As you all are aware, I have a huge obsession with home theater, A/V, or anything related to the topic. Two years ago around this same time I found out I was going to be a father. That meant that the current spare bedroom being used as a tv room would have to be turned into the nursery. Which basically forced me to get off my ass and start finishing off my basement. At the time my secondary mortgage was an adjustable interest loan, though we hadn’t known that right away until the monthly payments started fluctuating. I then arranged to have the loan re-financed into a 15 year fixed and pulled out some extra money to finish off the basement.
I wasn’t planning on going all out on my basement, I just wanted a nice, clean, dry, comfortable space to sit down, hang out and enjoy some tv. That didn’t last to long after I spent time in the home theater construction area of AVS Forum. After looking at what other AVS members have done with their spaces I wanted to to the same but maybe not quite up to their budget.
What I basically started out with was a clean slate. I started out researching on everything I needed to do, what tools I would need, how I would go about starting a job like this, and how I would setup the space. In high school I took several CAD drawing classes and since I needed some floor plans for the city permits showing the work I was going to do. I decided I would do them up “semi-professional” and draw them up in CAD. Thankfully I still had a copy of CAD from back when I was taking the classes. I installed it and I was good to go. So with CAD I was able to draw up some “poor mans” drawing of the floor plan layout, electrical, and mechanical locations. Below is the ugly floor plans I made: Basement Floor Plans
The far right corner where it juts out was originally just going to be a closet for storage, but after doing some research and seeing what other folks did with there spaces I saw one guys setup where he had a nice custom AV rack built into the wall. After I saw that I said I had to have that. After explaining to Jody (The Wife) my idea and how I can hide all of the wires and equipment in this space and in the walls, she was on board with the idea right away.
The next part was figuring out how to deal with the storage space under the stairs, and how to access it from the hallway and not from within the bathroom. As you can see with the bathroom finished off and the location of the sink there would be no easy way to access the under the stairs storage. I then decided to brace up the studded walls and cut a hole in the hallway where I needed to access under the stairs. Once I was done with this it was just a matter of getting the rest of studded walls up.
Here is the space I started out with, before any walls were made: What I started out with
As you can see the basement was just poured cement walls with insulation glued to them. So I was basically working with a blank Canvas. Day one I got my neighbors together to help me unload all the lumber into my garage and basement. I believe my first load of lumber was upwards of 200 boards, not including the huge box of nails, air compressor, air gun, and other misc tools I either bought or rented.
One week down and the majority of the basement was framed in and half way with the electrical wiring. After week one: Week One I was able to get nearly 90% of the basement framed in. I still had the ceiling to frame in around the HVAC duct work, as well as to frame off the bathroom.
After the initial rush of the first week/month I slacked off and didn’t really work too much on the basement. I worked on my basement maybe a few hours (if that) a week after that first initial rush. Doing odd cable pulls, and electrical runs. I ended up running CAT5 from my basement up through the garage, through the floor into my office, that way I didn’t have to do wireless in my office. I also ran CAT5 to my garage, to my kitchen, and also to several area’s in my basement. I just wanted to make sure it was over done, rather than under done. Once all the wiring was done I didn’t pick up working on my basement until after the holiday season. I started on my basement in August/September found out I was having a kid in October and didn’t pick back up on the basement until February.
February came, my motivation kicked in and I start going like gang busters on my basement. I finished up all the odds and ends, I get my basement inspected (both City and State), and get the sign off to start dry walling my basement. In less than 3 days I get my basement wiring finished, the electrical inspection completed, get the rough in signed off and I was off drywalling. I go to home depot, rent a dry wall lift, pick up 20 sheets of drywall and head back home.
In one night between my brother and myself we were able to hang all of the drywall on the ceiling: Pics of the progress.
That was Feb. 8th. On the 11th My father in law, my father and myself finished drywalling the rest of the basement. For those of you that don’t know my father in law, when he gets working on something he doesn’t stop until its completed. We started at 11am, and didn’t finish until 4:30, but in that 5 1/2 hours we worked, we hung 25 sheets of drywall, cutting about 100 holes for all of the outlets and such and was able to clean up a bit as well.
Here’s the Feb. 11th Progress: Pics of the basement progress.
