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post #1 of 16 Old 11-02-2009, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I felt the title was fitting, as not only am I in the market for a new house, but I find myself accessing my AVS forum bookmark on an increasingly frequent basis.

As is so often mentioned, the wealth of knowledge here in our one little facet of AVS is substantially beyond overwhelming, even for an "electronics nut" like myself. I find myself perusing the build threads, modifying the ever-complicating vision of my future home theater. In doing so, I constantly fight the urge to post threads about every question that pops in to my mind, knowing full well there's a 99% chance its already been answered.

So here I am, creating what I hope will become a textual and visual archive of one of my greatest passions and largest endeavors. I hope I can look back on this post in a year or two and laugh at my naivety; knowing full well what it takes to truly realize a dream.

So starts my endeavor. I have been home shopping for the last three months, with a couple interesting prospects, but nothing jumping out at me as the one. I have to be honest, whenever I walk through a new home, my first interest is "will the basement work for the theater?", and off I head down the stairs. Often I end up empty handed, but occasionally I am pleasantly surprised at the potential of some existing homes, even with finished basements. "I could make this work", I say to myself, eying the destruction of a wall or doorway to optimize the visual and audio experience.

My first question, that I really want to cement in my head is the "optimal" room that I should be looking for. I know some of the basics like avoiding divisible dimensions and planning on a ~2' false wall in front of the wall I'd put the screen, but I really have no idea what to say is the "best" aside from "bigger is better". Some of the rooms I look at are as small as 20'x13', while others can be 32'x18' or larger.

I guess before I get much further I should point out what I'm looking for in my theater. Really, I'd love to hold up to 12 people comfortably. 3 rows of four if possible. Since the theater will be used about 80% for movies and 10% each for gaming and sports, I'm planning on going 2.35:1, with sliders to adjust size for different ratios.

Roughing that out at 8' per teir plus 2 feet in the rear would put the viewing ranges at about 10', 18', and 26' at each tier assuming a 2' false wall in a 32' room. Would the nearest distance, 10', be too close for a 130" 2.35:1 screen? Would this seating arrangement be feasible in a 32'x18'x9' room with decent seating?

My next question, which has developed much more recently (read: 3 days) is the concept of building my own home. (Often I find a home for sale I like, only to discover a large beam and/or poles running perpendicular to the only possible theater area, thus throwing out the house as a potential option.) Talking with some builders and agents, this possibility is within my price range for a house, and would allow me to spec exactly what I wanted in my basement. So, my question is, seating 12 people comfortably, would would be the "ultimate" room dimensions? How high of ceilings? What would you have the builder finish, vs leave to DIY assuming a good price on basement finishing?


I am meeting with a builder on Wednesday to talk about the feasibility, in the mean time I am continuing my relentless search for a preexisting home that fits the bill. So far the most promising candidates are ranches (for the footprint) with unfinished basements. If I can find the one I could move on it any time. I'll keep this thread updated with my progress. Thanks everyone!

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post #2 of 16 Old 11-02-2009, 06:02 PM
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Just a couple of quick thoughts...

18' wide sounds good for 4 across seating. My room is 16' and I was able to fit four Berklines with a comfortable aisle on each side, but it did restrict me to the narrower seats. With 18', you should have your pick.

9' high ceiling sounds low. With two risers, add in a soffit and a hanging projector, headroom might get tight. Although, if you're designing from scratch, you might think about a projection room in the back.

And lastly, you should think about a professional design. It's good to do a lot of research and know what you want in your room, but let the professionals do the nitty gritty calculationson speaker placement and sound control and isolation. If you are using an architect, I found it was useful to have the room designed first and then let the architect design around your theater.

Good luck and enjoy the process.
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post #3 of 16 Old 11-02-2009, 06:14 PM
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One thing about basements and new house planning. They show you a floor plan and mention nine foot ceilings but fail to mention that a 48 inch wide by 12 inch tall HVAC duct goes down the middle of the room.

Something to watch out for.

Also they say nine feet so the guy doing the concrete slab looks at it an thinks well I can be a little sloppy with the final grading before the pour because they have such tall walls, next thing you know it is 8 1/2 feet of headroom.
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post #4 of 16 Old 11-02-2009, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eskay View Post

Just a couple of quick thoughts...

18' wide sounds good for 4 across seating. My room is 16' and I was able to fit four Berklines with a comfortable aisle on each side, but it did restrict me to the narrower seats. With 18', you should have your pick.

9' high ceiling sounds low. With two risers, add in a soffit and a hanging projector, headroom might get tight. Although, if you're designing from scratch, you might think about a projection room in the back.

