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My HT Room is born today......20x11 Garage Conversion

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Construction is nearly complete. Just have to get some insulation blown into the two outside walls, tape up the drywall, paint, and get the mini split installed and I'll be good to go. It should be completed by next week.

I originally had big plans for my room with a budget of about 20k but I had to cut it down considerably because the wife wanted to do many other things to the house. I did my part as a good husband and compromised with her and cut the budget back down to about 8k which includes equipment. Its not going to have top of the line gear, but with an infant and 10 year old, along with a wife with hearing better than superman, I know I wont be able to crank it up to the levels I would like.

Anyways, I'm converting my garage and having to make several design choices to make it work. I'm blocking off the water heater by making a column and doing the same on the opposite side to keep the look uniformed and also to put my equipment. I have to keep the garage door on due to the lovely HOA (scum), so I'm cutting the rails off and building a false wall. Here are some mock ups of what the final product should look like.....

By runback22 at 2008-09-03

By runback22 at 2008-09-03
post #2 of 46
Thread Starter 
Here are a few pictures from my construction....The riser I built stands 12" off the ground. I insulated it before putting the top on. I plan on putting 3 Berklines up here with 2 on the ground level. I'm fighting for every inch on the width of my room though...

By runback22, shot with DSC-T5 at 2008-09-03

By runback22, shot with DSC-T5 at 2008-09-03
post #3 of 46
Thread Starter 
Here are some shots of the stage and screen area. The columns are 13" wide which will be covered with black fabric. My stage is about 3ft out from the wall and about 7" high.

I'm hoping to be able to put between a 110-120" screen in here. I have to see how comfortable it would be watching a movie that size from the front row which is about 9ft away.

Frame and insulation:


Drywall up:
post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 
And finally, here are some pics of the back of the room with the two columns built. I need to buy a door to cover the water heater and get a rack built for my equipment.

I pray that I am doing this the right way. This isnt going to be the most technically sound HT build and I'm sure I'm making rookie mistakes in the build. So far, everything is going as it should and I hope it stays that way.

post #5 of 46
Everything looks good so far are you going to double up the drywall? that will help a ton and allow you to crank it up a bit more and not wake the kids. You should imbed your photo's so they show up in your thread
post #6 of 46
Great progress. Have you thought about putting a catch pan under your water heater (is it gas or electric?) in case something happens ? Will the water heater actually fit thru that opening (sure looks tight). Should the thing fail while you live there, just a couple of thoughts...

Keep the info & pics coming !

post #7 of 46
Thread Starter 
Its an electric water heater and thats a good idea you have about the pan.....The screen area is where my garage door is so I have the garage door and double drywall there. I didnt double up on the drywall on the side since I am fighting for every inch on the width. I tested it with my surround sound and you just hear a mumble of noise in the backyard. With my ac unit running outside, you really cant hear anything coming from inside unless you are right by my house. Its no where near loud enough to penetrate my neighbors homes......
post #8 of 46
For some reason the first concern that popped into my head was security. Not sure where you live but If it were me, I'd have a plan to thwart off the break-in.
post #9 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by djstretch View Post

For some reason the first concern that popped into my head was security. Not sure where you live but If it were me, I'd have a plan to thwart off the break-in.

Any particular reason you have this concern? I live in a nice neighborhood and I've always been a person concerned with security. There is no way to tell from the outside of the house that the garage is anything but a regular garage. I've got my alarm and motion detectors set up and my house is much more secure than many of my neighbors.....That just struck me ass odd what you said.....
post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 
Just got my Mr. Slim installed today and just waiting for the electrician to finish up. I hate working with contractors as they seem to do business to their convenience, not yours. Anyways, I'll put up some pics when the work is done.
post #11 of 46
Originally Posted by runback22 View Post

Just got my Mr. Slim installed today and just waiting for the electrician to finish up. I hate working with contractors as they seem to do business to their convenience, not yours. Anyways, I'll put up some pics when the work is done.

I think this is quickly changing. Contractors that don't meet customer expectations will quickly fizzle out. There's way too many workers out there now in the construction industry and not nearly the amount of work available to support them all. Word of mouth is pretty powerful here. Also, if Angie's list is available in your area, I highly recommend signing up with them. I think we pay $65 a year and it's worth it's weight in gold when trying to find contractors. It works very similarly to the feedback system on Ebay.
post #12 of 46
Thread Starter 
Okay, I had the scare of my life yesterday (or atleast the scare of the month). After installing the mini split system, the company that did it said that an inspector needs to come by to inspect the work. I asked what type of inspector it was and they said it was a city inspector. I started pooping bricks because I never got a permit from the city (dont even know if I needed one). He came in, inspected the AC, looked at my screen, and said "Thanks, you're all clear!". Phew.
post #13 of 46
Originally Posted by runback22 View Post

Okay, I had the scare of my life yesterday (or atleast the scare of the month).

