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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Many of my friends are aware I've been planning on turning a room in our house into a home theater environment. Often enough some people think it would be cool to have, but add in "Are you ever going to sell your house? What if you want to try to sell your house?" With a sort of undercurrent of the horror of trying to sell a house with a room that has been made into an AV room or home theater.


As a general question: What is your view about the whole "What if we want to sell the house?" issue? Did you consider it? Was it an issue with your better half? Clearly I'm among people who have chosen to go the home theater route anyway, but it would be interesting to get various views on the issue.


Mine runs like this: I don't come from a background of moving houses all the time. I grew up in the same house until I left to live on my own in adulthood. Probably influenced by such state of affairs, I've always viewed buying a house - and here I'm talking about buying a house that you really like, not just a home you know is a starter home - as being a pretty permanent thing. It's were I want to live. I don't really relate to those who seem to view whatever house they live in as an impermanent dwelling.

And so many people (not to mention home shows) seem to almost start with decorating and renovating issues with how your house will be viewed by prospective purchasers.


It's like viewing one's house as a rental property.


To me the whole point of owning my own house is to actually live in the type of house I want to live in. I didn't buy it for someone else, not for "the next person in line" or some such thing. Why would I care about second guessing what someone else would like? I want to live as I wish, not some prospective purchaser of my house.


To that end, I have a fairly large house but we've renovated almost all of it for other purposes (e.g. the basement for the kids to play in, not for a home theater). This leaves only one possible room for my HT dream: the front living room of the house. This is one of those nice rooms you do up because it's the first one that people can see from the front hallway, but no one actually uses the room. All the actual family living is done in the family room, the kitchen, basement playroom etc. So the front room long ago became my de facto high-end 2 channel audio room. It's been weird because the place is set up with conversational seating (my speakers being on either side of the two conversational chairs facing my sofa), and no one ever sits in those chairs.


So I convinced my wife that since I'm the only one who ever goes in there and it is underutilized, if I do it into a projection-based music/home theater set up with a nice big sectional sofa facing the screen, then we'll all be able to get enjoyment from the room as a family. It worked. After almost two years of planning - most of which have been trying to solve my desire for high-performance with the aesthetic issues of this being main floor room - the room is being constructed this month.


Admittedly, I've pushed it pretty far. Originally I was going to try and make the room still feel like a sitting/talking living room and mostly hide the screen etc behind curtains. My wife didn't like the idea and thought it would feel "weird" having this big wall of curtain hiding something in the room. So

I got the green light for just showing the screen (fixed) on the wall. Since then the design has been more of a "it is what it is" approach. It's going to obviously be a home-theater application room so it will look designed for that purpose, the approach being to make the design as comfortable, clean and inviting looking at possible. But it will have an all black screen wall, a slightly dropped ceiling with tastefully chosen light absorbing fabric, inset lighting into the drop ceiling, dark rug, etc. I think it looks great, but it certainly doesn't look like your average living room.


I don't know how guests are going to react. I know people who are already envious. Some of my wife's friends I can tell think it will be neat to have but on a "You'd never get me to do that to my house" basis.


But the bottom line is the room done like this will make me and my kids (and I hope my wife) very happy. Much more happy with the house than if it simply remained as it is. So I'm doing it for me, not for some imagined buyer. I figure if we REALLY want to or have to sell the house some day it wouldn't cost much to take down the home theatery aspects and have someone just re-finish the room, if need be.


Comments? Viewpoints?
 

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Good post, and some very good questions.


My thoughts are, it really all depends on where you live. What type of development are you in? What are the houses like all around yours, etc?


Many people hop from house to house because that is the easiest way to get the house you really want. You buy a starter, work on it (finish the basement) build equity, and sell. By putting the equity money you made into the down payment of the next house you can get a much nicer house, for the same monthly payment. Not everyone can afford to have their first house be their dream house. It's just the game that must be played, like it or don't.


