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post #1 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey, guys. This is my first post here. I couldn't find an introduction forum (or an appropriate place to post this thread), but I thought this forum seemed most fitting.

I'm currently in the process of saving money to build a house. I hope to be able to start construction within the next 12-24 months. I'm teaching myself to use SketchUp and already designed a floor plan. I'm trying to read up as much as I can on this forum so I can do everything right the first time and not have to go back and fix mistakes.

I see a lot of people here posting floor plans for their theaters/houses/etc. Like I said, I designed a floor plan, myself, but it's mostly just a draft. I have no idea how thick walls should be, how much space should go between the basement and first floor, etc. Then I'm confused on design issues such as 2x4's not being exactly 2" x 4"... Wouldn't that minor size difference affect the floor plans as well? These questions don't even scratch the surface on all the confusion I'm having.

So, my question is, how did you guys get started? All this seems so overwhelming, I don't really know where to start. My main goal is to design a house and get everything right the first time so that when I'm ready to add a theater, I'll already have it designed and all the preparations will already be made.
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 08:39 AM
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Without sounding harse, you should "sketch out" a floor plan idea and hand it off to an architect and/or a structual engineer for the actual blueprints and design. If you are not either, you have no business trying to design a home down to the width of a 2x4 (which is acutally only 1 1/2" x 3 1/2")

Now that aside, jot down you "wish list" and a designer will assist in making it a reality that the builders can actually build within code compliance.

For the theater aspect, spend a month reading through every thread you can find here. Expecially the "what would I do different" thread.. There is a bunch of information to be learned.

A couple "must" are

1) make sure your electrical panel is open enough for the basement/theater circuits

2) I highly suggest a minimum of 9' walls in the basement (I have 9" and wish I had 10' for the theater room)

3) plan your HVAC runs so that your theater space does NOT have them overhead

4) attempt to save a space that is suitable for the size of theater you want. I have 12.5' x 21' and wish I had 18' x 30' (it would sure make life easier).

These are just a few things to concider, but there are hundreds of things that you will learn through reading.

Of course you could hire Dennis's group or a different theater designer to create your theater room blueprints.....

Oh and one more thing, money....lots of it......
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick reply. Designing this house was a project I decided to take on after seeing numerous people post their floor plans here. I'm a big DIY-guy, and I had it in my head that if that many other people on this forum could do it, so could I. Maybe I just set my hopes too high

For now, I'll probably continue to read on this forum and play with SketchUp and hopefully have a decent 3D model to present to a my architect when the time comes.
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoSport View Post

Without sounding harse, you should "sketch out" a floor plan idea and hand it off to an architect and/or a structual engineer for the actual blueprints and design. If you are not either, you have no business trying to design a home down to the width of a 2x4 (which is acutally only 1 1/2" x 3 1/2")

Now that aside, jot down you "wish list" and a designer will assist in making it a reality that the builders can actually build within code compliance.

For the theater aspect, spend a month reading through every thread you can find here. Expecially the "what would I do different" thread.. There is a bunch of information to be learned.

A couple "must" are

1) make sure your electrical panel is open enough for the basement/theater circuits

2) I highly suggest a minimum of 9' walls in the basement (I have 9" and wish I had 10' for the theater room)

3) plan your HVAC runs so that your theater space does NOT have them overhead

4) attempt to save a space that is suitable for the size of theater you want. I have 12.5' x 21' and wish I had 18' x 30' (it would sure make life easier).

These are just a few things to concider, but there are hundreds of things that you will learn through reading.

Of course you could hire Dennis's group or a different theater designer to create your theater room blueprints.....

Oh and one more thing, money....lots of it......

LOL, and you think the average person has the money to do that? I am sure Dennis is a very nice guy but his business is a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. Most of us would not be able to tell the difference after one of his designs/evaluations. That is way beyond the reality of the world and finances most of us live in. I designed my home theater myself on a legal pad I bought at Sam's. I am building it myself with Ryobi power tools and materials I bought at Menard's, Home Depot, and Meijer. It took two years of buying materials when they went on sale before I had enough to begin. I would love to have a $500 OPPO blue ray player but the reality is I can only afford the $69 Toshiba blue ray player I bought at Sam's. I bought my other components off of eBay. Some of you need to come back down to reality and live in the real world the rest of us live in. I will be just as happy with my budget home theater as the guys with the $50,000/$100,000 home theaters, I will have built it all myself, and it will be paid for in full when I have it completed.
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post #5 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macfan View Post


