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post #1 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone else paralyzed from starting?

After many years of waiting, reading tons of threads here and a green light from the wife I'm finally ready to start refinishing the basement... the problem is that I do not know where to begin. I (finally) have a completely unfinished blank space (no HVAC, no electrical, etc. - just cinder block walls and a poured slab) but I do not know what the first steps should be. There is a sump pump in the corner below grade that I would like to buy a gas powered generator for the side of the house in case of another Sandy and I'm pretty sure I'll need additional power to run everything.

The (basic) plan is to soundproof with clips, DD+GG. I am planning on an AT screen wall, a riser for 6-8 seats total, speakers in columns, etc. Pretty standard stuff around here. Budget is not crazy but I'm not going cheap - I want to do the room right and if it means I have to wait on better equipment then so be it.

Do you just start framing and worry about everything else later? Should I get an electrician and HVAC guy over to the house first? I'm fairly handy, have most of the tools I'll need and I'm not afraid to try/learn new things but I just don't know where to begin!

Anyone else feel overwhelmed? Any tips?
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post #2 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 11:27 AM
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Lay out ideas with pencil & paper, and/or painters' tape on the floor.

Get friendly with a local building inspector.

Read up on your local codes.
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post #3 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 11:34 AM
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I hear what you are saying it can be very overwhelming, I've been planning/scheming for a long time.


You need to establish a plan before you build anything
Put together some drawings, measure seating distances, screen size, speaker locations, etc.
Take lots of notes and save images and ideas from other builds

One day I will start the new theater....... one day..... THAT DAY HAS ARRIVED
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post #4 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javeryh View Post
After many years of waiting, reading tons of threads here and a green light from the wife I'm finally ready to start refinishing the basement... the problem is that I do not know where to begin. I (finally) have a completely unfinished blank space (no HVAC, no electrical, etc. - just cinder block walls and a poured slab) but I do not know what the first steps should be. There is a sump pump in the corner below grade that I would like to buy a gas powered generator for the side of the house in case of another Sandy and I'm pretty sure I'll need additional power to run everything.

The (basic) plan is to soundproof with clips, DD+GG. I am planning on an AT screen wall, a riser for 6-8 seats total, speakers in columns, etc. Pretty standard stuff around here. Budget is not crazy but I'm not going cheap - I want to do the room right and if it means I have to wait on better equipment then so be it.

Do you just start framing and worry about everything else later? Should I get an electrician and HVAC guy over to the house first? I'm fairly handy, have most of the tools I'll need and I'm not afraid to try/learn new things but I just don't know where to begin!

Anyone else feel overwhelmed? Any tips?
Its kinda overwhelming at first but seems to fall in place as you go. The good thing is pre-drywall you can still change stuff around pretty easy. You need to get a clear plan drawn out of how you will run HVAC, electrical etc. Then, I would get anything that has to do with the cement floor done first, like patching bad areas, putting in electrical outlets for chairs etc. Then its the normal building progression. Framing then Electrical, HVAC, Insulation, drywall etc. Having a good plan makes the whole thing go much more smoothly. I would consult an electrician and HVAC guy for sure to make sure you have enough power and balanced air solution. The hard part is finding someone who understands soundproofing. A sump pump in the room can be a challenge due to the humidity and the open space resonating. Would be good if it could get framed out of the room some how. Good luck!

James

My theater build 2015 (Circle N theater)
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-ded...ter-build.html
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post #5 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I have plans roughly sketched out and tons and tons of pictures saved from other builds (basically if I could replicate the Rawlinsway theater I'd be a very happy camper). I have not laid out electrical or HVAC because I don't know the first thing about either. Framing should be pretty straightforward and soundproofing doesn't seem that difficult either as far as hanging the drywall on clips and decoupling the walls from the ceiling. I'm also planning on a mini kitchenette outside the theater so plumbing will be involved as well at some point. Sump pump could be either hidden behind the screen wall OR underneath the riser if I flip the room layout 180 degrees - not quite sure what would be best.

I want to do most of the work myself (that I can) and hire a contractor for electrical/HVAC - it will be slow going but my new job allows me much more free time so what the heck, right? This weekend if mostly free - what should I do to start? Painter's tape on the floor isn't a bad idea...
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post #6 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 12:57 PM
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Sump underneath riser needs access, of course. Either behind screen or under riser seems like it'd be annoying when it ran, but then again mine runs in the spring-summer every 40 mins (high water table!).
If you have a high water table, you should look at drain tile: either the more ideal exterior or the retrofit interior to foundation, that runs to sump pit.