The house I am in is a temporary dwelling for me, but I'm going for it and building a dedicated theater. Like mentioned, if the next owners don't care for it just put that as a clause in the paperwork....something to the effect of: "will convert theater into a regular room if requested".


-Ss
 

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I say go for it. Enjoy your house, you're the one living there! Nothing is permanent, you can always convert it back into a living room. IMO, fancy living rooms aren't in nowadays anyway.


With that being said and not seeing your floor plans, would you consider taking the basement for your HT, and use either the living room or the family room for the kids play area?


I think that's the best of both worlds and if/when you decide to sell, it's easier to convert the living/family rooms back to their original uses and list the basement as a HT/Kids rooms.


When you sell, think of it like this, the room will be for the most part "sound proofed" depending on how far you go with it, right? So, how many parents wish they had a sound proof room to stick their kids in to play!!? All the ones I know wish they did!!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Harkness /forum/post/15525010


As a general question: What is your view about the whole "What if we want to sell the house?" issue? Did you consider it? Was it an issue with your better half? Clearly I'm among people who have chosen to go the home theater route anyway, but it would be interesting to get various views on the issue.

My view is that you should think of it like a pool. If it has value to you and you can afford it, do it. When you go to sell the house it may add value to some and be worth nothing to others. I would not consider it to be an investment from a property value perspective, though it may end up that way for some. I'd consider it an investment in your family's quality of life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ragged,


No can do. We have two very active boys who play every sport. We had to gut our entire basement, hollow it out and make as much room as possible for play room. There's no way our smallish front living room could substitute! And, frankly, as much as a basement location would solve many of the aesthetic issues I've had to deal with, I actually like the living room location much better for movie-watching. I'm not much of a "hole up in a corner of the house" type and the main floor just feels connected and social. I understand others actually like that "get away from it all, separated from the rest of the house" vibe to a home theater, though. To each his own, of course.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcaillo /forum/post/15525393


My view is that you should think of it like a pool. If it has value to you and you can afford it, do it. When you go to sell the house it may add value to some and be worth nothing to others. I would not consider it to be an investment from a property value perspective, though it may end up that way for some. I'd consider it an investment in your family's quality of life.

+1


lcaillo stole my thunder so to speak.


First let me compliment you on your thoughtful post it is obvious that you have put a lot of consideration into your plans and thought process.


I look at my home as MY place not a future SOMEONE else place. I'm currently working on a entire basement remodel which includes a dedicated HT. I know that if and when I ever sell my home I know my theater could be just the thing that sells the home or won't matter at all and will become just another room that the next owner will have to redo. It all depends on the person who ends up buying your home. Unfortunately you don't know at the time what is going to work.


Regarding the pool/theater equation you need to keep these following facts in mind. I know of several people who have not bought a house because it had a pool (safety concerns with little children) but I don't know of anyone who has not bought a home because it had a theater/media room. Also remember you will not recoup the cost of the theater (like a pool) in the sale of your home. If you spend 25 grand on a theater and the equipment you will not get near that back when you resell your home. The next prospective owner of your home will care less that you spent 5 grand on a projector and seven grand on speakers. It will only matter to you.


I say go for your room, enjoy your time with friends and family, and if you ever decide to move then check with your local realtor and see what the market is doing at the time and base the decision on what to do at that time.


Good Luck.


Regards,


RTROSE
 

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Most of us are building these theaters as DIY projects so we have far less invested in the theaters than the average Joe that hires a company to design/construct at full retail.


That being said I would think you would recoup most of the cost on resale if not more ... it would be worth at minimum what normal basement development would be worth ( I say that because "most" theaters are in the basement from what I can see )


If you are worried about the 7K speakers and 5K projector just pack them in a box before listing the house and replace them with a 1K speaker system and 1K projector as " most " people wont be able to tell the difference and then move the high end stuff to the new house and HT2.0
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I appreciate all the advice and comments on my own plans, but I was mostly using them

as an example of how I approach the issue. As indicted in my OP I'm also interested in how others have faced the same questions.
 

