When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., it shuttered offices around the country, forcing millions of workers to transition to working from home instead. While some had dedicated office spaces in their homes, many were forced to find improvised solutions for their workspace needs. 

Three years later, some companies have pushed a “return to the office,” bringing workers out of the home and back to their daily commutes. But for many, working from home has become the new normal. As a result, having a dedicated office space at home has become more of a priority for these workers. For those who see the work from home model as their future, a backyard accessory dwelling unit (ADU) offers many distinct advantages that may make it the perfect home office solution.

Benefits of a Tiny Home as a Home Office

An ADU, also referred to as a tiny home, granny flat, or in-law suite, can serve a wide range of purposes. Many people use it as a space to house friends and relatives or as a revenue-generating rental property. Others are using their ADU as a home studio for music, art, or other hobbies. 

But ADUs are also perfectly suited for a home office. They combine the convenience of working from home with many of the benefits working in an office away from it. For dedicated remote workers, the advantages these structures offer may make them more than worth the investment.

Enhanced Privacy at Home

Privacy is an important feature for desk workers and can have a substantial impact on productivity. However, it can be hard to come by – both in the office and at home. 

In corporate offices, workers face a wide range of distractions. Chatty coworkers, nosy managers, and loud phone conversations are just a few of the things that can take attention away from work. And for people who may have gotten used to working from home, the lack of a private space itself can be a source of anxiety and frustration.

While the distractions at home are different from those in the office, there are still many. Children and pets often demand attention without understanding the need to stay focused. For many, seeing unfinished tasks like laundry that needs to be folded or trash that needs to go out can also take one’s mind and attention away from the things they need to get done.

Home offices built into a separate structure, however, solves most of these problems. They offer a private, personal space away from the noise and social pressure of the office similar to an in-home office. But unlike an office inside your primary residence, they also keep you separated from the tasks and other distractions you might face at home.

A Separate Office Space Without the Commute

Even for people who prefer working from home, there are some benefits to having a space to work that’s separate from where you live. For many, the lack of separation from work life and home life can lead to feeling like one is never truly off work – or never truly at work, either. Still, going to and from an office often means a commute that serves as unpaid time away from the rest of your life.

Building a home office as a separate space from your home provides the separation that can help maintain a boundary between work and home. Typically located within a few steps of the primary residence, however, ADU home offices provide that separation without the frustrating, time-consuming commute.

Designed For How You Use It

When workers transitioned to the work from home model, many who didn’t have a dedicated home office had to find ways to fit their work station into places that weren’t built for that purpose. While people have learned to make do, these improvised solutions usually aren’t ideal.

When you build a secondary dwelling for the purposes of a home office, however, you can work with your builder to design the space to fit your specific needs and habits. You can make thoughtful decisions about where to locate your desk, considering things like what will appear in the background of Zoom calls. You can choose the most ergonomic place to put storage cabinets and place lighting features where they’ll best serve your purposes.

In other words, an ADU home office gives you a blank template for your workspace. You get to design that space to fit the way you work to maximize your comfort and productivity.

Close Enough To Home To Keep an Eye on Things

One of the biggest advantages of working from a company office is the separation you get from home and the boundary between work and home life that helps to maintain. However, that separation may also hinder your ability to respond quickly to urgent matters at home.

Backyard home offices offer that same separation, but still allow you to keep tabs on what’s going on at home. When you’re just a few feet away from your home, you can check in on a sick child home from school or look after ill or injured pets. You’re also able to respond immediately to emergencies such as a flooding washing machine or appliance fire when every minute counts.

Able To Serve Multiple Purposes

As we mentioned earlier, people use their tiny houses for a wide range of purposes. Just because you build yours primarily as an office doesn’t mean you can’t also use it as many other things outside of working hours.

Much of this depends on the design, features, and amenities of your backyard office. To truly be considered an ADU, your structure must have a bathroom, a space that serves as a bedroom, and at least a kitchenette. That means you can use it as a guest suite to host friends and family. With the right design, you can create enough space to use it as a yoga studio or exercise room. These structures also make wonderful art, music, and hobby spaces.

An Investment, Not an Expense

One solution people who work from home but want a little separation have found is to rent a desk or small office in a coworking space. These spaces come with their own advantages, but they also come with monthly (or sometimes daily) rent that you’ll never get back.

