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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Hi everyone,

 

I'm working on buying my first home, and the layout with respect to home theater needs is a huge issue.  Way too many houses have living rooms with off-center entry-ways, tiny cutouts for 40" televisions, and big fireplaces that stand in the way of my theater goals.  So I thought I'd reach out to the community to ask what kind of home I should buy.  Here are some basic things about me:

 

Single bachelor, $110k annual income

About to buy 64" F8500 plasma, super pumped

Will probably spend $3000 or so on the audio setup (maybe a bit more).

 

Now, at first I want to turn my living room into an awesome theater experience. I won't be messing around much with the walls or construction of the house, so I mainly just want to arrange furniture, lighting, and components so that the #1 priority is great tv and film viewing.

 

My real question: I live in Austin where we don't have basements.  If you had a modest income like mine, and couldn't afford to go custom-building homes, what would you look for to build a DEDICATED theater one day(in addition to a living room)? My idea of a dedicated home theater is a room built very similar to a movie theater with sound dampening and great lighting, I don't need 20 seats.  I'm more interested in an incredible theater experience for, on average, 4-10 people.  Here are my ideas, some of which are very bad:

 

1.  Use those upstairs "gamerooms" as a theater. They usually have at least one good solid wall sans windows for tv/audio

2.  Convert my garage into a home theater.  This would likely be weird and terrible for bothering neighbors

3.  Converting my master bedroom into a theater and using one of the other bedrooms for sleeping. Masters are usually larger so this would be my 2nd largest "living" space.

 

Other than that, I'm unclear as to what people are doing to build dedicated home theater rooms in normal houses.  
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonpuncher  /t/1520029/help-me-buy-a-house-for-ht#post_24413956


Single bachelor

As opposed to which kind?

Quote:
My real question: I live in Austin where we don't have basements.  If you had a modest income like mine, and couldn't afford to go custom-building homes, what would you look for to build a DEDICATED theater one day(in addition to a living room)?

First, understand that 6-figure incomes are not "modest"...



I'm copying a post I made in another forum in reply to a very similar question - from someone else in Texas, too:
Quote:
In Texas one of the builder trends in the last decade or so once you cross about the 2500sqft range is the "media room". It would be an interior windowless room, usually in addition to the traditional game room, on the 2nd floor.


So if you look for homes built in say the last 8-10 years, 2500 sq ft or larger, and two-story, you'll probably find lots of examples. For the Houston area, the Realtor MLS site http://www.har.com even has "media room" as a search criteria, although it won't show you all the available homes, as AFAIK, that 'checkbox' isn't a standard for the Realtor listing forms...


For new construction, if you just want to utilize the game room area, many floorplans can have that room fully closed in instead of open to a balcony. Windows can be framed in normally and filled in with decorative shutters or other treatments so the house both looks "normal" from the street, and allow easy conversion to an actual window. What is possible will be more limited by the builder's willingness to customize than 'code'.


And eventually you'll just design your own house with the space built-in from the start and have it custom built... But that's probably not your first step


As for resale - this will depend on the neighborhood (what other houses have), and what you've done, and how permanent the change(s) are. If the builder(s) have media rooms in the plans, no problem. And in those cases, a well-done room will be a selling feature. But doing something "weird" like converting the dining room or losing a bedroom, will negatively affect resale unless you find the perfect buyer (don't count on that).


A house sans basement in the 2200-2600 sq ft range is probably on the small side (yes, I know how bad that sounds) for a dedicated theater - as it would likely be your only other living space (aka game room, leaving just the 'family room' and assuming no formal 'living room'). But if you can find a floor plan that would allow the game room to be easily enclosed - go for it.


So, that said, to your points:
Quote:
My idea of a dedicated home theater is a room built very similar to a movie theater with sound dampening and great lighting, I don't need 20 seats.  I'm more interested in an incredible theater experience for, on average, 4-10 people.  Here are my ideas, some of which are very bad:


1.  Use those upstairs "gamerooms" as a theater. They usually have at least one good solid wall sans windows for tv/audio

2.  Convert my garage into a home theater.  This would likely be weird and terrible for bothering neighbors

3.  Converting my master bedroom into a theater and using one of the other bedrooms for sleeping. Masters are usually larger so this would be my 2nd largest "living" space.


Other than that, I'm unclear as to what people are doing to build dedicated home theater rooms in normal houses.  

New construction, not necessarily custom, can get you #1 - especially if there's a media room in the floorplan. And recent construction can allow for a simple conversion to add a wall and door to enclose many gameroom layouts. The issue with the conversion will be HVAC - you're going to need a return in the room and an upgraded supply for more than a few people.


Converting the garage or the master bedroom is really not a good idea, since you have the means to avoid those options...


Jeff
 

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One thing to keep in mind is that it is extremely rare for builders to invest in the neccessary soundproofing, sufficient quiet cooling for 10 people and a projector, electrical service and low voltage pre-wiring for a top tier home theater, You will be lucky to find an adequately sized room and you will have to take it from there. If you have high expectations you might look for a home with an unfinished bonus room that you can work with to transform into your dream theater.
 

