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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey all, Please feel free to holler at me if this is too early to be asking questions. I keep opening threads once a thought hits me, but I keep thinking I should put them all in the same place.

We are stepping up to a larger home with a large yard, and a 9ft basement ceiling. The more I look, it does not have the ideal theatre space I thought it did at first, but it meets all of our family's needs. Now I need to figure out how to maximize a theatre space while minimizing cost and rework. The base house cost exceeded our initial budget, so if I ask to move something structurally for the theatre, it will directly take away from cupboards/finishes by our builder.

We signed the blueprints yesterday and have an estimated January or February finish date. The HVAC, plumbing, and electric are not yet set in stone, so I come to you asking for adjustments to maximize a theatre space.

The upstairs:


The upstairs had been reconfigured a bit pushing the spare bathroom down to the left:


Here is option 1:


•Red is the theatre location
•Light blue my estimated HVAC/water lines
•Green triangle is the door
I am guessing the screen wall will be on the right outside wall.

Here is option 2:


•Red is the estimated room
•Green triangles are possible door locations
•Light blue is the estimated HVAC/water trunks
•Blue circles are the problem... What to do with the support pole in the center of the room? the span is ~20 feet.

Here is option 3:

•Red is the estimated room
•Green triangles are doors
•Light blue are estimated locations for HVAC and the hot water tank

In this option, north of the beam in the middle of the red square is a morning room with 8 windows, a sliding door, with no second floor. South of this beam and directly above it is the sink/garbage disposal, on the west wall, by the green triangle is the gas stove with hood, and a bathroom in the space to the left.

In the theatre space I would have the window moved somewhere outside of the theatre. We want either a stage with screen wall, or an IB chamber with screen wall, but even with a room within a room design I worry about the windows directly above it, and all of the HVAC/wastewater pipes above the main section of the room loosening over the years.


Going into this option one was was the best in my mind thinking the 2nd floor pipes would not be an issue. But now thinking about the trunk linesrunning up what would be the right side of the theatre would ruin the dedicated space look. can this be gotten around?

With option two, I have to tell them now and incur a cost to reengineer a support beam without the pole in the center of the room. But I can request utilities to be moved to the front left of the basement and use the front right as the theatre screen area. Maybe make a decorative cover for the steel support in the ceiling somehow?

Option three seems possible beacuse the morning room does not have anything above it and would be the screen area. But the middle of the room to the door would be a nightmare with the kitchen above it. No room within a room if I have to access the water pipes, gas line, etc...

All ideas, and opinions are welcome. We are locked in to this house now, so how do I make the most of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not much traction... Still looking for opinions of the best location while we have the time to ask for pipes and ducts to be moved around.

I am thinking option three would be best as the stage/IB would not have much above it, but the windows do worry me and how can I provide access to the sink and gas line without soundproofing issues? Do you think the theatre output could cause leaks through vibration over a long period of time? I would wrap the pipes in joist bays with rockwool to avoid mold issues, but I don't want leaks into the theatre. Is this a realistic option?

The house will have "TJI" engineered joists, how big of conduit/pipe can I put through them? Is a few 1.5" and a 2" clost to the rack ok?
 

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I like option #2 . Have them use a stronger beam that doesn't need the support pole in the middle of the room. That shouldn't cost very much extra. There's not much you can do about the remaining beam without costing a LOT of money. You can hide it in a coffered ceiling though.

Regardless of where you put the room in the basement, you need to come to some sort of written agreement with your builder to make sure there are no HVAC trunk lines or other things hanging down below the joists in that portion of the house. A verbal nod and smile isn't going to be worth anything when one of the subcontractors / trades puts an HVAC trunk or something else running through that area.
 

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Option 2 particularly if you are looking at possibly soundproofing. The other two layouts are not wide enough. I regret building my room only 16' wide now because everything you add to the room makes it skinner, (soundproofing, columns etc). #2 width should work well, you will just have to make sure their are no beams or anything to deal with. Consider dropping the floor in the area for the front row of chairs. I think it cost me about $900 to do it and it was well worth it.
 