I don't want to rain on your parade but until 30 days or so goes by you need to hold your breath.

Unless that inspector looked around the garage and specifically OK'd everything he saw he might have been just an HVAC inspector. In that case rather then confront the homeowner he did his part of the job and got out without comment. So he gets back to the office and sends a note to whatever inspector looks into garage conversions reporting what he saw.

It is going to boil down to how strict and aggressive your county/city is at regulating and controlling additions and garage conversions. Some communities actually strictly forbid conversions, others could care less.

Your build looks good by the way!
post #14 of 46
Oh-oh...hope Big Brother doesn't come down on ya. They should ya told you about the inspection before hand. Anyhow, looks like you've done some nice work. Was your water heater always up on a shelf like that? If you moved it up, you should have no problem getting that pan in other than tight fit. If you don't put a pan in the very least you should do is get one of those water sensor alarms or leak sensors with water shut off valves.

post #15 of 46
Thread Starter 
It was always up on a shelf like that. I thought about what you guys said and thats a worry i'm going to have to live with. Hopefully I dont get any letters in the mail. I didnt change anything structurally to the house or garage. The original garage door is up still too. I live in San Antonio, Tx so I hope they arent too strict. We dont plan on selling the house so I didnt even think we needed one. Oh well, I'll deal with that if/when it happens.

Anyways, I got half the room painted and should finish it today. Tomorrow I'm installing the carpet and it should be pretty much complete. Its amazing how much of a difference black paint makes to the room. It doesnt even seem like the same room. I'll get some pics up and soon as I find time to rest.

My new Mr. Slim on the back wall:

post #16 of 46
Thread Starter 
I tested out my DIY screen. I made it a 16x9 110" screen using Platinum Casa silver satin material I bought from Joanns Fabric. I originally was going to use BOC but the width wasnt enough. I almost went the the Wilsonart DW laminate. A 5x10 sheet would have run me about $110. I saw another user who had used the Platinum Casa and had great things to say about it. I must say I am extremely impressed with the picture quality.
post #17 of 46
Thread Starter 
1st coat is on. After this, its just adding some molding, putting up the fabric around the screen area, installing the carpet, putting up the acoustic panels, and I'm done. This room has been such a pain in the ass but I know it will be worth it to me once its done......Cant wait....I have dreams of watching all the great action flicks in 7.1 high def sound.....More than likely though, with a 6 month old, the next couple of years will be spent watching Snow White and Little Mermaid rather than the Dark Knight and Transformers. Oh well, here's some pics of my room painted fully.....

Mr. Slim

I wanted to go with a darker brown but a little thing called a wife ended that thought. She didnt want the room too dark.

The carpeting I chose matches the color of the walls perfectly. This brown came out better than I thought it would.
post #18 of 46
Hey Runback,

Looking good man ! Thanks for sharing your build.

Bet it was exciting to get your first images up on the screen ?

Let me ask a dumb queston, that Platimum Casa, is that a fabric ? How did you build your frame if you don't mind me asking ? How did it compare in price to the DW laminate ? Thanks!

post #19 of 46
Thread Starter 
The platinum casa is a fabric sold at Joanns Fabric. It was $8 a yard. 3 yards was enough for me to to a 110" screen. Its measures 58" in width compared to only 56" with BOC. I called about 5 stores in my area and the DW laminate ranged from $108-$130 for a 5'x10' sheet.

As for making the screen, this website is a pretty good tutorial:

I am going to remake my screen due to some rookie mistakes....First, I used door molding for the frame, which I covered in black cloth. Second, the L-brackets I used werent strong enough. These two things led to a big problem. Once I stretched the fabric as tight as I could get it, it caused too much strain for the molding and the L-brackets. The brackets bent a little and the molding bowed in the middle and twisted a tiny bit at the corners. This led to the frame not being square. Its not off by very much and hardly makes a difference but I dont like it.

All in all, the screen as is cost me about $40 to make. I figured that the DW screen, had I gone with the cheapest price I got, would have run me about $80-$100 more with all materials.
post #20 of 46
Looking good. How do you like the Mr. Slim? How is it noise wise?

post #21 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by bpape View Post

Looking good. How do you like the Mr. Slim? How is it noise wise?