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In my area, all new homes have theaters added by the builder. They're a selling point. I'm pretty sure that if I wanted to sell my house, it'd be worth more because of the HT.
 

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I don't have any words of wisdom on this, I am having the same issue. My dining room and living room are in the same big room. The only seperation is when you hit the living room area it has a vaulted ceiling.


I am strongly considering putting up a wall seperating the two making my living room a theater room. My wife asked me about when we sell the house. The only response I really have is if it becomes hard to sell I will tear down the wall.


I don't plan on moving soon. I love the neighborhood and have paid off almost 5 years of my 15 year mortgage and would love not to have a mortgage after that.
 

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We aren't planning on moving by choice (unless we win the lottery... then I will start the HT 2.0 thread).


If we sold our house we'd market it as "includes finished basement with Home Theater. Easily convertible to an in-law apartment or general purpose space."


For our basement, all it needs is a stove and a shower (which our pump supports) to be an in-law.
 

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I would see it as a selling point, but the question of "Does the equipment stay?" is sure to be asked.
 

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Here is my take. I'm not planning on moving in the next 10 years, but I could easily be wrong. Six months ago I would have said I'd be in my current job until I retire. I still think my job is safe, but with the current economy you start to realize nothing is definite.


I'm in a 5000 sq ft 4 bedroom house in an upscaleish neighborhood. I put in a nice conservative, dark, elegant HT, replacing a weird little media room and a weird little 'extra room'. I'm doing what I can to make sure the 'built-in' equipment (like the lighting controller) is user friendly (using a Grafik Eye rather than a conglomeration of Insteon switches with a linux computer as the controller, for example).


If/when I move, I'll plan to leave the seats. Everything else goes, although everything is negotiable.


In my situation, I suspect the HT is definitely a value add for the house. It didn't take up a bedroom. It removed a 'weird' area from the house (I remember my wife and I saying 'huh? WTF?' when we walked through those rooms when buying). I only spent ~$15k (and two years of my life) on the room/chairs. The room would cost ~$5k (rip out stage/riser, new carpet, drywall over the false wall, paint) for the new owner to turn into a nice bedroom if they really needed a 5th.


My guess is that in the likely timeframe for me to sell this house (say 5-10 years), an elegant sound isolated room ideal for a large screen projector setup will be a very positive selling point for many people. Will I make a huge profit on my work? Of course not. I expect I'll break even on it, though.


Think about it from the new owners perspective. If they are HT folks, no issue, I'm golden. If not, for a few thousand they'll have an HT.


I'm not worrying about it much, other than to do my best to make sure that theater I leave is safe, to code, and easily usable by the next owners.
 

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My opinion - there's little downside to a HT build if done right...Of course, you can go overboard and not recoup the investment, but as others have stated you should enjoy your home.

My first HT was the main driver behind selling my first house at full asking price within 2 days of sticking a FSBO sign in the yard. I made sure it the projector (an old Sony 400Q) was running during the open house that weekend - you should have seen the guy's face when he walked down the stairs into the basement! Sold!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkDub /forum/post/15528520


My opinion - there's little downside to a HT build if done right...Of course, you can go overboard and not recoup the investment, but as others have stated you should enjoy your home.

My first HT was the main driver behind selling my first house at full asking price within 2 days of sticking a FSBO sign in the yard. I made sure it the projector (an old Sony 400Q) was running during the open house that weekend - you should have seen the guy's face when he walked down the stairs into the basement! Sold!

I would agree...A HT will make your house stick out more than others, it will give that potential buyers something to remember..
 

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If you converted a bedroom or a living room into an HT, it could be a negative when you sell it because you have taken a a room that everyone wants and turned it into something that only a niche wants. However, if you build it in a basement, which is generally considered bonus space in most pats of the country, it probably would be a wash or in some cases seen as a positive thing.


I remember when we were trying to sell our house last year. One couple that looked at it hated pools and didn't watch TV, so they asked right away if I knew what it would cost to take out the pool and revert the HT room. Another couple came through and loved both the pool and the HT.
 

