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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,


I'm saving to buy my first house and as part of that effort I am going to save enough to have a home theater professionally installed once I purchase the house. The problem I'm running into here is that I can't find any information about cost anywhere on the 'net to judge how much I need to save. I've been lurking here for years, and I thought maybe if I described my plans someone could give me rough advice?


Since I'll be buying a house rather than trying to retrofit an existing one I'm imagining that I will be able to install into a finished room, so I won't have to finish a basement or anything. To have numbers around the expected space I'll say 18' x 24'. What I'm expecting to do is...


-Build a wall to enclose the room
-Soundproofing, I'm expecting I would be using double drywall with greenstuff or something similar
-Wiring for both electricity and sound
-Again, for sake of estimating the worst case, run a heating/cooling duct in.
-The look I'm going for is traditional theater, so 2 to 4 columns with lights, carpeting, sound panels, rope lighting on the floor.
-Display would likely be a screen with projector, I'd like to go 110". It's unlikely I'd go LCD based on the research I've done here.
-Sound would be a 7.2 system
-Nice to have would be a concession stand built outside of the room.
-Two to three theater seats with buttkickers installed, so there'd need to be wiring run for those as well.


I can dig up the prices on the parts, it's the installation prices I can't estimate. Unfortunately, I'm a software guy, I don't have the skill to do the installation work myself (You do NOT want to see what happens when you leave me alone with a saw and wood!). I can save as much as $60k, but I'm wondering if that's overkill on my part or fair estimation for the work and equipment.


I know it's a bit of a weird question, just trying to get a handle on how much I need to save up to build a decent home theater, I really don't want to come up short or spend a lot of time saving to discover it isn't going to cost as much as I saved. Any help/advice is very greatly appreciated!
 

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Sounds like you have a pretty good budget to play with....I would give @BIGmouthinDC a PM once you have enough post to do that and see what he can do for you if I had a bigger budget I would of had him build my room. If you go through some of the build threads you can see his work like the white oaks cinema house and theater build. Your going to need someone who knows what there doing not just a guy to throw together a room and take your money with no HT experience. If that doesn't work out shop around your local Home Theater stores and see there work but just don't look at there best work with big price tag. You want to see work that's in your budget not 100K installs but maybe 50K installs ask what will they do from A to Z. Framing ,electrical, low voltage, automation, sound proofing, does the price come with the projector screen and so on. I can keep going but I hope someone else can shed further light on this. Mike
 

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You will need every nickle of $60,000 if you have to hire everything out and buy all your equipment from scratch. . Too bad you have no confidence in your ability to work with your hands. you could easily save 40-50%. People who say they have no skill really have no confidence or experience. You can easily change both, take some local classes. How many years (decades) do you plan on being a homeowner? are you always going to rely on others.

If you want to spend $20,000 have a single layer of drywall hung, add carpet, hang a projector and a screen on the front wall. Use inwall/ wall mounted speakers. Invest in some medium price range electronics. Forget about columns, stage or riser. Move in a single row of seating pain the room dark and call it a theater.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys!


Yeah, I wish I were good enough to do the project myself, but it doesn't seem to be my gift. I've spent the last 4 years trying to build a MAME cabinet, every summer I had to redo it because of mistakes I made. Wiring up a modular control panel and setting up the software? No problem. Getting the cabinet and control panels cut to the right size, didn't go as well.


The bright side of the whole thing, I can build and install a HTPC with ease, installing all of the electronics I can do.
 

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Can't find an edit button to save my life!


I'm not looking to spend a minimum, if $60k is what it takes to do it right, $60k is what I'll spend :)
 

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You will need every nickle of $60,000 if you have to hire everything out and buy all your equipment from scratch. . Too bad you have no confidence in your ability to work with your hands. you could easily save 40-50%. People who say they have no skill really have no confidence or experience. You can easily change both, take some local classes. How many years (decades) do you plan on being a homeowner? Are you always going to rely on others?

If you want to spend $20,000 have a single layer of drywall hung, add carpet, hang a projector and a screen on the front wall. Use inwall/ wall mounted speakers. Invest in some medium price range electronics. Forget about columns, stage or riser. Move in a single row of seating paint the room dark and call it a theater.
BEST advice ever, on AVS! :)


Although I've seen a few higher end, more budget friendly, single row home theaters.
 

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I've built many theaters, I don't think I would attempt to build a mame cabinet. Don't write yourself out of the equation.
Hah! I would agree with that. Up until about 5 years ago I had never used a Skil saw. I was able to demo a room, redo some HVAC ductwork, re wire the electrical, convert a bay window into a book shelf, and build out an entire useable theater that I think is somewhat aesthetically pleasing. The internet can teach the basics. DIY is a priceless experience.

