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Family Time Home Theater and Game Room build

post #1 of 149
Thread Starter 
After lurking around the AVS forum for quite some time and having been working on my own build for over a year, I finally got up the courage to post-up about it. I say courage because I truly find this site to be intimidating (not to mention overwhelming). There are SO many great dedicated theaters on here, some downright awe-inspiring that I felt my build had nothing to offer.

I have been seriously thinking about adding this thread for the last few weeks. The two biggest factors that made me decide to post this build are 1) I think my situation and build is an every-man build. It is reasonably low-cost, multi-purpose and maybe while not fit to stand in the shadow of some of the builds here (sandman, big, dark knight - I could go on and on here), I feel that the average Joe will be looking to do something more along the lines of what we did and hopefully others will see you don't need a $150k dedicated HT to have fun! 2) Is a little more selfish. I'm not done with this project and have a few questions floating around in the back of my mind that may eventually need to be addressed. So I may be asking some technical questions along the way or looking for some advice.

I did not take nearly as many photographs of the progress of this build as many on here have done with their builds but I will post some. The nice thing about this one is that since I've completed much of the project I already have many photos to add to this thread.

I've seen no lack of advice for others on this site and I can tell you that's what kept me coming back here - people with a common-interest helping one another out!

I hope that I can at least get some interest in this build, maybe help others and even entertain you along the way! I will post reasons for this build, our goals, plans, etc. and will be happy to answer questions along the way!
post #2 of 149
Welcome to the madness! I have been hooked on this hobby for several years now and I lurk on this forum most everyday and night when I am at work. I have not added a build post since I am moving at a snails pace but someday I will. Post pics when you can.
post #3 of 149
Originally Posted by Family Time View Post

The nice thing about this one is that since I've completed much of the project I already have many photos to add to this thread.

So where are the photos?! Talk is cheap - time to put your photos where your .... um, mouth is! Sock it to us!

Just giving you grief. Welcome to the Mad House!
post #4 of 149
Welcome to the worlds best place to get you AV needs met. Lot's of amazing advice and unlike life, in here size doesn't matter just the love of a common theme!
post #5 of 149
Thread Starter 
Taking a break from building my A/V cabinet and thought I'd see if anyone at least looked at my thread! And to my surprise I even got some posts!! Thanks guys for welcoming my family onboard!!

Well, let's see how easy it is to upload some images. Seems logical to start with a "before" photo of the area. But since I cannot find a true before, I will start with these. Our water heater decided to begin to spew it's guts and a slow leak damaged the walls, floor, furniture and even some of the electonics in the family room. This is the very beginning of the clean-up efforts.

I LOATHE paneling! The rough-sawn cedar was a "good idea" but was installed like crap! Besides, that sucked up water faster than anything else down there!

These two show the north side of the room. The wall where I state the paneling used to be is the mechanical room (furnace, water heater). It is a huge room for those two things so it was our storage area as well.

The bar, while we thought was very cool when we bought the house, NEVER got used except to set-up the kids slot-car track, building models and general "I don't know where to put this so I'll put it here"! So with that mechanical room and the bar, there was little space left for anything else on that half of the room. I once had a 5-foot desk in the corner with my computer in the corner.
post #6 of 149
Thread Starter 
These two pics show the south side of the room - the area big enough to actually be used!

The TV used to be on a stand on the left side of the fireplace. Looking back now I can't believe the difference!

Even before the water heater issue we had planned to remodel this area but that was the catalyst for this whole project. We even purchased a pool table well before this b/c we knew someone who was moving and we couldn't pass on the opportunity to get such a good deal.
post #7 of 149
So far so good. Keep the pics coming.
post #8 of 149
Thread Starter 
Finished my A/V cabinet a few minutes ago (more on that way later in this thread...) and taking another break. Looking at my last two post they have a file to click on to view the images. However, I see MANY guys on here with the photos right in the post.

