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Discussion Starter #1
The name is still a work in progress, but that’s what my wife is leaning towards.

We are building a new house and part of it is a dedicated home theater. After seeing my friend have a dedicated theater built in his new house, I started researching it for my new house.

I’ve had a front projection setup in my house since BenQ released their PB6100 back in ’03, but it’s always been in my living room. First, the BenQ on a painted living room wall with felt border (still dreading having to repair that when we are ready to sell this house), and then moving on to a 118” 16:9 Carada screen with an Infocus IN76. However, with the new house, it will be time to move to a dedicated home theater.

So, after lots of reading on AVS about theater construction, sound isolation, etc. I ultimately decided to work with Dennis Erskine on a design. So, initially I purchased a signature design plan (I think that’s the one) and that involved a lot of back and forth with Dennis coming up with a look that worked for both my wife and I, along with a number of back and forth’s with the architect trying to get everything lined out perfectly (more on that later).

As things proceeded with the house build I ultimately decided to have the Erskine Group come in and build the theater. There were a lot of factors behind that decision, and it wasn’t the way I originally planned to go. So, here’s my first and likely last build thread I will ever post on AVS (this is a ‘forever’ house).
 

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Here’s a progression first with the architect laying out the general space (over a three car garage), and then ultimately working with Dennis to both fine tune the architects plans for this area, and then the home theater plans themselves.

Ok, this is what the architect first had, which was the entire “bonus room” area over the garage, which would have been roughly 40’ by 17’. By limiting the garage below to 9’, we would have a 10’ ceiling in the home theater, and have to step down 1’ from the “game room” area outside.



Then, after the first round of conversations with Dennis, it moved to this one. We shortened the home theater, and we raised the floor of the "bar" area, so that it would be the same height as the rest of the 2nd floor of the house and same height as the back of the home theater (top of the riser).



Now, we had one more revision at the architect level, after I decided to make the garage longer. So, some of that space went to the home theater and some went to the bar area outside. In the end, the home theater space for Dennis to work with wound up being roughly 27' x 17' and 10' ceiling, however on the left hand side (facing the screen), there is about three foot of ceiling that is sloped.

So, after much back and forth, which included me sending pictures of theater elements I liked, talking about how the room would be used, what type of projector I might get, viewing angles, etc., the following is the elevation and floor plans that Dennis Erskine create (posted with his permission).









On the side and rear walls, everything that you see that isn't fabric will be stained wood.

Now, after this portion of the design was completed (and we will be sticking with this 95% or so), we've made some alternations on the fly. With Steve on site with the construction crew this week (started Tuesday), I've opted to go with a cofferred ceiling (not just for looks, but also to house Atmos speakers).

Here is a rough sketch I've drawn of what the coffered ceiling and front towers will likely look like (view from above), along with the speakers we will be able to ring the room with for Atmos purposes.

 

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Now, after this portion of the design was completed (and we will be sticking with this 95% or so), we've made some alternations on the fly. With Steve on site with the construction crew this week (started Tuesday), I've opted to go with a cofferred ceiling (not just for looks, but also to house Atmos speakers).
Did the design above take into account the extra weight of Atmos speakers as part of the clip/channel layout?
 

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Also, if you've got pics of the attached house going up, we like to see that too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I probably won't be posting pictures of my home construction. Maybe some narrowly focused things, such as it relates to any of the automation or equipment.

Did the design above take into account the extra weight of Atmos speakers as part of the clip/channel layout?
On the speakers. They are a negligible load.

When looking at just the double drywall, for instance, you are looking at something along the lines of 4.4 lbs per SF and when you add in the weight of the speakers, it's about 4.5 lbs per SF (assuming six 9 lb speakers). That extra weight is far below the weight difference you get just moving between different brands of 5/8 drywall, which could vary from 4.4 to 5 lb per SF or so. You'll also get more variation than that based on how your sheetrock is finished (how many layers of mud, etc.).
 

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The clip spacing in the picture you posted is much denser than mine. I was hoping there was a reason for that, other than your plans are right and my plans were wrong.
 

