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post #1 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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From a humble beginning, a theater was born....


After reading thousands of threads over the past several months. I figured it was time for me to contribute. So, here is my construction thread. As you will see there have been plenty of mistakes, poor planning, building, tearing down, re-building. Hopefully, the final product will be tolerable and that slight irregularity of the baseboard trim will not ruin my movie-going experience.

The house is a 2 story with basement that we bought about a year ago. It is 13 years old. The basement was partially finished, but there was plenty of space left over to work with. So why not put in a wet bar and hometheater?

The first part of this thread may go kind of quick. It is not that I am that fast or good at carpentry; I have been working since last Thanksgiving.

For those who are just starting, keep an eye on this thread. I will detail some of the major...let's call them oversights...that the novice will tend to make.

The main room in the finished portion. Kind of rustic looking, the wood panel has to go (and does go)


Ah, the clean palate. Looks like a nice place for a theater. Unfortunately it will only be about 12.5' wide. And the posts will limit the room length.


Another view from the opposite end. Door on the left goes into a closet with the HVAC unit.


Another portion of the unfinished side of the basement. The only natural light in the basement comes through that door. I will try to bring that light into other portions of the basement to make it not feel as much like a basement.


A few more unfinished shots.



The first project, tear down some walls and finish the exercise room/video game room (a man needs a place to play vids during construction). I will see if I can somehow get my original plan uploaded.

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post #2 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
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This is a portion that was finished when I purchase the house. Basically I needed to move a wall to make this room a little smaller and make the room for the wet bar a little bigger.


The "finished" room that will become the exercise room



Wall removed.



New wall built and drywall up.


New doorway built and door installed. Basement building 101, maximize natural light. Thus, the glass door to allow light into the room.


Decorative niche beeing build outside the exercise room, under the stairway.



The finished room. That was pretty easy, huh?



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post #3 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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The plans:

The original basement layout. As you can see, some is finished and some is not. Note the dreaded steel post that are sitting in my home theater. The one on the left I had removed. Cost about $1000.00 for the engineer to design a method of removal and for the 2 contractors to get rid of it. I am a DIY type of guy, but did not want to tackle this one on my own.



My initial layout. Some goals were to fit the desired rooms (pool room, exercise room, bar, and HT into the area. I also wanted to connect the living space to the outside door (without having to walk through unfinished space). The design was altered somewhat in the actual build.



Now to the meat of the matter. This is a HT forum right? The HT design. You can see I altered this somewhat from the above plan. I now have a hall from the pool room past the HVAC closet, to the AV closet. I also extended the length of the HT which means one of the aforementioned poles is now in the room and not buried within the wall. My plan is to incorporate the enclosed pole into a procenium; building a similar column on the opposite side. Confusing I know, but it will make more sense when I get some pictures up. Basically, now the screen (92") will be about 10-11 feet from the first row. The back row, on a riser, will be against the back wall. Not ideal, but what are you gonna do?

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post #4 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 07:54 AM
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Gonzo, great to see you've got a thread started. I've read your comments in other threads, and can't wait to see what you've got working.
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post #5 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Keith.

As promised, I am going to chronical my many mistakes. Since I just posted some images of the exercise room, one of my first mistake was with electical work. This becomes challenging when you are trying to tie into existing work. With the new wall built into the exercise room I had to add a few outlets. I also added a switch and light for the niche. Pretty easy right? Just picked up some 14/2 wire from Lowes and went to work. Within a day everything was working great. A few months later I realize that it is a 20 amp circuit to that room. Uhhohh. For those that don't know, you don't put 14/2 with a 20 amp circuit...bad. The simple solution was to change the breaker to a 15 amp, right? Well then I would have 12/2 coming off the 15 amp circuit, going to a room that has 12/2 and 14/2 intertwined. This also can be dangerous as someone in the future might change the breaker back to 20 amp; thinking, "it has 12/2 coming off it, why not?" Then we would have 20 amp circuit going to a room that has 14/2 wiring...fire...death...mayhem. All because of little old me.

