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The "NOT HERS" HT/Basement Build - The Suffering Begins

post #1 of 802
Thread Starter 
Getting ready to start to update my daily battle with the wife and trying to make her understand that a "man cave" means I really don't give a crap about what she thinks and why in the heck should I buy more than 1 chair?

Who Am I?
My name is Jay and I live in Michigan. I have been reading AVS for 6+ years now and am constantly amazed at what a tight community of braniacs can come up with, it is simply amazing what you all can do. I am a jokester and like to goof around after a long day at a stressful job. I am also poor/cheap/thrifty.. pick your choice as long as it save me money!!

The purpose of this build is to finish my basement and have a man cave. I have had to do several projects over the years in order to get me to this point. I even had to bribe my wife with $1000 of incentives to get all of her stuff out of the basement after 4+ years of asking nicely. It took me a few weeks and 120$ in Rubbermade totes to finally get everything into a storage unit.

If she gives me any crap, I figured I would just stop payment on the storage unit and that problem of clutter would be solved

Along with a man cave, I lost a battle and had to finish a section of the basement for a home office. I will do this reluctantly as she is a master at stacking up junkmail into tower like piles that seem to defy gravity.

As cheap as possible. Think coupons, craigslist, Ebay, hand-me-downs, rebates, and items found on the side of the road.. I doubt very seriously I will be in this house in 2 years which is why I wanted to get some practice on this one!

Does my wife really have horns?
No, absolutely not, I have beautiful wife who is awesome, she is supermom with a career and has a hectic schedule. Even though I love her to death, she is not immune from my humor. Depending on the day and her mood... my jokes either get a laugh from her, or I sleep on the couch.

Help Wanted!!!
While normally I am stubborn and think a hammer will fix everything. I am welcoming anyone who wants to throw out opinions and suggest ideas. Feel free to offer services such as heckling, project managers, motivators, interior designers, engineering, inventors, snake oil sales, etc... I am in no race to put up drywall if I can take time to do something unique and learn a little more about things in the process.

Positions filled to date:
-- CAD Expert, Electical Guru = Mark (My neighbor)
--Jerk who suckered me into helping him finish his HT before I completed mine = Chris (My so called friend)

Planning Phase
So after living off of a notebook scribbled design for 2 years, my neighbor Mark offered to CAD up the room for me. After I had the dimensions of just the theater side of the room and read many threads here on AVS, I decided to go with a 13' seating position. Based on the Dolby and THX website, my neigher Mark also drafted up ideal speaker placement. Lighting was designed due to the fact that I have a touch of OCD and like to have things symmetrical so we ended up with 10 recessed lighting cans and 3 different zones.

This is what the overall layout of the basement looks like:

Build Timeline Journal

Early on I made a decision to frame in my center wall under the I beam because I wanted the room to be as wide as I possibly could. Well this worked great until I started to think about attaching drywall... I wanted to be able to screw in the drywall at the top, not 10 inches below. HD and Lowes folks had no real answers other than gluing 2x6s to the beam or use a 1/4' plywood strip 6" wide behind the 2x6 and nail or drill/bolt it to the I-beam.

I was not really happy with any of these suggestions and spent an hour wandering the isles when it hit me to use a 90 degree bracket (angle Zmax) and a 2x2x8 furring strip (5 of them). I attached the brackets to the joist and then screwed the furring strips. I plan on wedging something behind them before I put drywall up just in case, but I don't think that is necessary.

Well it looks like I can only include 10 links to pictures so I learned something new tonight and will have to include pics below in another post
post #2 of 802
Thread Starter 
After searching for a week or so and getting estimates for plumbing that needed to be moved/raised in order to prepare for drywall, I went with a company in Waterford, Michigan called Brinkers. When I went to setup the appointment I had 3 items I wanted them to address and they said it was no issue and that they charge for materials and an hourly rate (reasonable). I said that was fine and requested a speedfreak or at least make the technician chug 2 Redbulls before he arrived onsite... it took the guy at the counter a second or 2 to get the joke.

Today Bill from Brinkers called before he left and was ontime bright and early. He did not mind me watching him as I wanted to learn a little more about sweating pipes and man did I! He rerouted a 20 ft section of pipe that fed the outside fawcet as well as put a new shutoff valve in the other fawcet. Lastly he redid the plumbing that was hanging down right in the middle of the room that fed the bathroom. Roughly 2 hours later he was complete and saved me DAYS of farting around.