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I like option [URL=http://www.avsforum.com/forum/usertag.php?do=list&action=hash&hash=2]#2 [/URL] . Have them use a stronger beam that doesn't need the support pole in the middle of the room. That shouldn't cost very much extra.
Consider dropping the floor in the area for the front row of chairs. I think it cost me about $900 to do it and it was well worth it.
Both of these are great suggestions. When I was doing mine, I wondered why I had a support post in the area I was doing my theater, but not in another area of the basement which had a longer span. The engineer I called, had me look at the I-Beam markings, and one was different than the other... They looked very similar, but can support different spans. Changing before construction & installation is a fairly easy thing to do, and likely low cost.

9' ceiling height is a good starting point, but by the time you put in a Riser (if you plan one) and maybe have dropped ceiling for pipes, etc., it gets tight. If you can have the front section of the theater room excavated a little lower, that would be a big help.

Another consideration, depending how flexible your builder is and what sound proofing you want to do... Is to see if you can get into the house & install Drywall &Green Glue on the sub-floor before HVAC/Plumbing/Electric are put in... that process would be much smoother in advance of those going in.

I think #2 looks best too.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How many seats needed?
Minimum 5. We have a "theatre couch" now, its a loveseat with recliners on either end, but it's really uncomfortable. Eventually I am thinking a 4 seat couch on a riser with 2 or 3 recliners in front if they will fit and when $ allows.

Both of these are great suggestions. When I was doing mine, I wondered why I had a support post in the area I was doing my theater, but not in another area of the basement which had a longer span. The engineer I called, had me look at the I-Beam markings, and one was different than the other... They looked very similar, but can support different spans. Changing before construction & installation is a fairly easy thing to do, and likely low cost.

9' ceiling height is a good starting point, but by the time you put in a Riser (if you plan one) and maybe have dropped ceiling for pipes, etc., it gets tight. If you can have the front section of the theater room excavated a little lower, that would be a big help.

Another consideration, depending how flexible your builder is and what sound proofing you want to do... Is to see if you can get into the house & install Drywall &Green Glue on the sub-floor before HVAC/Plumbing/Electric are put in... that process would be much smoother in advance of those going in.

I think #2 looks best too.
That's what I was afraid of.
  • I like #2 as it gives me the most space, but I can't imagine the HVAC trunk going anywhere but east to west in the center of that space. What can I do about that?
  • I will ask about excavation and a beefier post. I think that would require a 20 to 22' beam. How wide of a span did you have?
  • With #2, would you put the stage at the front or back of the house?
If I don't reply back by the end of the week, she got me.:eek:
 

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  • I like #2 as it gives me the most space, but I can't imagine the HVAC trunk going anywhere but east to west in the center of that space. What can I do about that?
  • I will ask about excavation and a beefier post. I think that would require a 20 to 22' beam. How wide of a span did you have?
  • With #2 , would you put the stage at the front or back of the house?
If I don't reply back by the end of the week, she got me.:eek:
Could that HVAC truck run along the rear wall of the house instead of down the middle of the theater? Within the theater, would be easier to incorporate the trunk in a front or rear soffit versus one running down the middle of the room.

Where would the entry door to the theater be for option #2 ? Looks like putting the door under the great room could work. If so, the screen and stage would go on the wall at the front of the house so people would enter/leave at the back of the theater.

Alternatively, placing the theater door near the stair landing looks like it would be pretty tight. And, when entering the theater people would have the rear riser in front of them unless you have them enter at riser height then step down in the front of the theater that has been excavated down.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Could that HVAC truck run along the rear wall of the house instead of down the middle of the theater? Within the theater, would be easier to incorporate the trunk in a front or rear soffit versus one running down the middle of the room.
Correct me if I am wrong, I believe the middle of the house is preferred so the HVAC is balanced and "energy efficient". That back wall might be able to work for the main floor, the back two bedrooms, and the master, but I imagine the front bedroom would be hard to heat/cool. The laundry room does not really matter to me. I will add to my list when I meet the builder next time.

Where would the entry door to the theater be for option #2 ? Looks like putting the door under the great room could work. If so, the screen and stage would go on the wall at the front of the house so people would enter/leave at the back of the theater.

