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Building a translator friendly house
Thread poster: Mirja Maletzki

Mirja Maletzki  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:43
Korean to German
+ ...
Mar 22, 2016

Hello everyone!


Fellow translator here, asking for help and some good ideas.

I bought a piece of land in my hometown and will be looking forward to start building my very own itty bitty (well, okay, a bit bigger than that) house next year.

I’m looking for some good ideas in regards to our beloved profession.

If you were building a house from scratch, what would you include?

Paint the walls in eye-soothing colors?

Instead of a laundry chute, build a paper chute straight from the wall next to your desk leading into an incinerator in the basement for all those top secret documents you need to make disappear?

Cram one room with different kinds of desks and chairs so you can switch at will?


Any ideas – as crazy or as vanilla as you like – would be greatly appreciated.


And one more rather practical question:

One of the sides of the plot is facing towards a field – which is awesome. That was one of the main reasons I bought it: I envisioned myself sitting at my desk, looking out over the fields all day! However, turns out that the field side is North… not so good if you ever want to see some sun in the room.

If you were in my shoes, would you go with the “Meh, sun… who needs that anyway?” approach and keep the office facing North or would you switch rooms but then end up looking at either the street or the neighbor’s windows?


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:43
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
North Mar 22, 2016

Mirja Maletzki wrote:
keep the office facing North or would you switch rooms but then end up looking at either the street or the neighbor’s windows?

Face north - direct sunlight in the work area can be an annoyance, particularly if it gets in your eyes or on your screen. A field view is more restful than a street view.

I like your "paper chute" idea. In my office I have found that storage space in terms of shelving has been the major issue. I always seem to need more of it.

As somebody who recently built a house, my advice for the building as a whole and for the office in particular is to keep your options as open as possible. That is, take as few decisions as possible that will irreversibly restrict your choices. What you think is great now may well change in two years.

Regards
Dan


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2005)
English to German
Go Mirja! Mar 22, 2016

Mirja Maletzki wrote:
Cram one room with different kinds of desks and chairs so you can switch at will?


This. This a hundred times.

As to sunlight, I've found that it is very important to avoid glare on my screen while still being able to see the outside. I work afternoons, so I work on the side of the house that gets the direct sunlight in the morning -- and not when I work, so I don't have to work with the curtains closed. Also, I believe in the rule of placing my screen at a right angle to the window.

I'm an introvert, so I have the smallest home I could find that accomodates my stuff, my work and a place for my hobby. Keeps those pesky humans out -- "sorry buddy, you can SEE I have no space to have you over, can't you."

Enough space for your pet(s) if you're so inclined -- I'm not a cat person, but if you are, google "cat furniture", it's amazing.

In my case, good places for my indoor plants (bright but no direct sunlight), but I live in a big city, so maybe if you're in the countryside, you'll want more outdoor plants than indoor.

And good thermal insulation because with a desk job, you'll hate to freeze your butt off.

Sounds like you are planning an awesome endeavour! Sending all the good vibes!


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:43
German to English
window to the north Mar 22, 2016

I have a window that faces south. At various times of day, particularly in the spring and fall, glare is a problem even with the blinds closed. I would choose light from the north any day, and in your case it is a win-win situation. A bright kitchen is wonderful, but the same is not true of a room that you are going to work in.

If you want to claim your office (construction costs, percentage of utility bills, etc.) as a business expense, be sure to make it a separate room with a door and to keep it small enough that you will not need (or otherwise be tempted) to use it for anything but your work.


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2005)
English to German
Practical aspects Mar 22, 2016

You'll need an architect because it's required by law, and you will also want the architect or a civil engineer to supervise the construction process because it's far better than trying to handle your contractors on your own. Builders and contractors are a subculture by themselves, they require a wholly different set of communication skills than linguists and translators. You might even consider "construction specialist" a foreign language and try to learn it.

You'll need a good financial advisor who is paid by you, not "free" to you and paid by commissions from the banks etc.

Everything takes twice as long and is twice as expensive as you planned for, even if you have taken this rule into account while planning.

[Edited at 2016-03-22 08:42 GMT]


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Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
Romanian to English
+ ...
Spend time there Mar 22, 2016

Mirja Maletzki wrote:
I’m looking for some good ideas in regards to our beloved profession.

If you were building a house from scratch, what would you include?


My advice is not necessarily related to work from home per se, but building a home from scratch.

Spend as much time as you can there while it is built. There are so many needs you are not even aware of until you actually live there. If you like cooking, make sure your kitchen is big enough to accommodate your laptop - I often have to combine cooking time with working time. Have a place where you can relax - a corner you really love, with things that make you feel good (music corner, reading corner, etc.).