Man was it exciting to see the quick progress of the basement, now that I look back at it, I probably could have gotten the basement done in way less time than what I did it in, there really wasn’t that much work that was involved going from bare walls to framed walls to sheet rocked walls. Note to self (and others), next time rent out the air nailer for more than a weekend, building walls by hand takes way too long. Also, note to self, rotozip/dremel for cutting holes for can lights, goes really fast, but messy as hell, I think I am still cleaning out drywall dust out of various cracks ;)
I spend the next few days finishing up on small areas, getting wiring cleaned up in the closet area, and finished drywalling the closet as my last step. I then spent the day after on Craig’s List and the Anoka County Shopper trying to find someone to come in a mud and tape my walls. I ended up finding a guy who was semi retired and did side jobs for extra money. I called him on Monday morning, he showed up to the house that afternoon to price out the job, quoted me at $550 and said he could start first thing Tuesday morning. I then hired him and he was there at the ass crack of dawn, which was 7am for me. I left for work, and came home to him having done both coats of mud that day. He then showed up again Wednesday to spray the ceiling, and finished up on Thursday cleaning up and making sure the mud was dry, paid him and I now had a basement that was ready for paint.
Progress after the mud/tape was finished: Basement progress.
Now we were ready to start painting the basement. I had a general idea of what I wanted to the basement to look like and the color scheme, I just had to convince the wife of the paint choices. After some heavy negotiating, I was able to convince her to stick with what I had plans for and to just trust me. Specially since she was pregnant, and hormonal it was a huge feat getting her to do that. We got our paint and headed back home, Jody helped me primer the walls that night, man was she a trooper, pregnant, and standing on that hard concrete floor painting, don’t think if I was in her shoes (though I couldn’t even if I wanted) I’d be able to even remotely do that.
Two days of primer and paint and we had what actually started to look like a real, livable, basement, minus the carpet. The basement now painted just waiting for trim: Basement Painted.
After the basement got painted I contacted my cousin’s fiance who does cabinetry for a living. I had him build me a wet bar as well as the built in entertainment center rack. It took him a little longer than I had hoped for but come April he had both completed and and installed. I also got the chance to do some tile work around the wet bar and I have to say I didn’t do too bad of a job. I also got more wiring done, added the face plates and terminated all the coax and cat5 in the basement.
Here’s some pictures with the base board trim work and doors completed: Trim Work and doors completed.
I then got the remaining of the trim work purchased (fucking expensive shit) and then Jody helped me stain and varnish all the trim work as well as helped me install the trim work. Got all of the trim work up, and we were finally ready for carpet. Now I am not an expert on carpet or where the best deals are and such but by the time we got ready for carpet we were a little short on funds and Empire was running adds for Zero interest Zero payments for 18 months so we said why not. Called up Empire, got the quote, and they where there a couple days later installing the carpet. We ended up getting the more expensive “Frieze” modern day shag carpet. It actually looks pretty damn good, and comfortable as well. We also went with an upgraded pad so it doesn’t feel like we’re on a cement floor. All in all I was pretty happy with the carpet.
After the carpet was installed It was actually time to start hooking up all of my equipment in the basement. The big screen tv, surround sound, receiver, dvd changer, ect…. it didn’t take me long before I was in the basement enjoying the new space. It was sooo much more relaxing watching tv down there. The only down side was I was sitting about 6 feet from the tv and now I was sitting nearly 11 feet from the tv. that 5 feet made a huge difference in the tv expereince, and I hated it, the picture was too small. So then started my quest on researching projectors and screens to replace the tv.
Pictures of basement progress, trim work completed, carpet installed, equipment now setup: Basement Progress, nearly complete.
Eventually I was able to upgrade to a projector, just needed to wait for the right time (basically when the wife was gone) I sold the old HDTV, and ordered a new 720p Panasonic AE-900U projector, with a 106″ screen. Going from a 42″ screen to a 106″ screen made a HUGE difference. At first it gets over whelming, you just don’t know where to look on the screen, but eventually you get used to it and you almost think it’s too small. So here are some updated pictures of what the setup looks like after going from a tv to the front projection setup.
Basement progress pictures with new projector setup:Basement Projector setup.
Since the projector setup, I’ve added and upgraded my HTPC, also added a Comcast HD DVR, 5 disc DVD changer, Logitech Harmony 680 remote, and upgraded the rear surround sound speakers. The rear surround sound speakers are the Best Buy specialty speakers, Insignia 6-1/2″ shelf speakers. I did a few modifications to them, that are pretty common for DIYers, like using water putty to stiffen up the speaker case, then went a little further and modified the internal cross over to help the bass response of the speakers, common mods for the speakers: Mod 1 Mod 2 Mod 3 So with those mods and the price point of those speakers you can’t go wrong with them. They are a great bang for your buck speaker.
I hope you enjoyed the time line of my home theater build as much as I did. Again until next time.