September 18th, 2015

dw01In the last house, we drywalled the media room in the basement ourselves. I said we’d never do that again. After getting a couple of bids, we hired Buddy’s Drywall, who did a fantastic job. This was the smartest thing we’ve done so far.









August 20th, 2015

maryceilingingMary has been (im) patiently waiting for a task she can tackle in this rather huge project. Fortunately for me, one of those tasks is stuffing insulation everywhere—I hate dealing with the stuff. I still have to staple and trim it, though. Fortunately, as most of the basement is above grade, the exterior walls in the back of the house have already been insulated, which saves us time and money.

By insulating the ceiling, sound transmission between the floors will be minimal, especially with the 2×3 stringers partially decoupling the ceiling from the joists.

barinsulationAll of the walls in the theater are being insulated, with the exception of the HVAC return channels, and the walls where the pocket doors are. While the insulation here will help with sound transmission, I’m not going for a soundproof room. In our last house, the number of times the wife and I weren’t watching a movie together could be counted on one hand, so I have no concerns about keeping the sound in the room so as not to disturb other people in the house. While the noise floor would be significantly reduced in a soundproof room, improving the room’s performance, the aesthetic compromises that would be necessary are unacceptable to me due to the space/size/placement constraints I already have. And of course upon resale, as we’d never recoup the cost that goes into soundproofing, I’d never get the dollars past the family CFO—and I’m already sandbagging the budget on several fronts.

dobryscreeninsOur 16 year old son, who’s a bit taller than me, is standing next to a mock up of the 120″ wide screen that I’ll be putting in.

Running the Audio

August 20th, 2015

Back of the RackThe plan for the basement is to have speakers wired from the rack to the family room, the deck, the bar, and the theater:

• Family Room – Two Speakers
• Deck – Two Speakers
• Bar – Five Speakers and One Subwoofer
• Theater – Seven Wall Speakers, Four Overhead Speakers, Two Subwoofers, Two Sets of Transducers

All total, that’s 24 channels of audio going to the rack. In this pic of the back of the rack, the bottom two rows are the connections to all 24 channels, with the four at the right already connected to the family room and deck.

Family Room SpeakersBefore the basement ceiling can be drywalled and closed, I have to install the speakers in the family room and the deck. I’m running these with as the same zone, so what’s playing on one will play on the other. My thought is that if we want to listen to something on the deck, we’ll use the tv in the family room to view/control it. Or, we’ll use a phone app to control it while out on the deck.

Installing the family room speakers involved cutting a couple of rather large holes in one wall of the room, making a bunch of drywall dust in the process. While the initial mess had the wife a bit nervous, the final result had her rather pleased. Eventually, these will be painted to match the wall.

deckspeakerOur deck isn’t very big—12’x16′. We decided on a smaller deck with the thought that we’ll eventually have a very large patio below on to which our entertainment level (i.e., the basement) will open. Because we don’t want to disturb our neighbors (at least too much), I put the speakers on the outside corners of the deck, aimed up at the seating area. This way, sound is aimed away from the surrounding houses, and reflections off the house will be aimed up and away, instead of directed at our neighbors. When the wife is at ground level in the backyard, which is 14 feet below the deck, I have to get the system uncomfortably loud before she can hear anything.

The bar speakers will all be in-ceiling speakers, with the three front LCR speakers being angled at the TV, so that primary sound should be heard as reflections from the TV and wall, instead of the listener hearing the sound coming from the ceiling. I’m still not sure how effective this’ll be, but as the primary purpose of these speakers will be watching sports at the bar, I’m not too concerned.

Front of Bracket

Back of BracketFor the speakers in the theater, all of them will be in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, so that when the room is finished, they’ll all be invisible. Normally, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers fasten directly to the drywall, which works well; however, I wanted the theater speakers to be more solidly attached, so I made brackets out of OSB and 2x3s. They’re solidly attached to the framing using deck screws.

Framing is Done

June 18th, 2015

Bar FramingThe framing is done. Electrical still has to be finished, including a bunch of low voltage stuff, not only for the basement, but because I want all the audio/visual gear for the house in one location, I’ve got to run all cables back to the rack, including cables to transmit IR signals for remote controls.


Framing from BarI have a half wall between the bar room and the billiard room, connecting an existing exterior inside corner to the column boxing in the supporting posts, to better define the spaces, and to mirror the half walls on the main floor of the house, making it look less like I’m trying to hide the posts.