I would much prefer to do that. I'm gonna guess that I need to have the photos hosted somewhere and I then need to link to them in the post??? If this is the solution - or if there is another solution - can someone please let me know.

post #9 of 149
post #10 of 149
Welcome to the fray! I saw your post in another thread regarding the Klipsch speakers so I thought I would visit your build thread. You will like the Klipsches they are really nice speakers. The setup I have in the kids media room is my first "true" surround sound setup and when I watch a movie I still grin ear to ear! They perform nicely. I went ahead and purchased the Sub 10 that is the recommended sub to go along with the Quintets and have really liked it as well. It does not have as much punch as a Epik, SVS, or ED sub, but for my first setup it is more than adequate. I'm guessing you will want to upgrade that Sony sub pretty quickly when you get up and going.

Again welcome, post lots of pics, and ask lots of questions, we are here to help and spend your money!


post #11 of 149
Thread Starter 
I sketched up a floor plan using Unigraphics NX. I have some 3D modeling done with UG as well, but may import into SketchUp so I can create some files like everyone else has seen.

This is the room layout prior to the build. As you can see, the mechanical room and the bar took up quite a chunk of this area. I really don't like the way this level of the house is laid out. Would you NOT put the laundry and mechanical room at the same end of the house? There is a dual-crock sump system in the lower left corner of the Laundry Room - in the closet.

We strongly considered adding a spa-tub somewhere in the basement. The wall between the bath and the laundry room is the "wet wall" and with all the plumbing being in the concrete, we felt that adding a spa-tub in the bathroom was just too much. I still have it in the back of my head somewhere that I may try to put it into the laundry room - we'll see!!
post #12 of 149
Thread Starter 
Adding that photo was about an exercise in futility! For some reason the Link info given by Picasa does NOT work. I had to right-click on hit "Save Image Location" and post THAT in the Img file.

But...it worked!! Next... A few more tear-down pics!!
post #13 of 149
Thread Starter 
The bar comes down!!

The WINDUP....

The HIT!!!

Notice the Air Hammer in my daughters hand - we would chisel around chunks of the bricks and then knock it down!

Funny - the kids have hardly been seen on this project after the completion of the destruction!!
post #14 of 149
ha, funny. my friends were the same way.
post #15 of 149
Thread Starter 
These show the wall opposite the fireplace where the hall and staircase are (see previous photo).

The first is here because it shows the beam (at the top) that spanned the gap from the staircase to the wall of the mechanical room. I mention it here because...well...because I have PLANS for this thing!!

These walls ALL has the paneling on them and once removed left behind the glue ridges. I made a short attempt to try to remove these before I deemed my life to be easier by just removing ALL of the drywall!!!

So, early on the discussion began with what, exactly, to do with this room. This is EASILY the most-used area of the house! Warm in winter (plus we had the fireplace which is great for ambience is nothing else!) and cool in the summer! The 36" Sony Wega was the biggest TV in the house and the most watched.

We knew we had the pool table but will we go with an LCD, Plasma, Projector?? Which wall is the best placement? Etc, etc.... We went back and forth as my "much too huge" plans (wife's quote) didn't align with her more "reasonable" approach!

She trusts me to handle all the construction and design but since she has veto powers, I had to sketch something up for approval by the Ways and Means committee (i.e. HER)! I asked her to draw something up and I'd compare. When I saw her plans I just said "um, I don't have anything drawn up yet!" But that was only b/c my plans were SO much different!! So, back to the drawing board - or in this case UG - to make plans more aligned with hers...

More on that next post...

Hope everyone is enjoying so far...
post #16 of 149
Thread Starter 
If I've learned nothing else perusing these threads, I've learned that photos are king and words are cheap!! haha!! I am trying to select photos that show a continual timeline as well as those that can actually contribute to the overall

We are really getting into the meat of the tear-out now!!

The short studs in the foreground are from the old "return" on the bar. The wood stacked in front of the fireplace is all the rough-sawn cedar that was up all around the room.