Below are pictures of the bathroom fix and the outside feed fix: (I added the pipe insulation after he left)

Tonight my neighbor Mark and myself tackled an issue that effected the AV equipment rack placement as well as the door leading into the home office. Hold on, the nosey wife is trying to read my screen... She is just staring at me and laughing. Not sure WTF that is all about but it is annoying when I am trying to type this...

ANYWAYS the ventilation system was put in crooked and was too low for the server rack as well as the door to swing into the office so we raised it tonight after I have been staring at it the last 4 months.

Here is a picture of the homemade brace inplace after we raised them all to gain a minimum 65" clearance (Duct tape rules!):

Below is a picture showing the results after marking the existing straps, bending them with pliers, drilling a new hole for the screw, and reattaching to the ceiling:

Earlier today I ran around and was looking for parts. Neither Lowes or Home Depot had register boots with the flaps built in for attaching to studs which was annoying. I luckily saw a place called Triple J Ductwork in Waterford (248) 461-2291. It was a family run business and while stopping by to get the parts I needed (cheaper than Lowes or HD) they even offered me a hotdog off the BBQ!. I even learned a bunch while they made parts for me, and they recommended a tool from HD that would crimp the duct and allow the register boot to slip on without me having to use collars.

Tonight I got started late, but I was able to finish moving duct work and fixing potential noise issue. I was flying solo tonight but I I am happy with the results.

Below I am showing the final boot register assembly on one of the two that I completed tonight with tape and brackets: (It is ugly because it was a used one)
post #3 of 802
Thread Starter 
Tonight my neighbor Mark and I were messing around with an old server rack I had in the basement. I was about to order the 19" rack rails and frame it in, but after realizing my local Home Depot and Lowes are both alergic to straight boards, I figured this server rack would be perfect for the A/V equipment.

This is the server rack before:

And the picture below is after removing the wheels, doors, unnecessary panels, and leveling legs. This gave me only .5" clearance between the duct work and the top of the server rack and I was able to slide it in a ways after removing a stud. Tomorrow I will shave/plane down the 2x4 header to see if I can slide the rack forward another 3 inches.
post #4 of 802
Thread Starter 
4/5/2008 AM
Today I bought some wood chisels and used them and a dremel to notch out a 2x4 header and was able to get the server rack within 3/8" of being flush with the wall studs.
post #5 of 802
Why do you have a spare server rack?

Hmmm...maybe I can steal one I have seen sitting empty at my work.
post #6 of 802
Thread Starter 
I had this full rack I have used for years, but thanks to virtualization, I really don't need it anymore. I have another rack sitting in my storage unit that is about 1/3 the size of this one that I will use if needed.

I get offered one about every 6 months to a year for free or dirt cheap. Buggers are too dang heavy to be toting them around, so I give them to charity, schools, friends, etc when I can.
post #7 of 802
Originally Posted by Staffy View Post

I get offered one about every 6 months to a year for free or dirt cheap. Buggers are too dang heavy to be toting them around, so I give them to charity, schools, friends, etc when I can.

I'll be your friend.
post #8 of 802
Thread Starter 
4/5/2008 PM
Well this evening I had my friends Chris and Mark stop by and the wife picked us up some pizza, so we got a bit done.

Before everyone showed up I found a few cans of DryLok I was going to throw out, but figured another coat on the concrete would not hurt, even though I have never had a water issue, in fact it is always too dry down there.

Next my friend Chris started framing in the door an another 4' section of the wall that needed to be complete. Chris framing below... No he does not do plumbing.

Finally the framing was done, and the custom door was installed, then when we cut the straps off, the dang thing would not budge!! After about 15 minutes of picking and prodding, we found out whoever built the door put in a screw from the top of the frame into the door. No where did it mention this in the instructions and we were quite pissed.

After trying a few different things, my neighbor Mark saved the day with his hacksaw blade handle and I was able to cut the screw out in a matter of minutes.

Below is a picture of the completed section which finishes off the framing for the theater room.

**Crap just noticed what Mark was doing in the background. The "peace symbol" is unacceptable, so I painted it out of the picture.
post #9 of 802
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by scottyb View Post

I'll be your friend.