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I am in the same situation in about 6 months. i want a house that I can build a HT in. However I have a wife and a baby. In SC there are just about no houses with basements. We do have a lot of FROGS. Do you have those in Austin ? Some of them are a good decent size, most have vaulted ceilings though.
 

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Be careful of pitched ceiling rooms they can be deceptive. If you are looking at rooms measure the width of the room based on a 6 ft minimum standing room, and again at 7 ft which is approx were the screen top would go. That would give you an idea of what space you are really working with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

I'm just trying to figure out what my best options are WITHOUT doing a custom house.  Even if I wanted to spend in my top threshold for a house, I'd be using a builder where you just pick one of 5 floor plans.  So we can rule out getting a full ground-floor home theater room.  It sounds like a good upstairs gameroom could get me a great theater experience, though probably without all the cool wall stuff and light stuff.  
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonpuncher  /t/1520029/help-me-buy-a-house-for-ht#post_24414884


I'm just trying to figure out what my best options are WITHOUT doing a custom house.  Even if I wanted to spend in my top threshold for a house, I'd be using a builder where you just pick one of 5 floor plans.  So we can rule out getting a full ground-floor home theater room.  It sounds like a good upstairs gameroom could get me a great theater experience, though probably without all the cool wall stuff and light stuff.  

Get a floorplan that works, and has attic access to deal with HVAC stuff, and the room can always be stripped down to the studs. It's just drywall... If it's new construction, a discussion with the builder up-front could allow the room to remain unfinished at time of move-in (they probably won't go for it, but its worth the discussion).
 

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When my wife and looked for a house it had to have a space for a home theater. The house we bought had a " bonus room " built over the 2 car garage - which is perfect. Since it isn't next to any bedrooms, I didn't soundproof it at all. I never hear the cars complain that the movie is too loud ! So, if you can find a house with a bonus room over a 2 car garage, you'll have a good room to work with.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Peer  /t/1520029/help-me-buy-a-house-for-ht#post_24417469


When my wife and looked for a house it had to have a space for a home theater. The house we bought had a " bonus room " built over the 2 car garage - which is perfect. Since it isn't next to any bedrooms, I didn't soundproof it at all. I never hear the cars complain that the movie is too loud ! So, if you can find a house with a bonus room over a 2 car garage, you'll have a good room to work with.

This sounds like really good advice. Bonus room over garage.

And you could do some minimal SP to it as well, or a lot.



If it's already finished, it's each to tear out the old drywall and flooring and add in whatever electrical stuff you need, seal it back up with DD + GG, finish it how you want.
 

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Quote:
This sounds like really good advice. Bonus room over garage.

And you could do some minimal SP to it as well, or a lot. smile.gif


If it's already finished, it's each to tear out the old drywall and flooring and add in whatever electrical stuff you need, seal it back up with DD + GG, finish it how you want.

In fact I framed a soffit to hold my 2 electric screens, a projector closet and wall, and ran the electrical in those. The speaker wire was easy to run thru the attic ( easy being a relative term ) with the help of a fishtape. Been enjoying it now for about 6 years. Check out the photos -

http://www.avsforum.com/g/a/2082359/craig-peers-album/


I did sub out the electrical and drywall to contractors. Framed myself.
 

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4 things I looked at


1. Bonus room over the garage, but a sloped ceilings and stairwell entering the space can make the room less usable and a pain to get the acoustics to sound good.


2. Find a nice size living room that's open to the 2nd story. See if they will put a floor down, making a room out of the 2nd story (game room). Toll Brothers used to offer this if you asked for it, but they didn't advertise it as an option. With attic access above, you should be able to retrofit a 2nd zone HVAC or a minisplit if you really intend to have 10 people over. Be careful with leaving spaces like that unfinished. If it isn't built as livable space, they may not reinforce the floors enough, or they'll put house infrastructure in locations within the room that may foil your plans.


3. Find a living room that has a bedroom behind it, and see if the builder will cutout an opening for a rear projection screen. You can use the spare bedroom as an equipment / PJ room. Rear projection is less sensitive to ambient light. It's important to keep the room you're projecting from dark, but not as important to keep the room you're sitting in as dark. That lends itself well to a living room setup.


4. Try to find a lot with enough space to add an addition. Usually difficult within the city limit, but if you're willing to move further out from town, there is more land. If buying an existing house, be careful of septic tanks. A lot of homes have space that looks perfect for a HT addition, but it's there for the septic tanks (which you can't, or would not want to build over).


I would leave the garage for cars (or junk). Master bath is usually attached to master bedroom, and it would be weird to have to walk through the HT every morning to get there. Or don't use it, but that's giving up a lot and would likely end the minute you were no longer single.


House is a big purchase. Most people just buy the house & location they like and make do with what's left for the HT. Spend some time researching what's involved before you buy anything. Lots of pros/cons & things to consider no matter which way you go.
 
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