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The P-Town South Wing Home Theater Build

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
CURRENT STATUS 05/11/09: 97% complete. Needs acoustic treatments & equipment room curtain. Projector & Blu-Ray player purchased and installed.

Hello all!

I'm going to join the fray and begin my home theater build thread, adding the hundreds (?) already here. I really wish I had come across these forums sooner, as I have been neglecting the future HT space for over a year now, due to frustrations with planning. But, life goes on, and before I knew it, a little girl is on the way. So this remodel has to get finished really quick as the baby is taking over my office and our current TV area. Daddy is getting the boot out of the house and into the garage, but it is a better space and is a win-win scenario! Once miss junior is here, little time and money will be available to keep working on it for a while. So let the countdown begin for February 09! You comments, advice, complaints, snide remarks, and boxes of donuts are most welcome.

The area is a former two-story garage/workshop that we are converting to additional living space. My wife and I purchased the house three years ago after specifically looking for this kind of expandability. One section will be the HT, the other will be my office and studio. The second story loft above the HT will be used for storage. After completion, this will add another 520 livable square feet to our home.

For purposes of this forum, I'll keep focus on the HT area, although I'm remodeling the rest of the garage into a loft and studio space.

Take a quick gander at the overhead plans with electrical and low voltage schematics

post #2 of 84
Thread Starter 
Now for some sketch-ups….

Here I am showing just the lower level. I haven’t finished sketching the upper level and the studio area is sparse right now. Colors are not necessarily finalized. A few notes…the door by the server rack will be replaced and permanently shut instead of framed out. The framed area to the left of the mini bar will be a media storage area with a small door (not shown) facing toward the rack.

There are two columns on each side of the screen wall. One frames out an unused concrete chimney, the other is there to match the first one and partially create an “equipment room” for the rack. A small curtain will go between the main area and the equipment area. Acoustcal treatments are still TBD, but likely I’ll hang 2’x4’ acoustical panels (2” OC703 & GOM fabric) at first reflection points, bass traps in front and rear corners, and diffusion panels below the rear surrounds.

post #3 of 84
Thread Starter 
Carada 112" 2.35:1 Criterion screen
Panasonic PT-AE3000U Projector
Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX AVR
Onkyo SKS-HT520 speakers/sub (extra pair of satellites for 7.1)
OPPO Digital BDP-83 Blu-ray player
Samsung SIR-T451 OTA HDTV Tuner
Monoprice 4x1 HDMI switcher
Microsmith Hot Link XL IR repeater
Furman PL-8 Power Conditioner
Liebert 42U server/equipment rack enclosure
Middle Atlantic rackmounts & shelves

Blue Jeans Cable (in-wall speaker cable, HDMI, and analog interconnects)
IXOS (toslink)
Carol Brand (AVR to master wallplate speaker cable)

Lighting & Low Voltage
Lutron Spacer System dimmers (4-zones + master controller)
Halo recessed lighting
Seagull Ambience cabinet lighting (mini-bar)
Monoprice wallplates

There is room to upgrade, mostly in the speaker department. I've had these Onkyo speakers for years, and while they are great and served us well in other environments, we need more oomph in the sub department and in general sparkle overall. I've been keeping an eye on Aperion Audio, a local speaker company that's been earning a good reputation for value speakers. We'll see.

We don’t watch much "live" TV, just movies or television shows on DVD/Blu-ray. I have a ton of CDs, a decent collection of SACD/DVD-Audio, and a bit of vinyl. We don’t play video games.
post #4 of 84
Thread Starter 
Our first look at the house before we purchased it in October 05 what a garage! There are sure possibilities here. The rest of the house was awesome, so we made an offer that same day and moved in a month later. Thankfully, the previous owners took all this stuff with them.

reverse angle..

View from the future studio into the loft HT will be in underneath it. Nice skylight for the studio. Note the steel I-beams between the floors. That loft isn't coming down for nobody.

This area is just asking to be reborn into a mini-bar.

A dedicated circuit box for the garage? Discrete circuits for A/V gear and the pj? Heck, yeah!

post #5 of 84
Thread Starter 
After we were completely moved in we crept out into our unfinished south wing again..