Scottyb, if you can pick it up in Michigan, just PM me your contact info and I will hollar the next time one comes up. I have a half rack that was given to me last month that I still think is around
post #10 of 802
Thread Starter 
4/7/2008 PM
11:41 PM finally done with 3 hours worth of trips and unloading from Lowes. My neighbor Mark and I picked up 60+ 2x4s... finding straight ones and waiting 40 minutes for the forklift guy to find a new propane tank to lower down another flat of 2x4s. After I loaded up my Trailblazer, the 2 guys at Lowes asked me if I was coming back for another load... I said yes, and they pulled out 30 more straight studs and loaded them on a cart for me while I was dropping them off in my garage. (Great service!)

We also bought pocket door frames (for the non HT room) and MDF to close in the existing server rack sides after painting them black or wrapping in black cloth. The MDF took a while to get cut, so that was another 20 minutes, but the Lowes guys were great and measured 3+ times before a cut.

On the flip side I have ALL of the 2x4s to complete the entire job and $230 poorer with ZERO birthday giftcards remaining

Thank god Mark helped me haul it all down as about 30 minutes later, my asthma started acting up just as we finished.
post #11 of 802
Looking good so far. If I can make a recommendation though, if you want all those straight 2x4s you picked out to stay straight, get them up off the concrete on some scraps as 2x4s and most dimensional lumber from the big box stores will warp if allowed to sit like that for too long., especially the ones on the bottom. Not a huge deal but just an observation.

Keep up the good work and humor. Makes for a fun read.

post #12 of 802
Thread Starter 
Very good point, they are actually sitting on the base plate 2x4, but on the other end I failed there On the flip side, all of them should be used up in the next 48 hours, so I don't think that will affect them much will it?
post #13 of 802
In the pictures it looks like you are using regular lumber as base plates. You should be using pressure treated lumber when directly in contact with cement floor. You could use a base plate styrofoam pad that they sell so there is a barrier but if you get water in the basement might be a problem.

Looks good so far though, good luck.
post #14 of 802
Thread Starter 
Good point, when I originally started framing many years ago, I was a tard about it I did put multiple coats of sealant on the concrete and was planing to seal up the sides as well.

For the new side, I will get pressure treated, but I never thought it was an issue as I have never had water, in fact I almost have to put a humidifier down there as it is way too dry all year around.

Excellent advice Oman, I already have it written down on my next Lowes shopping list.
post #15 of 802
Good looking project. Your buddy could use some crack Spackle.

When you get to the drywall stage it will become obvious why standard construction sequence is frame, drywall then put in the doors. Having the doors in place and protruding slows the process of hanging and trimming the sheets. You would normally hang the sheet over the doorway, then use the framing as a guide for cutting off the excess.
post #16 of 802
Looks great! I'm also in MI, so when you have a HT meet, let us know
post #17 of 802
Does your friend Chris work for the DEA? With all the crack he is showing, I thought he might be an undercover agent trying to set up a drug bust "Sting" operation.

Anyway, great start keep it up. My only advice so far is don't let TheGeek post on this thread and use his Jedi Mind tricks on you, like he did me. Cost me lots of $$$ and time and I am still not done...
post #18 of 802
Thread Starter 
Hahaha - You know what... I should have laid out a 3500$ build budget and just let the forum dictate what I was going to do and how to do it... that would be a fun experiment!

What was the suggestion he gave you that put you over the top?
post #19 of 802
Originally Posted by Staffy View Post

Hahaha - You know what... I should have laid out a 3500$ build budget and just let the forum dictate what I was going to do and how to do it... that would be a fun experiment!

What was the suggestion he gave you that put you over the top?

That would be suggestionS plural.

It started with his "suggestion" to move my air return vent as seen here.
He is at it again here trying to get me to do more demolition work.
Gonzo, actually identifies what TheGeek is trying to do to me here.
Oh, but undeterred TheGeek decides to start trying to increase my expenditures without helping me figure out how to increase my budget, which is shown here.

Well it keeps on going... I will let you read the rest for yourself instead of boring everyone with the links...
post #20 of 802
Thread Starter 
Oh... he is not a nice man at all (I want to read the rest of your own build thread after my trips to Lowes)

I have an advantage, I only have 7' 1" ceiling (no drywall yet) and a house I do not want to be in very much longer.

