3 renovations for a versatile side hustle space

Canadians are worried about increasing costs impacting their finances, whether due to high home prices, rising interest rates, or soaring inflation.

As a result, many may be seeking new ways to earn enough income to survive and thrive by combatting the rising cost of living. While the great resignation was less pronounced in Canada than in the United States, a wave of employees resigned to increase their income through new job opportunities.

But job-hopping and raises aren’t the only way to increase your income. An Abacus Data survey found that nearly 60% of Canadians sought income sources outside their full-time jobs in 2021. These additional sources of income are commonly known as side hustles.

Side hustles can add income when your full-time job can’t

A side hustle is an inclusive term for any income you earn outside your regular job and encompasses various activities. For example, your side hustle could be as simple as pet sitting or mowing lawns on the weekends, or more complex, like making products to sell on Etsy or offering your professional services on a freelance basis.

Side hustling is popular because, unlike a second job, it allows you the flexibility to make your hours, scale your efforts, and earn more per hour than a typical part-time job. Side hustling can also be quite lucrative, with some Canadians earning thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

That said, most side hustles need space to operate. So, whether you offer freelance graphic design services or make custom items to sell on an online marketplace, you’ll need space in your home to work. In most Canadian homes, space is at a premium, so we’ve compiled three renovations you can make to your side hustle space to maintain versatility and usefulness, even when you aren’t working on your side business.

Home office and guest room

Your side hustle space might need to do double duty in your home, and what better way to ensure you have a quiet place to work and a comfortable refuge for guests than to have an area function as a guest room and an office.

Renovating a space into a home office/guest room can range from simple to elaborate. On the simple side, repainting, adding soundproofing panels, and purchasing a desk and guest bed should only take a weekend.

But your home office might need more renovations if your room is on the smaller side and can’t accommodate a bed and a desk, or if you prefer an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. Consider adding a collapsible desk that stows out of the way when not in use. If you’d prefer to keep the guest room portion of the space out of the way, consider adding a murphy bed or swapping a traditional bed for a pull-out couch or futon.

Basement production area and recreation room

If your side hustle involves crafting or dealing with products, you’ll likely need more space than a simple home office can provide. In this case, a production area in the basement of your home could work. To keep the space versatile when you aren’t producing merchandise, consider having it double as a recreation room.

In both cases, if you have an unfinished basement, you’ll need to go through the process of adding flooring, drywall, and lighting and ensuring proper waterproofing and humidity control.

To make it versatile as a production area and a space to relax for your children or family, consider adding creative storage to keep your production materials out of the way when you aren’t crafting. This could include storage benches with seating or built-ins with drawers and shelves. If you have younger children, consider adding locks to the cabinets to keep curious hands from mistaking your expensive crafting materials for kid-friendly art supplies.

Attic home theatre and equipment storage

Perhaps your side hustle takes you out of the home. Suppose you’re a photographer, videographer, dog walker, or personal trainer. In that case, you don’t need a space in your home for your profession. You may, however, need space to store the equipment related to your side hustle.

Consider looking for underused spaces in your home as potential equipment storage. One commonly underused space is the attic. If you want to use your attic for equipment storage, you’ll need to ensure the space is within your home’s controlled climate envelope (not too hot or too cold) and has reliable access.

This renovation might be a little more time-consuming and costly than others, as adding insulation or upgrading your attic access might be required. If this is the case, make your attic have a dual function by adding a home theatre. Since most attics have low headroom, a home theatre is a good choice because, by definition, the occupants will be sitting most of the time. Make space for your equipment storage by adding cabinets in the knee walls of the room, out of the way but still easily accessible.

Side hustle spaces and home insurance

A side hustle can be an excellent way to soften the impact of rising inflation and high home prices. But if creating a dedicated side hustle space in your home involves renovations, you need to notify your home insurance provider.

Not only will a renovation change the value of your home, which your insurance provider will want to know — you’ll also want to ensure that your existing home insurance policy will still provide you with the proper coverage.

For example, if you’re now storing valuable merchandise in your home or having customers regularly visit your property, you might require a change to your policy. Talk to your broker or insurance agent to find out what’s needed to ensure you and your side hustle space are covered.

Jordann Brown is a content marketing manager and spokesperson for Zolo, one of Canada's most popular national real estate marketplaces.

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