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The Blue Pill Theater - An Erskine Production

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 
"You take the blue pill the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." -Morpheus

I just woke up and started a theater ! I've been procrastinating long enough, dreaming, delaying, making excuses so I made a goal to get started by my birthday this year otherwise my friend would have full right to verbally taunt me endlessly !

So the first move was to hire Dennis Erskine right off the bat. I just got the finalized plans today and will be pouring over them. In the meantime I've contacted a few general contractors and will try to decide on whether to hire Dennis for the construction or a local group.

The room is 15' 5" wide, 19' 1" long and 9' high on a concrete slab foundation on the first floor.

Plan calls for GG + DD + RSIC, riser/platform (no stage), Acoustik Mat subfloor, Quest Acoustical materials for the walls, JM InsulShield and GOM. I have no equipment yet so I've asked for his recommendations.

There is a 9' wide entertainment niche on the other side of the theater's back wall. Since the projector is located behind the rear wall, it would have projected (no pun) into the entertainment niche so the niche wall was moved foward to allow for a newly created space for the projector.

As I get pictures, activity, equipment, etc. I'll update.

Thanks to Reaper (on the forum) for his renders from several years ago. The plan DE did is a bit different from the render but it gives you an idea of how the space can be used for a theater.
LL

 

Extra bedroom.pdf 72.0322265625k . file
LL
LL
post #2 of 89
That may be my all time favorite movie! So, I'm subscribed. I expect a steady diet of pictures, though
post #3 of 89
Looks awesome!
post #4 of 89
Cool! dipole rears in the ceiling? first time I've seen Dennis use that.

.....I look at a room like this and think its tiny, then I convert ft to m and just sob, you've got 500-800mm on either side to mine
post #5 of 89
Thread Starter 
It's funny you say that about the space. When I first started reading these forums I thought this space was small. When I saw what people did with similar size theaters I got excited about what I could do.
post #6 of 89
Great name for a theater! Looking forward to following your progress.
post #7 of 89
subscribed!
post #8 of 89
I wasn't thinking of that blue pill . . .
post #9 of 89
I really like the design of those keystone-looking arches. Very cool. Erskine's group always does such a thorough job of setting up a room!
post #10 of 89
It's sure nice working with an Erskine design from our perspective. Details and often-missed items and areas are never an issue.
post #11 of 89
Thread Starter 
When I first got the initial review, I just had no idea how good it was going to look. Love the arches!

Here are the "before" pictures. I included the entertainment niche that is on the other side of the theater. All of the equipment will be put into one of the side sections of that entertainment cabinet.
LL
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post #12 of 89
Some of those "before" pictures remind me of the Ford Explorers we see around here with 20" rims and fake "Buick Holes" stuck to the fender.

Sledgehammer is your friend!
post #13 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitten by HT View Post

"You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." -Morpheus

The average forum user generates over $25,000 of disposable income. Combined with a form of marketing, the forum provides all the money one would ever need.

^but that was if you took red pill.
post #14 of 89
Thread Starter 
OK so this is a learning curve. I searched for contractors who won "best remodeler of the year" with high BBB ratings and members of the local chapter of the National Home Builders Association. The first was very impressed with the plans (thanks Dennis !) but backed away and declined to build it due to the amount of detail. Knowing how to build is one thing but supervising a crew to make sure the details aren't missed is another.

A second company came out and he was willing to give it a go until he talked with his subs who one-by-one said they wouldn't do it for the same reason.

Another just emailed me after he saw the house and the plans and said he would have to politely decline.

A local home theater store would only build from a plan that they designed.

We're down to the following:

1. Erskine Group flying from out of town (they could do it in their sleep)
2. Local HT specialty store - another store (they at least understand the challenges and have done it before)
3. Local General contractor who builds custom homes/custom theaters/general renovations (great looking work, understands the challenges and very responsive)
4. Local GC from much smaller company (young guy who just built a theater with GG, DD, etc for an AVS member who is hungry and wants to make this project his "crown jewel")

Just got a JVC DILA X70RBU from an AVS member the other day. Also got the 650 lb crate from the SoundProofing Company with the Acoustik Mat equivalent, Green Glue, WhisperClips.

Any thoughts on the process of hiring a crew to build ? I'm no DIYer.
post #15 of 89
You will NEVER be disappointed with Steve and crew. Worth every penny, Bar none! I will always go with a known quantity over an unknown to save a few bucks. I mean, think about how much money is being spent here in the grand scheme of things, and it really is a no brainer. In addition, a GC will take months to build what Steve and crew do in weeks. So, if you want to live with a GC for several months along with subs, best of luck to you! In addition, Steve has the right tools, experience and facilities to get the job done right the first time. Just my two cents.
post #16 of 89
my vote is #4
post #17 of 89
My vote is number 5: Hire Biggy to come out and spend a few weeks with a crew. :-)

Anyone want to go to TX?
post #18 of 89
No question, #4. Construction isn't rocket science. If one can read plans and has the proper tools, it really is straight forward. The young guy with some experience, who is hungry to build his portfolio of work is perfect.
post #19 of 89
I think it depends on your time vs. money. Getting it done right and fast would be #1 without question. Slower, perhaps with some mistakes on the way, but likely cheaper is #4. If the #4 guy has good references for his previous work, giving someone a "stretch" for a showcase piece is probably the way I'd go, too.