Long story, well, long. I had to go back and replace my 14/2 I had initially ran with 12/2. Which wasn't so hard, except for the whole drywall, paint, trim work, and drop ceiling that was already installed. The re-wire involved sliding back into this creavice (about 12" wide). Talk about claustophobia!!! It is one thing to get back there, it is a completely different to try and run wire between studs, keep insulation out of your face, aim the flashlight, etc.


Pearl #1: Understand wiring before wiring.

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post #6 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 08:38 AM
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Yup, I followed that complete wiring discussion several weeks ago. It got a bit heated, didn't it?

During our renovation, I specified for the electrical contractors to pull a 20-amp dedicated circuit to my closet, and that's what they told the guys pulling wire during our walk-through: "12/2 home run to the panel". They even wrote it on the studs. Guess what someone else did when they completed wiring the panel. Yup, they ignored the 12/2 and connected it to a 15-amp breaker along with the lights and outlets in the room. I'm sorely tempted to shut off the main breaker, pull the panel, install a 20-amp breaker and move the closet run over to it. Of course, the wife isn't too excited about that idea.
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post #7 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VorlonFog View Post

Yup, I followed that complete wiring discussion several weeks ago. It got a bit heated, didn't it?

During our renovation, I specified for the electrical contractors to pull a 20-amp dedicated circuit to my closet, and that's what they told the guys pulling wire during our walk-through: "12/2 home run to the panel". They even wrote it on the studs. Guess what someone else did when they completed wiring the panel. Yup, they ignored the 12/2 and connected it to a 15-amp breaker along with the lights and outlets in the room. I'm sorely tempted to shut off the main breaker, pull the panel, install a 20-amp breaker and move the closet run over to it. Of course, the wife isn't too excited about that idea.

It sure did get heated! I learned a lot though. I did learn from my mistake and have run a 12/2 20 amp circuit to the AV closet, subwoofer outlet, and PJ. My sphincter sure gets tight when I am working in the circuit panel.

BTW, where do you live in CLT? I grew up there and live in Western NC currently.

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post #8 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I know, I know. Get to the theater.

Here are a couple of shots of the initial theater build.

2x6 framing after first painting the basement walls with Drylok paint. When I moved in there was moisture and mold in the corners. Perfectly dry since painting. The opposite wall is already framed as part of the initial basement finishing by the previous owner. I did not want to tear this down to do staggered stud or room within a room construction. So, 2x6 it is.


Same room from the other end. If you look closely you can see where pole number one was removed (small black circle on the floor). Pole number 2 was orignially going to be hidden within the screen wall. Later I changed the wall location to make the room a little longer (but we will get to that later).



Initially, I planned on having double doors leading into the theater from the bar room. This picture is from within the theater looking through the door into the bar. This door location made seat placement a nightmare, so the door was moved. Build, un-build, build, un-build. This will be a theme.


Initial screen wall. Post within the wall. Equipment cabinet was going to be where the black box is on the right. I thought I wanted to see my equipment and didn't want to leave the room to wipe off the skipping DVD. You guessed it, un-build. I now plan on having a completely separate AV closet, outside of the HT.



You may also notice in the above picture that the pole has tape on it. The reason being that I kept hearing a ringing from the pole while hammering. I decided I did not want any reverberations after the death star blows up, so I filled it with play sand. I wish I had taken some pictures of the rig I put together to funnel sand into the pole

Another picture looking through the door that doesn't exist anymore. Also note the soffit. Looks pretty sweet, huh? Only found out later that I was suppose to build the soffit after the room was drywalled. Obviously, I should of started this thread earlier so you guys could of caught that for me.


Pearl #2: Consider seating size, number, and number of rows before deciding on door placement.
Pearl #3: Soffits are built after drywalling.

Pearl #4: Equipment rack on the screen wall, bad idea.