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The clip spacing in the picture you posted is much denser than mine. I was hoping there was a reason for that, other than your plans are right and my plans were wrong.
I couldn't say, but keep in mind you are looking at little slices of the clips, such as looking down on the wall, where there is both horizontal and vertical spacing and these slices sort of flatten all of those which probably make it looker much denser than it really is.
 

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Ok, I'll mention a few mishaps and missteps that occurred before the Erskine Group was on site for their part.

1. As this is going over a garage which is 24' deep, there was a fairly long span to consider. The architect originally called for glulam or steel (12" steel or 24" glulam). During the back and forth, I told him about the weight of the sand (Dennis told me to confirm the floor would support it, since we weren't on a slab). He took into account the weight of the sand and in the stage area and then reduced the spacing of the floor joists. So, you would think all would be golden.

Just before we ordered the steel beam, I reached out to the structural engineer that was signing off on steel the local fabricator was installing and asked if we could go to a shallower beam, because the one spec'd by the architect was going to force us to either furr down around the beam, or drop the entire garage ceiling about an inch to keep it flat. So, I wanted to make sure that the engineer new about the sand and started telling him about the room, and he put on the brakes and said he needed all the details.

So, I sent him the full build spec's -- double drywall, serenity mat, extra layer of 3/4" on the floor, riser with 2" of wood decking, sand, 300lb door, etc., etc. Bottom line, not only could we not go to a shallower beam, but he spec'd a beam 3 times as heavy (in total weight of steel) as the original beam and a price to match. He said the original beams (three of them), when you figure in the thousands of pounds more (I don't remember the exact amount, but I think including the sand, 7,000-10,000 lbs or so) than a normal room would have, plus 8+ bodies and there was a chance for far more deflection than is desirable. Enough that you could pop sheetrock screws in the garage ceiling or notice a bowing (I was never clear on whether it was an actual safety issue).

This is likely more my fault than the architect. I never actually forwarded the architect the home theater plans from Dennis, because at the stage the architect was working on the framing and room layout (blueprints), it was just an outer dimension for the home theater with a note that detailed plans would come from home theater designer. I went back to him about the sand, but should have forwarded him the full set of plans, so he could have taken into account DD, serenity mat, multiple layers of 3/4" flooring, etc. So, most of this is on me.

So, moral of that story, if you are working with an architect or putting all of that weight on a non-slab, get it checked out and be sure to give them ALL the details.

2. Anyone that has read many of Dennis' posts, he doesn't recommend foam in the walls of the home theaters. If you have foam, you need to keep 2 - 2.5" of the stud bay clear to make sure there is room for fiberglass bats behind the hat channel. As I wanted to make sure things were air tight, I worked with the insulator to spray closed cell foam in the home theater walls (I'm using open cell elsewhere, but open cell takes up more space for same R value and air permeability rating). I went through with him no less than four times, and three emails how crucial it was that we spray 3-3.5" of foam, leaving at minimum 2" of the stud bay clear. I was out of town when it was sprayed (and the owner of the insulation company didn't supervise the spraying) and when I checked it out a couple days after they foamed, it was a mess. In some places, it was nearly up to or past the face of the stud. In other places, it was a good 4 - 4.5" deep, leaving 1 - 1.5".

We talked to them about it and they said they would take care of it. As early as last Saturday, two days before Steve was due to arrive, I was on site with the owner and he said, "don't worry, we'll get it taken care of." I go by the house on Monday mid day, they had done nothing and I ask my contractors to see if they can figure out a way to cut out the excess and then I called the foam guy. He says the stuff is like rock once it sets up and virtually impossible to cut out. He tell me to furr out 2" and he will cover the cost. I tell him that isn't acceptable, because we were already VERY tight on space in the aisle between curved seat and column that even losing 2" wouldn't cut it. So, my guys spend the next four hours trying every tool they have or can buy (hand saws, reciprocal saws, planers, etc.).