And lastly, you should think about a professional design. It's good to do a lot of research and know what you want in your room, but let the professionals do the nitty gritty calculationson speaker placement and sound control and isolation. If you are using an architect, I found it was useful to have the room designed first and then let the architect design around your theater.

Good luck and enjoy the process.

Thank you very much for the feedback and comments. I think 18' width is really what I'm shooting for, but 16' would probably suffice. I'll talk to the builder to see if 10' walls are feasible, as I'd like to do a soffit to enhance the lighting if possible. I wouldn't be devastated if I could only fit 8 seats instead of 12, but the latter is certainly my goal.

As the prospect of buidling my own home increases, I will be more and more interested in hiring a professional to help design my theater. As I'm willing to put lots (well, lots to a 22 year old ) into this theater, I want it to be the best it can be.

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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

One thing about basements and new house planning. They show you a floor plan and mention nine foot ceilings but fail to mention that a 48 inch wide by 12 inch tall HVAC duct goes down the middle of the room.

Something to watch out for.

Also they say nine feet so the guy doing the concrete slab looks at it an thinks well I can be a little sloppy with the final grading before the pour because they have such tall walls, next thing you know it is 8 1/2 feet of headroom.

Thank you so much for your insight! I am quite anal about these things, and I'll be sure to keep them in mind when I get in to the nitty gritty, if it ever gets there. My father has designed his last four homes from scratch, and is really an excellent resource when it comes to floorplans and "planning ahead". I think I have it in my genes to want to design my own from the ground up

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post #5 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 08:09 AM
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As someone who had 8 foot ceilings in the 1st HT (acceptable), 6 foot 4 inch ceilings in the 2nd HT (not acceptable), and now 10 foot ceilings in my 3rd HT (the difference is amazing)....

John

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post #6 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 08:58 AM
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I'll echo the HVAC statement and 9ft ceilings. I got lucky enough to find a newer house that used truss style flooring and they ran all the HVAC through the trusses, so i have a true 9ft ceiling. I would look for these houses. They also take the creeking out of the floors. (for the most part anyways)
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post #7 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 09:21 AM
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Ceiling height and three rows are going to be fun tricks to pull off...forgive as I ramble a bit.

I'm one that has the duct in the center of the theatre and it took a great deal of planning on how to get everything line out properly. Where there is no duct, I'm at 8.5ft ceiling, duct=7.5ft. I'm glad I didn't rush into just flopping the theatre because it would have been wrong. Instead I went through several designs and everything fits ok.

Another thought on ceilings is you want three rows of seats. Assuming each platform is 1.5ft, that means the back row will sit 3ft higher than the actual floor. with a 10ft ceiling, you are down to 7ft of head room in the back. It is ok, but I'm not sure about ideal. The problem gets worse if you figure you need more than an 18in platform. You might try "sinking" the main level of the theatre. I.e. Entering from the rear on the third row and progressively sinking in.

Three rows of seating means that for each riser or row or whatever you want to call it, you're probably going to want to allocate 6ft for the recliner and walk way. so you are going to need a pretty long room.

Next rambling thought...how many seats did you want? Each person is going to give off about 350 BTU/hr then there is the equipment. Don't forget you need to keep things cooled off. If you are building you will want to make sure the HVAC people can zone your theatre separate and provide ample airflow.

I think that ends my ramblings for now.
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post #8 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 09:29 AM
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Consider going with a two row and a back bar design. Especially if the only reason for needing to seat 12 is for sporting events.

Personally, I couldn't ever see inviting over 10 other people to watch a movie.

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post #9 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathan View Post

Consider going with a two row and a back bark design.

That is for the convenience of Michaels two dogs

I agree with the back bar concept as it only requires a single riser height so head room while standing on the riser is more generous than standing on the back row riser of a two riser design.
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post #10 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 10:36 AM
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LOL.

Gotta love my typos....

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post #11 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

One thing about basements and new house planning. They show you a floor plan and mention nine foot ceilings but fail to mention that a 48 inch wide by 12 inch tall HVAC duct goes down the middle of the room.

Something to watch out for.

Also they say nine feet so the guy doing the concrete slab looks at it an thinks well I can be a little sloppy with the final grading before the pour because they have such tall walls, next thing you know it is 8 1/2 feet of headroom.

This is very true. When we were looking for a house back in 2006, the builder was boasting their 9ft basement. However, my measurement is 8' 9.5" from concrete floor to joist. What about the EMT pipes which are about half inch in diamater, the 1" firesprinkler pipes, etc. So my basement height is really downto 8' 8.5".
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post #12 of 16 Old 11-03-2009, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrm1504 View Post

Ceiling height and three rows are going to be fun tricks to pull off...forgive as I ramble a bit.