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Even though mine isn't done, I have to get the house appraised in the next week or so due to the divorce. I'll make sure and ask about it, since I also have speakers wired into the closet for four different zones.
 

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I ran into this same problem in my last house. I always wanted a theater and it was a new construction house so I had the builder finish the basement and include a theater in there. I paid like $20k for the room including equipment, woodwork, etc. I felt it was a smart investment because in that price range (1.2M) it would be very well appreciated. That wasn't really the case. It really is like a pool like another poster said, some will love it and some won't even find the point of such a room and think it's a waste.


Everyone did like it when we sold, we lost a ton of money because of the economy, but anyway my point was they specifically asked if the equipment stays and I told our realtor that yes equipment will stay, but maybe not some of the exact peices. He came back with he wanted the exact setup. So my advice would be if you ever sell and don't plan on including the price of the theater in the house is to swap out the equipment for less expensive stuff before you even list it.


In our new house which we just moved into, I'm still having the new contractor finish the basement and build a room for a theater. But I'm doing the install on it and coaching him how I want it built. I don't plan on moving for a long time.


My advice - do you what makes you happy and don't worry about the what if when you sell stuff. Setting a theater up in a room is not a structural change so it can be reverted if need be.
 

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My Opinion --- If you are concerned about selling your house in the future and decide to convert the living room into a theater, DON'T build a black 'bat cave'! Even though the 'purists' insist that this provides the optimum viewing experience, it will not impress buyers when they first enter the room.


Consider making the room aesthetically pleasing with a palette of darker colors, adequate lighting, moldings and fancy trim details. The room should attempt to draw you in and make you feel like you are entering a really unique place. There are lots of examples of such builds in the threads in this section. From personal perspective, I would avoid painting the ceiling black but I would not use white either! (If you really feel it necessary, consider using black on the ceiling just a few feet in front of the screen.)


I would personally avoid using flat paint for the walls. With darker colors, it so difficult to keep clean. I used eggshell and marks can be easily removed without repainting.


Soundproofing may be your biggest issue. Using an existing living room will present more problems than a basement. (In my experience, bass is the real problem, anything above 200Hz is almost an non-issue.) You could put a second layer of 5/8" drywall on top of the existing 1/2". Perhaps even a layer of Green Glue between...


If you and your wife sit down and discuss what you both want in the room--- each making compromises--- make sketches, consider colors choices, the 'look' that you would both like to see in the finished room. A week later review those plans to see if you BOTH still feel the same way about the latest design. If so, you build it. If not, repeat the design process again. (This assumes that you both can visualize what the finished project will look like from the sketches.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Frank, thanks for your detailed suggestions.


FWIW, I've made all the technical/aesthetic decisions. As I mentioned in the OP, the nature of the room will be clear (a place to hang out and view movies etc), but hopefully we've done it in a tasteful, inviting manner.


The chosen carpet is a rich, dark shag (looks classy, not cheesy). Huge custom-built, deep seated sectional sofa (dark chocolate material). Ottomans. The wall will be covered in a wall textile fabric (I'm going for a calm, deep brown color palette, the accents will be on varying, attractive textures). The screen wall will be black fabric, for the best image/absorb any light spill since I'm using a zoom method. I've got dark brown velvet curtains beside the screen that can be pulled along each side wall up to about 8 feet when watching a movie, to absorb wall reflections. A section of the ceiling, starting at the screen wall and extending to covering the seating area, will be dropped down a few inches, with inset lighting. That portion of the ceiling will be covered with a (yet to be chosen) dark material. It won't be black though (the wife will only stand for so much). I'll be choosing some fairly dark color which, with the right fabric, will nonetheless absorb light better than most dark paints.


FWIW, here's a quick snap-shot of a GoogleSketchup of the room, as someone would see it from our hallway. (The sofa is just a stand-in model, not nearly as comfy looking as the one I'm having built. The image of course has no lights or lighting represented, so it looks darker than it will in real life).


[/URL] [/IMG]
 
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