Home Improvement: 6 Tips for Converting Your Garage Into a Home Office

More and more people are working from home at least part of the time, and the trend is one of the major reasons a growing number of homeowners are looking to retrofit their houses to include home offices.

Since it often isn’t possible to re-purpose premium interior space, many people end up converting their garages into their primary office space. The good news is that the home office is one of the more affordable options when it comes to converting your garage into living space.

On the surface, this would seem to make a lot of sense, particularly if the garage is being underutilized and you don’t use it to store your vehicle. However, there are a lot of little practicalities to consider, which you should take into careful account during the planning stage to ensure your full satisfaction with the final outcome–and no regrets!

Home Improvement: 6 Tips for Converting Your Garage into a Home Office

6 Essential Things to Consider when Converting Your Garage Into a Home Office

The first thing you should think about is whether or not your proposed conversion meets municipal bylaws for safety and approved building use guidelines.

If you’re not sure whether your idea conforms to local laws, or what kinds of permits you’ll need to acquire, contact municipal authorities and find out before proceeding. The last thing you want to do is invest time and money into a project that will wind up trapped behind bureaucratic red tape.

Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, you can plan your project using these proven tips and ideas to guide your thinking:

  • Consider costs. While actual costs vary depending on exactly what you plan to do, a good guideline is to budget for about $120+ per square foot. From insulating walls and ceiling, to installing heating and cooling, electrical service upgrade, and replacing doors and windows, there are many options to consider. Remember that such projects often run over budget, so be sure to allow for some unexpected expenses and contingencies.  Also, don’t forget to set aside between $1,000 and $1,500 for a building permit as well.
  • Perform a survey. Create a detailed survey of the existing garage, noting the material that covers its floors and walls, where the windows are located, and the condition of the wiring and lighting. These elements will largely stay in place once the conversion is done, so you’ll need to integrate them into your ideas at a very early juncture.
  • Think about systems. Garages, especially detached ones, often aren’t serviced the same way as your main house, so you may have limited options when it comes to running water and climate controls. One of the key things you’ll need is a way to keep the space warm during the winter and cool during the summer, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in your new home office. Space heaters and window-mounted air conditioners are great alternatives, as long as their electrical needs and ventilation requirements are both taken into careful account.
  • What about the door? Chances are you’ll want to replace the main garage door with a wall, window or other element that makes your home office feel more like a part of the house. Don’t forget to include this in your budget, as it will likely be one of the costliest aspects of the project.
  • Create a plan. Once you’ve considered all these details, put pen to paper on a detailed plan. Many people find themselves in need of help at this point, so this is often a good time to involve a professional if you haven’t already.

Unless you’re a seasoned DIY expert, chances are you’ll enjoy better results if you trust the execution of the conversion to a general contractor familiar with the ins and outs of succesful home improvement.

Once you’ve made up your mind regarding the scope of the project, interview local contractors and ask them to make competitive bids for the job. Jacek Kaznocha at All Roofing Solutions offers an important tip here: “The easiest way to compare multiple estimates is to make a checklist of everything you need, and have each contractor submit competitive bids based on what you want. This gives you a quick overview of which company is offering the best products and services at the lowest possible price.”

Make sure you look beyond the bottom-line price. Communication between yourself and your contractor is vital – choose one with whom you have a good rapport.  Quality of work is critical, however, as garage conversion could be a substantial investment in your home’s resale value. A high quality garage conversion project can return 60% or more of its initial cost.

Converting your garage into a home office is a project you don’t have to tackle on your own – call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement for help.

We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience in residential construction & home improvement.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote

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Home Fire Damage: 3 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

Home fires do more than just damage property. They also represent a potentially fatal danger to the occupants. What many people don’t realize is that home fire risks are actually higher in the winter.

Home Fire Damage: 3 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

Take steps to protect yourself and your family by understanding the three leading causes of home fire damage and learning a few important prevention strategies to help ensure you don’t become a victim.

Home Fire Damage: 3 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

3 Main Causes of Home Fire Damage

While specific statistics vary from state to state, national fire safety experts identify these three causes as the leading culprits behind home fire damage:

  • Cooking facilities and equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), cooking was the root cause of 46 percent of American house fires between 2010 and 2014. While risks are higher on holidays, when cooking facilities and equipment are working overtime, a cooking-related house fire can start just about any time.
  • Home heating equipment. With heat and fire being a natural combination, it’s no surprise that this is another leading cause of house fires. Most heating-related fires are started by space heaters, including both the portable and fixed varieties. Chimneys are another common cause of house fires, and many more are started by leaving flammable items too close to heat sources.
  • Electrical infrastructure. Electrical failures and the malfunctioning of electrical equipment is another serious hazard that should be on your home safety radar.

By implementing a few easy, common-sense safeguards and solutions, you can dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing a house fire.

Home Fire Prevention Tips to Keep Your Family Safe

Let’s look at each of the three common causes of home fire damage and consider the ways in which each of them can be prevented.