The utility sink and the freezer have a date with craigslist. The freezer still worked great, but I don't have a whole cow's worth of meat to store.

I taped up the wall for the first time (and not the last) to see screen sizes., but there were tons of things to do before I could even think about screens.

Such as this garage door needs to go.

and checking the ceiling of the HT, it's not level, folks; solid as a rock, but slightly sloped down toward the studio.

post #6 of 84
Thread Starter 
My father came over and we got the garage door disassembled. Now to frame it out…

After applying tyvek… we were lucky to find some spare siding up in the loft… just enough to finish off the wall. Done in four hours. Sorry, Dad, no more parking the Mini in here.

Beginning the ceiling leveling… attaching 2x4s to the joists gives us the level ceiling we need. It’s a lot of work, though, and will only give us a finished ceiling height of 6’9”. Good thing we are not NBA players. Is that a server rack on the left? Uh, oh. Premature purchase! -5 WAF points.

Now getting the wall between the HT and studio framed. Went 2x6. My father did a great job on the design, but had I done my research and visited AVSforums before having this wall framed, I would have insisted on a staggered 2x4 wall. Let that be a lesson, kids..

There is a spiffy workbench in the studio area that needs to come out eventually, but right now it’s really handy for cutting all that wood. Note the ceiling leveling. Still need to finish that up.

post #7 of 84
Thread Starter 
It’s been (gulp!) two years or so now since any significant progress has been made, which, as I gather from this forum, is a one-way ticket to Loganville. And now a baby girl is on the way. It’s time to start up again on the south wing. And what better way to kick-start it up again, by inviting friends over for a destruction party! Especially friends who will work for beer and pizza. Even my dad made it back over! Here I am attacking the drywall in the minibar area. That was tough to get out, the previous owner had seemingly screwed it in every six inches, and it was thick 5/8” stuff. I pounded too hard on a stud and slightly damaged our kitchen wall on the other side. Oh well, We wanted to hang a picture there anyway.

Here my friend Cody is laying out the framing around the unused concrete chimney, while the others in the background work on the workbench removal and removing the overhead shelves attached to the loft. That was serious work. It took four-five people two hours to get all that torn down. I can’t imagine doing it on my own.

Workbench is gone, and the center overhead shelf was removed. The industrial fan was originally part of a grand scheme for venting, but since we are going mini-splits, it will be replaced with something less... er... industrial. We don't know what yet, but likely another (quieter) fan.

Drywall out in HT bar area.

More taping. Those electrical outlets in the screen are up for power tool purposes, but are gonna go “boom, outta here” pretty quick. Cody finished framing the first column and started the second. Once we had a bit of Flying Pie's Stromboli Pizza and a few Session lagers, there was not going to be any more progress that day. Still more ceiling leveling and bar framing to go.

NEXT UP: Electrical and more framing!
post #8 of 84
Looking good.
Where are ya gonna park your cars?
I subscribed. This looks like a fun one.
post #9 of 84
Originally Posted by scottyb View Post

Looking good.
Where are ya gonna park your cars?
I subscribed. This looks like a fun one.

That mini doesn't take up much room. Just clear out a closet in a spare bedroom for it
post #10 of 84
Thread Starter 
The mini belongs to my father. We were storing it for a little while, for reasons I cannot remember, but yeppers, that will fit in any bedroom closet. That thing is TINY. We have crammed four people into it, and was comfortable, but quite snug.

As for parking cars... we got a massive driveway. We don't have anything $$$ enough to require a garage, but we are considering putting up a carport on the side of the house.
post #11 of 84
Lookin' good AA! I'll be watching...
post #12 of 84
Originally Posted by aluminumangel View Post

As for parking cars... we got a massive driveway. We don't have anything $$$ enough to require a garage, but we are considering putting up a carport on the side of the house.

At least you have your prioities right.
post #13 of 84
Looks like this will be a fun project. Best of luck, and great work so far!
post #14 of 84
Thread Starter 
been working over the weekend, got some progress. It's easy to do some of this stuff, it's just it takes so much freakin' TIME. Well, here's the roundup..

Saturday, my dad came over... got the columns finished out and furred out the screen wall about 2". I want to have a bit more insulation in there. I don't wanna hear that DARN CAT outside! (just kidding, honey...)

