Advice for non-DIY HT - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 06-15-2014, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Advice for non-DIY HT

Here is my situation: New house build with an unfinished basement. My plan is to have an office, bathroom and a dedicated home theatre with decent sound isolation
I am expecting my 1st born in 6 months and I know nothing about construction, so DIY is not really an option for the majority of the work.
( I am well versed in a sound proofing methods and theories, it would just take me 10 years to do everything)

1) Has anyone had experience with contracting out their HT build with sound proofing?
- Did it turn out well and what process did you follow?
- how involved were you in the process, were there easier DIY steps that saved some money?

2) Do you think 6 months is even enough time?

Attached my design.
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post #2 of 26 Old 06-15-2014, 09:04 PM
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There are companies with experince in building quality well soundproofed and well planned theaters. Finding one in your area may be a challenge. There are also national companies that will go just about anywhere. In either case the price tag might surprise you. One company that I know on a national level is the Erskine Group. They will design and build your theater, A lot of the woodworking finish details will be constructed off sight and assembled in your space. They will specify a theater that is throughly soundproofed, well equipped with proven gear and acoustically treated.
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post #3 of 26 Old 06-22-2014, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
There are companies with experince in building quality well soundproofed and well planned theaters. Finding one in your area may be a challenge. There are also national companies that will go just about anywhere. In either case the price tag might surprise you. One company that I know on a national level is the Erskine Group. They will design and build your theater, A lot of the woodworking finish details will be constructed off sight and assembled in your space. They will specify a theater that is throughly soundproofed, well equipped with proven gear and acoustically treated.

Yeah, I don't live in a particularly large city (also in CA.) and from what I've seen, Erskine Group is for the bigger spender.

Guess I'll start the hunt.
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post #4 of 26 Old 06-22-2014, 01:02 PM
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If CA check Acoustic Frontiers.
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post #5 of 26 Old 06-22-2014, 03:04 PM
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Mike, Where in Cali are you?
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post #6 of 26 Old 06-25-2014, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, CA as in Canada, didn't think before I posted that
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post #7 of 26 Old 06-25-2014, 11:11 AM
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post #8 of 26 Old 06-26-2014, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyd17 View Post
Here is my situation: New house build with an unfinished basement. My plan is to have an office, bathroom and a dedicated home theatre with decent sound isolation
I am expecting my 1st born in 6 months and I know nothing about construction, so DIY is not really an option for the majority of the work.
( I am well versed in a sound proofing methods and theories, it would just take me 10 years to do everything)

1) Has anyone had experience with contracting out their HT build with sound proofing?
- Did it turn out well and what process did you follow?
- how involved were you in the process, were there easier DIY steps that saved some money?

2) Do you think 6 months is even enough time?

Attached my design.
1. I hired 2 weekend warrior contractors to help me with the project. Similar situation to yours with kids and no time or enough expertise. I did learn quite a bit through the project. I did do a decent amount of sound isolation.
-It turned out well enough but I am a perfectionist and I do think it could have been better. I worked with thesoundproofingcompany for the materials and techniques and also did consulting with The Erskine Group for additional information.
-I was very involved and would plan to be yourself if they have no experience in sound isolation techniques. I helped out nearly every hour that they were there right alongside them. And then I did extra work during the week in order to keep costs down. I spent many many many more hours than anticipated. Sound isolation complicated everything. And the contractors will absolutely have no clue how to handle it even if they act like they do. They just want to complete the job, collect the check, and move on to the next job. They won't care about your results because their pay does not reflect on it. So you will have to be on them every single step of the way. Explaining it is not enough. You have to literally watch and do it with them. Trust me on this.

2. It is enough time if they can come more than just weekends like mine did and if you have the necessary time as well. It took me about 8-10 months but they did not come every weekend.

Depending on how good your job is you could consider just working harder or overtime to pay for an experienced contractor but he needs to have more than a couple sound isolation builds under his belt first. Not sure how much your time is worth either but it is a factor.