A wireless system is a must for me. I like working in different places of the house depending on my mood. A nice patio with minimal furniture appropriate for work (a laptop, in my case) is a good idea, too, so that you don't miss all that lovely sunshine during working hours.

At the same time, if you prefer an office so that you can separate professional from personal at least mentally, make sure you have one. I agree with Dan's excellent advice: don't make anything irreversible. You will want sufficient wall outlets in each room, should you later choose to move your office from one room to another.

There are many free design applications online, they can be very helpful. Take pictures when the shell is ready and play around in Photoshop, with textures and colors.

Just spend time on your land and try to imagine what a day would look like with those lights and views. Walk around, let your imagination run free.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 22:43
English to Croatian
+ ...
If I could make the work room spacious with high ceiling, I would... Mar 22, 2016

My translator office would be very spacious, loads of windows and light, high ceiling (this one in particular), if I could afford it... this size standard doesn't have to apply to other parts of the house.

Then one area for stretching with yoga mats : )

And a nice lovely yard with beautiful garden, some trees, some grass, pets.

It'd be lovely if I could make work area front door separate from the living area of the house.


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Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:43
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Facing north is good Mar 22, 2016

You will see the illuminated landscape but won’t get the sun in your eyes.

I like sitting in the highest room of the house, looking over the neighbourhood. I like to have my desk in a right angle to the window, as I am right-handed, I have the window on my left. If I could choose, I would want a bit more space between the window and the wall (behind me).

Some more ideas:

A mini-kitchen near the office (to make some tea…) if the office is far away from the kitchen.

Prepare the roof for a “Hängesessel” where you can get inspiration for difficult translations.

Built-in shelves or even wardrobes (I once lived in a flat where we had a small walk-in-closet in one of the rooms, we used that room as office, the walk-in-closet was perfect for storing things we did not need every day).

Office far away from the guest room (if you are planning one).

An oven or a fireplace

Visit as many other houses as you can, observe yourself: what makes you feel comfortable? Ask all your friends what they like/ dislike about their house.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:43
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Fire Mar 22, 2016

Christina Baier wrote:
An oven or a fireplace

Seconded. A fireplace or (far more effective) a wood-burning stove adds real life and character to a room in the colder months. It's almost like having a pet.

Dan


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:43
German to English
Soundproofing Mar 22, 2016

That lovely field outside your window might someday have houses on it, and with them, traffic, playgrounds and noisy neighbors.

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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Wall outlets Mar 22, 2016

Don't economize on electric cabling. You want mains and LAN sockets at least in every corner of every room. Try to imagine the absolute maximum of wall sockets anybody is ever going to need. Double that figure, at least. The same goes for LAN sockets: Every room, every corner. Laying cables in a new building is cheap (as opposed to adding or altering it later), and by providing enough sockets now, you can avoid having power strips and cables all over your floor later, and you have a reliable wired LAN as opposed to shaky WLAN.

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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Any house... Mar 22, 2016

...as long as there is enough (± XX) distance to neighbours

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Elisabeth Maurland
United States
Local time: 15:43
Member (2013)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Extra insulation in the walls of the "translating room". Mar 22, 2016

for soundproofing. Especially if you have a family or plan on having one, or if there is any other kind of irritating noise from the neighborhood. I am easily distracted by noises, so I think I would plan for that if I was building a new house. That said, I don't want to stay in one place all day, so I would plan for other comfortable nooks and crannies around the house to work in, with the necessary outlets. (A laptop probably helps in that scenario.)

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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:43
French to English
My office window faces north Mar 22, 2016

And I wouldn't change it! As others have said, glare is almost never a problem, and I have a nice view.

If I were building my own house, I would make the WC closer to my office. And my office would be closer to the front door. And further from the kitchen because I snack too much.

Also, other household features would be activated from a button in my office (turn the clothes dryer off, make coffee, etc).

Maybe more soundproofing too!


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Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:43
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Hammocks? Mar 22, 2016

If you have plenty of room, you might like a hammock or rocking chair to rest
whenever you got stiff necks.
Hammocks are even considered to cure disease faster!

People recommend to take a 5 minutes break every 25 minutes so if you can get a timer with gentle sound that could be ice.

It sounds contradicting, but while we are distracted by sounds,
a quite murmur, white noise or sometimes people's talk sound help us concentrate.
Either a headphone for a white noise (coffeeshop sounds)
or a "countertop desk" could be an interesting choice.


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