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post #9 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Another soffit shot. Notice the black rectangle. That is the HVAC supply to the room. Spray painted it black to decrease light reflection. Pretty smart, right? Well, probably not. Not only is spray painting probably against code for some reason, having only one supply to your HT is a bad idea. Once again, a little wisdom that I came across after the fact.



I thought, hey, I will just tap into the 1st level HVAC unit for the 1 supply and that will do it. Then I learned home theater comfort goes like this (from most comfortable to least comfortable):

A) 2 supplies and one return, thermostat within the theater, theater on it's own zone.
B) 2 supplies and one return, thermostat within the basement, basement on it's own zone
C) 2 supplies and one return, thermostat upstairs, basement comfort controlled by upstairs temperature
Blah, Blah, Blah
Y) 1 supply, no return, thermostat upstairs. HT very hot.
Z) Hell

So, I have contracted with a HVAC installer to put a new unit in. It will be 2 zones (one for the theater, one for the rest of the basement). 2 supplies and one return. It is going to have to be put in the bar room, thus, loosing valuable space within the bar. It will also be right next to the HT wall, so there will likely be noise issues. Oh well, I am going to sacrifice some ambient HVAC noise for not sweating.

The catch about the HVAC unit is that the installer is going to have to pull a permit. You guessed it, I have been doing all this construction, how shall we say, sans permit. The HVAC guy understands my prediciment, so he plans to wait about 5-6 months to get it inspected. Hopefully, I will finish what I need to and when the inspector get there..."Gee, sir, this is how the basement looked when we bought the place. I just thought it was mighty warm and wanted to have some AC installed." What is the worst that can happen? What? A big fine? A couple night in the pen? No, the worst case scenario is I get busted, fined, and have to tear it all down (which I am quite good at).

Pearl#5: Theaters get hot. Plan for good HVAC.
Pearl #6: You will probably sleep better is you pull permits prior to construction. At some point in the project you may need a professional, who by law must pull a permit. Then things get tricky.

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post #10 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
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A crucial aspect of basement remodeling is moisture/water control. Otherwise, this might happen...



This was during a major downpour. Apparently one of my gutters was clogged and the water was overflowing and puddling next to the house. The water worked its way down between the brick veneer and the cinderblocks of the wall. It was flowing out of the door jam. And I mean flowing. This is the first time since I have lived here that this ever happened. Fortunately, my brother was in town and rigged up a syphon system to pump the water out.


I went out in the down pour and unclogged the gutter. Within minutes the rate of water in was slower than the rate of water out. I have since caulked the door jam, but I am still a little nervous about this whole basement construction thing.

Here is the finished hall way (looking from the pool room to the outside door). The door to right leads to a long narrow storage closet. The door to the left leads to the garage/workshop. I widened the end of the hall for a future mudroom-esk built-in.



Pearl #7: Fear water in the basement. (Read: make sure your gutters are clean and functional.)

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post #11 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 05:24 PM
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Gonzo,

What this about building the soffit after the drywall??
That's the first time I have heard that.
I am framing now and planned to do the soffit and tie it in to the wall, then double sheetrock it. Of course my soffit will hide the HVAC supply, but still....

Paul
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post #12 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 06:17 PM
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Gonzo - I'd rethink not getting permits. Its not that bad and they don't need to know that you have already started. Providing you get the electrical, mechanical and plumbing inspection then framing/insulation before you get to drywall you will be fine. Rub these guys up wrong way and you'll be sorry. Also think about any event in the basement that might need an insurance claim.....its any easy get out - "what no permit?"

Look forward to seeing more.

Cheers,
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post #13 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmyMan View Post

Gonzo,

What this about building the soffit after the drywall??
That's the first time I have heard that.
I am framing now and planned to do the soffit and tie it in to the wall, then double sheetrock it. Of course my soffit will hide the HVAC supply, but still....

Paul

The drywall for the room (commonly referred to as the shell) must be built prior to the soffits, riser, stage ensures proper sound isolation has been achieved.