When you finance an ADU build, you may spend more per month paying down a HELOC or other type of loan. However, unlike rent at a co-working space, some of that money goes towards building equity into your property. That makes a backyard home office an investment that could eventually pay for itself or generate a profit down the line.

an adu home office might be the ideal solution for people who work from home

Is an ADU a Good Home Office Solution for You? What To Consider

For many people who work from home, a backyard ADU is an ideal home office solution. But that’s not true for everyone. And if you’re sure that building a separate structure for your office is the right answer, there are still many things to think about prior to committing to a build. Before you start on your ADU project, there are a few questions that are good to ask yourself.

Can You Build a Tiny House On Your Property?

The first question you should ask yourself is if you can actually build an ADU on your property. Increasingly, laws and ordinances are changing to allow more people to build secondary dwellings more easily. But that’s not true everywhere.

You’ll want to first check your local regulations around ADU builds to see if they’re permitted in your area. If your home is located in a neighborhood governed by an HOA, the HOA may have bylaws that prevent you from building one, even if your town or city allows it.

Even when local laws and other regulations permit building secondary dwellings, there are often building codes you’ll need to adhere to. While it’s never a bad idea to research and understand these things for yourself, as full-service tiny house builders, we do that research for you. This takes a lot of the work and time out of the process for our clients and ensures a smooth build process.

What Amenities Do You Need?

Again, for your building to be considered an ADU in the technical sense, it must be a unit suitable for dwelling. That means you’ll need a bathroom, a place that can serve as a bedroom, and a space that functions as a kitchen, among other things. 

All of these amenities cost money, and if you only plan to use your structure as an office you may not see the need to build these into your ADU. However, consider that even if you only plan to use your structure as a workspace, you’ll still likely want to be able to use the bathroom, brew some coffee, or fix a quick lunch without having to go back and forth between your primary home and your office. Remember, most corporate offices have these amenities as well – for good reason.

What Features Do You Need?

Another consideration is the features you think you’ll need to make your office as pleasant and productive as possible. Internet connectivity is obviously one of the primary considerations. You may be able to get away with adding a wi-fi extender to your current setup, but you may also want a dedicated, stable connection built in.

Many people also choose to soundproof their ADUs. This can insulate your work space from the many noises around your home. It also keeps your work calls and other conversations private from the outside world. 

Your ADU builder can go over all of the features you can build into your unit with you to help you decide what would benefit your space, and whether or not they’re worth the spend.

Do You Plan To Use Your ADU For Other Purposes?

If you want to use your tiny house for other purposes in addition to a home office, you’ll need to factor that into your planning. If you want to use your ADU as a guest suite on the weekends and holidays, for example, you’ll need to prioritize having a comfortable sleeping and living space in addition to a good working space. That’s an even more important consideration if you’re thinking about using your ADU as a rental property to bring in some extra income.

Music or art studios require a fair amount of open floor space. That means you’ll need to build an ADU big enough to have free space or design it in such a way that you can easily move things out of the way to create that space.

How Much Will a Home Office ADU Cost?

How much a home office ADU costs varies greatly depending on how big it is, the features and amenities you add to it, the quality of materials you use, and other factors. At Feel Love Homes, most of our ADU builds range in cost from around $80,000 to $300,000. However, as custom builders, we are here to serve the needs of our clients, meaning your ADU could fall on either side of that range depending on what you want.

If you’re curious about what an ADU might cost you, try out our free build calculator tool. You can choose the options that suit you best to get an estimated cost range. While this isn’t as precise as a real estimate, it can give you a good general idea of your potential costs and what can affect those costs.

An ADU Could Be the Perfect Home Office Solution For You

For those who plan on working from home for the foreseeable future, building a home office as a secondary structure on your property offers an enormous amount of benefits. While it is a major investment, it is one that can add to the value of your home. If you decide to use it as a short-term rental on the weekends or a long-term rental if you decide to go back to the office, it can also generate revenue for you right away.

We’re here to help you walk through all the things you need to consider before deciding whether or not to build a backyard home office. With a free consultation, you’ll have our full attention and enough time to ask any questions you might have and learn everything that’s involved in building an ADU for your workspace.