Hydrostatic Pressure, Family Pressure, and PCs

Finding the right spot for a home office can be a real trick in a small home. With space at a premium, it pays to be innovative. Folks with larger homes and rooms to spare have it easy, in that respect. A spare bedroom can quickly be loaded with computer gear and a generously sized desk. But in tight quarters, you have to innovate …

Our first house was a tiny two bedroom bungalow, while my very first PC was an AST PC/XT clone with a whopping 10 MB drive. (woo hoo!) The PC landed on the dining room table until I had the chance to set up a proper home office in what was the spare bedroom. I wrote my first two books (or so) in the dining room, before I finally got the gumption to do something about it.

For months, I tried to figure out how to incorporate a proper desk. The spare bedroom had a small closet in one corner of the room. I’d stand in the doorway to the room for what seemed like hours, scratching my head. Then one day, it just hit me. I decided to create a built-in desk, by duplicating the closet in the facing corner, running a counter top in-between.

I completed the project with a six foot length of counter top, a bunch of two by fours, and some plywood. It might not have won any design awards, but it did double the closet space in the room and more importantly, provided a good sized workspace for the hulking desktop PC, monitor, and tanklike NEC Silentwriter2 Model 90 PostScript laser printer.

The spare bedroom/home office combo worked well for a few years, when lo and behold, that spare bedroom was spare no more. When our daughter was born, necessity saw that the spare bedroom/home office would become the baby’s room/home office. That situation went on for a while, until, about a year later, when it was deja vu, all over again. With another baby on the way, we set out to find a bigger house.

Alas, we ended up falling for what was to become ranchero indebto … a contemporary three bedroom ranch in a sea of four bedroom colonials. Okay, so now you’re doing the math. Two kids. Three bedrooms. Where does the computer gear go?

And that was my big question as we moved into the house.

At first, I thought I would build a home office in the basement. But I wisely, oh yes wisely, procrastinated. The babies bunked in the large second bedroom and I loaded my PCs into the third bedroom. After the first spring, I was glad not to have moved my equipment into the basement.

And the moral of the story?

Before you move your computer gear underground, you should understand some of the basic principles behind basement waterproofing, most specifically, the phenomena of hydrostatic pressure.