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Amish Electric Chair Studios - Athens, Ohio
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amishsixstringe
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Amish Electric Chair Studios - Athens, Ohio

Ok guys. After one year of design/reading/research and time to begin saving money, I began building my new place. I have only made records in the top floor (2 rooms) of a house up until now. I made a good name for myself, and couldn't keep up with the clients. The neighborhood noise curfew and lack of TL of my old house pushed me into this. Hopefully my steady stream of clients will continue here. I'm locating about 4 miles from the city (town) of Athens, Ohio (Ohio University).

My clients usually include college rock bands, but have recently expanded to some label work thanks to the recent signing of my band to GC records.

I am building on an 8 acre lot that my small shanty of a house sets on. I am renting to own. When the studio is done I plan to use the equity that I've been building as a renter to put towards buying the property and rebuilding the house. You can see the small house in some photos...pretty wrecked looking on the outside. It's much nicer indoors, but not beautiful. I will post some of my sketchup and autocad drawings soon, but for now I'm going to just start from the begining. I have 625 photos as of now. Construction (actually demoltion) began June 1st, 2009. I have taken VERY detailed photos of the process thus far. It may take a few days just to get this blog caught up, but from then I plan to post as often as possible.

Please feel free to ask questions or throw advice. I'm doing the best I can with the resources I have, but will never be too arrogant to take advice from my superiors.

All of this is bankrolled by me. I have a projected estimated cost of 25-35K. This is NOT including any gear. I am doing ALL labor myself. The only aspect I have paid someone for is the actual pouring of the concrete. I did the leveling/compacting/forming of the foundation, laid all the concrete block, built the roof trusses, did all the roofing, framing, drywall, hvac design, etc. I used the interenet as a resource for learning all of these trades. I learned to lay blocks on youtube and various masonry forums. The first block I ever laid was on this building.

So, with that preamble, I shall not make you wait any longer....

I proudly present to you the AMISH ELECTRIC CHAIR STUDIO PHOTO BLOG!


Neil
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25th February 2010
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This is the barn that sat on the location I wanted to use. 80% of my land is wooded and I would like to keep it that way. Therefore the 25 year old barn had to go. This was taken a few hours after I began tearing pieces off. I was so excited to break things I forgot to get a photo beforehand. Ooops.





Notice all the trash. This barn was STUFFED with the previous owner/redneck's stuff. It took almost 2 weeks and 5 dumpster loads (plus a lot of fire) to get rid of it all.







This stump was in my way. I wanted to put a control room on it, so instead of burying it...it has to go. I don't want decaying wood under my foundation that will eventually create a void in the earth and leave nowhere for my concrete to go, but down in a crumbling mess. This photo was taken after I tried filling the stump with holes and kerosene and burning it. It burned for almost 2 days. None of the stump seemed to be missing. Just made it black and harder. Plan B...





The studio building is much bigger than the old barn that was here. I also didn't want the hollow foundation the barn used. So, I decided to fill the hollow void with fill dirt and compact it. After beginning to rip out the old foundation I realized I should keep it as a retaining wall for the fill dirt. So, we left the rest intact. You can see the vibratory plate compactor to the right. After every 10-12" of soil put down we ran the compactor for near an hour. This helps speed up the settling time for the soil. After all the fill was in place, we let it set for almost 2 months, running the compactor, bobcat, trucks, anything we could all over the top to make sure we were compacted before any foundation went down.







Neil
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25th February 2010
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Matt implementing Plan B...Cut it apart. He did this for almost a week. It cost me a lot of pizza and beer money to keep him at bay.






A lot of the dirt moving was done by hand at first.











Rocket Fuel!



They say every picture tells a story...You don't want to know this story.



Neil

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25th February 2010
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Digging by hand gets old. Enter Bobcat aka the Robert Cat or the B-Cat.



It gets things done fast. We dug by hand for a week, and even after the learning curve of figuring out how to drive the b-Cat I got a ton done in just a couple hours.



My friends were leaving me notes in the night as I slept. Here's one I woke up to:











At this point that pesky stump is still in existence. It's on the far side of the 'platform' we are making.



It's getting flat!



Neil

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25th February 2010
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This is facing the wooded area. Some of the trees in this photo will have to go in order to build a driveway that will wrap around the studio making for much simpler loading and unloading. It will be a full wrap around, so vehicles with trailers won't have to back down the drive.



