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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After working with an architect for a year, we finally broke ground last week. The plan is to put in a new bathroom with a steam shower and an oversized whirlpool tub, and a home theater space with a drop down screen and projector.


The theater space won't be dedicated, it will sort of be a triple use room. It will be a nice living room, with shelving for books and cabinets on one wall, a 200 bottle wine cooler and a wood floor. Press a button and the lights will dim, the projector will come on, and the screen will drop down. The final use is as a bedroom when we have guests, so we're going to have a murphy bed built into one wall that can come down when we have guests.


To accomplish this we're digging down the floor and underpinning the foundation to get adequate ceiling height. I have almost all of the home theater equipment purchased already since we really thought construction would have started a looong time ago.


Love to hear your thoughts and comments.


I'm planning on keeping a log of the construction, which you can view at:

http://dreamaway.org/~gunn


(follow the remodel link, bottom left)


-Stephen
 

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Bidet?


I love the comments regarding adding a wood shelf for your ethernet router.


Looks like a nice plan. Lowering the concrete floor cant be cheap...


Keep us updated on the progress.


Jim
 

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Be sure to run the proper cable from the equipment room to the wall at the foot of that big tub and the steam room wall.


I'm sure a nice 15 inch lcd would be about right for a soak or steam and a flick.


You might not think you want it now but put the cable in while it's easy to do.
 

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Stephen,


Good luck with your project. Coincedentaly, I'm 2 weeks into a major build-out of our basement as well. We're adding a bathroom, gym, sauna, bar and multi-use theater. I would definitley double and triple check your wiring plan for the av, very important. Also, I'm running cables to all parts of the basement, even if I dont need them right now.


Also, we're using a new flooring sub-strate called CoerDry (sp?) below our hard wood floors. Fantastic material, it was a first use for the architect and builder but so far its been working our very well. CoreDry is only 3/4'' high and doesnt require any nailing, so you can preserve the precious head-room.


Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for everyone's comments.


Jim, about lowering the floor, it's funny, when you talk to architects or contractors and you first say that you're considering lowering the floor, they sort of go "Umm, yeah lowering the floor huh?" and they give you this look. Then you talk some more and they say, yeah, it's not as complicated or as expensive as you might think and that it can actually work out pretty well. It was especially hard on our project to determine the cost of this single item, since slab removal was tied into all the plumbing work and subsoil drain work (the waterproofer lowered his price considerably since he neither had to remove the slab nor replace it), but at a guess the cost was probably around $10k to lower the floor.


As for wiring, I'm doing all the low voltage wiring myself. Speaker cable, coax, runs to the projector, ethernet, phone. I've already put in keypads for whole house audio, and the bathroom will also get a keypad and ceiling mounted speakers. I'm kind of dreading that at some point I'm going to only have a few days to run all the cable I need to. AFTER framing, BEFORE the sheetrock goes up.


Some other things I've learned from the forum:

We're not trying to eliminate sound coming from the basement, because I think it's too much effort for something that still may not work, but we are trying to limit it, so the architect spec'd USG Thermafiber sound attenuation bats in the ceiling and walls surrounding the room.


The underlayment for the wood floor will be Delta-FL, something people on the forum have spoken well about. It's a foam that allows any moisture that still comes up from the concrete to escape by creating airspace between the foam and the concrete. It's also fairly thin so it doesn't raise the floor height by that much.


Finally, the architect spec'd "Humitek" mildew resistant drywall. Water has never really been an issue in our basement, but we're going all out to make sure that it never becomes one.


I'll keep you posted.


Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Underpinning the foundation continues, a few more pictures up. Will be ordering the plumbing supplies and the tile for the bathroom this week. Contractor hopes to be done with rough framing within 5 weeks, which is hard to believe looking at how the basement looks right now.


Stephen
 

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Love the pictures! When do you expect it to be finished?


I'd thought about doing what you have done with underpinning the concrete, but went a different route when lowering my basement floor and digging out the crawlspace. I figured that I'd end up replacing my entire foundation if I did concrete underpinnings (house built in 1911).


So I decided no concrete work except for the floor, since I wanted to do everything myself.


Ballzac

Neverending Story...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Ballzac
Love the pictures! When do you expect it to be finished?
Yes, that is the big question, isn't it? The initial bid said 3 months, then verbally the contractor wouldn't commit to sooner than 4 months, and then when it came time to sign the contract, it was 5 months. That said, the contractor still thinks between 3 and 4 months, and wanted me to have plumbing supplies and tile 6 weeks from when he started, because he (at least says) that he plans to have rough framing done in about 6 weeks (4 1/2 at this point). I'm really tired of people saying, "The contract says 5 months? That means it will be 7 months," with a big knowing grin on their face like it's really funny. I think the contractor is aiming for 4 months, and if his current pace continues, I think he'll make it. So, four months from when he started would put it at middle of May.


BTW, my house was built in 1925.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
About 1/3 of the new concrete foundation is in place. I'm borrowing a friend's digital camera for the pictures, and he needs it for the weekend, so it will be Monday before I can put up some more pictures.