I ended up doing all of the HVAC and electrical and like I said I helped out nearly every step of the way to keep costs down. In the end I probably saved 7-9K over a specialty HT contractor. If I had it to do over I would have worked overtime and hired him. I spent HUNDREDS of hours over the course of a year with toddlers who needed my attention and it was a stress on our marriage to be working on it so much. They would have been done in under 2 weeks and I could have started enjoying the room right away. This is a DIY group here though so I may be a dissenting opinion. In a different stage of my life I would be all DIY but my time is a huge commodity at this point.
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post #9 of 26 Old 06-27-2014, 07:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input Jedi. Sounds like you had a bit of a stressful build, hope you are enjoying it with your family now!

My angle is that I'm frugal, but I'll pay for quality/convenience.
I was hoping I hire contractors for the big jobs and do everything else. Not sure if that is feasible after reading your comments. I do know a GC I can 'probably' trust as well to coordinate activities.

E.G
1) Hire someone to do the framing/soffits
2) DIY Riser, Insulation, DW furring channel/clips, acoustical sealants
3) Hire someone for the electrical
4) DIY putty pads, A/V wires, backer boxes
5) Hire someone for HVAC
6) DIY Roxul for HVAC
7) Hire someone to hang OSB/drywall/doors
8) Hire someone to do bathroom
9) Hire carpet guy
10) DIY paint/window plug/acoustical treatments

I found an audio place in my area that has some home theatre pics, so I might investigate: http://londonaudio.com/home-theatre/
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post #10 of 26 Old 06-30-2014, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I've changed my tune.

I've decided to DIY my whole basement & Theatre (minus some electrical, drywall mud/tap and probably carpet)

I have very few tools and don't know much about construction, but I am excited at the prospect of learning and showing off all my hard work in the end.
Will I still feel this way 6 months into the project....only time will tell
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post #11 of 26 Old 07-01-2014, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post
I ended up doing all of the HVAC and electrical and like I said I helped out nearly every step of the way to keep costs down. In the end I probably saved 7-9K over a specialty HT contractor. If I had it to do over I would have worked overtime and hired him. I spent HUNDREDS of hours over the course of a year with toddlers who needed my attention and it was a stress on our marriage to be working on it so much. They would have been done in under 2 weeks and I could have started enjoying the room right away. This is a DIY group here though so I may be a dissenting opinion. In a different stage of my life I would be all DIY but my time is a huge commodity at this point.
I agree 100% with everything in your post, but think you might be underestimating the cost of specialty contractors. Either that, or I've got a "screw me" sign taped to my back. Was $7k - $9k your estimate for just HVAC & electrical, or the room in general?

 

 

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post #12 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 05:15 AM
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You absolutely can DIY.

Here is a dated but relevant project by a "first timer"

36 Month HT construction by a first-timer - DONE!

the key is to have a reasonably plan, go so slow researching each step. Hire out things that are just a nucance like hanging and finisishing the drywall. But you should be there to supervise and help use any theater specific products for soundproofing.

I taught myself ductwork, Plumbing (copper pipe and PVC), Electrical, and other things when I tackled my basement finishing. Everything you need to know is out there you just need to do the research.
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post #13 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
You absolutely can DIY.

Here is a dated but relevant project by a "first timer"

36 Month HT construction by a first-timer - DONE!

the key is to have a reasonably plan, go so slow researching each step. Hire out things that are just a nucance like hanging and finisishing the drywall. But you should be there to supervise and help use any theater specific products for soundproofing.

I taught myself ductwork, Plumbing (copper pipe and PVC), Electrical, and other things when I tackled my basement finishing. Everything you need to know is out there you just need to do the research.
Thread bookmarked, thanks for digging that up! Any particular books/sources you'd recommend on framing?
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post #14 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 10:00 AM
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Money saving tip: buy all your DIY project books used.

I use Alibris all the time, here is a Taunton press book on basement finishing for less than $1. I like anything published by Taunton. They publish the Fine Homebuilding magazine.

http://www.alibris.com/Remodeling-a-...27?matches=108

Also FYI there are wall framing techniques that will help with soundproofing the theater space, you should be aware of them as they can actually save you money and space. The one tip is to frame the walls one inch shorter than the ceiling joists keeping it isolated. Secure the top with IB3 clips. Wall vibration (sound) can then be kept from the rest of the house.

