Jon and Amy Hopkins study, built by James H. Hoffman
Builders, Inc., offers a quiet place for reading and is a
perfect getaway for late night work on the lap top
computer. The room features built-in bookcases, rich
wainscot paneling and a cozy fireplace clad in marble.
having somebody else do the work for you is not
your thing, or if your budget requires that you
do the work yourself, planning for a home office will require even
more thought and preparation.
Charles Radtke owns a woodworking business near
downtown Cedarburg. He lives and works on a piece of property that
is zoned commercial but is also the site of his home, a
150-year-old house that used to belong to the brew master for
Webers Brewery long ago. He produces museum-quality, one of a
kind furniture, at the pace of around nine pieces a year.
Recently, the Smithsonian Institute purchased from him a two-door
cabinet that they placed in the
American Art Collection at the museum. Radtke had long since run
out of space in his woodworking shop/office, which had been
crammed into the meager 460 square feet provided by the two and a
half car garage, and he desperately needed new office space.
Consulting his good friend Mequon
architect Don Stauss for help, Radtke designed and built a new
office and an addition to the existing garage. The project began by pouring a
brand new foundation next to the existing garage/office. Next the
existing garage was moved onto the new foundation, and an addition
was built on to the front of it, using a natural wood and batten
siding. Ten-inch wide solid pine planks were run vertically along
the walls and the gaps were covered with a two-inch batten cover.
Using natural materials whenever possible, the two took pains to
make the new work look like it had been there for many years.
Pipes full of warm water flow through the foundation and heat it
using a hydronic radiant heating system. The remodeled
office/addition is incredibly charming and rustic.
Although I work with wood,
Radtke explains, I never did this type of construction before.
The concrete was a bit of a challenge for Radtke as was the task
of melding the two buildings together. The gable to the addition runs
perpendicular to the original gable and also at a different levelmaking
the tie-in extremely difficult.
I strongly recommend working
with somebody who knows about the detail work, he adds. And
build it how you want to build it the first time. Dont skimp
and convince yourself that youll come back and upgrade laterbecause
Is there a downside to doing your
own home office construction? Radtke says it took much longer than
if he had hired it out, and trying to maintain his current
occupation and workload while doing the construction was almost
more than he could bear.
recital hall boasts Tiffany windows. Note that Tiffanys
repeated in the plasterwork on the domed ceiling.
Is there an upside? While Radtke
maintains that the cost savings were minimal, there was a more
intangible reward for him in doing it all himself. Every time I
open the door to my office I know that every detail was done by meand
this repays itself a hundred-fold. Its a joy for me to work
It wasnt too long ago that
telling somebody you worked out of your home was taken as a
euphemism for being unemployed or between jobs. Times have
changed. With the growth of the Internet, the development of
inexpensive and compact office equipment, and the high noon
of an information age, the practice of working out of the home has become both widely
accepted and profitable. With this new development in our business community
comes a new priority and concern for those faced with a need for a
home office, and the free market system has responded.
Looking to create work space in a
to-be-built home? The task is not as straightforward as simply
telling your builder or architect to add a home office. Kathy
Schmidt is the vice president of construction for Embassy
Construction Corporation (Embassy Homes). From the companys
Mequon office they oversee the construction of 45 homes per year.
Schmidt has seen the trend toward home offices, and Embassy Homes
has not been slow in responding.
hile we recognize the trend toward
home offices, Schmidt says, we also know that over the
course of time, the amount of use a home office receives will
vary. And because people feel badly if they design and build a
room which gets no use, the trend has been toward multi-functioning.
Schmidt explains that multi-functioning is using a room for
more than one use. Embassy can point to two-story models that
contain a huge first story den multi-functioning as a
bedroom and home office.
When the office is needed, it is
available, Schmidt explains. When grandma comes over for the
weekend and needs a guest room, it serves that purpose.
Catering mainly to second and third time home buyers from their
late 20s to late 50s, Embassy Homes basically takes a guest room
and gives it a second purposeand sometimes a third.
Mike and Julia Graal home office in Fox Point
designed by Judy Fleming of Manhattan Textiles,
and built by Bartelt-Filo. Traditional
furnishings were chosen for the library; the leather Ralph
Lauren chair in natural brown leather and matching bench
complement an antique desk. The
windows were dressed with French pleated drapes
an English Hunt hung from an oiled iron rod. A mix of
antique books and photos along with travel memories give
personality to the most serious library wall.
The office/guest room can also
serve as a playroom for the children. Why? Because a small
percentage of buyers work at home, and a small percentage have a
lot of out of town guests, and almost everybody is going to need a
place for children to play, we triple value of the room for the
money they pay, says Schmidt. On one of Embassys models, this first floor den is in the front of the house
and actually has its own door to the outside of the house. This way
you can bring clients and customers to your home office and they
dont feel as though they are intruding by having to walk
through your house, Schmidt explains.
Embassy Homes leaves many of the
technical aspects of preparing for your home office to the expertselectrical contractors will discuss and plan for separate phone
lines for voice and data, digital subscriber lines, satellite
hookups, cable modems and the like. Planning is also needed to
accommodate various types and sizes of home office equipment as
well as their next generation. We feel this trend is here to
stay, Schmidt adds.
Many existing homeowners are
beginning to follow the trend in utilizing home offices, but may
not have planned ahead when their home was built. Fear not! The
market has already adapted to accommodate these individuals as
well. Northshore resident Bruce Johnson is the president of BDC
Building Design & Construction, Inc., a downtown Milwaukee
firm that specializes in redesigning and modifying an existing room to
accommodate a home office. After 22 years in the business, Johnson
also sees a strong trend toward home office use. BDC is a member
of the remodelers council within the Metropolitan Builders
Association of Greater Milwaukee, which is itself a member of the National Association of
Like Embassy Homes, Johnson
stresses multi-functioning, but has a variety of options
available. Existing space can be turned into an area for homework
for the children, office space for the homeowner, a media center,
file storage and computer space and a refreshment area including
microwave, refrigerator, sink and countertop.
Jim Goelz office in Fox Point was
built by Pekel Construction and Remodeling.
On the other end of the spectrum is
a remodelling plan that may strike the homeowner as home office
lite. A closet of no more than six linear feet now is
transformed into a compact office complete with knee space, shelf
space, a desk and a computer area. The closet doors close to hide
the office when the room again becomes a guest room or den
Typical office equipment is
beginning to appear in home offices, says Johnson. Faxes,
printers, scanners and copy machines are all showing up in home
offices. Therefore we have to design space to accommodate this
equipment and be flexible enough for changes in the design of
equipment and technology not yet developed.
Planning for home offices also
becomes vital when adding on to an existing home. In one
remodeling project, BDC added two bedrooms, a master bath and a
remodeled master bedroom on the second floor of the Bayside home
of Frank Langley and Kate Sullivan. To accommodate a computer and
office equipment, BDC created an open area at the top of the
stairs that not only served as circulation space for the bedrooms,
but also doubled as a home office with built-in shelves and
Cabinet manufacturers are
recognizing the need for meeting home office needs and are
developing and supplying stock or semi-custom multiple pull-out
file drawers and similar home office furniture, Johnson says.
Other office equipment manufacturers are also adapting some of
their equipment designs to accommodate the needs of home offices
an obvious outgrowth of the home office trend.