It really pays to add a home office

If you’re making additions or alterations to your home, you should ensure that your plans allow for the creation of a home office.

And similarly, says Richard Gray, the new CEO of Harcourts Africa, if you are selling your home, it is a good idea to “stage” an area as a study or a home office, even if it is the spare bedroom.

“Working from home, called telework or telecommuting, has really gained ground in the past few years and the home office is rapidly moving up the list of ‘must have’ features for homebuyers. Adding one to your home or creating one in an existing space is thus one of the home renovation projects likely to generate the best returns when the property is sold.”

He says several international surveys have shown that employees working from home are generally happier – and more productive – than their office-bound counterparts and that companies can significantly reduce their overheads by encouraging telework.

“However, the consideration that is really driving the practice now is the fact that telework directly benefits the environment, by reducing the carbon emissions produced by commuting to and from work.

“If you then add the increased use of technology, the security and road safety concerns of many South Africans, the desire for more flexible work hours and more leisure time, and the growing entrepreneurism that is giving rise to the creation of so many home-based businesses, it becomes clear why many buyers now are looking for homes that can accommodate both their living and working requirements.”

In fact, Gray says, the lack of a clearly identifiable home office space can actually be a deal-breaker now, especially for dual-income couples where at least one partner would like to work from home full-time.

In the case of pre-owned properties, those with an existing office, either attached or in the same grounds, are most in demand, especially if the seller has already had the office “wired” for voice and data communications. Also popular are those with spaces that can easily be converted to an office, such as a garage, staff quarters or extra bedroom.

“In new homes, developers are increasingly finding that it pays to build a versatile room or area that can be identified as a home office into their designs,” he says, “ and we expect this trend to grow in the future.”

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