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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well it's happening. We are looking to move and build a new house. Thankfully we won't be going far, and are staying in my current town. (What can I say, I like it here.)

Now I won't be doing any work on starting the theater for probably at least a year, but there's already a couple questions I'd like to ask the crowd here, because we're meeting with the builder next week.

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Update: April 17, 2019

This first post is out of date.

The new room size I have to play with is a roughly 30 x 19 x 11 concrete shell that is being built under the garage. So while option C on this original post was the winner... it was still the loser. ;)

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The new size I'm working with is (tentatively) 26.5 ft x 15 ft x 8.75 feet. I THINK I could get away with three rows with this much space.

But boy, it'd be awesome if I could sink a section of the foundation a foot lower. That would give an almost 10ft ceiling in a good portion of the room. See attachment for what I'm thinking about.

Option A - This keeps the back row from being to close to the back wall. It shrinks the space between the front row and the screen.
Option B - This pushes the back row to being closer to the back wall, probably causing exaggerated bass energy for them. It gives the space between the front row and the screen a larger area though, and that'd be great for the times people want to karaoke or play with the XBOX Kinect.
Option C - Only two rows and bar at the back, but gives lots of space at the front.
Option D - Ugh, I hope not. Even with ceilings that are 9 feet, three rows of seating would eat that up. If anyone has ever been in a 9ft ceiling theater with three rows, lemme know how it felt.



Anyone ever ask their builder about sinking a portion of the foundation and how much it costs? Issues it might cause on down the line? Also any opinions on the options are also welcome. Thanks!
 

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I'm a fan of the two row plus bar. It allows you get the back row a little closer to the screen making it a little easier to find a suitable screen size for all three rows. You only need two levels and you don't run out of headroom as fast.
 

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Haha, I gotta go with C too. I would be doing C if I had taller ceilings.

I would also see what you can do with making your stage be an extension of where your recessed portion comes back up. It might cause your second row to need to be 6" higher, but the less stage you have, the more room you have for a bigger screen :D

As far as issues with a sunk section. The only thing I can think of is water issues. Maybe it wouldn't be a big deal, I don't know.
 

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On digging down, you need to be 100% sure where you want it, best to oversize and fill the extra in with an extended riser. Even better to dig the whole room down then build your risers as needed, that gives you the most design flexibility.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
On digging down, you need to be 100% sure where you want it, best to oversize and fill the extra in with an extended riser. Even better to dig the whole room down then build your risers as needed, that gives you the most design flexibility.
Thanks for the opinions everyone. I'm leaning towards B and C at the moment. I wish I had the width for a love seat configuration in one of the rows, but I don't think I can do a 4 wide theater seat configuration with a 15ft room, right?

One other thing I think I need to be aware of is where the doors open on the sides, and to make sure the door swing is level to the rest of the foundation. See attached to see what it looks like from above.

The darker blue is the proposed sunk down area.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Maybe you should just get an estimate for taller ceilings throughout your entire basement? I don't think anyone has ever said "These ceilings are just way to high down here."
I suppose (in this instance) asking questions is free. :p ^_^

We're also going to ask the builder about a 3 zone system, one for each level of the house.
 

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I think you would be hard pressed to do 3 rows of reclining seats, and what appears to be a screen wall a few feet in front of the front of the theater... I think the option C is your best bet.

I did option C in mine... I had a total of 22 1/2", and am very tight... and my 'screen wall' is only about 10" from the front wall, enough to surface mount 'in wall' speakers on the front walls, and use an AT screen, but my sub-woofers are in front.

I would definitely talk with the builder on 'where' they are thinking any support poles are going to be as well as utility locations (i.e., electric box, sump pump, etc), to make sure that type of stuff doesn't get in the way of your theater. In my theater, I have a support column in an acceptable, but not ideal place. The 'spacing' of the I-beam was a smaller span than another location in my basement, so, I talked with a structural engineer... who had me look at markings on the I-Beam... turns out in the theater area, it was a different 'strength' of I-beam. Had I known to ask before being built, I would have beefed it up and avoided the support column, but doing that'post build was (for me) cost prohibitive. Another consideration depending on were HVAC/ Plumbing runs need to be, is they could likely beef up the floor joists (maybe LVLs, or floor trusses vs dimensional lumber) and get away from an Ibeam all together. Again, something that they would have to run the numbers on - but maybe a consideration.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I did option C in mine... I had a total of 22 1/2", and am very tight... and my 'screen wall' is only about 10" from the front wall, enough to surface mount 'in wall' speakers on the front walls, and use an AT screen, but my sub-woofers are in front.
22 1/2"?! No wonder it's tight! ;-)

Hmmm. So even with 4 extra feet it'll be cramped? Darn. I might need to break out the 3D program to nail down the details on spacing I have to play with.


I would definitely talk with the builder on 'where' they are thinking any support poles are going to be as well as utility locations (i.e., electric box, sump pump, etc), to make sure that type of stuff doesn't get in the way of your theater. In my theater, I have a support column in an acceptable, but not ideal place. The 'spacing' of the I-beam was a smaller span than another location in my basement, so, I talked with a structural engineer... who had me look at markings on the I-Beam... turns out in the theater area, it was a different 'strength' of I-beam. Had I known to ask before being built, I would have beefed it up and avoided the support column, but doing that'post build was (for me) cost prohibitive. Another consideration depending on were HVAC/ Plumbing runs need to be, is they could likely beef up the floor joists (maybe LVLs, or floor trusses vs dimensional lumber) and get away from an Ibeam all together. Again, something that they would have to run the numbers on - but maybe a consideration.
Thankfully I haven't seen any I-Beams for this floor plan in any finished variants I've walked through, but I have seen the support pole as marked on the attachment in post 8. I'll be adamant about knowing placements.
 