North Jersey, that suggests you could use insulation on walls (unless the house is newer with insulated concrete forms?), and that means XPS foam or spray foam, and spray foam the rim joists.
Is the slab insulated? If not, should add XPS to slab at some point when you're ready for flooring.

On my 1960s house basement demo and rebuild I did this past year, I sprayed a siloxane sealer on concrete and repaired some concrete. Needed to mitigate water vapor diffusion and wicking, and possible radon gas.
Older houses sometimes have layers of slab concrete, and at some point someone decides to jackhammer it up and pour a new slab and regain 4" of precious ceiling height.

Yeah definitely finding good reasonably-priced electrician, plumber, HVAC is important, and that's a good suggestion to get them in early. Some of their needs will dictate some of your framing. And buddies to help with other aspects.

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post #7 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 01:18 PM
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Make sure you have a layout plan either on computer software or paper.
Get your permits (I know some don't...)
Frame
Electrical / HVAC / Plumbing
Insulation
Drywall

Those are your basic steps.

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post #8 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm... Nothing is insulated. I've talked to a few contractors (including a waterproofing company) and they all said to not attach anything directly to the cinderblock or else mold would grow. I was planning on traditional stud framing with insulation between the studs and stuffed in between the ceiling joists. Hadn't even considered the floor.

My sump pump runs all the time but there's nothing I can really do about it. We have a high water table plus water runs down hill from my rear neighbors into my yard. I was hoping proper sound insulation around the sump pump access would do the job.

My house is very old (100 years) but the addition where the theater will be is brand new (2 years). There are some awkward areas where old meets new but I think I can work around them (I dug down 3' in the old space to get additional ceiling height).

Anyway, I just don't know where to begin... the layout is mostly finished on paper (although I haven't even thought about equipment). Do I just order some 2x4s and get going? Heh.
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post #9 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javeryh View Post
Hmmm... Nothing is insulated. I've talked to a few contractors (including a waterproofing company) and they all said to not attach anything directly to the cinderblock or else mold would grow. I was planning on traditional stud framing with insulation between the studs and stuffed in between the ceiling joists. Hadn't even considered the floor.

My sump pump runs all the time but there's nothing I can really do about it. We have a high water table plus water runs down hill from my rear neighbors into my yard. I was hoping proper sound insulation around the sump pump access would do the job.

My house is very old (100 years) but the addition where the theater will be is brand new (2 years). There are some awkward areas where old meets new but I think I can work around them (I dug down 3' in the old space to get additional ceiling height).

Anyway, I just don't know where to begin... the layout is mostly finished on paper (although I haven't even thought about equipment). Do I just order some 2x4s and get going? Heh.
Deleting my post. The response below is excellent.

Last edited by ch1sox; 03-20-2015 at 06:55 PM.
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post #10 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 05:33 PM
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I forgot to add to my list before your do anything check for leaks in the walls. I'm personally against attaching any type of foam board to the wall because it can cause mold. Fix any issues/leaks with the wall and then just use pink insulation in the framing.
Joseph Lstiburek is the "Floyd Toole" of building science. He's done the research, he's internationally respected, he has been figuring out how we should be building and insulating structures for decades in Canada and the U.S.
I recommend lots of reading at BuildingScience.com. Here's a quote from the conclusion of "Understanding Basements":
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Lstiburek
If basement wall systems are designed and constructed to dry to the interior – regardless of where insulation layers are located – interior vapor barriers must be avoided. This precludes interior polyethylene vapor barriers installed over interior frame wall assemblies or any impermeable interior wall finish such as vinyl wall coverings or oil/alkyd/epoxy paint systems.

If an interior insulation layer is used the indoor air should be prevented from reaching the concrete structural wall assembly or rim joist assembly (unless insulated on the exterior) in any significant volume. Rigid foam systems or spray-applied foams are recommended for this purpose, because they allow drying, are not sensitive to moisture damage, and do not support mold growth – essential characteristics for all materials which contact the basement wall and basement floor slab.
Extruded PolyStyrene (XPS) foam (not expanded foam-styrofoam) is a commonly recommended retrofit method to provide thermal break insulation and vapor barrier in exterior foundation walls. Most ideally against the concrete, taped seams and spray foamed gaps. Then the stud wall interior to that. Even better is spray foam (surprisingly cheap in my case, and enough got behind existing studs that it's helping to keep moisture away from wood). I've seen people rip XPS to put between existing studs -sealed-- which is less ideal.

