Join Date: Jun 2009
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The biggest drawback to having it on the first floor was the extra cost. Putting it in the basement would have been less expensive (less excavation, smaller foundation, etc.), and as one builder put it, you're basically getting the square footage for free (this doesn't include finishing the room, just the area), but that didn't outweigh the benefits to us.
- Age: No, we're not senior citizens yet, and we're in relatively good health. But this is our forever house, and the prospect of going downstairs 20 years from now just to watch a movie was something we gave great consideration to. Often with age comes arthritis or other joint-related mobility issues, and we'd hate to see our sanctuary inaccessible due to physical ailment. One builder tried to talk us into installing an elevator (about a $20K investment), which would have eliminated this concern. That has other drawbacks, such as maintenance, but could also be considered a plus for all the other things you may want to access in your basement
- Moisture: This can be a bigger problem in some areas than others, but before we decided to build we looked at a lot of existing houses, and the majority of them had that musty basement smell. Please note that we've been to numerous home theater get togethers with basement builds where this hasn't been a problem, but it's something to consider. Regardless of whether you put the theater in the basement, I recommend asking your builder about adding EPS insulation under your basement slab. Not only will it keep the floor temp comfortable, it can also reduce moisture problems be cutting down on the condensation effect during humid months
- Flooding: As above, but a much bigger concern, especially if you build on a lot that has any kind of drainage problems. One failed sump pump or overflowing toilet and you could have a disaster on your hands, both in equipment cost and reconstruction. Again, it doesn't happen to all basement installs, but if you read through the forum, it has happened to a number of members here, so there is real risk involved
- Aesthetics: There's something non-tangible about having a first-floor theater, rather than going down into the basement. The room feels more connected to the house, and more easily accessible. Plus, my wife has a thing about basements since she was a little kid, so having it upstairs was a big plus to her.
- Accessibility: This might be considered a minor thing, but how does the prospect of carrying a few 125# subwoofers downstairs sound? Or 100# amps? Or bulky theater chairs. This is typically a series of one-time activities, but for anyone that likes to upgrade, it may be a concern. Or, you may be in the position where you're hiring someone to do all of this for you, and then it's also immaterial. The other access concern is for things like concession and bathroom access. These can also be alleviated by adding bathrooms and/or kitchenettes to the basement, but that's an extra cost
If you'd like to know any specifics of our costs or any other build details, please feel free to PM me.
- Size: We settled on a room that was 26' x 17' x 10', and if we had the option, we would have made it wider and the ceiling taller. Even with a smaller number of seats, there's a big benefit to greater side and ceiling speaker distances that I feel we're missing out on
- Lobby: Having a nice buffer area between the general living area and that theater would have been a nice touch, and really given it a special feel. If this is primarily for the two of you, this isn't a big deal, but it's great to have an area to put memorabilia, posters, etc. on the outside of the theater rather than on the inside of it. This is much easier and cheaper to add if you go with a basement build.