(And no, I don't think I'm his previous AVS client... But there's always that chance - my project manager left my builder's firm sometime after we finished. )

Jeff
post #20 of 89
I would disagree with you Big. As a prospective client of Steve myself, his costs are not far off the mark from what a local GC worth their salt will charge. Trust me, I have looked into this myself. I have no vested interest in recommending Steve for this build. I just know from experience, they do the best work. Regarding Quest, there is no comparison. Are they more expensive? Yes, but the results are astounding. Bottom line, nobody has an unlimited budget, but the devil is in the details with many of these rooms.
post #21 of 89
I have to agree with BIG here. Go with a local contractor and oversee the job. I can't wait to work with you BIG!
post #22 of 89
I'm in the same situation.

#1 was my original plan. The signature design isn't detailed enough in some aspects and very specific in others. If they build it, they will figure out any missing info. If a GC builds it, the subcontractor is going to have to figure it out. I couldn't get a price. YMMV.

#2 I considered this also, but their focus is going to be on the equipment sale, not so much the room. Dennis is a dealer as well, but the room itself gets focus vs simply being used as a driver for the equipment sales.

#3 This was my default. Problem is it's widely accepted that residential construction isn't able to meet the low noise targets of studios & high end HT.

I tried to find a commercial HVAC firm to design the HVAC to Dennis's specs, but 1 room in a home is too small of a job for them. You could see who did your local TV and Radio studios and see what they charge. They would at least have experience with isolation techniques and low noise HVAC design.

#4 I am contemplating myself (Big). Everyone starts small. Attention to detail matters, especially for HT. You could hire the best, most experienced guy in the world, but you're not going to get quality product if he's spread too thin, lacks interest, or you end up as a side/filler project.
post #23 of 89
Thread Starter 
Rabident,

#1 - There are 10 hours that DE makes available as a part of the plan to help contractors resolve issues, get clarification and guidance if needed. I haven't reached that point yet but my gut says that I won't need that much time since most of the "regular" contractors I've contacted had several points of clarification but never any major gaps.

#2 - The B&M HT specialty stores I've contacted were interested in equipment sales but were willing to supply the equipment I requested even if they did not carry that brand. One company was not that flexible though. Hit and miss I guess. I haven't asked but I don't think they would install equipment I bought off ebay ! Maybe if I bought MOST of the stuff from them and others online they would be willing to intall the whole package.

#3 - Some residential general contractors were more willing to participate in the bid process when I told them I would find and purchase some of the specialty materials that they didn't know how to source. It's not a difficult plan to implement, just requires attention to detail. So if their crew is used to doing it one way for years then you really have to make sure the GC closely supervises the crew. It might save you some money to use a GC instead of a specialty contractor but you also trade the risk of mistakes, maybe small ones or big ones.

#4 - Looks promising but lacks experience. Do you pay for the peace of mind to just let someone else completely run your project or do you take on the additional risk to have a less experienced but highly motivated worker ? The devil is in the details ! HOW much more are you willing to pay/save is a judgement call.
post #24 of 89
#4 - Can you go look at the last theater this GC built? That might give you an idea about his attention to detail.
post #25 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitten by HT View Post

Rabident,

#1 - There are 10 hours that DE makes available as a part of the plan to help contractors resolve issues, get clarification and guidance if needed. I haven't reached that point yet but my gut says that I won't need that much time since most of the "regular" contractors I've contacted had several points of clarification but never any major gaps.

#2 - The B&M HT specialty stores I've contacted were interested in equipment sales but were willing to supply the equipment I requested even if they did not carry that brand. One company was not that flexible though. Hit and miss I guess. I haven't asked but I don't think they would install equipment I bought off ebay ! Maybe if I bought MOST of the stuff from them and others online they would be willing to intall the whole package.

#3 - Some residential general contractors were more willing to participate in the bid process when I told them I would find and purchase some of the specialty materials that they didn't know how to source. It's not a difficult plan to implement, just requires attention to detail. So if their crew is used to doing it one way for years then you really have to make sure the GC closely supervises the crew. It might save you some money to use a GC instead of a specialty contractor but you also trade the risk of mistakes, maybe small ones or big ones.

#4 - Looks promising but lacks experience. Do you pay for the peace of mind to just let someone else completely run your project or do you take on the additional risk to have a less experienced but highly motivated worker ? The devil is in the details ! HOW much more are you willing to pay/save is a judgement call.

My two cents, as I was facing a similar decision earlier this year:

I chose essentially #4. I found a small contractor who had done some minor work (painting and a little drywall repair and some electrical) in our house last year. I really liked how professional they were, and how responsive they were to our questions. They have NO experience in HT construction, but they were willing to listen and learn and take direction from me -- which is hilarious since I have no idea what I'm doing!