Fluffy fiberglass stuffed in rim joist is useless. Fluffy in stud cavities doesn't stop room water vapor from getting behind drywall, behind insulation, condense on cold wall, and then mold/rot back there. It doesn't stop wicking up or through foundation wall and mold/rot back there. Fluffy is for bass traps or interior walls.

Another quote from same doc as above:
Quote:
Most interior insulation systems are constructed with moisture sensitive materials (i.e. fiberglass batts or blankets) and are unable to tolerate even minor groundwater leakage, therefore requiring builders to be “perfect” in controlling groundwater – an impossible requirement. These systems also can prevent inward drying (i.e. when they are covered with plastic vapor barriers). This is an issue with moisture of construction, capillary rise and ground water leakage.

Simply leaving off plastic or other low permeance vapor barriers will not avoid problems, because interior water vapor will migrate outward. Then it will condense on the interior surface of the foundation wall providing moisture for mold growth and other problems.

An even greater moisture problem can be created by air leakage from the interior. As most interior insulation systems are not airtight they allow interior air to access the interior surfaces of the perimeter concrete foundation.
Here's Martin Halliday from Green Building Advisor:
Quote:
Can I insulate on the interior with fiberglass batts, mineral wool batts, or cellulose?
No. Fiberglass batts, mineral wool batts, and cellulose are air-permeable. When this type of insulation is installed in contact with concrete, the moisture in the interior air condenses against the cold concrete surface, leading to mold and rot. That’s why I advise builders that fiberglass batts, mineral wool insulation, and cellulose should never be installed against a basement wall. - See more at: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/....DZTacIEi.dpuf
Here's the US Dept of Energy document on insulating basements: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55802.pdf
They list recommended strategies for insulating a basement, and they show the results of studies comparing strategies. As a result they found fiberglass, which is not an air barrier, was inferior:
Quote:
Not surprisingly, studies found that systems where insulation was directly against the wall (e.g. rigid foam glued or fastened directly to concrete) had much better thermal performance than systems where air
can move between the insulation and concrete (such as framed walls where, by necessity, framing stands out from the concrete).

Studies also found that insulation systems were dryer when water vapor was allowed to move between the basement and the concrete wall. Sseveral systems with continuous Class I vapor
barriers were more likely to experience higher moisture levels (even liquid water) against the concrete.
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Last edited by Eyleron; 03-20-2015 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Added additional sources of GBA and DOE
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post #11 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 05:47 PM
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1" XPS to the cinderblock should do it. That's R5.. add faced R11 between studs (more readily available than R-8 in most areas) to get it past R-13 to meet code. The buildingscience website linked above is golden.. read it.. know your climate zone (I think you'll be 4) and just follow it religiously.. The recommendations there sometimes exceed building codes..

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post #12 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
Joseph Lstiburek is the "Floyd Toole" of building science. He's done the research, he's internationally respected, he has been figuring out how we should be building and insulating structures for decades in Canada and the U.S.
I recommend lots of reading at BuildingScience.com. Here's a quote from the conclusion of "Understanding Basements":


Extruded PolyStyrene (XPS) foam (not expanded foam-styrofoam) is a commonly recommended retrofit method to provide thermal break insulation and vapor barrier in exterior foundation walls. Most ideally against the concrete, taped seams and spray foamed gaps. Then the stud wall interior to that. Even better is spray foam (surprisingly cheap in my case, and enough got behind existing studs that it's helping to keep moisture away from wood). I've seen people rip XPS to put between existing studs -sealed-- which is less ideal.

Fluffy fiberglass stuffed in rim joist is useless. Fluffy in stud cavities doesn't stop room water vapor from getting behind drywall, behind insulation, condense on cold wall, and then mold/rot back there. It doesn't stop wicking up or through foundation wall and mold/rot back there. Fluffy is for bass traps or interior walls.