The debate begins in this room. Does the TV go above the fireplace (centered on that brick wall) or on the wall on the right - to the right of that window? Hmmm...

post #17 of 149
Originally Posted by Family Time View Post

I am trying to select photos that show a continual timeline as well as those that can actually contribute to the overall

You're much more ambitious than me with wanting photos to contribute to the overall. I'm just too lazy to use words usually.
post #18 of 149
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

You're much more ambitious than me with wanting photos to contribute to the overall. I'm just too lazy to use words usually.

Hahahahahahaha!!! I am NOT slow with the sarcasm, but I had to read that about three times before it made sense!! Ok...I see how it is! I mean just because
post #19 of 149
Thread Starter 
Here are a few images of the very simple modeling I made just to see how things will "fit". The table looks a little close to my Flintstones couch!

The two biggest goals with the remodel are to extend the length of the opening between the two halves of the room. Doing this means we need to address the header beam that currently creates the opening AND the wall that is the Mechanical Room.

Our 28 year old furnace has spent it's usefulness and needed replaced along with the obvious water heater. So, we shrank the mechanical room to 40" meaning we gained over 4 feet of usable floor (40 sq. ft)!!! Woo hoo!! This doesn't even count what we gained from the bar removal!

The new smaller mechanical room with the displaced furnace. Double doors for entry. To the right of the doors we planned on an A/V rack, small refrigerator and some shelving including a shelf to hold a microwave.

post #20 of 149
Thread Starter 
This shows that the wall was removed exposing the old furnace and new water heater.

I placed an ad on craigslist for the paneling that I removed. I actually got fifty bucks for all that paneling - yes - used! The guy wanted it for a rental home or something.

I seriously considered doing something with all of that rough-sawn cedar as well. Ultimately I placed an ad and got three times as much as I did for the paneling (kids de-nailed all the cedar).

Time to replace the old furnace. Being a Do-It-Yourself'er, I actually considered replacing the furnace and central air myself. After getting prices - I was convinced I'd have to in order to afford it - geez! Man, am I glad I did NOT do it myself!

We called a GREAT local heating and A/C company and they worked with us. They did a spectacular job with the installation and we've been VERY happy with it!!

Now...about that header beam...
post #21 of 149
Hey, looking good. I know the trials and tribulations that you have to go through when removing an old basement. It took me 3 months to clear my basement fully of the old build.

It's all worth it in the end! Keep up the work!
post #22 of 149
Thread Starter 

Thanks! I just looked through your build and see that you definitely understand about the tear-out! We didn't get a dumpter, though.

We would tear out until we had no more room to safely work in the area and then unload it out the back window (same one we bring in the firewood through). We'd load up the truck and go to the local dump which isn't too far. If we really had a lot of crap we'd load up the trailer too.

I have found that my son was MORE than willing to help unload at the dump if I gave him a little "free rein". Meaning he could throw and break stuff!! They have signs there that kids need to remain inside the vehicles but what fun is that!!?? He LOVED it when someone else brought anything glass (windows, etc.) cuz then he had a "target" for when he unloaded!!

Well, it's Saturday and since I took off work today I'd better get some more things done down there - more updates later!!
post #23 of 149
My nephew is they same way. He loves going to the dump to just throw and break things!

I hear ya about being Saturday and needing to get some work done. I'm on here looking for inspiration for my trim work. It's never ending.
post #24 of 149
Thread Starter 
Inspiration... I hear that! I'm looking around for builds where guys put glass doors on their A/V cabinets. I think that would look pretty sweet. So far...nothing. I called my local glass shop when I was considering using glass shelves in the A/V cabinet but decided not to go that route.

I also have an area where I'm building some "wall deep" shelves (4" deep) but not sure I just want a bunch of uniform, horizontal shelves. So I'm googling photos looking for something a little different but not crazy!
post #25 of 149
Thread Starter 
So my thread has been bumped to the second page. Out of site, out of mind and..well...we just can't have that now can we?

So...that pesky header beam....

I thought, like most homes, this one would have some kind of center support beam; A steel I-beam, a double or triple header...something!! My thoughts were confirmed when I saw this doubled-up 2x12 above the opening with the 1/2" plywood flitch plate in between...right?