But, that being said, it's not for everybody. I've heard that Dennis Erskine can do very nice rooms for under $100K. @Nyall Mellor; has designed some pretty sexy stuff as well. I think Nyall will work with you on different kinds of speakers with his designs, whereas I've heard the Erskine Group likes dealing with equipment that only they are a dealer for. That may have changed but I'm pretty sure that was the case at one point in time. Big may correct me if I'm wrong on that point.

If you're looking for a turnkey deal, then I would look to the Erskine Group. It may also be slightly more than $60K but awfully convenient and this room will be done right, 100%. If you're feeling adventurous and think you can maybe chip in on some of the labor such as DIY'ing your speakers to save some money, and can find your own contractors, then Nyall at Acoustic Frontiers may be the ticket.
 

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Im the same, im a computer guy, but so what, it isn't rocket science, it cant be that hard to nail some wood together and hang some sheets of dry wall?? can it?


where are you located? im hoping I can find fellow avs members around NOVA to help me out for beers and pizza - im sure others would lend you a hand?
 

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Since I'll be buying a house rather than trying to retrofit an existing one I'm imagining that I will be able to install into a finished room, so I won't have to finish a basement or anything. To have numbers around the expected space I'll say 18' x 24'.
Buying or building? If you're buying, you'll be "retrofitting" any finished space (including anything set up as a 'media room' in new tract/spec home construction). But you're not going to find a 18x24' room ready to 'upgrade' to a theater. An unfinished basement with enough free area and ceiling height would be the best bet in a finished or non-custom home (if you're in an area with basements!).

I can dig up the prices on the parts, it's the installation prices I can't estimate. Unfortunately, I'm a software guy, I don't have the skill to do the installation work myself (You do NOT want to see what happens when you leave me alone with a saw and wood!). I can save as much as $60k, but I'm wondering if that's overkill on my part or fair estimation for the work and equipment.
You can learn to do any of the skills needed, if you have the time and inclination. There's nothing wrong with hiring out some or all of this - just know that in order to do a theater "right" takes some specialized knowledge. You can either gain that knowledge, or pay for it (and that expertise is not common). I did half of my theater - design, electrical, AV install; hired a builder for the framing, drywall, finish carpentry and paint...

I know it's a bit of a weird question, just trying to get a handle on how much I need to save up to build a decent home theater
It's not a weird question, just a hard one to answer. No different than "how much does a house (or car) cost?"... Just too many variables. The simplest answer, though, is - how much ya got? :D


Jeff
 

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I always feel like you should budget for it like you would a car. If you think your next car might be a Maserati, you probably want a theater with a similar price tag - same for a Honda Civic. The difference, as highlighted by Big, is the potential savings of doing it yourself. The catch is knowing where to spend the money, IMO. Calibrating expectations for audio quality and sound isolation goes a long way to identifying your budget.
 

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You have a lot more reading and research to do!:D

7.2 is so yesterday, especially for those lucky enough starting from scratch! Object audio is the latest crazy and IMHO, here to stay. Low volt wiring for Atmos/DTS:X would be at top of my list which would dictate looking at 10 ft ceilings or higher............lower ceilings are doable.

For a 24 X 18 ft room, 110" screen either wide or diagonal seems quite small. Two or three seats with butt kickers in a room that size seems waistful too for amount of room space.........maybe two rows of four seats? BTW, if you build on top of floating floor, definitely no need for butt kickers! ;)

Having a room rocked and then torn out is not cost nor work load effective. Would be nice to rough-in HVAC, electrical, and low volt wire leaving room unfinished........or better yet, hire a designer as suggested to plan construction. Designer fees at a minimum are cost of one piece of electronic equipment.......and well worth the added piece of mind.

I have detailed 90% of my cost breakdown for Phase I of my room but for some reason my iPhone will NOT let me attach link. I'm currently at my beach cottage and will post details later when I get home.

As a heads up, cost for Phase I was about $32,000 for materials only not including electrical/HVAC rough-in, Sheetrock and framing. Phase II with Knotty Alder soffit trim, ceiling cloud, acoustic treatments, low volt wiring was another $3600.

Detailed list of Phase I materials only.

Gives you an idea of DIY cost in materials................and sure, you can go either direction with budget.
 

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Gyar, I'm like you -- I knew I had neither the skill nor the time to do the work myself. I had huge amounts of problems with the contractors and some self-inflicted wounds with local inspectors, but in the end it worked out. The end product was way better than anything I could have ever done myself, and you can always DIY the control system -- that's what I did with iRule. Jautor's comment about whether you will be buying or building a home is crucial -- it will dictate what kind of space you have.


I had built a home and specified to the architect that there was to be a 21' x 16' space in the basement for a theater with 10' ceilings and no ductwork going through it. That was before I had got on this forum and discovered the ins and outs and dos and don'ts. I wish I had specified another 5-6' in length because then it would have been exactly what I wanted. My initial budget for construction, electronics, and installation was $60K but I will confess I went way over that. Toward the end of the project,I just stopped caring about the budget and went all-out to make it work.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey thanks everyone!


