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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What is the most recommended software to help design and draw your plans if your are going contstruct your Home Theatre in a basement that is not finished.

Thanks
 

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That would depend on the level of design help you expect to get from the software. A lot of people on here use Sketchup. It's a nice free 3D drawing program that is pretty easy to learn. It can give you a good visualization of what your room can look like. However, it won't give you theater layouts, suggestions, etc. You have to come up with those on your own (or through help from the wonderful people on this site :D).

If you are looking for help designing your space, post some info here and ask for help. Lots of creative people on here who love to help out.
 

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Sketchup (or Smustard if you want to waste your time looking for it).

Edit: Wow! I had no idea smustard was a real thing! I was just trying to be a smartass.
 

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Sketchup is more powerful, but I found SweetHome 3D (some images I made are in my build thread - not the first couple, those were from some web program) to be easier to learn and still very useful. It depends if you want the best possible quality and how much time you want to spend learning.
 

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Sketchup for sure. Intimidating at first , but just follow through the tutorials given. Keep at it and its easy as pie. For personal planning of your room buy a blank paged sketch book. Rough in your ideas in pencil across several pages then transpose onto Sketchup.
 

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p.s. If you have access to a copier, you can print off ideas you see on other build pics. e.g. Stage/ riser construction...finished room ideas. I have 3 three ring binders armed and ready with ideas for my future build. Pick and choose from the best and plan your final Sketchup render.
 

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For 3D models I've used both Blender and Sketchup. I'm not very good at either, but I found Blender to give me much better results, but with a much higher demand of time (not only to learn, but to design and build the models). 10 years ago, for my first theater, I used Blender for all the 3D modeling, and I got some really nice renders that helped my wife envision the end goal. This time I didn't bother to spend nearly as much time doing that...but not because it wasn't helpful...probably mostly because this time around we just didn't need it as much.

For the dimensions and real planning, though, I simply used Visio. It is very precise (or can be if you're careful) and you can use layers effectively to be able to simplify the drawings or add more complexity (or just narrow it down to electrical only, for example). I even used versions of my Visio drawings to submit to the city for my permits. Worked like a champ. I do top down drawings as well as side drawings to help me position columns, risers, electrical, speakers, etc., and I've got dimensions all over the place on these Visio drawings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
+1 for Sketchup
Are there any specific add-ons that I should use to help with Specifically with a HT build? And since I have never done this before, what are some best practices out there for a novice like me trying to design and build my HT? Thanks.
 

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Are there any specific add-ons that I should use to help with Specifically with a HT build? And since I have never done this before, what are some best practices out there for a novice like me trying to design and build my HT? Thanks.
I don't know about sketchup, but blender used to have an architectural mode so that all the units were in standard or metric notation. Not sure if blender still has that, or if sketchup has something like that too, but it would be useful.
 

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Are there any specific add-ons that I should use to help with Specifically with a HT build? And since I have never done this before, what are some best practices out there for a novice like me trying to design and build my HT? Thanks.
In the top bar of Sketchup there is a " get models " tab. Here, it sends you to another area where you can search- select furniture/ speakers/ lights etc. and drop them into your room. You can then drag them around/ spin it / whatever to place the items where you want. You can even shrink/ enlarge the items to your liking. Its a bit of a process but when you get the hang of it, its like old hat.
 

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Are there any specific add-ons that I should use to help with Specifically with a HT build? And since I have never done this before, what are some best practices out there for a novice like me trying to design and build my HT? Thanks.
No Add-ons that I am awaire of specifically for home theater. As noted above the "get models" in 3D warehouse can make for quick grab and plunk drawing. Be aware that not all models on there are created equal.... some just suck and are barely to scale. One of you other best friends is to draw things and make them components and group, read up on this it can save you a lot of aggravation when moving things around
 

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I started working in Excel for the layout, then moved to Sketchup after seeing everyone on here using it. Then I decided to buy Home Designer Suite to see how that worked. I bought Home Designer Suite thinking that it would help with things like HVAC and electrical planning, but it wasn't what I expected. There are a few things in there I like compared to Sketchup, but I think Sketchup is more flexible. Sketchup is free vs about $100 for HDS so I think Sketchup is probably a good option to work with. Plus, there are a lot of pre-built elements you can pull in to your design from places like https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/index.html
 

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And since I have never done this before, what are some best practices out there for a novice like me trying to design and build my HT? Thanks.
For starters, you found the right website. I'll give you the same advice that worked for me. Read through as many build threads as you can, and subscribe to the ones that have design elements that you like. Ask questions and then keep reading. When you have a general idea of what you want, start a build thread and post your ideas, pictures of the area you will build in, sketchup drawings, etc. Focus on the room first. Equipment is easily upgraded down the road, but it is much more difficult (and expensive) to tear out a wall or two if you mess that up.

I would also skim through the "Master" threads that are pinned to the top of this section. The acoustical thread is pretty intimidating (10,000+ posts), but the sound proofing thread is still very usable. Another good one is the "What I'd do differently next time" thread. Lots of great info in there.

Bottom line is you can get some great help on this site if you can give a lot of details of what you are trying to accomplish. "I want to build a theater" won't get you much help, but "I'm building a house/renovating my basement and want to put in a theater. I have A' x B' x C' available. Thinking about a sound proof room with 2 rows of seating and a 10' screen. Here's my initial drawing on a napkin that I did. Would like your thoughts on the room layout, and what I can do for sound proofing." etc.
 

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Draw it on a napkin or paper towel with a pencil...

Plan are overated IMO, unless you are getting professional ones that include layout and room treatment.

Otherwise you only goal in doing plans is to convey your intention to the forum and get a double check or feedback- they don't have to be perfect. Just reasonably accurate and convey your build intention.

You can spend more time trying to draw 3D plans than it takes to frame a room. Seriously. I see people do that all the time.

DO > PLAN.

Spend time learning about acoustical treatment and sound proofing- instead of learning about 3D software.
 

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Interesting take, @Mfusick. My first theater 10 years ago was planned for 2.5 years, and I had drawings and 3D models that were pretty detailed. This time around I'm taking the opposite approach. I'll let you know which one is better after I finish. :)

Actually, I think it really depends on the situation. The models/plans can help build confidence, help convey to significant others to get approvals/funding, or even work through solutions to problems before making mistakes. On the other hand, analysis paralysis is a real thing...and can be avoided by just jumping in. I think my 10 years of experience doing projects (including my first theater) gave me enough confidence to jump in to this one with a less defined (or at least recorded) plan. In fact, though, I might have more of a plan this time than I did last time...but my bit more experience allowed me to move forward quicker without stressing over every detail or documentation of the plan. The thing that is helping me most this time are checklists.

Different situations may require different approaches, I think.
 

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Even if you have a basic room drafted up on Sketchup/ or dirty finger nail drawing on a napkin, it helps if you have access to a 11X17 copier or even a plotter for D size drawings. Print them out and thumbtack your ideas onto your stud walls. Its quick and easy reference. You dont want a laptop in your room while sawdust is flying around. A combination of new school software and old school pencil and paper will get you going. Basic enlarged drawings can show your dimensions for your stage wall/ one for riser/ one for west wall/ east wall/ where your acoustic treatments are going. Stick em on the wall to help visualize your future space. Scribble and make changes.
 

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Good points.

But software drawn plans don't tell you how to do it, only what it should be like when you are done. You end up with the same challenges as if you did them with a pencil and paper.
That's what my dad's buddy's always said when they built my house. Plans are pretty pictures. I think they only looked at them for the foundation and then they never got pulled out again.
 
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