But...why does it not go all the way to the exterior wall, I wonder? Hmmm. After investigating futher, it became obvious that there was once a FULL wall here supporting the upper levels of the house! Someone had previously opened up this area to make the L-shaped area that was the bar and the family room.

But...they didn't make the opening long enough for what we had in mind... After calculating the bearing load (I received an Associates in Architecture...23 years ago and have used that knowledge only sparingly since!!), 2x12's weren't gonna do the job.

I calculated I could go up to an 18' opening using doubled-up 2"x14" LVL beams. I did NOT want to go 2"x16" due to more loss of headroom Well, I didn't need to go all the way to 18' so that was even better. I confirmed my calculations with a P.E. and I picked up some 20-footers at my local lumber yard and was soon back home to figure out how to get them in... I had the structural guys at the lumber yard triple-check my numbers.

Obviously the house wasn't going to support itself waiting for me to put the new beam in after ripping out the old one. So I picked up the necessary 2x4's I would need to build my temporary support walls. Sorry, other than the pictures posted previously, I don't have any true before photos of the header beam.

I do, however, have photos of that beam surrounded by the temporary support walls.

Here you can see the LVL beams laying next to one of the support walls.

The old header beam has been removed and the ductwork that had been attached is being supported by outriggers attached to the temporary support structures.

With the help of some buddies we installed the new LVL beams and man do they look great up there!! You can see the pile of 2x4's that were the support walls as well as how much shorter the wall of the mechanical room is now. The sole plate will be cut back almost to that red post. The opening went from less than 13' to more than 17' - WELL worth the cost and effort!!

Here is a nice fuzzy photo of the new beam. The 2x4's on the sides are temporarily supporting the ductwork.

This would be the biggest structural change in this whole project. Now that this is completed we can begin to put the room back together!!
post #26 of 149
Wow, what an undertaking. I have a support wall going down the middle (well not exactly middle) of my basement and thought about what I would have to do to open up the space, but thought it would talk too much time and too much money to do so. I just ended up working with what I had. Nice work. I'm too timid to start changing things like that. I'm sure I would screw something up for sure.

Nice progress keep it up, oh and more photos too. 8-)


post #27 of 149
Thread Starter 
Uploading all these construction pics has not really given me more of a chance to discuss what we are going to do for the seating, A/V equipment and the like.

Years ago I read an article in a magazine where a guy had a large projector TV put into his house and then had an additional motorized drop down screen with a projector. It cost him $150k. I remember thinking who the heck would do something like that???!!

Little did I know, right?

I did state that this build would be more like what an "every man" or average Joe might do in their home for family entertainment. So, I concede that moving a wall, moving a furnace and replacing a header beam with in order to get a larger opening may be a little more than the average guy might do to accommodate their HT or game room.

The equipment end of things many of you dedicated HT guys may find a little boring (haha, I presume you even READING my little 'ol build thread!!). But this is really the part I thought would appeal to more "regular" guys.

Let's have a look at the A/V equipment list and goals.

Current equipment list.

- Samsung 52" LN52B750 (Need a wall mount, yet. Will post soon about my predicament there for some input from you guys...)
- Onkyo TX-SR607 A/V receiver (NIB)
- Sony BDP-N460 Blu Ray player (NIB)
- Technics CD player
- DirecTV HR23 HD DVR
- Wii
- PS2 which may be upgraded to PS3...
- Klipsch Quintet III 5.1 speakers (NIB)
- Sony 10" powered sub

Near-future upgrade plans:
- Universal remote (MUST make it easy for wife/kids to use equipment!!)
- Upgrading of the Sony sub (after I hear how it sounds down there).
- Capabilities to play my digital music files from my PC (or another HDD).
- Capabilities to record FROM my DVR to HDD.
- Glass door(s) on front of A/V cabinet
- Fireplace mantel with shelving on sides to hold DVD's.