I proceeded to get "wallboxing", which is nothing like shadowboxing, kids...

left surround...

right front speaker and right sub power. I love these Carlon adjustable boxes so much, I've composed some haiku for them...

lovely carlon box
with low voltage extension
happy to adjust

Well, I didn't say the haiku would be any good.

But I did have to chip a little away on the 2x2 furring strips to get the boxes straight, so our first date together wasn't love at first sight, it's more of a "let's get together for coffee again, shall we?" And then we fell in love.

Then, OH NO! I HUNG THE PROJECTOR! BAD! BAD! Well, kinda. I hung a mockup to see where the outlets & ceiling mount should go. Just so you know, certain Adidas shoeboxes are the exact same size as a Panasonic PT-AE2000U pj! Coincidence? We think not.

Although, I should point out that the PT-AE3000U will probably end up on the list (you know, that list your significant other dreads)

And what, pray tell, is going here?

Why it is this beautiful Allied Moulding 5-gang switch box! Behold!

When it arrived in the mail at work last week, I passed it around the office. Most everyone was quite impressed. I think I left them with wallbox envy. Erm... ok then. Moving on...

The box will contain four Lutron IR Spacer Dimmers plus a Scene controller. Now before all you GRAFIK Eye honks get on here and begin to berate me, (probably deservedly so) I'll wuss... I mean... "disclaimer" out and say that the Lutron Spacer works for what I need and it is better for my budget.

a good shot of the rear surrounds lo-voltage boxes and The Plans...

An electrical inspector from the city came over last Wednesday for a consultation. This guy looked like he'd been inspecting electrical since the late Triassic period. Seriously old school. He took one look at The Plans...

Him: "Holy Moley."

As I asked questions... he slowly started to back away towards the door.

Me: "So I'm thinking that I need to put 12/2 romex here instead of 14/2? Is that right?"
Him: (pauses)"Yeah."
Me: "So are these boxes the right height?"
Him: (pauses) "Sure."
Me: "Ok, I guess that's all my questions, I don't---"
Him:"OK BYE!!!!" (runs out the door)

That, my friends, is what my $800 worth of city permits got me.

So until next time, watch 'em if you got 'em. And I'll leave you with a lovely haiku about these beautiful 3-gang mudrings...

beautiful mud rings
all orange and connect-ty
erm... uhhhh.... mmmm..

Oh forget it.
post #15 of 84
"I want to have a bit more insulation in there. I don't wanna hear that DARN CAT outside! (just kidding, honey...)"

Furr that wall out a little more and just toss the cat in. It's amazing how much LFE a cat can absorb. Better than a bass trap
post #16 of 84
Thread Starter 
We should all brush up on a little Edgar Allan Poe before we start using cats in-wall.
post #17 of 84
Nice drawings. Did you do them?
post #18 of 84
Thread Starter 
yup. I can't iron a shirt, bake a souffle, or do The Charleston to save my life, but i know my way around Adobe Illustrator a bit. But mostly it's a product of my obsessive-compulsive behavior. I plan something like it was from The Art of War and dive in to realize I really don't know what I'm doing.

Thanks for the compliment, by the way.
post #19 of 84
Thread Starter 
There has been progress and a ton of stuff to update. I'll be working out there all day today, so i'll get some more photos up here soon, and try to make it all worth your while to read.
post #20 of 84
Thread Starter 
hoo boy, after spending some time on the road for vacation. I came back to see that my father did some more work while I was gone. He's putting more time into this than I am. I had better catch up.

We are 13 weeks away from my daughter showing up.

Soooo... first up... the big shopping spree! Lookie here!!!

AV cables from Blue Jeans... $285.61
wallplates from Monoprice... $69.81
3 3" halo cans from North Shore Lighting... $79.54
quickport plates and snap-in connectors from Smarthome... $134.78
lutron spacer system from Electrical Supplies 4 Less... $534.77
lutron wallplates from Dimmers.Net...$52.54
leviton surge receptacles from OneStopBuy.com... $99.64
11 5" IC halo cans, 12/2 romex, 12/3 romex, more carlon boxes, another crap-load of lumber, and a Jeld Wen exterior steel door from Home Depot... $you don't wanna know.

my visa card is still smoking from the damage! We are rolling now! hopefully we are still looking at doing this whole thing for under $10K (sans equipment) but, man, these costs are adding up fast.

let's see what's going on the space nowadays...