LOL, and you think the average person has the money to do that? I am sure Dennis is a very nice guy but his business is a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. Most of us would not be able to tell the difference after one of his designs/evaluations. That is way beyond the reality of the world and finances most of us live in. I designed my home theater myself on a legal pad I bought at Sam's. I am building it myself with Ryobi power tools and materials I bought at Menard's, Home Depot, and Meijer. It took two years of buying materials when they went on sale before I had enough to begin. I would love to have a $500 OPPO blue ray player but the reality is I can only afford the $69 Toshiba blue ray player I bought at Sam's. I bought my other components off of eBay. Some of you need to come back down to reality and live in the real world the rest of us live in. I will be just as happy with my budget home theater as the guys with the $50,000/$100,000 home theaters, I will have built it all myself, and it will be paid for in full when I have it completed.

You are putting words into Broncosports mouth that he didn't say and accusing him of being a stuck up rich snob. That was not the intent of his post as I read it.

There is a big difference between designing how a house will look and designing a structure that will stand up. To the original poster, if you want to design the look of your new house then that's absolutely awesome. I'd want to do the same thing and make it unique and perfect for me. That being said, you need to have the actual blue prints drawn up by an architect or structural engineer so that the house can be safe and functional to live in. Make some sketchup models and floorplans that show how you'd like your house to look (size of rooms, number of bathrooms, etc.) then bring that to a trained professional so that they can figure out how to implement plumbing, HVAC, electrical, insulation, etc. and build a safe structure.

In regards to designing the theater, well that can be done much more easily by yourself with the advice of some of the people on this forum. But the theater is a room inside the house. Designing a structurally sound house and a room in a house are two completely different animals.

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post #6 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tspirtle View Post

I see a lot of people here posting floor plans for their theaters/houses/etc. Like I said, I designed a floor plan, myself, but it's mostly just a draft. I have no idea how thick walls should be, how much space should go between the basement and first floor, etc. Then I'm confused on design issues such as 2x4's not being exactly 2" x 4"... Wouldn't that minor size difference affect the floor plans as well? These questions don't even scratch the surface on all the confusion I'm having.

So, my question is, how did you guys get started?

As Broncosport said, just draw rough sketches and layouts, and let the architect handle the actual plans to that level of detail. If you haven't done this before, you'll miss way too many things (HVAC chases, plumbing, all kinds of code stuff, etc.) to do anything except frustrate the both of you when the time comes.

Best advice I have on the topic is to go walk through as many new construction homes as possible. If there's any "open houses" or spec homes in your area, visit them, get the floorplans, and see how they feel in real life.

When I started on the design for my house, I took the plans from a house I walked through, and started with that. I also handed some floorplan excerpts of layouts I liked to the architect, along with a laundry list of design points.

As for the theater, definitely get the space large enough to do what you want. And do the things Bronco pointed out - most of them don't cost anything - it's just a matter of planning and direction ahead of time. You should hire Dennis when it comes time to actually do the plans - their AVSforum service is very inexpensive.

Jeff

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post #7 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 09:28 AM
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There's a lot to balance, and everyone will have a different happy place for their budget and their expectations and their interest in doing it themselves.

If you want to design (engineer) and build the theater yourself, I'm with BroncoSport: you need to have the home designed and built by a pro, but with the theater in mind. J_P_A is in the middle of this whole process now, and has done a great job of keeping all us looky-lous informed. His Plains Theater thread would be very informative for you.
BroncoSport's tips are great too - more space, especially overhead, makes the process easier and the results better, almost always (but realize that bigger costs more, too). Getting someone like Dennis involved early can make a huge impact on the whole process, because a pro speaks the same language as your architect/designer/builder, and can clearly define the design priorities in a no-nonsense way that will be understood.

Good luck!