Another quote from same doc as above:


Here's Martin Halliday from Green Building Advisor:


Here's the US Dept of Energy document on insulating basements: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55802.pdf
They list recommended strategies for insulating a basement, and they show the results of studies comparing strategies. As a result they found fiberglass, which is not an air barrier, was inferior:
Thanks for sharing this. So does this mean to use xps on the concrete walls, but leave the wall studs empty? Or should the wall cavity still be filled with something?

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post #13 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 08:01 PM
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If you just want "something good enough, prolly,"... 2 inches of XPS glued to walls, tape seams and spray foam (e.g. cans of Great Stuff) on the gaps does the trick giving you R-10. Stud wall interior to that (or furring strips if you don't need to run big services in the wall.

I've also seen Insofast panels that give you R-10 and have channels already for electrical and have a hard plastic strips to act as "studs" that you'd drywall to, hang pictures/speakers, etc. I seriously considered this since I'm not handy with carpentry and wanted it up easy and fast for my wife and I as newbie DIY'ers.

If you want to meet code in your area (I've seen states and municipalities progressing towards R-15 to R-20 on basement walls), then you'll need more than the R-10. Filling the cavities with batts would work fine (so I guess I was wrong to say no fluffy on exterior basement walls!), and it's the hybrid method that gives you the most insulation, cheapest, in least amount of space lost.

In my case after a drywall demo job...
I started to
  1. take down the existing studs and removed the rotten base plates (prior owner didn't use green-treated as base plates! ).
  2. Then I debated just leaving the studs and ripping XPS for the cavities.
  3. Then I got a spray foam quote for 80 linear feet of rim joist and wall spraying for $1,400... a lot less than I'd anticipated, esp. in the super high contractor cost (lately) in Western North Dakota (building boom from oil and a 2011 flood).
  4. So I went with spray foam behind the studs (there's about a half inch gap to concrete) and between studs about two to three inches.

Not having an inch or two behind studs isn't the ideal, but the studs as they were previously with zero insulation had no rot. Just the rotten base plate. Saved me a lot of time for sure.
We'll see in a year or two when I sample the bottom 1" of [mold resistant] drywall, but so far I'd spray foam again between studs in a heartbeat.

I'll also point out that if the slab is cold, and you lay pad or carpet over that...room water vapor will get to the slab under organics, condense, and mold.

It's a vicious circle over the past decades:
"Basements are always dank and musty, so we can't use it for a real living space."
"We do basements the same way we always did...hope it doesn't get musty."

Most of the construction industry still struggles with this.
Likewise with things like the vapor barrier under the slab. They're supposed to try to keep it puncture free, but they'll drive and walk over it. So now they make super tough vapor barrier just to accommodate the beating it'll take.

Oh, I forgot to point out above that Joe L later recanted his "need to let concrete dry to inside" as mentioned in the GBA article. Now Joe L says (to paraphrase), "Who cares if the concrete stays damp? The soil outside the wall will be at 100% humidity. It'll always want to move towards dry. Let the concrete stay damp." So a vapor barrier in the form of insulation with low vapor permeance on the outside or inside of concrete is just fine.
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Last edited by Eyleron; 03-20-2015 at 08:07 PM. Reason: Added point about how Joe L recanted about letting walls dry to interior
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post #14 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javeryh View Post
Hmmm... Nothing is insulated. I've talked to a few contractors (including a waterproofing company) and they all said to not attach anything directly to the cinderblock or else mold would grow. I was planning on traditional stud framing with insulation between the studs and stuffed in between the ceiling joists. Hadn't even considered the floor.

My sump pump runs all the time but there's nothing I can really do about it. We have a high water table plus water runs down hill from my rear neighbors into my yard. I was hoping proper sound insulation around the sump pump access would do the job.

My house is very old (100 years) but the addition where the theater will be is brand new (2 years). There are some awkward areas where old meets new but I think I can work around them (I dug down 3' in the old space to get additional ceiling height).

Anyway, I just don't know where to begin... the layout is mostly finished on paper (although I haven't even thought about equipment). Do I just order some 2x4s and get going? Heh.
Sorry I've written so much in your thread. Yes I was too paralyzed when I bought the house, always smelled some mustiness, and then later poked holes in drywall and found NO INSULATION down there. I was mad that when they'd drywalled (after prior flooding) they didn't bother. I left bad carpet down there, knowing eventually I'd lay down a sub floor of some sort (speaking of which I have a chart of different subfloor options. It was investigating mold in walls (it had grown a foot up the walls, on the back of drywall) that forced our hand to demo. I still debated methods, but we finally got it in gear this summer/fall.

