Also known as the 'What!?, You Have A Basement!?' Build. Honestly though, basements are finally gaining popularity and becoming more commonplace in Arizona, although I've only seen a handful on these forums.
IMO, I'm not quite ready to make a build thread yet, but on the flip side, I think I could easily spend another 6 mo researching and unfortunately I get caught in analysis paralysis on things much simpler then this, so I hope this thread will help me get some feedback on the upfront design as well as push me to make progress.Background
Never really been a video or audiophile (likely because I'm too cheap
), but for some reason I've always been fascinated by having my own home theater. Something about the experience draws me to it. Every place that I've lived over the last 10 years, I have more or less planned out in my head for a projector setup. Measurements, angles, screen size, light control, etc have been toyed with but I've never taken the plunge. I guess you could say that I enjoy the daydream planning but it'll be nice to actually follow through for once.
Over the years, I've read through various builds on this site and I was always so jealous of all the folks in the Midwest and East coast where basements were common place. My wife is also from the Midwest, so she has fond memories of growing up with a basement as well. That's why both of us were so excited to find one here in AZ. We are finally settled, and even better, settled in a place with a nice spot for a home theater.
So that's the good news. The bad news is that I have basically zero construction experience, am not very handy, and don't really own very many tools at all. Luckily other threads on this forum have given me confidence that those deficiencies can be overcome, even if it's slow and painful. Additionally, my father is a retired electrician (non residential) and my father-in-law is a general contractor on the side (albeit out of state). He comes into town every so often, like for example, this week
. So time for me to learn - better late then never.
So while I'm on this good news / bad news approach, good news is my wife and I have a toddler and another one on the way. The bad news is that the wife will no longer be working as of next year, which seriously dampers my desire to cash flow this project. This will likely stretch out the timeline quite a bit. See how I blame that on the budget and not my inability to use a hammer?
Alright, so enough personal jibber jabber, let's get to the design.Floor Plan
The basement is not that big compared to most on this site, a tad over 1000sq ft, but luckily it does have 9ft ceilings and uses a web truss system so all mechanicals are hidden away. The web trusses are 24" OC and 20 inches deep, so plenty of room for insulation. Additionally, there are no support poles in the middle of the room or anything like that.
The basement is what I would call half finished. This means that all the things are in place to make it technically livable space (more property taxes), such as HVAC, smoke alarms, sump pump, egress windows, ceiling fan prewiring, electrical subpanel, and framing all the way around the concrete walls. As I understand it, this is pretty rare since most builders here only deliver fully finished basements. The good news of course is that we get freedom of design and get to prewire to our heart's content.
Also I should probably mention that most basements here are built as an option, so all vital systems such as hot water heater, main electrical panel, and structured wiring box are upstairs. The basement has its own electrical 100 amp subpanel and the HVAC system is completely separate zone.
So this is not only a theater build, but also an entire basement build. The office will likely be first priority in order to free up a bedroom upstairs for baby #2.
Here is the floorplan so far:
Comments are welcome on any aspect of the basement, not just the theater.
Taking a look at the floorplan, grey walls are either outside walls or walls that exist already and I don't currently plan to build or change.
My office will be on the left side with built in bookshelves surrounding both windows. French door entry, which I wish could be used in the theater as well, but I have finally accepted that maybe that's not the best idea. The other side of the room will be a sitting area of sorts with plans for an electric fireplace (wife's request). Closet to maintain the ability to split into a bedroom later down the line.
Storage area contains shelving, an Air Handler (H) for the HVAC, and the sump pump (Triangle), which goes a little bit behind the stairs. Bath is a std size.
Open area after coming down the stairs will be left open for the most part. Maybe a flatscreen on the long upper wall later down the road. I'd like to be able to use it for kids play area, poker table setup, spillover room from theater. It contains a tiny wetbar in the corner which will have a few cabinets, a fridge, maybe some wine racks. Notice the '?' there, as I will have a weird gap if I line up the theater wall with the upper concrete corner. If I line up the wall with the lower concrete corner it eliminate the wetbar gap, but introduces the same gap on the theater side. It's about a 20" difference between the two corners. The diagram shows a 6" baseplate staggered stud wall, but at this point, I'm thinking I might as well build a double studded super wall to eliminate that gap completely.