Fred
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macfan View Post

LOL, and you think the average person has the money to do that? I am sure Dennis is a very nice guy but his business is a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. Most of us would not be able to tell the difference after one of his designs/evaluations. That is way beyond the reality of the world and finances most of us live in. I designed my home theater myself on a legal pad I bought at Sam's. I am building it myself with Ryobi power tools and materials I bought at Menard's, Home Depot, and Meijer. It took two years of buying materials when they went on sale before I had enough to begin. I would love to have a $500 OPPO blue ray player but the reality is I can only afford the $69 Toshiba blue ray player I bought at Sam's. I bought my other components off of eBay. Some of you need to come back down to reality and live in the real world the rest of us live in. I will be just as happy with my budget home theater as the guys with the $50,000/$100,000 home theaters, I will have built it all myself, and it will be paid for in full when I have it completed.

Since you DONT know me and appearantly can't read, I can tell you that I am very far from rich (try about $80k a year combined household income). The OP referenced the idea of designing is HOUSE with an inexpensive drawing program. Like it has been said, if you aren't in the business of designing homes...you will NOT remember all the things involved like HVAC, electrical, plumbing elevation ect ect and have no real business doing anything but sketching out designs for the home. For the theater you can do what ever you want....as long as you educate yourself. (ie the "What would I do different" thread)

Every point I made...except for the reference to Dennis are cost neutral items when plannning for a future home theater. If the OP only wanted a room that he played movies in, he wouldn't be asking for advice in the "Dedicated Home Theater" forum.

On my build, I started almost 10 years ago and spent as I went. I didn't hire Dennis or any body else, but if I had to do it again I would have. I am building a Dedicated Home Theater and the pros could have helped me save a bunch of time rather than figuring it all out for myself. When done I will have about $20,000 in the whole room (electronics to studs) and since I stretched it out over 10 years it isn't all that much spent per year. But when done I WILL be able to watch any movie in a fully decoupled and treated room, without disturbing anyone else in the house. And BTW, most of my high end or close to it electronics were bought either on sale or slightly used. I do all the work myself and bought the tools as needed. I alot of stuff on eBay.

My theater would likely cost $50k turn key if I farmed it out, so I am saving a bunch. The OP can read and compare and then decide how deep he wants to get into this money pit.
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 10:02 AM
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Designing a home is not a DIY job unless you can afford to make many costly mistakes!!!

I would simply buy a pre-fabricated house plan ontheinternet. There are thousands available for every style, size and budget. Simple, cheap and will likely include all plumbing, electrical, window specs, flooring, HVAC, roofing lines, etc. Just give tot he builder, have him check local codes and go! When we built our house, we went with an architect and it was extremely expensive.

Sketching a house and building will be fraught with expense and do overs.

This has little to do with being a snob, it's just the right way to approach such a formibable, expensive project.

This is a prime example of my favorite adage, "It can be very expensive to try and save money".

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #10 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 10:11 AM
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Architects are expensive, but they are worth it -- no matter what your budget. And especially if you want a custom floor plan and not a stock plan. But don't get sticker shock if/when you start interviewing them and pricing them out.
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post #11 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoSport View Post

Without sounding harse, you should "sketch out" a floor plan idea and hand it off to an architect and/or a structual engineer for the actual blueprints and design. If you are not either, you have no business trying to design a home down to the width of a 2x4 (which is acutally only 1 1/2" x 3 1/2")

2) I highly suggest a minimum of 9' walls in the basement (I have 9" and wish I had 10' for the theater room)

Oh and one more thing, money....lots of it......


Did anyone else read #2 and immediately think of this?

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post #12 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macfan View Post

LOL, and you think the average person has the money to do that? I am sure Dennis is a very nice guy but his business is a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. Most of us would not be able to tell the difference after one of his designs/evaluations. That is way beyond the reality of the world and finances most of us live in. I designed my home theater myself on a legal pad I bought at Sam's. I am building it myself with Ryobi power tools and materials I bought at Menard's, Home Depot, and Meijer. It took two years of buying materials when they went on sale before I had enough to begin. I would love to have a $500 OPPO blue ray player but the reality is I can only afford the $69 Toshiba blue ray player I bought at Sam's. I bought my other components off of eBay. Some of you need to come back down to reality and live in the real world the rest of us live in. I will be just as happy with my budget home theater as the guys with the $50,000/$100,000 home theaters, I will have built it all myself, and it will be paid for in full when I have it completed.

I don't think that was his intentions. As others have said you took his post compeletly the wrong way...to the point at which I think an apology is in order.

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post #13 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 11:50 AM
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I don't think that was his intentions. As others have said you took his post compeletly the wrong way...to the point at which I think an apology is in order.

