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My wife and I will be building a new house in the Spring. I want to put in a dedicated home theater and would like your opinion on where in the house it should go. My three options (you may think of more) are:


1. In the basement

2. In a bonus room over the garage

3. On the first floor


Currently we live in a ranch and have a family room on the first floor that DOES NOT contain a TV, just a good stereo system. In the basement I have a living room that contains a modest home theater setup.


We will probably be building another ranch next year and will once again have a family room on the first floor with no TV. Pros and cons:


Basement pros

The is a logical spot for a good dedicated home theater room. We will be using preformed concrete walls for the basement that are 10 feet tall so finished height in a theater room can easily be 8 or 9 feet, even with a riser. The basement should be plenty large enough to accommodate a decent size theater. Since we will be putting in a full basement whether we finish part of it into a home theater or not, this space tends to be cheaper than putting in a bonus room or extra square footage on first floor.


Basement cons

Climbing a set of stairs every time you want to watch TV or see a movie. Also having it in the basement, as opposed to the first floor makes it more isolated from the rest of the house and makes watching an event like the superbowl less social.


Bonus room pros

This is another common spot for a home theater. The flight of stairs going up to a spot over the garage should be shorter than going into a basement. This should be cheaper than a separate room on the first floor since there is already a roof and foundation in place.


Bonus room cons

Because of the pitch of garage roof, these tend to have an angled section of wall on two sides of the room. The only way to avoid this is to build the garage really tall and/or make the room smaller to avoid the roof. Making the garage tall will look a little funny on a ranch. Building a bonus room over the garage will be more expensive than the basement option. Since these spaces usually have more sides that adjoin non heated space they tend to be harder to cool and heat.


First floor pros

This would put a family room with no TV and the home theater room on the same floor. There is no going up or down stairs. If the house is laid our correctly, people can easily wander from the theater room to the kitchen or family room during things like super bowl parties. This makes this choice more social.


First floor cons

The big one here is cost. Instead of building a 1700sq ft ranch, the first floor heads toward 2,000 square feet driving up the cost.


Thanks

Dave
 

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Man you've pretty much covered all your base's. We have a two story and am putting my theater in the basement. Our options were pretty much limited to that, but I am happy with the basement location for a few reasons.


1. Total light control.

2. With our bedrooms on the second floor sound isolation is easier with first floor being a nice buffer. (with your ranch this will not apply)

3. I had some freedom designing my room as the basement was fairly open and I was able to place interior walls were I needed them.


I think you are right with your thoughts on social events. People tend to migrate around. Plan all you want, but until its done and you actually have people over you'll never know where people will end up. My house has all kinds of space that you would think people would hang out in, but it never fails when we have a few friends over seems like no matter what I do everyone ends up in our kitchen?


My theater room is for 80% movies 20% games so I'm not planning to much for superbowl parties. We'll do that upstairs in the family room.

Maybe I should put a projector in my kitchen?
 

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One question: what are your plans for the rest of the basement? I assume that you're not just going to build a 300 sq ft basement. The reason i ask is because of your concern about the social aspect of the HT. Maybe you could finish out the basement with a lounge/bar/pool table. This would provide other avenues for socializing rather than the upstairs kitchen or family room area. Just a thought...
 

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I am not a basement guy and put mine on the main floor near the family room. I have no regrets.
 

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I like to use the basement for all the reasons jman laid out plus the fact that you can generally be more liberal on your use of space. In a basement, you often have enough space to incorporate a lobby/concession area and even a V.I.P. lounge. Often, space is at too much of a premium to do these extras above grade.
 

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My theater is on the second floor. When we added to the house we made a crawl space there only so we have no real basement. Using the second floor was pragmatic. I didn't want to see water from the kids tub,sink or toilet running into my theater. I think from most perspectives if you have the ceiling height there the basement is the best option since it already has the light control and is easier to isolate sound wise. I would choose the basement for a "theater".


Art
 

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I guess it really depends on what you are going to use it for. Do you plan to do a lot of entertaining (parties, movie nights, etc.) or is it mostly just your family? To me that helps determine how important the social aspect is. Also, if the rest of the basement is laid out with a bar, small kitchen, etc, then the whole social aspect still holds OK.


Basement

This is where I have mine. I do because I can do whatever I want there in terms of building walls, etc. Also, the fact that it IS more isolated makes it easier for me to use it at odd hours when others may be sleeping, studying, etc. The isolation can be an advantage.


Over the garage has the same isolation values as the basement but less desirable physical attributes.


If you do the HT on the first floor as an add on and you just do a crawl space for utilities ( or even a slab ), the addititional cost can be controlled a little bit anyway.


I will tell you that there are times that it is just easier to stay on the main floor for general TV watching, some games, etc. If we are doing something (like laundry, cooking, helping the kids, etc.) on the first floor, it is not convenient to be running up and down the stairs. I have a 50" Mits RPTV on the main floor so this is an easy option for me. On the other hand, only using the theater for movies, speical events, etc. does tend to save the $$$ for CRT tubes and/or Lamps!
 

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Our theater is in the basement.


Pros: Sound isolated from the rest of the house and lots of flexibility with floor plan and design. Total light control. You can do cool colors/furnishings that you couldn't get away with in the main (wife's) part of the house. Cheaper finished sq/ft. than main living space.


Cons: It's isolated from the rest of the house. If I want to watch a movie/game/whatever, unless the wife/kids come downstairs with me, they wouldn't even know I'm home.


^^^Exactly the same situation as bpape.
 
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