The Grotto

Welcome to Joe’s Bar and Theater


Big Joe

FloorplanThe initial plan is to have a bar, a billiard room, a half bath, and a theater. The basement is large enough that even after the planned rooms, close to half the space will still be unfinished for storage and work space.

Even though the ceiling is nine feet, there are still a number of obstacles (like in most basements) that mean I can’t just have a perfectly flat, tall ceiling. There is a large steel beam in the middle of the space that’s supported by two steel columns. In our last house, I was able to put all of them in walls and the columns of the bar, so none were noticeable. There is no way that I can bury these inside a wall, unless I want a group of very small rooms. There are also a number of sprinkler heads and pipe that’s hung on the bottom of the joists, meaning I can’t simply attach drywall to the joists.

HVACThere is also the problem of HVAC ductwork and snorkles. The furnaces are high-efficiency units that suck outside air for combustion, so instead of a traditional chimney and burning inside air, they are snorkeled to the outside via four long PVC pipes that neatly bisect the area that is planned to be the theater. I’ll have my work cut out for me as I try to design a space that takes into account these obstacles without looking like I’m hiding something.

Before closing, we had a radon mitigation system installed. Fortunately, the house doesn’t have a huge radon problem, but because the house had sat unwanted and vacant for several months, radon levels in the basement had built up to just above normal levels at inspection time, which meant a radon system had to be installed. We didn’t have any choice where the system was installed. Unfortunately, it was put in a corner of the area where the theater is slated to be built—yet another challenge.

Something I found rather unusual, is that code in our new township dictated that the builder sheetrock the ceiling in the basement. It was obviously done without any thought to finishing or aesthetics. Which meant that it would all have to be ripped out before the space could be transformed. We’ll hire a crew to take out most of it, but I’ll still have a good amount that I’ll have to do myself.

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