Framing for the mini bar is complete, one step closer to getting my booze on in here.

This space was a bit of a conundrum. In the original plan, I had it house the media equipment, but didn't like the potential inaccessibility to the back of the gear. Plus, I purchased a server rack that wouldn't fit here anyway. So I've decided to use this as a storage cabinet for media. We will put in plywood on the inside to serve as support for shelving, and likely keep it open, unless I find a door solution that is perfect. Any suggestions?

Framing for the door to the studio area is in. We've taken out all the original florescent lighting, so we broke out some halogen worklights ($30 each at Home Depot, the visa card is burning now).

A view of the screen wall. All original electrical is now out.

Into the studio area... reframing of the soffits. I'd take them out completely, but there is this whole "it's holding up the roof" thing that concerns me.

Up above the HT, we;ve decided to frame in a wall for the storage area, reducing the amount of drywall we are gonna install. Notice the furring strips on the roof joists; we are putting insulation up there, too.

Here's a different angle of the studio's ceiling. For ventilation purposes, we will flatten out the top so that there is a hollow channel underneath the roof point. The orange string indicates were the flat part will be. this will keep me (hopefully) from having a rotten roof in 10 years. Plus, It will give me support to hang a foofy chandelier.

Ok, back into the HT... Dad furred out the wall with the breaker box, so it is now flush with the ex-garage door wall. Hooray! Except now we see how crooked the wall is compared to that door... Hmmmmm... everything looks so good in the computer, though!

My Adidas shoebox projector mockup now hangs from a piece of plywood to give extra support for the projector ceiling mount. Don't wanna have a $3K projector fall on my head.

Speaking of falling on my head, I've started to put up the 5" Halo cans.

This one decided to take me out. A rail came loose and it was bonky on my konky. But I think the can, and my head, will be ok. Btw, whose job is it to put those little foamies on top of the cans, horrible placement of foamies, people!!!

ya know, i do have a bone to pick with you guys who say these cans are so easy to install... yeah, like you, judsonp! these are taking forever! I'm tempted to fly you out from Ohio to Oregon just to put up my cans and see if it really is a 15-minute job.

and what is better than a 1000 ft spool of 12/2 romex?

Well, I can think of a lot of things. That's it for now. Watch 'em if you got 'em.

Update: I returned the 1000ft spool. What was I thinking?
post #21 of 84
Hang on...

So your theater is progressing along even without you being there?? Man, I hate you
post #22 of 84
Thread Starter 

yeah, my father is putting as much effort into building this as I did designing the project, and has come over on his days off to build, even when i'm at work. I think it's probably because he enjoys doing construction projects... and a granddaughter is showing up. Plus, I've had friends come over and help out every now and then. I'm quite blessed, as this project would take years and years if I had to the construction all alone. I'm sure I owe people a few movie nights after it is all done...
post #23 of 84
Thread Starter 
Busy day at work. I'm not feeling all spunky-tastic like I normally am here...


more progress this week! I'm almost finished with installing all the Halo recessed lights. Had a bit of an issue with the south row of the 5" cans, due to the shallow nature of the sloped ceiling, but lowering the fixture a bit through the plaster frame worked out ok, plus chiseling the joists to get the rail connectors level helped. Instead of 3 3" cans for screen wash, I'm putting in four, due to symmetry issues (I'll post a picture of it later). Just two more cans to place in the studio section and all the lights are installed!

Dad worked more on the framing in the studio section, and got the loft walls finished as well as the ceiling furred out. A lot of work was needed in this area, and it's looking really good.

More supplies are arriving daily, but seemingly in the wrong order. I got my wallplates before my Lutron Spacer switches o_0! Next big task will be the electrical and the low-voltage conduit. Then the mini-splits. My wife Bonnie and I are considering hiring a professional to do the electrical, mostly for time issues and my desire to get it hooked up right. I wanted to have the electrical inspection done before Thanksgiving. That is looking unlikely even if we don't DIY.

We've started to chase bids on the drywall/insulation. We are definitely not going DIY on that.

