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I'm in the great position of building a new home and knowing I want a home theater.


I've already got an 18x15ft room destined for a theater.


A couple of quick questions:


1. How critical would it be to try and bump up a foot to 9 ft. ceilings? I'm doing this "on the cheap" so it'd have to be a pretty serious bang for the buck proposition to consider it.


2. Also, should I be concerned about routing duct work, etc. around the theater room?


3. I could conceivably bump the theater out a foot or two (or decrease) in any direction. Any compelling reason to do so?


Any other "shoulds"?
 

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It depends what 'compells' you.



I'm sure there aren't any members of this theatre crazed forum that are going to tell you, while you have the option of doing these things in an inexpensive manner, "Sure...got for a short ceiling and bring in the side walls as much as you can...oh and make sure you runs some pipes and vents through the room...that'd be nice."


Nopers...

You will want the higher ceiling, especially if you are going to put in a tray ceiling for your lighting and nice depth factor...who doesn't want a high ceiling? And when you are building it is usually like $1200 more...that's pennies on your mortgage.


As for HVAC, pipes and all such stuff...keep as much of it out of your theatre room as you can. You will need some for air circulation in that room, but for the rest of the house keep it out of your theatre.


As for bumping it out a couple feet either direction...again...who is going to say make it smaller?
...a compelling reason? Come on...really? You'll have a bigger theatre! Compelling enough? lol. The only direction I've ever heard on this is to not make a square - it's not good for your audio.


Any other shoulds? Get them do either room in room, or stagger stud it now! If you are doing a new build it will be pennies - framing is cheap and fast.
 

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Lay out your seating and see what dimensions you need to accomodate that. I'm thinking 18' may be a few feet shy of a desired depth for two rows (unless you want the back row against the wall, which is not acoustically desirable). And the 15' width will probably mean you will only have passage on one side if you go with rows of 4 in the lounger style seating.


Again, choose your desired seating (style and arrangement) and pick room dimensions around that.
 

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A 9' ceiling instead of an 8' offers a lot of benefits - many of which have aleady been described. Acousticallly, yes, it helps to minimize height related issues, gives more cubic footage, etc.


It also allows soffiting without getting too close to surrounds, more headroom for seating on risers, options for starfields later, etc.


It's one of those things that can only be done now. You can't go back later and change it. If you have the option and the budget, I'd recommend it.


Bryan
 

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18 feet is pretty short if you want two rows of seating. Higher ceilings make a big difference on how the space feels.


CJ
 

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Extra height is nice, but remember that it may impact your options for mounting a projector. Just one of the many issues to think about when designing a theater.
 

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-Do you want a lobby?


-Where is the door going to be? Will there be adequate space for door swing w/ regards to any stage or risers? Will people be able to get through without getting too close to the person sitting next to the door? Will the door opening wash the screen with light or nail someone sitting with direct light?


-Acoustically transparent screen with speakers behind it or speakers in front of and to the side of the screen? How big of a screen?


-Where are your stairs with regards to the basement layout? (an extra foot of height means another tread or two which will increase the length of the stairwell.)


-9ft a must? Don't know about that. I have 8ft (except in the very back where some ducts run) and it seems fine. 8 ft without mechanicals ruining your headroom seems fine to me. 9 ft if you are going to have significant soffits, etc.


Suntan's rule of thumb for headroom would have to be: minimum 7' in the back half of the theater (including risers.) minimum 8' in the front half of the theater.


-How many chairs? All oversized and comfy or maybe the back row be the commercial theater cheap seats that you give to the friend that tends to fart a lot during the movie.


-Ok to have the less ideal seats right up against the wall? (either side wall or back wall)


-Any fire escape routes? (Don't want Big busting down your door with an axe and chainsaw
)


-Suntan
 

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All good comments;


If it were me (and what i know now):


Assuming a reasonable width and depth to the room; my priority would be a 9' ceiling.


Next up; if two rows of seats are desired then yes; a minimum room depth of 22' (2' behind an AT screen, and 20' of useable seating depth for two rows. For width; yes I would want a minimum of 16'.


How about making sure you have provisions for a full bath on this floor, with all drains "cast" into the concrete floor.


Also make sure your basement slab and foundation sidewalls are insulated (and vapor barriered") on the exterior surfaces of your pour.


How about an equipment room (or EQ area) with a minimum of 2 - 20amp circuits, with dedicated grounds


Also - what every one else is saying...


Have Fun and Good Luck!

and... please share as you go
 

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I'll add my $0.02...


Make sure that your builder knows that none of the home's "hardware" should go into the walls where you want to put the theater. Not only do you need to worry about the furnace, hot water heater, and other big stuff, you also need to think about the electrical panel, water pipes and waste pipes.