Last edited by BIGmouthinDC; 07-02-2014 at 10:05 AM.
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post #15 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Money saving tip: buy all your DIY project books used.

I use Alibris all the time, here is a Taunton press book on basement finishing for less than $1. I like anything published by Taunton. They publish the Fine Homebuilding magazine.

http://www.alibris.com/Remodeling-a-...27?matches=108
Good tip, I like money.

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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Also FYI there are wall framing techniques that will help with soundproofing the theater space, you should be aware of them as they can actually save you money and space. The one tip is to frame the walls one inch shorter than the ceiling joists keeping it isolated. Secure the top with IB3 clips. Wall vibration (sound) can then be kept from the rest of the house.
Already have the IB3 clips in my notes from other posts of yours! Unfortunately I had my builder fully stud and insulate the exterior walls before I did all my sound proofing research (2 of them will be theater walls). So I guess I'll have to build a second set of walls inside them for proper decoupling.
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post #16 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 12:29 PM
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I agree 100% with everything in your post, but think you might be underestimating the cost of specialty contractors. Either that, or I've got a "screw me" sign taped to my back. Was $7k - $9k your estimate for just HVAC & electrical, or the room in general?
What I meant was that the specialty contractor would have been around 7K more than the general contractor. And that is just for the room. I did hvac myself and had a friend do electrical with me. And I think I would have paid it to have the room done in less than 2 weeks instead of the better part of a year considering how stressful the build became.
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post #17 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyd17 View Post
Well, I've changed my tune.

I've decided to DIY my whole basement & Theatre (minus some electrical, drywall mud/tap and probably carpet)

I have very few tools and don't know much about construction, but I am excited at the prospect of learning and showing off all my hard work in the end.
Will I still feel this way 6 months into the project....only time will tell
That is exciting and it will be a sense of accomplishment when done. I do hope you noticed the timeline in the DIY build that big linked (36 months). With children and no experience this might be spot on if you plan to do everything. I found that project took me between 3-4 times as long as expected and the reasons are impossible to know at this point. As long as you are ok with the timeline just enjoy the ride! Lots of helpful folks around here.
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post #18 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 04:09 PM
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Good tip, I like money.


Already have the IB3 clips in my notes from other posts of yours! Unfortunately I had my builder fully stud and insulate the exterior walls before I did all my sound proofing research (2 of them will be theater walls). So I guess I'll have to build a second set of walls inside them for proper decoupling.

clips and channel also decouples a wall and you can use the existing framing.
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post #19 of 26 Old 07-02-2014, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
clips and channel also decouples a wall and you can use the existing framing.
What about the sound transmitting from floor->stud->joist for those 2 walls? Do you think Delta FL+ plywood on the concrete is enough, combined with putting the subs on stage filled sand?
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post #20 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 03:05 AM
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post #21 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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*scribbles some more notes*
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post #22 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 08:23 AM
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Good for you. That's my approach to my home. Don't know how to tile a floor? Learn how.
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post #23 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 10:20 AM
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Good for you. That's my approach to my home. Don't know how to tile a floor? Learn how.
+1

I'm excited you are deciding to DIY!

You can save cash while increasing your personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. It will mean more if YOU did it.

You can basically learn anything you'll need to know on the fly. You might even want to invest in a cheap tablet that does YouTube and keep it handy whir you work for music and also to learn stuff or look stuff up when you have a question. YouTube is loaded with tons of how to do videos and the internet is loaded with resources. When in doubt start a thread and ask. Having a tablet handy for big pictures (phones suck) and examples will be handy. Also handy for uploading pics
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post #24 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 10:58 AM
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Good luck with your project! I ended up contracting mine with a general contractor, it took a full 6 months to build. It was pretty much a fully isolated room.
I used Erskine to do the design which set up the principles of the design, which we then expanded on and developed into the resulting space. There is not any information that Erskine can provide that isn't readily available via this forum. They very much want it just their way, and no other, and certainly won't work to a budget! Just ask your questions on AVS and people will help. Jeff (BigmouthinDC) is a real practical expert - my best advice is to follow his advice!