My next house I will get built myself to ensure a dedicated space is planned from the beginning.
post #21 of 802
Thread Starter 
Today was a late day as I wanted to get everything ready for framing of the final room in the basement. I made a run to Lowes and was amazeed at how hard it was to find flat black??? It took the lady a good 5 minutes to find a plain BLACK paint swatch. She found me a sweet deal on 2 quarts of flat base Olympic paint on clearance for 2$ each *cha ching!* and tinted it up for me.

I had some sheets of MDF and wanted to use them for the sides of the server rack. My neighbor Mark and I spent an hour or so drilling holes and notching the sides just perfect. (FYI - Mark you left your 1" hole saw on on the server rack)

After Mark left, I was up until 2 AM painting the side panels and getting ready for a day of framing. Amazingly enough it only really took 1 coat to paint the surface completely with no spots and a second coat just to get all of the roller marks out with an even coat. I used probably only a quarter of a quart with a ton left over. Thank goodness I saved a few piles of sawdust to help with the disposal

MDF sides before paint:

MDF sides after paint:

Server Rack after sides installed the next morning with clear caulking to prevent vibration: (Looked better than I had expected!)
post #22 of 802
Thread Starter 
4/9/2008 LATE
I took the day off work today with encouragement from my boss(coolest ever), so I spent the day framing the office next to the theater. I was at it nonstop from 9 AM until 8 PM. I was able to frame in around the gauntlet of pipes, vents, gas lines, serwer drains, and water lines and even managed to shorten a pocket door to the utility closet. Nothing was very hard, it was just so time consuming squaring walls up and trying to figure how to properly cut the pocket frame down.

Thanks to advice from folks, I used treated 2x4s for the base and was able to complete the framing with the exception of the last wall that I needed 1 more pocket door for.

Around 8 PM my neighbor Mark came over and he checked my work with a fine tooth comb and busted my balls again about various things. We then went to get a large pocket door. After we got back and unloaded it, I had to call it a night because I was about to drop.

Just as I was closing everything down, the wife came down and asked me what I had gotten done that day... Grrrrr Gee hun, way to take that feeling of accomplishment and turn it into an imaginary baseball bat that I choke up on with my blistered hands.

So I show her what was done and then she says, "So where is my desk going?"

I point to the utility closet, "In there"

She then asked "What are you building in here then?" (Regarding the framed office)

"An apartment.." I said and then proceeded on a 5 minute rant/ ficticious ad-hoc design session on urinal placement, kitchenette, sink, and futon cover.

I then asked her to make today the one day this month she cooks me dinner as I was starving and shut the lights off and walked upstairs to type this up.

OH GEE - right on cue...... she just handed me a ham sandwich with leftover macaroni and cheese that she had leftover from her night out dining.

Why do I feel so much like Al Bundy?
post #23 of 802
Thread Starter 
Pisser of a long day, first the power was out in the area almost all day. After catching up on work after it came back up, this evening I discovered a few hard lessons. LEVEL does not equal SQUARE.

I was inspecting work done the day before when I realized there was 6" of difference down the length of wall that was built yesterday. My neighbor Mark came over and hit a beam and about 30' of vibrations ran up and down the ductwork. Sonova%$* we tore it all back apart, fixed the square issue, then took a reciprocating saw and dropped the height on a section of the wall about an inch to keep it from touching. Amazingly even though it was barely touching, there was no way to fix it without chopping it.

Below is the fixed wall:

My goal is to get the final wall built this weekend and get everything all setup to start on wiring.

Off to cry myself to sleep!
post #24 of 802
Thread Starter 
4/13/2008 AM

YES!!! FRAMING IS COMPLETE!!!! After staying up late last night and making brackets to hang on the joists, My neighbor Mark came over today and we finished the last wall that had a really short pocket door.

After cleaning up a bit, I decided to see what my projector would look like and I wanted to measure the screen size.

Now the screen picture ends up being 12 feet wide in 16:9 aspect ratio. I think I might have gone a little too big Oh well I can always dial it in a little.

Today was a good turning point, and my wife even heated me up some leftovers!