There's the stump. It has to go. Then more fill can go in its place.



The area is getting bigger, but still not there yet. I wanted to have a good 6 feet of flat ground all the way around the perimeter of the building...rather than building it on a cliff.





Plan C for that stump. This little tree is one of the last 4 to get cut down for the driveway.



Plan C in action!












Neil
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25th February 2010
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Success!



This was a proud moment for me. Blowing off some pent up aggression on the stump of doom.



Abe dropping the last 4 trees.



More mess to clean up. There now lives a pile of rotting wood in my side yard. It should all be dried up in time for the ceremonial bon fire in late 2010.





This is almost all the fill in place.




Neil
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Man, if you do this many photos for every facet of the project, it's gonna be cool.


Nice looking place. Congratulations.
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Ok, by this time it's late August. We can almost consider this the beginning of construction for this project. The Building is planned to be 36'8"x 28'8". This size yields a dimension that concrete blocks will fit without any cutting or half blocks. It also fits the area we have available and the layout of the studio.

To start leveling out the ground I put grade stakes in at all the corners and squared up the area by measuring the X's across them. Then mason's twine gets tied on and a line level levels out the string. Now I can use the string as a reference to level.









All of the leveling was done by hand. It's cumbersome and takes forever, but it assures a smooth level plane that is easy to calculate concrete volume and thickness.

Here is a shot of 12 yards (If memory serves me right) of pea gravel that is put down under the main slab (not the footer) to allow for shifting of the building and irrigation. Nothing worse than getting water under the slab and then winter comes and freezes, expands, and cracks the floor.





It rained for almost 3 weeks. This is what the place looked like for a long time. I eventually dug a smaller trench to allow all the water to leak out of my footer into the yard down the hill. Every time the rain came, all my gravel would end up in my footer and so would a bunch of mud, causing more work.



Rain stopped. Forms up.



Neil
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25th February 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brenton View Post
Man, if you do this many photos for every facet of the project, it's gonna be cool.


Nice looking place. Congratulations.

Oh I have so far. Thanks. I'm going as fast as I can arrange and put these up on photobucket.

Neil
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Here's my girlfriend doing some leveling of the gravel. I tied string across the concrete forms and for a 4" thick slab would screed the gravel out with a long 2x4 making it so that there's roughly 1/2" from the board to the string...yielding 4" below the surface of the concrete.



Flat



Wire mesh all tied together with 12" overlap per sheet. This stuff gets expensive fast. There's also 2 pieces of 1/2" rebar that go all through the footer with 20" of overlap on them. They look like train tracks.





Due to the tightness of my construction zone we couldn't get a concrete truck up to the studio...so we had to pump it up with this thing. 450 bucks for 2 hours....but it was really cool.



First truck arrives. I got so jittery and excited. It's a really cool feeling when 10 trucks pull up to my house and all these guys get out and just start working for me. It's the only time in this build where I got to experience this. Everything else has been done by myself.





The concrete comes out of this fire hose. This Birdseye view is from the roof of my house.



This kid was volunteer. No child labor laws broken on this build.

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25th February 2010
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These guys worked FAST! It was really an honor to watch them work.





Damn, this kid is cute!



The biggest float these guys had



By this time the second truck had arrived and switched over. The guy with the hose was a beast! That thing was heavy as hell and he was throwing it around for over an hour.









Neil
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25th February 2010
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As soon as the pour was done, mother nature did some of her own pouring. The finish was ruined. We put giant sheets of plastic over the slab. The crew stayed around and waited out the rain for over an hour. The sun came back out and reworking was done. There was more "cream" than desired, but at least my slab was smooth. The cream turns into a dust-like substance that's almost an 1/8" thick. It comes off even with light scraping once cured.



This is me getting excited and laying out my rooms (roughly) with the 2x4 forms that I pulled off. The control room is on the left. Live/drum room on the right. There's an airlock closest to the camera and an isolation room on the far wall. The entrance is on the wall facing the camera.



Here's another shot.



This slab looks TINY in photos, but is actually quite big.

Neil
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25th February 2010
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Very cool! Exciting build, can't wait to see more. I love all the trees.
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25th February 2010
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Here we go. A big truck with a crane brought me the first of 3 loads and put them right on the pad. All the rebar in this shot is anchored into the footer 6" deep with an epoxy. The cells with the rebar going through them each got filled with concrete all the way to the top course of block.





