, July 03, 2003

My 2c.:
I think that the tax implications of a detached building are different from a room in your house.  That is, you can't necessarily take the "home offic deduction" on a detached building.

However, relying solely on my memory would be a bad idea.  ;)

-Rich

Rich
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Rich - only in that you can actually take a full office deduction, which is easier.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'd have a few questions:

- Do you have to meet clients in your office? I'd guess no.

- If you have multiple people, are their activities compatible with each other? For example, if you have several people, and they are all doing software development, that is fine. However, if you have significant marketing, sales, or customer support activities, someone will be on the telephone a lot, and may disturb others unless you have multiple rooms.

- Do you have special equipment or other items that pose insurance issues?

- How well can you work in your house with other people around?

If you are only doing software development, my guess is that working in your house will be fine, but if you have other activities, you'll find that using a separate space really helps.

Dan Brown
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Incidentally, make sure to check your zoning laws regarding home businesses and what's allowed in your location. I know that where I'm living I can run a business from my home provided:
- I don't receive clients
- I don't send/receive regular shipments
- I don't have employees

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003


No customers/clients visiting.
No regular shipments.
No employees ... yet (just the wife and me), although we may have one more employee in the future.

Good point on zoning. I usually don't worry much about that because we're usually not affected. But the Employee aspect might zing us.

We do development and sales, so those conflict somewhat in the workspace.  But that would be true even in the house.  I'd probably put up a dividing cubicle wall type of thing.

Philo-
I Enjoy your posts. Good suggestion on the wireless LAN idea.

Entrepreneur
Friday, July 04, 2003

I have just moved my work out of my home and into a small rented office after 18 months working at home. The main reason was that there were just too many distractions at home but also because I wanted a clearer separation between home and work.

Tony Edgecombe
Friday, July 04, 2003

Go detached...

The separation of office from home makes it much easier to enjoy your home life without constantly being reminded of the work you have to do everytime you pass the office door.

It also makes a clear delineation between work and pleasure.  You wouldn't be tempted to do a load of laundry in the middle of your work day, for instance.

Gregor Brandt
Friday, July 04, 2003

Since being laid off a few months ago, I've been working at home and I hate it.  I hate it passionately. 

My wife refuses to respect my work time, and refuses to police our 3-year old enough to keep him from walking in while I'm working or on the phone with a client (I can't get mad at him about it - he's only little).  It's horrible working here in the house.

That plus the fact that my home is located in a spot where DSL is not available, and I'd love to have an actual office.  But I haven't built up my practice to the point where I can afford to do so yet.

Norrick
Friday, July 04, 2003

Norrick,

Get a lock for your door. Seriously. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, July 04, 2003

Norrick, put a weighted cardboard box in the doorway and cover it with toys. Toddlers like to come along and see you, and maybe talk, and looking over the box will satisfy that interest some of the time. The toys will grab their interest at others.

And finally when they clamber over it, at least you've got a bit of warning.

When we were faced with a similar situation, my wife used to go out a lot to visit friends and also - shudder - go shopping. It did actually cost extra, but was worth it.

Also, to a certain extent, you do have to get used to the different environment. I just accepted that times when my little boy was home and awake were times to work on non-coding things, like reading.

For telephone conversations, don't worry about it. You will find that most people are parents too. Just explain the interuption. I even took our little boy to meetings some time. It brought out a different side to lots of people.

JB
Saturday, July 05, 2003

Or turn the cardboard box upside down and prop up one end with a stick.  Next, place a peanut butter sandwhich under the box, but within view.  Attach a length of string to the stick that is proping up one corner of the box.  When the todler sees the bait and goes under the box to retrieve it, pull the string and the box will come crashing down, trapping the little noisemaker in his place.

Guy Incognito
Saturday, July 05, 2003

That's offensive, Guy.

JB
Sunday, July 06, 2003

"Or turn the cardboard box upside down and prop up one end with a stick.  Next, place a peanut butter sandwhich under the box, but within view.  Attach a length of string to the stick that is proping up one corner of the box.  When the todler sees the bait and goes under the box to retrieve it, pull the string and the box will come crashing down, trapping the little noisemaker in his place. "

No way - then I'd be interrupted with cries of "Do it again, Daddy!  Do it again!"

My boy is irrepressible.

Norrick
Sunday, July 06, 2003

As a longime fan of WB cartooons (who isn't?) all I can say is, That's hysterical, Guy. :-)

brian
Thursday, July 10, 2003

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