I think you took my response completely the wrong way to the point which I think an apology to me is in order. But I get it, you guys don't want to be reminded there are the poor, unwashed like me in this world. I get the message, I will just lurk from now on.
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post #14 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 11:56 AM
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There are lots of ways to build a very nice home theater on a reasonable budget. At the same time, I think the purpose of this forum is to at least treat a Home Theater build with the same level of care and planning you would treat a kitchen renovation, or any other room addition to your home.

All of which is to say that the decision to go with a $69 vs $500 DVD player is pretty much dwarfed by other planning and building concerns.
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post #15 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 12:05 PM
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Unfortunate turn this thread took.

I would echo that a design service would likely pay for itself and be worthwhile for most guys that are spending $$ on a performance room. We've been involved in literally hundreds (probably in excess of 1000) of theater builds over the years and it's common to hear "if I had to do it all over again I'd have hired out the design." The design is where the steep learning curve comes into play.

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post #16 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 12:25 PM
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I apologize in advance for furthering this string, but I would like to share my impressions in going from a theater that I thought I did a very good job in designing and calibrating to a design done by Dennis. (I purchased only the layout service.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by macfan View Post

I am sure Dennis is a very nice guy but his business is a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes.

You're right - Dennis is a very nice guy. I can attest to the fact that he has gone above and beyond to help me with questions regarding my theater build when he had absolutely no obligation to do so.


Quote:
Originally Posted by macfan View Post

Most of us would not be able to tell the difference after one of his designs/evaluations.

I find this statement to be absurd, most likely entirely false, and misleading to other new forum members. As a person who can directly compare the difference between a theater I thought I had done a very good job of planning and executing and one designed by Dennis (even with the latter still incomplete), I find the difference to be absolutely stupefying. Performance levels - using the exact same equipment - are not even comparable. There is certainly a level of subjectivity regarding whether or not one could "tell the difference" between two designs. However, the difference in performance that I experienced is not anything that could be attributed to a reasonable difference in opinion. It was more like: Either you're bats#!t crazy or you're not.

Finally, while Dennis certainly builds some no-limits theaters that many of us can only gawk at, I found him to be entirely understanding of my budgetary constraints and completely willing to work within them.

macfan - Have you ever experienced a theater designed by Dennis and well executed?

The Esquire Theater Construction Thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1289590
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post #17 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 12:59 PM
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Unfortunate turn this thread took.

I tried to lighten the mood, but nobody took the bait
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 01:00 PM
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Ha! Yes you did!

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post #19 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 03:04 PM
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...But I get it, you guys don't want to be reminded there are the poor, unwashed like me in this world...

There is no whining in home theatre construction!
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post #20 of 22 Old 05-01-2012, 06:52 PM
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Let me add, for the original poster...I used to draw up plans in Punch Home Design for my dream house. First, I was going to tear down the house I lived in and build on the lot. Eventually, we bought a house, rented it out for a few years, then tore it down and built. When, I look back at the plans I came up (with no architectural background and little artistic talent!) , they are actually not that far off from what the house turned out to be. But the architect was able to take my vision and tweak it and refine it in ways I simply couldn't. It cost a bunch, but in the end I couldn't have the house I have without her help.
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post #21 of 22 Old 05-02-2012, 02:38 PM
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There is no whining in home theatre construction!

You haven't seen me finish drywall or paint trim!
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post #22 of 22 Old 05-02-2012, 03:06 PM
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Google house plans and you will find quite a few free sites that have basic designs you can print out. We printed out 3 or 4 that we liked and took them to a certified designer. This is not an official architect, but just as good IMO (and much less expensive). We showed him what we liked from the different designs and he put together a plan that pulled in all the different elements and designed a fantastic house for us. Granted, you need to do your research with a designer, just as you would when choosing an architect, but it is another option.

We finished building our house a couple years ago. I had been reading on this site for about a year prior to that and knew I wanted space for a dedicated theater. I told the designer what I wanted as far as size, and he added that space to the plan. Then I made sure the HVAC/plumbing/electrical guys kept as much out of the space as possible. After we moved in, I ended up getting the basic Theater Layout service from Dennis through this site. Couldn't be happier with the theater he layed out for the space I had. Now I am DIYing everything (except carpet), and will end up with a fantastic space. I will also recommend Ted at the Sound Proofing Company. He answered any questions I threw at him.
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