Next phase I am working on is WIRING, WIRING, and more WIRING!!
post #25 of 802
Thread Starter 

Well almost a week of pain has gone by, but alot of progress, but it sucks because it really doesn't appear to be moving fast enough!!

First, I reframed the back wall with 2x2 treated and 2x4 studs because the existing wall by the stairs was bowed and drove me nuts. It was close, but we had to use shims to secure it and gete it all straight, but with a thick layer of drywall, it should turn out perfect.

My neighbor Mark, who is an electrical engineer has been teaching me a ton about electrical, and we tied all the new 15 amp circuits into the full breaker box today! Thank goodness, as it was so annoying to have extension cords everywhere, tripping on them.

**Note his awesome labelmaker skillz

And SURPRISE as we were cutting things in, we found a bonus!!! Some botard who did a crappy job building my house ran an unused 12-2 wire into the basement that will make an excellent 20 amp circuit to the equipment rack. Just have to make a run to Lowes tomorrow to get 25' of 12-2 romex to extend it over to the equipment.

And the last update is the cut in of the 3 canned light zones in the theater, yes it is ugly, but it will stay that way until my Insteon switches get here thanks to feedback on an additional thread. Thanks BShaw and others for helping me keep the $$ down

This sure beats the heck out of tying the lighting in with a stripped plugin cord and plugging it into a wall socket to power up the light switch Quick and dirty temp solution, but it sure sucked the power from a circuit that already ran throughout the house!
post #26 of 802
You're welcome. I've subscribed so I'll be watching!

post #27 of 802
Thread Starter 

Long weekend of progress ends!

This weekend I spent a few more hours trying to get a sewer cap unscrewed so I can figure out how to lower it as it is sticking up quite a bit in the middle of the room... I even created a new thread to get some help (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1021255), but I think I will just go all redneck on that pipe this week and deal with the aftermath as it happens.

Picture below:

Today it was all about rear surround wiring and conduit! I went to lowes and bought 200' of .5' flex conduit for all of the speaker runs and living room wires (TV and Internet).

I wired and mounted boxes for both Dolby and THX 7.1.


Conduit is a pain in the arse, especially when dealing with a 7 ft ceiling height it makes for a tough configuration at the a/v rack which is also under the main central air ducts, so I will have to get creative to pull it all together and still look nice.

This weekend I also ran telephone (And extended with CAT6) and CableTV in from the garage, though an access panel, and all the way back to the A/V rack where I will eventually have a panel door between the studs.

Home Automation: I also ordered my Insteon switches and starter kit! I can't wait!
Items Ordered
Qty Description Price Total
1 2476S SwitchLinc - INSTEON Relay (Non-Dimming), White
1 2493 INSTEON Keypad Dimmer Scene Lighting Starter Kit
post #28 of 802
This looks like a great use of space in your basement. So where did you say your wife's desk is going? lol
post #29 of 802
Thread Starter 

Her desk? next to the sump pump and water heater

Today I made alot of progress... NOT.

Let me show you why

The P-A-I-N!!!

Update: I was unable to sleep and was sitting here trying to figure out what to do with this mystery pipe that was sticking up in the middle of my floor with a screw cap:

I posted an additional thread to get specific advice (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1021255), and based on encouragement from Bull1962, carboranadum, and wkearney99 I figured WTH and got a bigger hammer...

As soon as I hit a 2x4 against the side of the cap, the outside ring shattered and this is what it looked like:

Next I got the biggest Snapon screwdriver I had and a gasket scraper (the 2 seated perfectly in the X and held eachother in place) and torqued on it until the cap unscrewed!

I was not prepared for what happened next...

JUST KIDDING!!! actually the cap twisted off and this is what resulted:

I can definately say it is a cleanout now and I definately see a Y down at the bottom. I experimented and ran the water throughout the house and it appears to be the pipe coming from the laundry room by the garage.

After inspecting the cap and pipe further, I noticed that the threaded peice was very thin and just glued to the inside diameter of the sewer pipe!!!

I put it all back together for the night and I now plan on grinding down the concrete level and buying a new cap setup tomorrow and glue this mother in!


Last update for the evening: I in fact thought I smelled something bad a few minutes ago... it took me a second or two, but I then realized I kicked off my grubby work sneakers underneath the table to update this thread... false alarm!
post #30 of 802
Wow, a big project outside also, do you ever sleep?
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