Cooking Facilities and Equipment

Here are some ways to avoid cooking-related house fires:

  • Always keep an eye on your food when you are cooking using an exposed source of heat, such as an electric cooktop or a gas element
  • If you must leave your food unattended temporarily, turn off the heat until you return
  • Take a moment to completely clear the cooking area of all flammable materials, such as paper towels and dish cloths, before you start cooking
  • Ensure that functional smoke detectors are located no more than 10 feet from your main cooking area

Home Heating Equipment

Use these home heating equipment tips to beat house fires:

  • Use the three-foot rule around all heating equipment: make sure the space around any and all home heating sources has at least three full feet of unobstructed clearance on all sides
  • Have a professional clean your chimney at least once a year, ideally at the start of the heating season
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure to set up an effective screen around its opening and ensure that all fires are completely extinguished before you go to bed for the night
  • Reduce your heat consumption at night to safeguard against the possibility of a fire starting while you’re asleep

Electrical Infrastructure

Reduce your risk for electrical fires with these helpful hints:

  • Review manufacturer specification for the safe operation of electrical appliances, including both low-wattage and high-wattage products, and use only one high-wattage appliance at any one time
  • Ensure that all appliances have strong, sturdy electrical cords; do not use an appliance that has a weak, damaged, or frayed cord
  • Make sure that all rooms in your home are serviced by emergency circuit interrupters that will cut power if it reaches risky levels
  • Have any and all potential electrical problems services by a licensed technician. Old, faulty wiring and outdated infrastructure can also be very hazardous.

It is also important to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to home insurance if you ever have to file a fire damage claim with your insurer.

If you need professional help handling fire or water damage repairs, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. Family owned/operated Charlottesville & Culpeper VA home renovation contractor with over 40 years of experience, we are experts at insurance restoration and offer 24/7 emergency service to our Virginia customers!.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

We work for you, not the insurance company!

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12 Home Winterizing Tips From a Roofing Contractor

It’s essential for homeowners to properly prepare for winter’s arrival. Winterizing your home helps keep your heating costs as low as possible, all while improving indoor comfort. It also helps prevent potentially costly problems from developing over the course of the winter, problems like ice dams, flashing leaks, or structural water damage.

Winterizing your home has two main objectives. First, you’ll create a tight “shell” around your home to prevent heat from escaping. Second, you’ll identify issues that require immediate repair so you don’t have to worry about major problems developing during the cold-weather months.

12 Home Winterizing Tips From a Roofing Contractor

12 Home Winterizing Tips From a Roofing Contractor

From a roofing perspective, the most important home winterization tasks focus on your roof, attic, door and windows.

Here’s a breakdown of what you should do to prepare your roof for winter:

  • Start with some basic gutter inspection and maintenance – check and clean your gutters and downspouts during the fall, then check again as winter approaches to make sure they’re not clogged with debris. Common gutter issues that necessitate gutter repair include:
    1. Blocked drainage: Pooled water can mean that the gutter hangers are installed improperly or missing, or that the gutter pitch needs to be positioned at a sharper downward angle.
    2. Water trickling: Water that trickles between the gutter and your home’s fascia may be the result of damaged gutter aprons. These small pieces attach to both the roof and the gutter, but can be repaired or replaced quite easily.
    3. Sags, cracks and holes: The gutters, themselves, can become damaged from ice, hail and high winds.
  • Look for damaged or missing shingles, and repair or replace them promptly. Small holes or cracks in shingles can often be repaired with roof sealant, applied with a caulking gun. Curled shingles can often be cemented back in place. Torn shingles can also be fixed using roofing cement.
  • Take a look around your chimney flashing to make sure there are no loose elements that could lead to leaks.  If you find a section of flashing that looks questionable, it’s better to replace it now rather than keeping your fingers crossed through the winter months. Flashing is inexpensive to replace, particularly when compared to the costs of repairing a roof damaged by a roof leak.

Moving into your attic, take care of these essential tasks:

  • Check your attic insulation to make sure it’s adequate. This is critical if you want to avoid ice dams as lack of proper attic insulation can lead to their formation. Ice dams can cause serious and expensive to repair damage so prevention is key.
  • See if there are air leaks in your attic, and if so, block them out with caulking. Seal off any exposed ductwork in your attic.
  • If you have an attic fan, reverse its direction so it helps warm air rise instead of sending cool air down.
  • Assess your attic ventilation. Make sure that none of your home’s exhaust vents travel through your roof soffits on their route outside. Ventilate your eaves and ridge baffles.
  • Cover your attic steps with a wooden crate to help prevent heat loss.

Finally, winterize your windows and doors:

  • Check your windows for air leaks by holding a candle or a stick of incense up to your closed windows on a windy day; if the candle flame or smoke trail flickers, your windows are leaking.
  • Seal off window leaks with plastic shrink wrap or rope caulking.
  • Add weatherstripping around the edges of your doors to help keep cold air out and warm air inside.
  • Consider upgrading to weather-resistant doors and windows if problems persist.

Should you detect any problems with your roof or attic that you can’t fix on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local professional. It’s very important to ensure your home is in the best shape it can be before winter arrives, so don’t take chances.

Invest in a professional inspection!

The National Roofing Contractor’s Association recommends semi-annual roof inspections to keep your home safe from weather-related roof damage. The fall and spring are optimum times to schedule both a roof inspection and a gutter cleaning.

An experienced roofer can provide a comprehensive repair estimate to help you in maintaining and caring for your roof. Take advantage of their skill and know-how to keep your roof performing its best for decades to come!

LGC Roofing is a family owned/operated NJ & PA roofing company with over 30 years of experience in residential/commercial roofing, siding, and gutters installation/repair. Call 609-712-8157 in NJ or (215) 932-7850 in PA to schedule your free, no-obligation estimate.