There are lots of myths and theories, but really two simple methodologies which are structural separation (to isolate low frequency) and air tightness to isolate high frequencies. you could spend double your budget chasing the last 5-10% which i don't think is worth it, not hugely effects the end result when watching a movie.

The only 'specialist' products that we used in my build was green glue, Ecosse 2" fibre glass board to line the wall behind the stage (although you don't appear to have a stage/screen wall in your design), and the acoustic treatments for side and back walls (from GIK acoustics).

Everything else was pretty much off the shelf standard builder products.

HVAC -we used flex lined ducting (with a dedicated air handling system)

all stud work/ drywall/ etc was fixed with screws - no nails were used anywhere in the build.

A huge saving was building the speakers - diy sound group.

I had fabric covered walls, with which we didn't take the opportunity to hide more stuff, or finish less the walls behind it. The fabric tracks were quite simple to work with and give a high quality finish. maybe worth looking into.

again, good luck and enjoy the process.
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post #25 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 11:41 AM
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+1 again ^

DIY is slower. But is it cheaper and the sense of personal accomplishment is greater. One advantage to DIY is that because you do things one step at a time you can learn each new thing one step at a time as you go. Because the work doesn't happen fast you get plenty of time to plan and figure out the next step. You can educate yourself on each step or the process at one step at a time and learn the things you need to know.

I'd suggest having a basic understanding of sound proofing and audio theory to start because it helps to design your room around these aspects. The rest you can learn on the fly, but if you understand these from the beginning it will help you plan better things like speaker locations, sub locations, type of wall construction, and general layout of the room. If you can't figure out what size screen you should get, or how far back your first row should be.. those are things you can ask around here and get a straight answer so it's not like it's brain surgery or rocket science. It is very difficult to replicate the result you might get by getting a formal set of plans done like Mads1 got from Erksine group all on your own as a rookie. There is a learning curve and it probably takes about a year of reading this forum to pick up all the little pieces of info you need to do it all on your own. Mads1 is entirely right that non of it is beyond reach, but you will have to ask yourself what level of commitment to do you want to make to the project? If it's hundreds of hours researching and reading threads over a year or more time you might be ok without plans; but for a lot of guys they would rather spend the $700 and get a head start and advice from a PRO. You get advice from Big(Jeff) and you have a direct line to ask design questions with those guys so sometimes that resource is worth the price. It's a good safety blanket to get pro plans IMO, the small cost relative to the entire project might ensure you don't make serious mistakes. Compared to paying for a turn key your DIY project is still going to be way cheaper so splurge on that if you think you need it.

I'm 50/50 on if I want to get the plans or not, leaning towards yes. I can say I have put my time in so to speak with learning and research too; the value of plans will increase as your level of competency with both construction and design techniques decreases. That is a judgement you will have to make but I'd suggest the safe route is probably to get a professional layout service and that will get you a solid plan to start and one less thing to worry about.

The easy part will be learning how to frame walls, do drywall, run electrical, etc.. I hate to say it like this (and I mean no offense to anyone in the construction business) but some of the stupid people I went to high school with are in various different forms of construction and rather successful. You do not have to be above average intelligence to learn or do it. For most people it's the commitment of labor and time and effort that determines if they hire someone or not for something. No part of the project is out of reach for a DIY if they are motivated. Most that pay for professional work just would rather not do it and do something else with their time, or they are just cowards to try it alone.

I like the weekend warrior suggestions. You can hire a good local handyman type for a decent wage and work along side them. They will school you in general construction techniques and probably already are skilled at simple work like electrical, drywall, framing, etc... You might save money actually versus hiring a real pro. Electrician will charge you more to run wires and install outlets than a handyman would. Just have the electrician come by for one day to sign off on everything and connect it to the breaker- that way you can do it right and have a pro sign off on it, get permit properly and all that. But you can do the labor so you don't pay them for more than a single day visit to tie it in and double check everything.

Guys like BigmouthinDC like to work along side the home owner rather than do a turn key job, and the rate to hire pro help is going to be cheaper than if you hired and entire pro team for turnkey. I'd guess that if you hired BigmouthinDC for a turnkey job he'd have to source his own team or help for certain things and the total cost would be a lot more than if you hired him for only certain tasks his expertise would be utilized for and left a lot of the grunt work to yourself (or grunts). This stuff I am guessing on so big apologies to Jeff or anyone else if I am wrong or way out of line. It just seems like common sense he would rather not do grunt work, or would charge additional to do it.