Finally, they were about to go buy some grinding brushes and masks and try to grind it out and I finally caved and told them to furr it out. Poof, there went my curved seating. The reality, I was probably too tight for curved seating. I had already lost 2" of my walkway (inch on each side) when I decided to switch to 2x6 wall instead of the 2x4 the architect called for, but how it happened with the foam pissed me off. Long term, I think I will be happier with the straight seating, as I will have about 30". Even as spec'd (without foam mishap or change to 2x6 wall, we only had 2' at the narrowest, but I had checked that, and that was ok when just walking past the column (considering that's to the arm of the chair and the backrest is further away). However, when you are that tight, dropping down to 1' 10" or a little less just was too much.

Moral of the story. If you decide to use closed cell foam, be on site and supervise and do it early enough that you know you can have time to force the sub to fix it if they go too thick. Open cell? No problem, you can tear that out with your hand, as we did in the angled portion, where they didn't put as much closed cell as they were supposed to and instead went with 3.5-4" of closed and then filled the 7.25" joist space with open cell. Glad they didn't do what they were supposed to here, so we could easily fix it.

Here's the room the night before Steve from Erskine Group showed up.









 

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Here’s a progression first with the architect laying out the general space (over a three car garage), and then ultimately working with Dennis to both fine tune the architects plans for this area, and then the home theater plans themselves.

Ok, this is what the architect first had, which was the entire “bonus room” area over the garage, which would have been roughly 40’ by 17’. By limiting the garage below to 9’, we would have a 10’ ceiling in the home theater, and have to step down 1’ from the “game room” area outside.



Then, after the first round of conversations with Dennis, it moved to this one. We shortened the home theater, and we raised the floor of the "bar" area, so that it would be the same height as the rest of the 2nd floor of the house and same height as the back of the home theater (top of the riser).



Now, we had one more revision at the architect level, after I decided to make the garage longer. So, some of that space went to the home theater and some went to the bar area outside. In the end, the home theater space for Dennis to work with wound up being roughly 27' x 17' and 10' ceiling, however on the left hand side (facing the screen), there is about three foot of ceiling that is sloped.

So, after much back and forth, which included me sending pictures of theater elements I liked, talking about how the room would be used, what type of projector I might get, viewing angles, etc., the following is the elevation and floor plans that Dennis Erskine create (posted with his permission).









On the side and rear walls, everything that you see that isn't fabric will be stained wood.

Now, after this portion of the design was completed (and we will be sticking with this 95% or so), we've made some alternations on the fly. With Steve on site with the construction crew this week (started Tuesday), I've opted to go with a cofferred ceiling (not just for looks, but also to house Atmos speakers).

Here is a rough sketch I've drawn of what the coffered ceiling and front towers will likely look like (view from above), along with the speakers we will be able to ring the room with for Atmos purposes.

Very cool! I'll be following along and also doing a like sized above the garage build.
 

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Very cool! I'll be following along and also doing a like sized above the garage build.
Don't make the mistake I did and wait too long to get it checked out structurally (whether new or existing construction), because then it becomes scramble time.
 

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Here's pics after they put up the clips and channels.

You get some good shots of the piece of angled ceiling that Dennis and Steve have both been working to try and disguise as much as possible. Dennis took this into account in his design and made some changes tailored to it, and then once on site, Steve came up with some more ideas and did some things to try and hide the transition from flat to angled ceiling.

In these first two pictures, you can see where we attempted to cut, grind and plane the closed cell foam to the correct depth, before giving up and furring out the studs.





 

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Don't make the mistake I did and wait too long to get it checked out structurally (whether new or existing construction), because then it becomes scramble time.
I need to find an engineer to take a look at mine. How close together were your joists? Did you sister them ? Or use engineered lumber instead of normal wood lumber ?
 

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I need to find an engineer to take a look at mine. How close together were your joists? Did you sister them ? Or use engineered lumber instead of normal wood lumber ?
It is all about size (depth) , spacing, span and species of wood. First you need to understand the standard for floor joists is different than ceiling joists for garages with minimal storage overhead.

This is a pretty useful tool

http://www.awc.org/calculators/span/calc/timbercalcstyle.asp

For the stuff you get at the big box use Spruce-pine-fir as the species unless you know differently.
 