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post #14 of 741 Old 09-04-2006, 07:22 PM
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Marc - surely that depends on whether the soffit is functional or just for aesthetics. The routing on HVAC duct and other conduits can often mean breaks into the upper areas. So in this case surely your better off ensuring the 'shell' envelopes the soffits.

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post #15 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 04:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmyMan View Post

Gonzo,

What this about building the soffit after the drywall??
That's the first time I have heard that.

That is what I read on this forum not too long ago. You mean to tell me that everything I read in here isn't true ??? I guess it made sense to me in terms of creating a "tight" room. If you do it after there is also an extra layer of drywall between the soffits and the rest of the house. I am with you though, it probably doesn't matter. As you can see, I have not un-built my soffits. I am sticking with it as is.

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post #16 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 04:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BritInVA View Post

Gonzo - I'd rethink not getting permits. Its not that bad and they don't need to know that you have already started. Providing you get the electrical, mechanical and plumbing inspection then framing/insulation before you get to drywall you will be fine. Rub these guys up wrong way and you'll be sorry. Also think about any event in the basement that might need an insurance claim.....its any easy get out - "what no permit?"

Look forward to seeing more.

Cheers,
Mark

So how do you think it would play out if I went for permits at this point? I have completed the framing and most of the electical. I have drywalled the hallway. I have seriously consider getting them at this point, however, I feel I am so far into it that the inspector will come in and make me tear things down. Not because is it was built incorrectly, but because he can. Other thoughts?

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post #17 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 07:46 AM
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Can you see the studs/wiring etc from one side of the drywalled section? If yes and your to code you should be OK.

I just think seeing as an inspector 'will' be coming into your basement at some time he is surely going to realize that some building has been going on........like how did you hide all the HVAC ducting?

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post #18 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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I am seriously considering going the inspector route and wish I had from the get-go. I think I will call the inspectors office and feel them out.

Also, I think I am finally figuring out how to get the images to come up in my thread. They are just microscopic now. Apparently, I can't link them to my yahoo account, but photobucket works. Now I just need to download the images from my camera to photobucket. The transfer from yahoo to photobucket left the images tiny. To my 2 or 3 faithful readers, I promise to get this fixed

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post #19 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Remember my previous post about the minor flooding? Well, I thought is was related to the gutters overflowing and not directing the water away from the house. The other morning I went down to the basement and found 3 dying worms in my hallway. This should of been a hint that something was up! Later that day during a downpour, once again minor flooding!!! This had not happened once in the year previous, now twice with in 3 weeks!?!? Granted, we have had a ton of rain here over the past week, but still! About 2 months ago I applied an asphalt sealer to some of the cracks in the driveway. I thought this would help prevent water seeping in next to the house. I think it may of done the opposite; trapped water in and sent it flowing into the house.

This is the outside area. I think water is collecting in the soil on the back side of this wall and hydrostatic pressure is driving it below/through the driveway and brick veneer of the house. This used to be fine when it could flow out through the cracks (that I recently sealed).


This is the cracks I am talking about. During the flooding, I took my drill outside and drilled a couple of holes in the sealant that I had applied. Sure enough water starting bubbling out


I have seen walls that have a hole/pipe in them to let water get from one side to the other (this wall above does not). I was thinking about taking my hammer drill out and punching a couple hole in it to see what happens next time it rains. Maybe more water will flow through them and not into my house! Anyone have any other suggestion?

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post #20 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 05:48 PM
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Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm hearing "if it ain't broke...."

Good luck getting it worked out very soon.
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post #21 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 06:58 PM
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gonzo, keep the updates coming -- you've got me hooked now. I think your HT thread is the most interesting one I've looked at so far. I am awfully tired of the HT threads that sound like NASA guys building a space shuttle or something. I can most definitely relate to your experience!
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post #22 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 07:13 PM
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What a great thread. I'm sure all of us DIYers have done the build/unbuild thing. I certainly have, and suspect I will many more times.