I can buy or build, I'm in a financial position where either is an option. There likely is some stuff I'm able to do myself, setting up the A/V equipment is definitely in my skill set. Building does solve a lot of issues, I could probably get to the point where I could do the construction, but wiring is definitely something I'd need a professional for. If I build I can likely get those things taken care of as part of the process.


From there I can likely handle the bulk of the rest of the work. I hadn't thought of building before. Now I'm off to do more research!
 

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If you're building, just be careful with what the builder might charge for some of the items you need. When I built about 10 years ago, my builder wanted $700 for each Cat5 and Coax jack. If you can leave the walls open and have good access to the wiring locations, you could probably cut that in half, or more.
 

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I've been a computer guy my entire life. Never worked a construction job ever. I left Apple Computer after 7 years to take a year off to build a home theater. Actually I built an entire house around the theater. :) It's not difficult. Construction guys are not smarter than you, they just work harder. Building that house is the single greatest joy I've ever had and will probably never have a better sense of achievement. If money is no object feel free to throw that 60 grand into someone elses pocket, but for reference I built a 2400 sq ft home for about 100 grand. And this included the home theater.
 

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I've heard that Dennis Erskine can do very nice rooms for under $100K. Nyall Mellor has designed some pretty sexy stuff as well. I think Nyall will work with you on different kinds of speakers with his designs, whereas I've heard the Erskine Group likes dealing with equipment that only they are a dealer for. That may have changed but I'm pretty sure that was the case at one point in time.
As a data point, $60k would have bought me little more than the drywall shell. To trim out the room after drywall they wanted over $100k. Just the room. Projector, screen, speakers, electronics, seating, etc would have all been on top of that, purchased through Dennis @ full MSRP.

As reference, my priority was on lights out performance - not room aesthetics. But that's as low as they could go for me. Could not design anything cheaper to build. I was starting from existing, framed space in my basement with HVAC & electrical already roughed in. OP wants a room somewhat smaller than mine, so it would be cheaper. But unless you're trying to convert a coat closet into a HT, I wouldn't even start with DE with $60k budget.
 

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As a data point, $60k would have bought me little more than the drywall shell. To trim out the room after drywall they wanted over $100k. Just the room. Projector, screen, speakers, electronics, seating, etc would have all been on top of that, purchased through Dennis @ full MSRP.

As reference, my priority was on lights out performance - not room aesthetics. But that's as low as they could go for me. Could not design anything cheaper to build. I was starting from existing, framed space in my basement with HVAC & electrical already roughed in. OP wants a room somewhat smaller than mine, so it would be cheaper. But unless you're trying to convert a coat closet into a HT, I wouldn't even start with DE with $60k budget.
That's why I said I that he could build one for under $100K. I've heard him say this in interviews. That may not include his crew coming out and doing the work. Or when he says under $100K, he may mean $90K. That's still a ton of money. A man with a $60K budget is not getting lights out performance if someone is building a home theater for him, no matter who it is. $60K can get you a good solid room, but not what I would call "lights out." Something would have to be significantly sacrificed at that price point, whether it be soundproofing, acoustics, cheap projector, cheap electronics or aesthetics. Now if he is willing to DIY some stuff, then said person can get a hell of a soundproofed room with some really nice equipment for $60,000.
 

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Construction guys are not smarter than you, they just work harder.
Gonna partially disagree. You are right, they aren't necessarily smarter than any of us home theater nerds. They have a different skill set that they have learned, and probably began learning when they were young. As far as them working harder, c'mon.

My personal list of the laziest human beings on Earth by profession:

1. Musicians (Very self entitled, and I don't mean the ones that "make it". I mean the ones that suck and never move on from playing bowling alleys and their nephew's homecoming dance. They usually end up as an assistant manager at Spencer's or Hot Topic.)

2. Pipeline Welders (Slightly less self entitled than musicians but very nearly just as lazy. They work half a year and do tons of meth.)
3. Construction Guys (In order of laziness based on construction specialty)
a. Electricians
b. Drywallers and painters
c. Framers
d. Concrete guys
4. Strippers and Hooters Girls (Yes, even the ones that are "just putting themselves through school")
5. Career Bartenders (See #4 's explanation)

That list is in order from laziest (meaning they really would struggle working in a different career field because they only work when they feel like it or "it's the perfect gig") to, still very lazy, and sleeps until 1 in the afternoon most days. But they can usually do okay in a structured environment once they make the decision to settle down and stop snorting coke and boozing heavily.

Now, everyone of these career fields has it's outliers. There are very hardworking and honest contractors but not many. Pipeline welders and musicians are fairly hopeless but I'm sure once they get someone pregnant or get busted for meth or coke the second time, they usually try to settle down with the right woman and become productive. I probably could have grouped 4 and 5 together but they really are different in terms of laziness and many bartenders actually do finish school. Those that make #4 on the list rarely do.
 
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