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It is all about size (depth) , spacing, span and species of wood. First you need to understand the standard for floor joists is different than ceiling joists for garages with minimal storage overhead.

This is a pretty useful tool

http://www.awc.org/calculators/span/calc/timbercalcstyle.asp

For the stuff you get at the big box use Spruce-pine-fir as the species unless you know differently.
Hi thanks for the reply!

I've seen that link and used it. I'm hiring out the framing (including the joists) simply because I need the whole shell to go up quick and get roofed and sided before the elements mess things up. I'm just too slow for that to happen, even if I called all my friends for help. So that part of the build will be a pro team, pro framers, pro roofers and pro siding/windows company.

I'm taking over inside.

My question is my framer is willing to just go, he doesn't seem to require an architect or even drawings. He's framed a lot of homes in my area too. I have not hired him yet, officially (paid him) but he's on the list of a few I am considering. He said he'd build it as strong as I wanted, it just costs a little more. It's basically up to me to figure out how much I need. He said he'd build whatever I tell him to build.

So my question now is do I need to have an engineer draw me up a formal plan ? Or can I just do it myself and error on the side of caution /conservative ? The lumber and labor is NOT excessively cost prohibitive to make it stronger than normal suspended ceiling it seems. But I originally was not going to use SAND in my stage because of the second floor thing. You think I could ?? Or should ? and go all the way ?
 

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Ok, I'll mention a few mishaps and missteps that occurred before the Erskine Group was on site for their part.
...Anyone that has read many of Dennis' posts, he doesn't recommend foam in the walls of the home theaters. If you have foam, you need to keep 2 - 2.5" of the stud bay clear to make sure there is room for fiberglass bats behind the hat channel...
This is a heads up for me, too. I am using closed-cell foam in 2 of the exterior walls of my room. I will make it a point to be on site when they do this work.
 

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Mfusick not sure how your county feels about un-inspected structures. But I'm not convinced you need a structural engineer.

Use sand on the second floor sparingly, maybe a small area under the subs if at all.
I'm literally applying for permit as we speak. So far it has not come up. The building inspector and I seem to get along well, I can ask him when I see him this week about that specifically. Before I do, can I ask if you mean the inspection (like the building inspector) or if you mean require me to to hire an engineer ?

There will be an inspection. It would need to be done properly to be approved. The entire project is being inspected and fully permitted. My questions is can I design my own plans, and have my builder just build them? Or must I consult and get pro plans from an engineer ? Officially I am not calling it a "theater" I'm just calling it bonus space on the permit. So I think I fall into a gray area here. It would need to be structurally sound of coarse, but that is not the level I'd need to support double DW+GG, with sand filled stage, 8 seats, 12 adults etc...

Originally I was going to just go all in on the strength part. Use the engineered beams and do them closer than normal, perhaps even double them up for the first 5 feet under the screen wall. My thinking was if I just really go overkill on it then it should be fine. My room is too big to use standard wood. I'll need engineered lumber for my span. Instead of 16" I was thinking every 12"....or even less with engineered lumber. None of the calculators I've seen really seem to tell me what the strength is of something like that. The contractor seems to think it would be fine.

I'd like to avoid having a pole and center beam in my garage below if I can help it. The calculator I did play with used normal wood, and the results didn't seem super crazy to the load I need. With closer spacing and engineered lumber it seems reasonable, but I can't find a specific source to really confirm or deny that. I probably need to at least get some professional advice from some place.
 

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Mfusick not sure how your county feels about un-inspected structures. But I'm not convinced you need a structural engineer.

Use sand on the second floor sparingly, maybe a small area under the subs if at all.
I had sand stage engineered on first floor build with crawl space. TJI spacing went from 24OC to 16OC.........stem wall from 12 ft to every 8 ft for room only.

Not a second floor situation but does have a few similarities.
 

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If you are using engineered lumber you look for data from the manufacturer.


I'm debating if I should hire a pro to consult, or just throw the same amount of money at going a level stronger on the lumber ? Contractor keeps telling me it will hold. But I'm not sure he understands how much a proper theater will weigh.
 

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