Having a spreadsheet (we used Google Drive) that we could see projected timelines with "swim lanes" for phases helped. We could see that we'd need to do this before that, and schedule that guy before that guy, and buy this stuff before we can do that part, etc.

Having a wife who doesn't procrastinate and who missed the old theater as much as I did helped too. She pushed on schedules, purchases, and finding vendors. "Go research, you have until tomorrow, and then we're pulling the trigger!"

Finding cheaper carpenters we could trust, who worked a Saturday or an occasional evening was nice. Coworkers helped out here and there with an emergency, advice, or lending tools I didn't have. I think I ended up using every single tool I had...stuff I never thought I'd actually use or need to use again.

I'm jealous you're starting with a clean slate and don't have to demolish the existing.

With high water tables, the things that people time and time again mess up and forget are:
Sump Pumps
  • The sump is critical. Buy two. One of mine is a battery backup.
  • The sump float switch will fail eventually. Replace them every few years. The ones with the float on a cable to the side are worse (they can get hung up or the mercury switch fails) than the vertical ones.
  • Since I can't afford a sump failure in spring-summer, I'm replacing my six year old sump pump with a new one. $130-$200 good investment to be safe.
  • We're supposed to run the sump water outside, not into sewer drain. But during Spring when that line could be frozen, we do send it into the sewer. It's not much water and doesn't hurt the city.
  • Some people need a second sump pit in another part of their house. My boss has one in the center of his slab, too!

Grading
  • So many people in my hood said in 2010 that they never flood. They didn't care about their grading. Then in 2011 record rains, their basement flooded. They admitted that they had concrete and grass lawn sloping TOWARDS the house. This seems like a pain to fix...until your theater is flooded. Fix this! Grade away from the house.

Gutters
  1. Send the downspots on a run down the slope (you did slope, didn't you?) 10 feet away from the house/foundation. The original excavation of your lot disturbed soil compacted over thousands of years. The backfill is never as compacted as that. Water within ten feet would rather slope down the cone towards your foundation wall. It will come in through the cove joint (between slab and footing) or through wall or just raise the water table up.
  2. We run the gutters into solid pipe that extends 10' away, and then into perforated pipe that runs to the sidewalk and into a gravel filled pit. Maintain slope to prevent standing water freezing in Fall or Spring.
  3. Fix the gutters. We had one run that was filled with tar from some past crappy roof job. Water would run out the side and plop next to the house! We got a new roof and gutters this past summer, so that problem is solved.

Drain Tile
Since you're starting new work, you could test the drain tile perhaps? Or have a plumber who's there for other work send a scope through it?

Oops Groundwater
I left a sprinkler hose on too long in the front yard the other year. We hadn't fixed our grading in that spot (and this last year saw that the mold was worst there!), and sure enough, my forgetfulness led to some water coming in through that cove joint. It's at the center of my theater front wall. You can use timers on sprinklers. Be wary of kids, too. I also left a hose running on back bushes when I was a six year old. Flooded the storage room.

Interior Flood
I've known many people with water heater tanks that failed. Ours was starting to leak and we replaced it last year. We added a tray that drains to a hose that drains to the floor drain in the furnace room, and laundry should drain there too. The week after I replace mine, a coworker's failed just outside of the low 3 year warranty. It flooded his basement.

Technology
Besides the timers, you can use flood alarms. I have a loud sensor now, but later I'll get a Z-Wave one that would alert phones.

--

My hope would be that you can lower the water table under your house and that sump pump doesn't need to run as often. I need to add some vibration damping between PVC outlet and some framing that makes a hum when it runs. I hope you can get yours quiet so you can enjoy your movies!

Start a build thread and add some photos and we'll cheer you on out of paralysis!

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post #15 of 39 Old 03-20-2015, 09:03 PM
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I would agree that step 1 starts with water management.

