I'd like to add a build thread of my own and ask for your help in many of the decisions ahead!
My wife and I, and our two young children have lived in our new construction home for 5 years and the 1780 sq ft basement is ready to be finished. I greatly lack any experience in construction, wiring, etc. and while I have toyed for years with the idea of tackling this myself I finally have thought better of it, so welcome to my "subbin' it out" build. The fun has already started but framing starts (and likely completes!) the first week in January 2012 so this is really happening to our great excitement. The goal is to end up with 1320 sq ft of livable space including a large living room, full bath with tub/shower, an oversized fitness / multipurpose room, and a big open area complete with projection home theatre and wet bar. All this and a couple of unfinished storage areas.
I am acting as the GC on this project and have been planning the last 4-6 months and have spent the last two months having repairs and improvements made in preparation for the build.
Step 1 was waterproofing. The basement has been remarkably dry for the 5 years it has existed but did have numerous settling cracks in the poured concrete walls, all of which formed in the first year. A couple got wet in the worst rains and those were injected and fixed with either epoxy or high pressure foam by pros. I had the few cracks that NEVER got wet injected in the same way about 2 months ago as insurance. the basement has stayed totally dry in heavy rains since.
Step 2 was checking for radon and finding our levels were a 5.2 which is above the goverment recommended max of 4.0 and their suggested 2.0 so I had a active radon mitigation system installed which uses a 4 inch PVC pipe through the foundation to actively suck the air below the foundation with an outdoor fan and release it above our roof line. The results have been great with radon levels below 0.5 which is average outdoor levels.
Step 3 was replacing 130+ ft of poorly installed PVC pipes to our two high efficiency furnaces. The builders HVAC guys misglued nearly every joint and they all dripped condensation water when the furnaces ran. During the warranty year the builder attempted to fix whichever joint was leaking that day by cutting it out or rubbing more glue on it but fixing one just made the next joint leak. Finally the warranty was up, the HVAC installer was out of business and the whole thing looked more like an erector set that would have tons of soffits so I had a new company come in and replace the whole thing and run the lines in a far more thoughtful and efficient manner to help avoid unneccessary soffits and lowered ceilings. I have a 9 ft basement and want ceiling height wherever I can get it and I plan all drywall ceilings so I can't afford not to trust what is above the walls.
Step 4 was getting a building permit. I have to be honest a bunch of friends had great basements without pulling a permit but I am not an expert on building and I want to sleep at night that what has been done is safe so I am following the law. It's going to cost more and I fully expect this to run into more snags because of pulling a permit but for me it was the only good choice. I have had it approved and have had the preconstruction meeting and am cleared for construction.
The final step prior to framing is happening two days after Christmas. I am getting my builders mockery of an attempt at putting fiberglass insulation in my rim joists (misfitted to a comical degree) replaced with 3 inches of closed cell spray foam. It is a great choice I hope to prevent all chance of air infiltration (my fiberglass is dirty from dust getting in through tiny gaps in the rim joist plus pipe penetrations, not to mention the spiders) plus prevent condensation forming on the cold sill from warm basement air... Not to mention R20+ insulation values.
Here is the floor plan ...
The theater will go in the "family room" marked area with the wall separating the room from the long storage area being the screen area. The theater space will be 15 x 20 but open on side to the large bar area.
In my next long winded post (coming in the next few minutes) I'll post the first pictures of what will be the theatre area along with a couple of important questions I hope you can answer before I start framing.