Guy
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post #23 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by droht View Post

gonzo, keep the updates coming -- you've got me hooked now. I think your HT thread is the most interesting one I've looked at so far. I am awfully tired of the HT threads that sound like NASA guys building a space shuttle or something. I can most definitely relate to your experience!

Thanks for the encouragement. Actually, I think my record lately is a little better than those NASA guy's

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post #24 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VorlonFog View Post

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm hearing "if it ain't broke...."

Good luck getting it worked out very soon.


Ain't that the truth. I think this whole basement construction/de-construction started out as a door that was squeaking, and one thing led to another. Should of left the damn door alone....

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post #25 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 07:55 PM
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The key is to learn and deconstruct before its too late. I recently found out my stage construction was worthless - but too late now (unless I rip the whole front proscenium down) - and the there was the Red paint saga

Can be a bit demoralizing at times but hopefully the end result will be worth it.

On your driveway issue, drilling a few holes (at least 1") through that side wall may help if the grade on the other side is lower.

Good Luck

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post #26 of 741 Old 09-05-2006, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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On your driveway issue, drilling a few holes (at least 1") through that side wall may help if the grade on the other side is lower.

Good Luck

The grade on the other side is higher. The soil comes up to about a foot below the wall. I think the water is following gravity (pretty safe assumption ) within the soil in the yard above that wall. It wants to run through (maybe below?) that wall and out those sealed cracks. When it can't go that way it hangs a left and ends up behind the brick veneer and then flows out my door jam. Once again this is all speculation on my part.

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post #27 of 741 Old 09-06-2006, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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So I called the permit office today to feel them out. Apparently I am not allowed to do any electrical, plumbing, HVAC stuff myself. All must be performed by a certified technician.

I asked about things within the previously finished part of the basement that I knew were not up to code. Would I have to fix those things also? For example, the base plates on the previous finished portion are not pressure treated lumbar and the headroom at the base of the stairs would not meet current code either. I certainly do not want to tear down the previous finished walls to replace baseplates (BTW they are not rotting yet ) She told me I should schedule a site visit with one of the inspectors...bad idea seeing as the "site" is a major, unadulterated construction "site."

Oh well, I think I am going to continue this project without the help of my local municipality. I am also re-thinking the placement and timing of the HVAC installation. HVAC guy is suppose to call me back. To be continued...

Gonzo

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post #28 of 741 Old 09-06-2006, 12:04 PM
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Man - your locality is tough! I think your probably right in keeping quiet. Just wonder what will happen when they come to inspect the new HVAC.

Good Luck
Mark

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post #29 of 741 Old 09-06-2006, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BritInVA View Post

Man - your locality is tough! I think your probably right in keeping quiet. Just wonder what will happen when they come to inspect the new HVAC.

Good Luck
Mark

I spoke with the HVAC guy. Here is the plan: The main unit is going to be installed in the basement garage (not the bar room, which is a good thing). I am going to run 4 (2 supplies to theater, 1 supply to bar, 1 return from the theater) of the 8 lines. All the other 4 can be run from the garage thru the crawl space to the desired location. Lines that can easily be run after completion of the basement. My 4 are going to run in the HT soffit. When I am done with the basement his guys will come in, set up the unit, and run their lines. When the inspector comes we will say that the soffit in the theater was build after the lines where run to cover them up. He says that this would not be a big deal, since he has up to 6 months to get his work inspected. The homeowner (me) just covered up things after the installation. You don't need a permit to install a soffit do you?

I am laughing as I write this. What possibly could go wrong with this plan?

Gonzo

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post #30 of 741 Old 09-06-2006, 06:40 PM
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Just make sure you stick to code as far as you can, stuff like firebreaks, staple romax within 6" of outlets, pigtail all grounds, get yourself a good book on basement finishing that covers national code.......If he does give your work a look over make sure you don't give him ammunition to make you tear it down.

Again wish you luck

Mark

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