Step 2, diagram, in detail. Whether Sketchup or Visio or some other SW, you need to bounce ideas on layout to others online in some way. Diagram the room (and adjacent spaces).
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post #16 of 39 Old 03-22-2015, 07:50 AM
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Lots of good info on this post to start insulating/ building basic skeleton. I agree with Neurorad... Get the tutorials going for Sketchup. I thought it would be hard, but have got the hang of it. I also have compiled several binders of pic ideas from the other builds on this forum to leaf through, from beginning structures to finished product. Most borrow ideas from completed builds. I found myself learning things on here a couple hours per night. There are tons of members who will chime in to help , once you post a sketch ( even hand drawn) with your dimensions and initial layout.
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post #17 of 39 Old 03-23-2015, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
Sorry I've written so much in your thread.
Are you kidding me? This is a great response and it looks like I'll need to do a lot more reading!

THANK YOU.

I'll post again once I've had a chance to go through everything and I'll probably have a ton more questions... I do have a sketch-up plan that I cobbled together. I need to start a "build thread" but I want to actually start building before doing so!

Water is a big issue for me. We got hammered by Sandy (lost power for 2 weeks - over 700 trees fell in my town) and my old basement took on a little water - just leakage in a few spots not like you could measure it. Many neighbors on my street were not so lucky and a few basements got completely ruined. Anyway, the storm happened before we built the addition on the back of the house (it actually delayed the start of construction by 2 weeks!). When construction finished I noticed some of the cinder blocks changing color during a heavy rainstorm (but nothing getting inside) so I got paranoid. I had a waterproofing company come out and dig down to the foundation on the outside of the house and install a barrier with some drain pipes ($$$) and it has been dry as a bone down there ever since (even with all the melting snow we are currently dealing with). So I am reasonably comfortable things are OK in that department - especially when I get the gas powered back-up generator for the sump pump.

I do think the grading in the back yard could be much better though - we had professional landscapers come out and install a sprinkler system and plant sod on our entire property and ever since then the back yard will not dry out. We were told to run the sprinklers every other day in the summer and by the end of August we just didn't run them at all in the back yard and it was still damp back there to the point these weird giant mushrooms were popping up everywhere. It really bothers me and if things aren't right this spring I'm calling them back and asking them to fix it (not sure how but before construction we did not have this issue).

This brings me to my second issue - mold. I really do not want to create an environment where mold can grow in the basement (who does?) but I'm probably OK if it is waterproof. I know I'm overthinking everything but we plan to be in this house for a long time and we don't have a ton of space (even with the addition my house is only 2,100 sqft. and the basement will give us another 500 sqft. to enjoy).

I'm afraid of making a wrong move so instead I've been making no moves! This is the year.

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post #18 of 39 Old 03-23-2015, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by javeryh View Post
Are you kidding me? This is a great response and it looks like I'll need to do a lot more reading!

THANK YOU.

I'll post again once I've had a chance to go through everything and I'll probably have a ton more questions... I do have a sketch-up plan that I cobbled together. I need to start a "build thread" but I want to actually start building before doing so!

Water is a big issue for me. We got hammered by Sandy (lost power for 2 weeks - over 700 trees fell in my town) and my old basement took on a little water - just leakage in a few spots not like you could measure it. Many neighbors on my street were not so lucky and a few basements got completely ruined. Anyway, the storm happened before we built the addition on the back of the house (it actually delayed the start of construction by 2 weeks!). When construction finished I noticed some of the cinder blocks changing color during a heavy rainstorm (but nothing getting inside) so I got paranoid. I had a waterproofing company come out and dig down to the foundation on the outside of the house and install a barrier with some drain pipes ($$$) and it has been dry as a bone down there ever since (even with all the melting snow we are currently dealing with). So I am reasonably comfortable things are OK in that department - especially when I get the gas powered back-up generator for the sump pump.

I do think the grading in the back yard could be much better though - we had professional landscapers come out and install a sprinkler system and plant sod on our entire property and ever since then the back yard will not dry out. We were told to run the sprinklers every other day in the summer and by the end of August we just didn't run them at all in the back yard and it was still damp back there to the point these weird giant mushrooms were popping up everywhere. It really bothers me and if things aren't right this spring I'm calling them back and asking them to fix it (not sure how but before construction we did not have this issue).

This brings me to my second issue - mold. I really do not want to create an environment where mold can grow in the basement (who does?) but I'm probably OK if it is waterproof. I know I'm overthinking everything but we plan to be in this house for a long time and we don't have a ton of space (even with the addition my house is only 2,100 sqft. and the basement will give us another 500 sqft. to enjoy).