I'm one that has the duct in the center of the theatre and it took a great deal of planning on how to get everything line out properly. Where there is no duct, I'm at 8.5ft ceiling, duct=7.5ft. I'm glad I didn't rush into just flopping the theatre because it would have been wrong. Instead I went through several designs and everything fits ok.

Another thought on ceilings is you want three rows of seats. Assuming each platform is 1.5ft, that means the back row will sit 3ft higher than the actual floor. with a 10ft ceiling, you are down to 7ft of head room in the back. It is ok, but I'm not sure about ideal. The problem gets worse if you figure you need more than an 18in platform. You might try "sinking" the main level of the theatre. I.e. Entering from the rear on the third row and progressively sinking in.

Three rows of seating means that for each riser or row or whatever you want to call it, you're probably going to want to allocate 6ft for the recliner and walk way. so you are going to need a pretty long room.

Next rambling thought...how many seats did you want? Each person is going to give off about 350 BTU/hr then there is the equipment. Don't forget you need to keep things cooled off. If you are building you will want to make sure the HVAC people can zone your theatre separate and provide ample airflow.

I think that ends my ramblings for now.

I truly appreciate you're "ramblings" (more like insight to me!). If I build, duct work will be high on the discussion list. I really want to appropriately and effectivly seal the room as best as possible, and refrain from an obtrusive duct running down the middle of my room. To be honest, I'm only even considering building a home over buying one so I can make the HT of my dreams. I certainly won't be cutting any corner or settling for anything less than perfect in that regard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathan View Post

Consider going with a two row and a back bar design. Especially if the only reason for needing to seat 12 is for sporting events.

Personally, I couldn't ever see inviting over 10 other people to watch a movie.

I have thought about this on occasion after seeing some great theaters with bar style seating at the back. While I must admit this would be useful for things such as super bowl parties, I find it to "alter" the ambiance of the room from a dedicated theater to a "big screen viewing area". I'll have to weigh this idea some more however.

And in terms of having large numbers of guests... well I work at a software company, which is inherently full of movie nerds. I hope to start up a weekly movie viewing for all my fellow programmers and testers once the HT is complete could easily exceed 12 people.


Quote:
Originally Posted by v1rtu0s1ty View Post

This is very true. When we were looking for a house back in 2006, the builder was boasting their 9ft basement. However, my measurement is 8' 9.5" from concrete floor to joist. What about the EMT pipes which are about half inch in diamater, the 1" firesprinkler pipes, etc. So my basement height is really downto 8' 8.5".


I'll definitely ensure I'm maximizing my height by avoiding anything sticking out beneath the joists. If it is truly 9ft, I feel as though I can get 2 12" risers in without damaging viewing. But I'll have to do the math on that.

Thanks again for all who comment! I'm going to talk with the builder tomorrow, and this will be one of the topics.

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post #13 of 16 Old 11-07-2009, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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So I'm heading out to a nice ranch on Monday hopefully. The basement has a "rec room" at 30'x23'. While this isn't my optimal depth, I think with a 23' width I could go 5 wide comfortably. So perhaps 2 rows of 5, and a small back bar with 6-8 bar seats? How does that jive with you all?

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post #14 of 16 Old 11-08-2009, 04:47 AM
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I like 30' x 20' x 12' dimensions. You could have one part of the basement with 12' ceilings then the rest with 9' or whatever.

Oh, and I've heard Dennis Erskine is a great person to use in designing a home theater.
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post #15 of 16 Old 09-16-2011, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Man, I haven't touched this in a couple years. I guess it could be time for an update, and maybe I'll get motivated.

I finally ended up buying a house after 18 months of shopping. It was the best one I had looked at in my pricerange over that entire time, so I'm thrilled I got it.

The basement is already one hell of a man cave, and I have big plans for the theater area. Right now I'm just using a Vizio 42" with my old receiver and a couple of whoopass Infiniti speakers, with a monster HTPC. I am planning on ripping out the builtins, and putting up a projector screen.

I'll put together a floorplan layout tonight. Here is a shot of the builtins from the back of the theater room.

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post #16 of 16 Old 09-16-2011, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Also they say nine feet so the guy doing the concrete slab looks at it an thinks well I can be a little sloppy with the final grading before the pour because they have such tall walls, next thing you know it is 8 1/2 feet of headroom.


^^^^ I have 8 1/2 ceiling in my basement, plus a steel I beam running down the middle of the room.

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