It may seem obvious to you, but the builder and his subs will do what is easiest for them unless you are explicit about this sort of thing. They won't think twice about putting the house's electrical panel on the wall where you planned to put your screen...


You should also avoid windows in that room.
 

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Major "should" ... get a handle on what "on the cheap" means to you. Your budget is going to dictate a lot of what you can/will do. Get that defined now before you get halfway into the project and find you're way outside (or inside) your boundary.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdholmes /forum/post/16861199


And when you are building it is usually like $1200 more...that's pennies on your mortgage.

Not sure where you were building. If I recall correctly it cost $4k for an extra 8" of depth in the basement on my house when I built 2 years ago.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stereodude /forum/post/16865745


Not sure where you were building. If I recall correctly it cost $4k for an extra 8" of depth in the basement on my house when I built 2 years ago.

Building costs must be high in detroit metro. Not suprising. It's not an uncommon number for the extra foot in building. I would say here in Eastern Canada, but I've heard all kinds of people use that as an approx number for the extra foot of foundation not just here but various places in Canada and US. Reason being is that it's very easy and cheap for them to add in a little extra mix at that point.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdholmes /forum/post/16867237


Building costs must be high in detroit metro. Not suprising. It's not an uncommon number for the extra foot in building. I would say here in Eastern Canada, but I've heard all kinds of people use that as an approx number for the extra foot of foundation not just here but various places in Canada and US. Reason being is that it's very easy and cheap for them to add in a little extra mix at that point.


Just curious here ....


Our basement, sadly, is only at 7'4". Is it possible to add to that height by digging out the existing foundation floor?


I would imagine that would cost a pretty penny, yes?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 /forum/post/16863395


All good comments;


If it were me (and what i know now):


Assuming a reasonable width and depth to the room; my priority would be a 9' ceiling.


Next up; if two rows of seats are desired then yes; a minimum room depth of 22' (2' behind an AT screen, and 20' of useable seating depth for two rows. For width; yes I would want a minimum of 16'.


How about making sure you have provisions for a full bath on this floor, with all drains "cast" into the concrete floor.


Also make sure your basement slab and foundation sidewalls are insulated (and vapor barriered") on the exterior surfaces of your pour.


How about an equipment room (or EQ area) with a minimum of 2 - 20amp circuits, with dedicated grounds


Also - what every one else is saying...


Have Fun and Good Luck!

and... please share as you go

Most people i find that do a 2' false wall for an AT screen wish they would've gone 30-36". Measure any "decent" speaker and they're 28" deep, add binding posts and you're easily out to 30". (especially if you're putting the sub behind the screen as well)


If this is a basement room, also make sure that it's a TRUE 9 foot ceiling. Some builders call a 9' ceiling slab to joists, not accounting for duct work and utility lines. Also, ask the builder how much more it'd cost to "decouple" the room using staggered stud designs and RSIC sound isolation clips. Don't forget 2 layers of drywall... It may only seem like adding $2k to the build, but it'll easily add $4k to the finish work. Take this into account also on your room dimensions. You loose an 1 1/2 inches in drywall alone (2 layers plus RSIC standoffs, add more if you put sound panels on the wall too) Again, take into consideration walkways, seating placement, risers, etc. You don't want people sitting against the back wall for acoustic reasons (and you can't recline easily in any theater seating), What about a stage? That takes up usable floor space.


Also if you're to the point of studs, plan your wiring NOW. Once you have everything in the wiring arena figured out, double it. (you never know when/if a wire is going to go bad on you) Also, run conduit to any location with a display device, minimum 2.5" diameter. When i was doing my wiring, i wired in BEHIND the screen for AV and power in case the next guy just wanted a plasma/lcd and not a projector. To that same end, make sure you get power inlets installed for the display devices so you can wire them into a UPS back at your EQ rack. Also, if the EQ rack is out of sight, start thinking about where you want your IR extender eye to go.


Things like this are overlooked at this stage in the game but you'll kick yourself later when you realize that you have to do it after the walls are up.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucifers_ghost /forum/post/16894125


Just curious here ....


Our basement, sadly, is only at 7'4". Is it possible to add to that height by digging out the existing foundation floor?


I would imagine that would cost a pretty penny, yes?

It has been done there are some threads around here somewhere and as for cost it all depends.


The cheapest way is to just dig out a pit for the first row seating. There is a thread here somewhere and actually a video on HGTV of a theater built using this method.
 

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To the OP right now it is a buyers market. if you want 9 or 10 ft ceilings it should be in your original offer or contract. If you are building a custom home and getting ready to sign remember everything is negotiable and they are hungry for work.


Builders historically stick it to home buyers on the "upgrades" and double the true cost. Today they are motivated to get a home sold, you should be able to negotiate upgrades closer to builders cost. You should negotiate the total price and not just negotiate the base house price and pay full "MSRP" for all the upgrades.
 
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