I'm afraid of making a wrong move so instead I've been making no moves! This is the year.
Nice to see another North Jersey member. I would be happy to offer you free advice and on site help if I have the time (that is once you start working on your build). I did just start my build and I work full time but I'm hoping to finish mine in a few months, which may coincide perfectly with the start of yours.

I at one point didn't know anything about Sketchup, so I watched the video tutorials and practiced some "fun" fantasy Home Theater Layouts in Sketchup before I started my real HT Layout drawing in it and the results are what I have now.

Analysis paralysis is a common sensation that everyone has on this forum, which always is that demon that delays all different parts of the build.

Send me a PM if you ever need help for either talk or physical help with the build.
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post #19 of 39 Old 03-23-2015, 01:39 PM
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Some General Thoughts:

- read a number of build threads, especially early on. It is a TON of information to process. Much easier to read beforehand than during (or worse, after and realize that you have to change things/re-do!)
- set a budget...it makes things far easier to know how much you can spend
- remember, doing a theater is like building a whole house in 1 room -- frequently electrical, plumbing, flooring, drywall, painting, etc. It is a LOT of projects!

Specific things to think about:

- sound control (both from outside and from inside)
- air movement/conditioning -- EXTREMELY important. Not only for temperature control, but also for humidity control. The key to keeping a basement space not musty is air movement/exchange.
- Lighting. You cannot have too much lighting, especially when you want/need it. Very easy to dim/turn down.

Do things the right way the first time, don't cheap out!!

Good Luck. You'll learn a lot!

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post #20 of 39 Old 03-23-2015, 03:41 PM
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There is some great information in this thread!!

OP - another word of caution is to check your rim joist & sill plate area in the entire basement - especially if fluffy pink insulation was used. I found mold in my rim joists & sill plate on a 1 year old home during the early stage of my build.

After significant mold remediation, I ended up going with closed cell spray foam to replace the pink fluffy - builder helped and has used spray foam on all his homes since. I ended up doing my entire basement wall with spray foam for about $700.
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post #21 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Joseph Lstiburek is the "Floyd Toole" of building science. He's done the research, he's internationally respected, he has been figuring out how we should be building and insulating structures for decades in Canada and the U.S.
I recommend lots of reading at BuildingScience.com. Here's a quote from the conclusion of "Understanding Basements":


Extruded PolyStyrene (XPS) foam (not expanded foam-styrofoam) is a commonly recommended retrofit method to provide thermal break insulation and vapor barrier in exterior foundation walls. Most ideally against the concrete, taped seams and spray foamed gaps. Then the stud wall interior to that. Even better is spray foam (surprisingly cheap in my case, and enough got behind existing studs that it's helping to keep moisture away from wood). I've seen people rip XPS to put between existing studs -sealed-- which is less ideal.

Fluffy fiberglass stuffed in rim joist is useless. Fluffy in stud cavities doesn't stop room water vapor from getting behind drywall, behind insulation, condense on cold wall, and then mold/rot back there. It doesn't stop wicking up or through foundation wall and mold/rot back there. Fluffy is for bass traps or interior walls.

Another quote from same doc as above:


Here's Martin Halliday from Green Building Advisor:


Here's the US Dept of Energy document on insulating basements: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55802.pdf
They list recommended strategies for insulating a basement, and they show the results of studies comparing strategies. As a result they found fiberglass, which is not an air barrier, was inferior:

So I finally got around to reading all of this... Seems like spray foam is the way to go as far as insulation goes for the exterior walls (against the cinder block foundation) because it will prevent moisture and mold growth. I will not use the fluffy stuff or any kind of plastic vapor barrier - seems like bad news.

I assume I build the stud walls first and then spray once all the HVAC and electrical is run prior to drywall. What happens if you need to run something though the wall after the fact?

I'm learning so much and getting closer and closer to starting...
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post #22 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 02:21 PM
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I assume I build the stud walls first and then spray once all the HVAC and electrical is run prior to drywall. What happens if you need to run something though the wall after the fact?
You just pull the wire through the empty conduit that you previously installed for that purpose...

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post #23 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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You just pull the wire through the empty conduit that you previously installed for that purpose...
Haha - looks like I'll be running conduit all over the place just in case!
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post #24 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 05:05 PM
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Building Science suggests spray foam on wall, then stud walls interior to that. In the stud cavities where services run, you could put fluffy in that, which would get you to R-20+.