Alternatively, placing the theater door near the stair landing looks like it would be pretty tight. And, when entering the theater people would have the rear riser in front of them unless you have them enter at riser height then step down in the front of the theater that has been excavated down.
The bottom of the stairs has a landing, but I am not sure how tall. I was thinking the landing could walk onto the rear riser at the same height, but looking over it again that will probably not be the correct riser height. I am leaning towards the door under the great room as the better location. That way, I can do a double stud wall up the side of the stairwell to avoid flanking issues we have in our current build.

Unfortunately, I cannot spend any more $ in the basement without directly taking away from my wife's wants. When the quote comes back, I will run the beefed up beam past her as I will never take that on after the initial build. The other item I want to know about is putting a second head on the HVAC system without a second blower/control unit. Not really sure how that works.
 

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The HVAC in the middle of the house is usually the most cost effective, and simplest installation.
Less ductwork also means efficiency. However, this does not take into account a new owner's finishing
plans for a space....
 

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Correct me if I am wrong, I believe the middle of the house is preferred so the HVAC is balanced and "energy efficient". That back wall might be able to work for the main floor, the back two bedrooms, and the master, but I imagine the front bedroom would be hard to heat/cool. The laundry room does not really matter to me. I will add to my list when I meet the builder next time.
You're right on the middle of the house preference for the main truck. I assumed that the main trunk would not cut across the theater and then go vertical to the 2nd floor. I guessed that main trunk would have ducts for the basement and maybe feed floor vents for the main floor. Shouldn't the builder be able to route HVAC up to the second floor near the center of the house then distribute to the bedrooms?

If cooling for the living room might be problematic, maybe a duct parallel to the stairs then across the front wall to cool the living room?

I'm no HVAC expert, just pushing the thinking. Hopefully there is a way to avoid that large HVAC trunk through the center of the theater.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Got a call from our site foreman. He is checking out the pricing of the beam upgrade for us.

When I asked about getting a dead head for the furnace to run a second zone at a later date, and he said they do not spec in the basement for HVAC. There might be extra tonnage left over from specking out the rest of the house on that furnace model, but thats it. Not cool...

Anyone able to ballpark the upgrade of a furnace? There would be the same vents, returns, and wall work, just a bigger furnace for the basement and the dead head.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hey all. We only get out to the site once a week or so, but we finally have some movement. The basement is poured, and they said the framing is going up nowish? Sorry for the huge pictures, I could have sworn there was an option to make a small pic and a pop up full sized...





The left bump out is the space under the morning room& kitchen. The far bump out is option two.


We got a quote for under $1600 for the beefed up support beam in option two so that will be the most likely candidate.

No quote for the HVAC yet. I keep bugging about it, but I don't think they will even ask until their subcontractor is ready to come onsite.

So I am now thinking about the subflooring going in and getting 10' and larger sheetrock down the stairs. the builder has offered to build a 1/2 wall down the left side of the basement stairs. I am either wondering about doing the 1/2 wall down both sides to manage longer sheetrock, or possibly a "port". Is the following legal?

I am thinking of them framing a short but long window frame I can use to pass 4' wide boards through. I am thinking they would treat it like a door or window header under the stairs stringer. From the looks of the overview blueprint they gave us, it seems the left side of the stairs would need to be an ankle wall for this to work as needed. I don't yet know if the wall next to the stairs is load baring. The town code office didn't have anyone there today, so I will call Monday AM. We do have a window well in the back of the house, but they want another $3500 to put in a bilco doors, so we said forget it. If the pass through is legal, it "should" be a cheap alternate solution. I would have them sheetrock over it and I would cut it out when needed, then do panel wainscoting to fix it after. Thoughts???

 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
So we signed for the house last month and are mostly moved in. We paid for the beefed up beam to get rid of the post, then got kicked off the job site for "safety" while the house was framed.

When we were allowed back onsite we found out they used a 14" tall beam with another 1.25" board on top of the beam for the joists to rest on. We had intended to use a stage, 130"+ 16x9 image and two rows of seats with a bass trap riser. Do you think this is still doable with a beam clearance of 7'3"?

The overall space ended up 19'wide x 23'deep.
 

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