But from asking questions on the forum, we have been able to piece together a plan of attack. They come to me whenever they have any questions, and I can usually pop in during lunch to see how things are going. Granted, we are only a week into it, but it is going well so far. We agreed on a set price, and I am supplying all materials including soundproofing. It's given me flexibility to change things on the fly like add another circuit without them charging me, and they are ok with it (so far). I believe that I saved a good deal of money, perhaps more than the 30% even that Big mentioned.

I think ultimately what I have come to understand is that construction is construction and as long as there is attention to detail and feedback, it can be done without specific experience in HT.

We built this house a few years ago with a very experienced GC, and I can't say that it went completely smoothly. There were tons of mistakes here and there, mostly minor, that we eventually had to live with (and some that we insisted get fixed). So even with experience, you still have to be on top of things if you want it done right.
post #26 of 89
The unfortunate aspect about questions like this is that there are more opinions than answers. It comes down to beliefs...kinda like religion and politics...you won't change anyone's mind no matter what you say or do. It comes down to what is your time worth to you? Not everyone can afford Dennis and crew, but those that have, are extremely pleased with the results. This is the reason why they have received so many awards over the years. Dennis doesn't get awards just for a design on paper. So, it all depends on what you want. Some are willing to live with the mistakes or constantly watch their GC to save some money. Others are willing to hire a consultant and assist in the DIY work, while still others are willing to do all of the work themselves, and there are those where time is not an issue. Finally, there are those who are willing to pay for award winning builders who don't need any supervision and get it done right the first time in a very efficient time saving method. It just really boils down to what's most important to you. As they say, let's agree to disagree, acknowledge that everyone has different priorities, live and let live, etc., etc.
post #27 of 89
Rabident,

I have some perspective on this topic. I recently completed my HT which was designed by Dennis. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...7#post20535497

When I started, I got a quote from Dennis' crew for the construction. It was immediate sticker shock. I declined because I thought I could save money by doing some myself and guiding my GC and subs through the process.

In the end, I guess I was correct because I probably did not spend as much on construction costs as they originally quoted. But I did a TON of the work myself (which I enjoyed btw). It turned out that I could not explain things well enough to others to have them do it with the same attention to detail that I needed. So I found myself putting up the clips and channels myself to get the stagger pattern correct. I was there for both days of drywall to make sure that the green glue was done correctly. I applied all of the sealant myself. And it goes on and on. . . .

None of these things are necessarily hard in and of themselves, but you must factor your time and opportunity cost into the equation when making this decision. If you are truely not a DIYer, I would lean hard towards hiring Dennis' crew. Any of the other options will result in substantial oversight and work from you if you hope to get it right.

P.S. -- Even though I declined their original quote, I ended up on two separate occasions having to have people that work for Dennis come out to help me through the parts of my HT that I could not figure out for myself. It turns out that some of those things that look easy in 2D turn out to be a little more hairy when they are staring at you in 3D.
post #28 of 89
Thread Starter 
Here is a link to the newly created Photobucket account to document this madness.

http://s1048.photobucket.com/albums/s374/LamboHT/

The rear wall has a lot of plumbing since it is where the bathroom was located. The bedroom closet was on the other side of the bathroom and has a load bearing wall so a structural beam was specified by my step-dad who is a structural engineer (very handy !). The beam has been ordered and we're almost ready to start. Just need to finish this whole "hiring a contractor" business !
post #29 of 89
In my mind, the key difference is between a crew that wants to do it right because it's the right thing to do, and a crew that will do it right only if they are constantly watched, threatened, nagged and cajoled. If you have lots of time to devote to the effort and you're not put off by confrontation, you could probably get a nice theater out of a crew that has to be threatened, nagged and cajoled. In all other circumstances, you would be much better off with a crew that will do what's right because it's right.

Dennis's crew is undoubtedly in the "do what's right" category.

Your #4 alternative might fit into the "do what's right" category, too.

I doubt I could be convinced that alternative #2 or #3 would be in the "do what's right" category.

So if we go with the conclusion that the only viable options are #1 and #4, the question becomes, "How much risk are you willing to take to save some money?" The young, hungry #4 option is riskier but probably less expensive. Dennis' crew has demonstrated many times the excellence of their work product, but they are understandably not going to be the low-cost option.
post #30 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by rs691919 View Post

I think ultimately what I have come to understand is that construction is construction and as long as there is attention to detail and feedback, it can be done without specific experience in HT.

We built this house a few years ago with a very experienced GC, and I can't say that it went completely smoothly. There were tons of mistakes here and there, mostly minor, that we eventually had to live with (and some that we insisted get fixed). So even with experience, you still have to be on top of things if you want it done right.

No matter how experienced, how organized a GC can be.......there are always small mistakes in planning and selection of materials inherent in a build. I've found in my past three custom constructions I've had done, being organized and explicit to the nth degree on details are a must for a successful build. Snafu's will occur.......bank on it!!!

As for hiring Dennis' crew do the theater construction work...........personally, I'd love to hire his services, though having his crew come clear across the "Continental Divide" seems to me not cost effective........
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