However, in my retrofit case where I already had stud wall against concrete, I ended up not doing that.

A) I didn't want to give up the inches.
B) I had no rot or mold previously on the vertical studs. Just on the (untreated) base plate.

C) There was a quarter to half inch gap behind the studs, leaving room for the spray-foamer to get some between studs and wall.

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post #25 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
Building Science suggests spray foam on wall, then stud walls interior to that. In the stud cavities where services run, you could put fluffy in that, which would get you to R-20+.

However, in my retrofit case where I already had stud wall against concrete, I ended up not doing that.

A) I didn't want to give up the inches.
B) I had no rot or mold previously on the vertical studs. Just on the (untreated) base plate.

C) There was a quarter to half inch gap behind the studs, leaving room for the spray-foamer to get some between studs and wall.
I agree with (A) - every inch counts. (B) should not be an issue as there is nothing built yet and as for (C), I was planning on putting the stud wall about an inch from the cinderblock wall and then spraying after the walls were up. If I only need a thin coat to fill that 1" gap I'd definitely use the fluffy stuff to finish it off.

I'm also planning on clips/channels and double drywall/green glue at least in the theater part of the basement to try and contain some sound. This is a huge undertaking for me and I want to get it right on the first try!

So do most people order a palette of lumber and get it delivered or do you go to the lumberyard and pick out each piece (to make sure they are straight)?
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post #26 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 09:26 PM
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So do most people order a palette of lumber and get it delivered or do you go to the lumberyard and pick out each piece (to make sure they are straight)?
I'm often a picker if you are relying on the big box retailers, if you have an independent lumber yard you may fair better and can trust their palette loads, The only advantage of the big box is it is an easier return process. You could have them bring a palette but expect to take some back and exchange them for ones you pick. If you get a pallet load store it in a nice tight stack off the concrete.
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post #27 of 39 Old 05-26-2015, 10:21 PM
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I too feel paralyzed by all the planning. We're planning on adding 30x26 feet onto our house and making a office, bedroom, and family media room. I've been reading some much my brain hurts and my eyes are bleeding. Movie theater/family room will be about 26x16.

Right now I'm trying to find a software to draw my layout in. I took four years of Autocad in highschool (I'm rusty but not clueless), if anyone has recommendations let me know.

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post #28 of 39 Old 05-27-2015, 05:55 AM
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A lot of folks here use Google Sketchup: http://www.sketchup.com

Start with your family's goals:
Gaming
Entertaining and conversation before and after movie (suggests some casual seating)
Drinks and light food prep (wet bar and counter space for appliances)
Visually stunning architecture
Multipurpose room that when you sell the house doesn't scream "dedicated theater"
A stage for kids to perform
Wife girlfriends watch tv socially
Husband watches UFC fights with buddies
Kids will have gang over
99% husband and wife watch TV together
Mostly cinemascope movies
Theme: art deco, neoclassical, mid century modern, Bat Man, Star Trek, gothic castle, etc.
Listen to movies and concerts at full reference level
Hear zero house noise in theater
Hear zero theater noise in rest of house
Listen to classical music in stereo by yourself
...

Goals beget requirements beget specifications.

There's a good chance you'll kick yourself later for not engaging the theater planner designer constructor consultants later. You can use them at whatever level you need and want and can afford.

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post #29 of 39 Old 05-27-2015, 09:57 AM
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Thanks, I'll give Sketchup a try. I noticed it's free for the basic version.


I want a powerful sound system and big screen. My wife wants (must have) a sectional. I'm planning on taking the concrete slab out and pouring a new slab about 2 feet lower and building a riser in the back. You'll walk into the room without stairs but the sectional will be on the lower part. There will be a sitting bar behind the sectional on the riser.


It's kind of scary but I'm hoping to build more than half of this myself with help from friends and family. I have summers off (teacher) so I do have time.

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post #30 of 39 Old 05-27-2015, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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There's a good chance you'll kick yourself later for not engaging the theater planner designer constructor consultants later. You can use them at whatever level you need and want and can afford.
What kind of expenses are we talking about here for general layout services (including HVAC, electrical and acoustics) and maybe some building construction consulting? I know it probably varies wildly depending on the level of detail but a reasonable cost is something I'd be open to. Better to do it right the first time, IMO.
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