I love the Mr. Slim. I had worries that it wouldnt be able to cool the room with all my equipment. It keeps that room ice cold. As far as the noise, you only hear a whisper when the room is quiet. Once any kind of noise is going, you cant hear it at all. I highly recommend it.
post #22 of 46
Looking good. My theater is similar dimensions at just under 11' x 19'. And i'm going with a Mr. Slim in the back. You said this is in your garage, so did you put something on top of the concrete, or just carpet on top of concrete? And if you did put something, what did you do?

Also, how big are the columns on either side for the speakers?
post #23 of 46
Thread Starter 
I am planning to put carpet over the concrete. The columns are 13" wide. Just big enough to fit my JBL floor speakers into. Progress on my room has been slowed due to other financial responsibilities....I did manage to put up the fabric frames to cover the columns and I got my rack built this weekend. I'll post some pics up tonight. Hopefully, the room will be complete in about a month. Home Depot is going to take about 3 weeks to get my carpet in and the chairs take about 10 days to get delivered.....

I cant say enough about the Mr. Slim. Its exceeded all my expectations, which were very high. I just got my electric bill and it was much lower than expected. The slim keeps the room nice and cool even with all the equipment running. I absolutely love it...
post #24 of 46
Thread Starter 
Finally was able to get some work done. I finished my equipment rack and got my projector mounted....Here are a few pics....Please forgive the mess....I find it hard not to play in there before the room is fully ready....

Fabric frames are finally up...

My Epson HC 720 mounted up and ready to go

My equipment rack:

So much work, so little time. I'm still not completely happy with the brown walls. I was wanting something darker and the brown looks like UT Longhorn orange. I am seriously considering going with my original choice of a dark espresso brown or a dark blue. Decisions, decisions....Also, my screen is roughly 106" 16x9. My first screen was 120" but I made some rookie mistakes on it. I redid it and had to cut the fabric so I had to make the screen smaller. I bought some new fabric and plan to build the screen again at 120"
post #25 of 46
from what i can tell you are using all existing walls and electrical outlets.....

it looks like all of your work is cosmetic, which typically doesnt require permit. I have pulled them before in a house i knew i was selling and the inspector issuing it said i was wasting money but it was only 10 bucks....when I called for final inspection the inspector did it over the phone ("you didnt move any walls or electrical right?" "no" "is the work done" "yes" "you pass").

this is not an opinion or advise, just thoughts.
post #26 of 46
Thread Starter 
I'm using the existing walls but I did add 2 outlets which were done by an electrician. I had him put one above the mini split and inside the column where my equipment rack is. I think I'm in the clear.
post #27 of 46
Thread Starter 
Finally, my work is nearing completion.....The room is basically done and I'm just waiting for the chairs which should arrive next week....Its been a frustrating and difficult ride but I know its going to be all worth it....Here are a few pics of the room....

I still need to take the wrinkles out of the fabric...

Upgraded to 7.1

I used carpet tiles instead of going with traditional carpet. I was trying to stay under budget and I really didnt feel like having more contractors in my home anymore. I was able to find the color I wanted at Home Depot and was lucky enough to find it on clearance. The flash on the camera really brought out the seams as they arent as visible in person....All in all, I'm very satisfied with it even though it took me 2 tough nights to do it.....

All thats left is to put up the acoustic panels, paint the door, and of course get the chairs in....

I am so very pleased with the way it all turned out, especially considering the small budget that I had to work with as well as the fact that many design decisions had to be made based off what was in the garage (water heater mainly). Here is what the garage looked like originally....What a mess...

post #28 of 46
Thread Starter 
My room was finally going to be completed.....Until I got the chairs home and realized that the idiot salesperson screwed up the order. Now, I have to wait until saturday to pick up my lower row of seats.....Anyways, I was able to get my top row up and decided not to go with acoustic panels (for budget reasons and the fact that I'm happy with the sound as is) and I just put up some posters I had....I found some hi res mini posters online and printed them out and framed them.

Cant wait to get the bottom row in....

My beloved Star Wars posters

My new mini posters...Top row for the kids, bottom row for me....
post #29 of 46
I am just starting my room, and I too was planning on using carpet tile due to cost.

2 questions, how did you carpet tile the riser steps, were there any issues?

And also did you put any kind of pad down before the tiles, or are the tiles right on the cement / wood ?

Looks like a great build !
post #30 of 46
Thread Starter 
The tiles do have some padding on them which stick to the wood/cement. As far as the stairs, the only issue I had was on the stage which is curved. For the stairs, I bent the carpet tiles over each step and used finished nails to keep it in place. It worked like a charm. The carpet tiles didnt stick to the wood as well as the cement so I went ahead and put a couple of finish nails in each tile. Its enough to keep the carpet in place, even when pressure is applied to it, yet its still easy enough to pull up if it needs to be replaced. All in all, I'm very happy with it.
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