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Looks like you are going to have a good size room. Have fun with building your new home. We are doing the same thing only we are leaving Las Vegas to build in WA State. We will also be building room 2.0, it's an exciting adventure. Good luck and have fun with your new home and room.
 

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Hmmm. So even with 4 extra feet it'll be cramped? Darn. I might need to break out the 3D program to nail down the details on spacing I have to play with.

Thankfully I haven't seen any I-Beams for this floor plan in any finished variants I've walked through, but I have seen the support pole as marked on the attachment in post 8. I'll be adamant about knowing placements.
Is the 26.5' from the very front wall to the rear wall, or from the screen wall to the rear wall? I have a bit over 21 1/2' (oops before!) from screen wall to rear wall. I can't exactly tell scale, but if yours is from front wall to rear wall, and the screen wall is 2 1/2' from the front wall, then really you are looking at 24' of room.

If you are looking at upright chairs, then probably more do-able. If you are looking at reclining chairs, that will be tough. I think for reclining chairs the recommendation is 6 1/2' minimum space between rows, ideally 7'... but let's say 6 1/2', if you have seat backs of the first row at 9', then you are looking at 15 1/2', and 22', so, not impossible by any means... and if you go with a more shallow screen wall, certainly more doable.

I guess it partly depends on how far back your front row is... mine is about 9' from my screen, which is a 132" wide 2.35:1 screen. This makes the screen big enough for the 2nd row & bar, and a tad big for the 1st row - but I prefer the 1st row to the 2nd row.

Now that I look at your attachment closer, looks like the Sump pump is out of the way, and the support column is out of the way (although, I would have thought you would only need the support column if you had an I-beam... )...

In terms of width of seating, I see your notes about 8 - 8.5'. That would give you call it 3+' on each side of the aisles, which is great... but not required. I think I have about 2 1/2 feet, and don't perceive it to be the cramped... in which case with a 15' wide room, you could push 10' wide seating.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Is the 26.5' from the very front wall to the rear wall, or from the screen wall to the rear wall? I have a bit over 21 1/2' (oops before!) from screen wall to rear wall. I can't exactly tell scale, but if yours is from front wall to rear wall, and the screen wall is 2 1/2' from the front wall, then really you are looking at 24' of room.

If you are looking at upright chairs, then probably more do-able. If you are looking at reclining chairs, that will be tough. I think for reclining chairs the recommendation is 6 1/2' minimum space between rows, ideally 7'... but let's say 6 1/2', if you have seat backs of the first row at 9', then you are looking at 15 1/2', and 22', so, not impossible by any means... and if you go with a more shallow screen wall, certainly more doable.

I guess it partly depends on how far back your front row is... mine is about 9' from my screen, which is a 132" wide 2.35:1 screen. This makes the screen big enough for the 2nd row & bar, and a tad big for the 1st row - but I prefer the 1st row to the 2nd row.

Now that I look at your attachment closer, looks like the Sump pump is out of the way, and the support column is out of the way (although, I would have thought you would only need the support column if you had an I-beam... )...

In terms of width of seating, I see your notes about 8 - 8.5'. That would give you call it 3+' on each side of the aisles, which is great... but not required. I think I have about 2 1/2 feet, and don't perceive it to be the cramped... in which case with a 15' wide room, you could push 10' wide seating.
Thank you so much for the clarifications and feedback. Posts like this are why I love this place! ^_^
 

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22 1/2"?! No wonder it's tight! ;-)

Hmmm. So even with 4 extra feet it'll be cramped? Darn. I might need to break out the 3D program to nail down the details on spacing I have to play with.
22.5 feet is about what my room is (including the 28" behind the screen). I think an additional 4' would be plenty enough to add a bar.
 

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I like C also but something to consider is water drainage from the lowered area as I see you have a sump
Typically weeping tile is run around the perimeter of the foundation walls and drain into the sump.... if you have a area lower how will the water get away from that slab.
Where I live we have pretty high ground water so its a paranoia of mine.
Not sure what you ground water situation is... just something to consider or talk to you contractor about
 

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Dig down as deep as you can afford. My biggest "if I could do over" is dig down and widen the room. My room built from the ground up with no limitations back in 2011 is 34'x18'x10'.

I could have easily dug down 3-5' and even built the ceiling higher without much extra cost at all. I was already using concrete as my pad so just the yardage and backhoe time costs there- maybe $1000. Then I could have used longer studs which would have basically only cost more for framer because of scaffolding being needed, so maybe $500. Then Sheetrock maybe $1000 finished and all.

Going wider would have cost a bit more than going up just because that would be more block, forming, concrete, lumber, shingles, larger joists, Sheetrock, and sqft for both framer and taxes but it still would have been a small upgrade cost that would be well worth it in the end. All my planning and drafting was done before ATMOS was in the picture or I am almost certain I would have done both height and width.

Also make sure whatever you do your seating has a center seat. This is sometimes overlooked just because room boundaries don't allow enough space for 5 wide and the owner chooses 4 wide as a compromise. I myself would rather have 3 wide for the money rows and then add more for the back row without a center seat if just need that extra amount of seating.

Going 3 wide in a room wide enough for 4 wide will do two things. It will give better surround and also allow for more wall treatments. Deeper diffusers could even be used since the seating would be farther away.

If you have the height you could also go IMAX screen floor to ceiling with higher risers. That is really really engaging both during content watching and aesthetically bold.

Just my thoughts. Take them how you wish. And good luck!!!
 

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Yuppers. New home. It does not yet exist. ^_^ LOL.
I think I edited my post right as you posted details that made me realize it was a new build. I was going to only suggest digging if the house was already built. Then again, you could just build above the garage like Rob Hahn. He has the three rows that you want...
 
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