Drywall is a area where hiring a pro might be beneficial. Theaters actually go quick because there is no windows or complicated things to go around, but the work itself is work. Doing it alone will be tedious and slow. Watching a pro drywall team do it they do it like lightning with good results. But they can not be trust to do it alone and do double layers with green glue properly. They won't know to put the second layer in a different direction than the first- or remember to put the GG on every sheet. Or not use the wrong length screws. You would want to hire a team but supervise them 100% of the time. The job could then be done in a a couple days and done right and the cost might be worth it to have two helpers. This is another area a simple handyman would pay dividends and could probably provide real value to you.
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post #26 of 26 Old 07-03-2014, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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+1
I'm excited you are deciding to DIY!
You can save cash while increasing your personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. It will mean more if YOU did it.
Thanks, I'm excited too and I think that's a good sign. Can't wait to start!

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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
I'd suggest having a basic understanding of sound proofing and audio theory to start because it helps to design your room around these aspects. The rest you can learn on the fly, but if you understand these from the beginning it will help you plan better things like speaker locations, sub locations, type of wall construction, and general layout of the room. If you can't figure out what size screen you should get, or how far back your first row should be.. those are things you can ask around here and get a straight answer so it's not like it's brain surgery or rocket science. It is very difficult to replicate the result you might get by getting a formal set of plans done like Mads1 got from Erksine group all on your own as a rookie. There is a learning curve and it probably takes about a year of reading this forum to pick up all the little pieces of info you need to do it all on your own. Mads1 is entirely right that non of it is beyond reach, but you will have to ask yourself what level of commitment to do you want to make to the project? If it's hundreds of hours researching and reading threads over a year or more time you might be ok without plans; but for a lot of guys they would rather spend the $700 and get a head start and advice from a PRO. You get advice from Big(Jeff) and you have a direct line to ask design questions with those guys so sometimes that resource is worth the price. It's a good safety blanket to get pro plans IMO, the small cost relative to the entire project might ensure you don't make serious mistakes. Compared to paying for a turn key your DIY project is still going to be way cheaper so splurge on that if you think you need it.

I'm 50/50 on if I want to get the plans or not, leaning towards yes. I can say I have put my time in so to speak with learning and research too; the value of plans will increase as your level of competency with both construction and design techniques decreases. That is a judgement you will have to make but I'd suggest the safe route is probably to get a professional layout service and that will get you a solid plan to start and one less thing to worry about.
Yes, I have been reading a LOT about sound proofing and acoustics as well. I know the theories and all the buzzwords/acryonyms so now its a matter of learning to implement them at the construction level.
$700 does sound like a reasonable amount to really flush out the smaller details, tie them together and avoid any major (costly) mistakes. Hmmmm....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
For most people it's the commitment of labor and time and effort that determines if they hire someone or not for something. No part of the project is out of reach for a DIY if they are motivated. Most that pay for professional work just would rather not do it and do something else with their time, or they are just cowards to try it alone.
Nailed it. I received some advice from a few AVS'ers that changed my mind in that regard. I am still trying to convince the wife that this project is going to take a year minimum if its a DIY. Thankfully her frugal Scottish background wants to save money

Quote:
Originally Posted by mads1 View Post
Good luck with your project! I ended up contracting mine with a general contractor, it took a full 6 months to build. It was pretty much a fully isolated room.
I used Erskine to do the design which set up the principles of the design, which we then expanded on and developed into the resulting space. There is not any information that Erskine can provide that isn't readily available via this forum. They very much want it just their way, and no other, and certainly won't work to a budget! Just ask your questions on AVS and people will help. Jeff (BigmouthinDC) is a real practical expert - my best advice is to follow his advice!
Thanks! There is no way I'd even attempt this if I hadn't discovered AVS and the wealth of knowledge available. I probably would have just went with a regular room, poor acoustics, messy wires in the open and a wife yelling me everytime I used it while she was upstairs.
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