The Equipment Closet (EC) has been a source of frustration lately. After reading through the "What Would I Do Differently" thread, nearly everyone says get the equipment out of the theater itself. I've been struggling to find a good place for the equipment so any input would be appreciated. I've wavered back and forth between cutting out some precious shelving space in the storage area to building a separate bumpout along the theater wall. The diagram right now shows a third idea of building a floor to ceiling kitchen cabinet which could be used to house all the equipment and blend into the kitchenette.
For the theater, the doorway, as I mentioned above, is a single door, but of larger size. Will be solid core and will try to seal it down as much as possible. Placement of the door is set to swing outwards right now to give me more space in the theater.
The measurements are currently stud to stud since the walls are framed already. The windows are very large, but very little light comes in throughout the day. They already have blinds, and adding heavy curtains should do the trick, but custom window plugs are another option I've been looking at.
Here are some of my initial plans for the theater. I'm sure these will evolve as I research further.Equipment
Things could change by the time I get ready to populate the equipment in the theater, but my plan right now is to take from what I have upstairs to soften the budget blow. Currently that is Athena f2.2s plus matching center and sides. I would like to do 7.1, so I guess I'd have to pick up a couple more to make that happen. I'd like to upgrade at some point to something on the level of Paradigm. Sub is an old Kenwood, which I keep thinking is going to die at anytime, yet it keeps on going. Not that I've really been able to crank the bass since the first baby came along - I think that will be the nicest thing of having a dedicated space.
Projector will likely be something like the Panny AE4000. For a screen, the diagram shows a false wall AT approach, but I really hate losing 2 feet. I'm still up in the air and will likely go the recommended route of getting the projector first before determining exact screen size. Heck, with 2 kids running around, I might just keep a low cost DIY for a while. Right now I'm hoping for a CIH 2.35/2.4 screen about 10 feet wide. I'd like to go wider, but I'm afraid the image will just be too big. Currently have a 67" DLP upstairs.Seating
Still somewhat undecided here. I'd like to fit as many in the front row as possible because the idea of people sitting behind just feels a little weird. I could see us inviting another family over for movie night and it'd be nice if the 4 adults a a few small kids could fit on the couch comfortably. Ideally I'd like one of those couches where you can fold down a couple of the seats to provide cupholders when the extra seating is not needed.
Looking at other people's build threads, I really, really liked the idea of having a bar with seating at the back that can be used for sports and casual watching. This is where I put in the obligatory 'man I wish I had a couple more feet'. With a 10' wide AT screen, 21+' is just not enough to make that happen from the numbers I've crunched so far. I've even considered eliminating the AT screen to try and fit that back row bar in, but it might just be too forced.
So what I have done for the back row is to split it up. Have a high top table with a few seats and a couple theater chairs. I'm not quite sure the practicality of a setup like this quite yet.Soundproofing
Master bedroom is above the theater. That's a good thing right now when most of our movie watching is together and no one else is using the theater, but I have a feeling that as the kids get older they will want to use it while we are sleeping. That coupled with the open basement staircase makes me really get serious about soundproofing.
As I mentioned above, my outside walls are already framed. Not only are they framed, but it seems to me that they must be supporting a lot of the joist weight. The joists are not sitting on the foundation edge or anything like that, so I'm not really sure how it's all engineered. Thus, I'm not planning on messing with any of that.
My approach will be the standard clips, channels, DD, and GG. For the ceiling, i have 20" of space I can fill up with insulation, but I've read that anything above R19 doesn't really help anymore from a sound perspective. I'm not sure if R19 + the extra air gap is helpful or not. I'll get around to speaking with Ted sooner or later. Additionally, I plan on possibly adding mass to the 1st level subfloor ala the recommendation on the Green Glue site. There is a lot of tile upstairs and at times it can sound hollow or vibrate the floor when walking around. My hope is that I can deaden the subfloor a bit by applying OSB + GG between the joists.
Not really sure what to do with the windows from a soundproofing perspective. They are double pane, but I'm sure they will rattle, leak, etc. Still need to figure out a plan for that.Questions
- I'd love to hear recommendations on equipment closet location
- What would you do with that weird gap around counter and theater wall?
- For soundproofing, since the theater wall will already be decoupled by CC on the inside, as well as the fact that its staggered or double stud, should I also go ahead and use RSIC clips to tie into the joists?
Any and all thoughts appreciated.
Edit: Here are some before pictures:
Looking into the theater room.
Upper wall of theater room.
Standing in theater and looking toward bath and storage room.