We're having the catch basin removed, since it's not really needed if you use a dishwasher, so the piping to the catch basin was exposed last night.


Also when we got home last night we noticed that the water had been shut off and I noticed that the basement was muddier than normal. Found out talking to the contractor this morning that one of the workers nicked the old, soft, lead water line into the house and had to quickly get the city out to shut off the water at the street while they repaired the water line. Water line will be replaced as part of this project, but not in sub-zero January temperatures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've had a terrible cold, so it's taken until today to post some updates. They started digging down the floor. New pictures up.


Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Exciting night last night. Got home, the house was 60 degrees. We had no heat. Considering it was about 15 degrees outside, this was bad. There's a switch on the side of our furnace, I've bumped it, and a couple weeks ago the contractor bumped it, so I figured no big deal, the switch is off. Went into the basement, and sure enough, the switch was off. Flipped it on... and nothing happened. Called the contractor, he said he'd be over in 40 minutes (he has a ways to come). It seemed like there was just no power to it. Checked the breaker, breaker was fine. Checked the stove to make sure the gas was working, it was.


Time to get my meter and tools. Checked the outlet next to the switch on the furnace, it had power. Pulled the box open, put the meter on the outlet: power, of course. Checked the switch: the switch simply wasn't passing power when it was in the on position. Quick flip off of the breaker, twisted the wires together from the switch, breaker back on and the furnace started up. Called the contractor and let him know, although he was just a few minutes away by then.


The furnace filter was so dirty I decided I needed to replace it right away, so I ran out and got some new filters, which pretty much ate up the rest of my evening.


And so it goes...


Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well after two months of having a dirt floor (aka a muddy pit) in my basement, they poured the new slab last Friday. I'm so, so happy. Now the house won't have that fresh, earthy smell all the time. It's a major milestone, as it completes all of the major structural changes: underpinning the foundation and lowering the floor, new sewer and water line, and replacing the wooden beam and steel posts with a steel beam pushed between the joists and a single post.


Framing has begun, and I've put up new pictures since my last post. Soon, the home theater will start to take shape.


Pictures (follow the remodeling link on the left): http://dreamaway.org/~gunn


-Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Finally put up some more pictures of how things are progessing.


My contractor, who is a good guy, was really proud that he didn't have to open up the wall in the kitchen to put up the venting for the bathroom. Instead, he put it in the wall cavity that I had carefully prepared for all of the structured wiring. Without talking to me about it first. That actually ended up okay, the bad part was they damaged (crushed and bent) all the plenum rated cat 5 that I had sitting on the floor in the attic waiting to be pulled down into the basement. So now I need to re-pull and re-terminate in the wall jacks 6 cat 5s. I'm not a happy boy.
 

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sgunn,


Looking good! What is the purpose of having a double-plate on the bottom of the walls? I assume it is to make trim attachment easier but, is it required by code?


Thanks,


Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Frank,


The reason for the double sill is because there is a sub-floor going in. If you look at the last picture of the set I just put up, you can see that the sub-floor covers up most of the "first" sill. Also that lower sill is pressure treated lumber to help deal with any moisture issues from being close to the concrete. The wood does have a thin layer of foam between it and the concrete as well.


-Stephen
 

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sgunn,

What are you running for structured wiring and what are you using to run the stuff around the house - any pics?

Also, I am not sure about running Cat 5e around while wireless gets up to 50Gbps nowadays cheaply. Fiber may make more sense for the future but no idea what to use.


How are you doing the ceiling and wall construction?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It always feels so self serving commenting on my own thread.


Anyhow... A suggestion I would make to anyone trying to insulate for sound in their home theater is to NOT use fiberglass, because it does a very poor job of insulating for sound. A much better choice, and what was suggested by the mechanical engineer for my project was to use sound batt, which is mineral wool specifically meant for sound control. It has a lot more weight to it and is much more effective at controlling sound. I'm not going crazy with sound control, but I am having all the walls and the ceiling lined with sound batt instead of fiberglass. Similar cost to fiberglass. Made from the slag from steel mills in a high temperature process, hence the name mineral wool.


Another issue with regard to sound in a basement theater is that a lot of people put up double layers of drywall to "block" sound. The audio consultant that we had come out suggested that we NOT do that. You end up with a (rigid) concrete floor, and rigid walls, and there is no where for the sound to dissipate, so it just bounces around the room. Having some give to the walls gives for better acoustics. All the usual stuff about absorbtion and diffusion still apply. You don't hear many people say what I just said, but the guy who advised us use to be a custom installer, and now works as a rep for Meridian, and among other things advises dealers on how to set up their display rooms to sound best. He knows his stuff.
 

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Stephen,


Is felt pad on the cement and carpet on top a bad idea?
 

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Stephen,

What about the mineral wool (steel) rusting with any moisture?


Also, I don't have alot of height and need to install the ceiling to the floor joists. How are you doing your ceiling?


Thanks.
 
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