I also need to make another rev of my plans. It is amazing how it can change so quickly.

Ok, that it fer now. Watch 'em if you got 'em. More pics up soon ...from my brand new Canon G10, I might add.
post #24 of 84
Have you ever driven through McMinnville by chance? I swear I saw that car the other day.. that thing is sick.

Nice theater by the way, looks like you've put a lot of work into it, can't wait to see your finished product. Also nice to finally see an enthusiast so close to home. :P
post #25 of 84
I know what you mean about the Visa getting workout. After my latest spending spree, my card actually starting speaking Spanish to me - "No Mas!! No Mas!!". I just told it to relax and that the pain would be over soon.
post #26 of 84
Nice space! Looks like a fun build.

Congrats on the little one! We just had our second, a boy, on Oct 24th. Don't plan on getting much done after she is born.
post #27 of 84
Thread Starter 
dude, when the card breaks out the espanõl, that's serious trouble. I think my card just whimpered and rolled over like it ate too many donuts or something.

In2Photos: congrats to you, too. This is why we are booking on this build. Or at least trying to.
post #28 of 84
Nice build and great pics, glad to see another person in the Portland area! I'm over on the west side, but work downtown.
post #29 of 84
Originally Posted by aluminumangel View Post

dude, when the card breaks out the espanõl, that's serious trouble. I think my card just whimpered and rolled over like it ate too many donuts or something.

In2Photos: congrats to you, too. This is why we are booking on this build. Or at least trying to.

I guess that explains the "no mas!! no mas!! " I was hearing.
post #30 of 84
Thread Starter 
The deadline is fast approaching. we are eight weeks away from our daughter's arrival. What's going on in the garage? Wellsir, it can't rightly be called a garage anymore, as, you see, there is more work done. observe...

All the furring of the studio ceiling is finished, there even is a box for the foofy chandelier up there. That thing is strong. My Dad hung from it to test it. But I don't recommend using your paterfamilias as a ceiling strength tester.

After some deliberating, we decided to move the mud rings for the main low voltage wall panels to the hollow right column. This will give us the needed space to route all the conduit down. Now the column has a purpose, instead of standing there and looking pretty. (unlike me)

Speaking of conduit, some orange stuff arrived on my driveway. looked just like this...

Hung the 3" cans for the screen wash. Original plan called for three, but the joists wouldn't allow the middle one to be in the center, so... we should order another one...

looky! My spacer system dimmers have arrived... ohhhhh shiny!

all right, enough of that.. what just happened today? Electrical rough-in! wooo-hooo!

3" cans (now all 4) all pretty. They got their invitations and are ready for the ball.

This was a bit of a headscratcher... wiring for the low voltage undercabinet lights in the mini-bar area. The issue is that is still don't know what i want. So i put up a junction box and had the electrician wire it for now. The box will be behind the cabinets and wire will feed through a false bottom, maybe. I dunno. But i have flexibility here.

looking down, GFCI for the undercounter refrigerator - put a plug in there so we'd at least have some electricity.

And... also the prewiring for the mini-splits! This is between the rear surrounds.

The drain goes down and outside the wall, likely we will put a pipe that will lead over to some earth - so it is not draining on the driveway.

Also, we are putting another unit in the studio below the (former) fan vent - it will be a small window soon.

Mini-splits are a duct-less HVAC solution. These will both heat and cool using a mulit-inverter heat pump that will go outside here (outside the south wall)...

9,000 BTU of AC in the studio, 12,000 BTUs of AC in the home theater. Over doing it a bit as the HT is only 270 square feet. But eight breathing bodies will warm it up real fast. gotta fight that.

More photos of the current state...

Screen wall.

Back wall of home theater.

in the studio, up into the loft.

...and the aforemented 5-gang box, which needs some kind of manly nickname like "Mr. Big", "Gozer", "Destroyer of Worlds". I dunno, anything that says it's ready to eat spacer system dimmers for breakfast.

Had to lose a bit of the original insulation for the mini-split lines. wonder if I can reuse it?

a lot of work, and another fine dent in the bank account. My wife has been handling the arrangements for insulation & drywall bits, and we are close to a solution!

NEXT UP: Low-voltage and the electrical inspection.
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