Long-term upgrade plans/thoughts:
- Add two more speakers for 7.x surround once we see how many movies actually encode 7.x surround sound.
- Capabilities to record FROM Blu-Ray player to HDD.
- Large external drive for use by DVR (HR23 has USB port for that).
- Put movies into digital format for instant access. I think I saw a build on here that did that but never read HOW they did it.
- Maybe instead of putting all movies into digital format (HDD which seems like it would take a lifetime!) connect a Sony 400-disc BluRay player (actually I would need nearly 2 already)
- HD Projector and drop-down screen. We have chosen to hold-off on this part of the build for now in order to save up for a really nice projector ($2k range). This would go above fireplace (90-degrees to where the TV is mounted). The room has been set-up to accommodate this already. Mostly b/c we didn't know if we wanted the TV above the fireplace or on the long wall.
- Xbox. We had one for my son but all of the games (then) were geared toward teenagers so we sold it.

Some of the issues that I don't yet have answers for:

- If I place Wii and/or PS3 in A/V cabinet (behind players and off to the side) how do I still get use of wireless controllers and the Wii sensor bar and hooking up WIRED controllers like the drums for Rock Band.

- How to access my music files on a hard drive (does not need to be my PC - I could by a stand-alone HDD if that works) through the A/V receiver. I would like some sort of interface to access songs directly, by playlist or whatever (like my ipod does...). I never looked but would be surprised if SOMEONE doesn't make a HDD A/V component to plug into your A/V receiver for such a thing.... Hmm...

Ok, so that is the end of the list of things I don't have answers for...SO FAR...
post #28 of 149
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by RTROSE View Post

Wow, what an undertaking. I have a support wall going down the middle (well not exactly middle) of my basement and thought about what I would have to do to open up the space, but thought it would talk too much time and too much money to do so. I just ended up working with what I had. Nice work. I'm too timid to start changing things like that. I'm sure I would screw something up for sure.

Nice progress keep it up, oh and more photos too. 8-)



Thanks RT, glad to see you chiming in once in a while - being sure to remind me of uploading pics!! At least I know someone is following along :-P

Though I had never replaced a beam before I knew I had the capabilities to do so - it was just a question of "is it worth it?" I can see with 100% certainty - YES it was!!

Now time to begin the looooonnnngggg haul of putting everything back to a usable state! We ALREADY miss this room at this point in the build!!!
post #29 of 149
Thread Starter 
I am at a major point with my build right now that I need to address and I hope someone here can help. The wall where I am mounting the LCD has a ledge at 48" from the floor - almost exactly where I would like the center of the TV to be (according to other threads on here...).

Below that ledge is 8" cinder block with 2x2" furring strips. Above that ledge are normal 2x4" studs, 16" on center.

While the TV would look really nice mounted above this ledge (because it would fit into a shallow alcove), we feel this is much too high for comfortable viewing - see nearly any discussion on here about a TV mounted above a fireplace...

However, no way do I trust the 2x2's below the ledge to support my 52" LCD. I do NOT want to molest the cinder block foundation!

My ULTIMATE set-up would be for the TV to sit up into the alcove (see the attached pic) while we are NOT watching it. And have it drop down to the proper viewing height when we ARE. I have designed several ways for this to happen - none seem feasible at this point.

So, barring that, I'd like to place the mount itself just above that ledge. However, I would like the TV to hang well below the mount so the TV is at the correct height. All the mounts I've seen seem to have the TV centered vertically with the center of the mount.

I see the Sanus mounts have a huge arch-shaped arm and considered flipping that over so the TV "hangs". But since the mount was not designed for that, I'm not sure it would work well and I'm concerned about the additional stress this could put on the mounting hardware.

Any ideas???
post #30 of 149
you'll have to excuse me, as i am still a noob, what about building a wall that is right in front of the blocks, and attaching the new wall to the wall studs above the bricks. You would lose a few inches on space, but it sounds like the least expensive way to achieve your goal.

their is probably a really good reason why that wont work, I just dont know it.

great job on your build so far by the way!

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