The corners get laid up first using tedious leveling methods. Then I bent some hooks from a wire hanger and used them to clip onto the corners. A mason's line gets tied tightly across the corner blocks and makes a straight edge to help keep the whole course level. I was advised to "pull the string so tight that it bows up against gravity."









The door frame is hollow and steel. We anchored it to the surrounding blocks and filled the entire frame with concrete. The piece of wood fit in tightly to prevent the frame from bowing in from the weight of the concrete filling it.







This is Jesse. His dad is a retired mason. When he called him to ask for some tips on laying these blocks I was next to him. All I heard is hysterical laughter. He wasn't very confident that the two of us could lay 2,000 blocks with no help or experience.




I'm going to have to get a photobucket pro account or multiple accounts soon. Running out of bandwidth fast.


Neil
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25th February 2010
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One 'buttered' block.



You can see the trench we dug as temporary irrigation. The big hill behind the studio tries to flood us out. That's no good.





The long concrete blocks in the foreground here are called "lintels" They form a solid header over top of the door frame, supporting the weight of the wall above the door.





More Blocks show up already.









Scaffolding!



Neil
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Cutting some blocks.



The door frame is just lightly off in height to the blocks, so these little guys had to go in over the door before the lintels can go in. The load will not be carried by these small blocks. They were filled with concrete anyhow.



We cut lines in the lintels and filled them with mortar to retain the look of block.



Getting somewhere!





Last 900 blocks show up.









Neil
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2000 blocks DONE. Take that retired mason!



These hooks get set into the concrete blocks with mortar and stick out a few inches. They will hold on the top plates of wood that will anchor the roof trusses to the building.





Next we will start looking at roofing stuff. The goal was to have the building 'dried in' by snowfall. My band left for tour on December 1st, so that was our deadline. At this point we had about a month left to build the roof.

Neil
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26th February 2010
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By the way I have saved every last receipt for this entire build. Once I catch you guys up to where I am at present day I plan to go back into this thread and put a running total of what I've spent. Tons of people always ask about budgets here, but people always seem reluctant. Well, I'm not. Keep in mind I have very few labor fees. This will give an idea of what materials would cost for a project like this.

Oh, and I've only been posting about 1/3 of the photos I actually have. If you visit my photobucket page there's a ton more there.

Thanks everyone.

Neil
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26th February 2010
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awesomely awesome build.

Keep em coming.

Love to see the do it yourself stuff actually turning out nice.
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26th February 2010
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Sill plates and some of the hurricane straps in place.



I lost all the photos of the trusses being built. I got a design from a former carter lumber worker and built them. We used 3/8" plywood plates as gussets instead of metal joining plates. Old school all the way. We cut the gussets in a day. The trusses took one week to make. I built a jig on the floor and made them all in it assuring that each truss is exactly the same. Over 10,000 nails were used...all hammered in by hand. No nail guns here.





Each truss is leaned against the wall upside down with one end hanging over the sill plate.



Then, with a rope, we pull the other leg of the truss up and over the opposite wall.



Then FLIP.







Then another hurricane strap goes up and it gets nailed and braced.




Neil
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26th February 2010
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Here you can see the "x" bracing that keeps the trusses from falling like dominos.





This photo is one of the few that gives you a good perspective view of how big this place really is. Look how small the people look in the rafters.





We used 5/8" plywood sheething. Super heavy material.









We were leaving for tour December 1st. This last shot is us putting up the felt paper with one day before we leave. The felt makes a waterproof (mostly) seal. Good enough. This is pretty much how the roof was left durring the snow season. The remaining roofing and exterior work is on hold until the snow melts.



While it snows and rains outside we are able to keep warm (kinda) inside and begin working on the fun stuff.

Neil
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26th February 2010
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Epic thread, amazing you're doing all that by yourselves, looking forward to see it progressing
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This is the beginning of the framing for the isolation room.







You can see the boxes I built to maintain the seal of the walls. Without them there is a significant flanking path. Even the holes where the romex comes into the box is drilled for a really tight fit and then caulked on both sides.





Here is an mdf box made for the round recessed light fixtures.







HVAC muffler designed for 7" round flex pipe. The baffles in the muffler carry the same volume of air as the 7" round pipe until the last bend where it gets gradually more volume until the opening which is double the volume. This helps the air to slow its speed as it reaches the vent grill, keeping it quiet.





Neil
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26th February 2010
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This box will become a 2RU box for XLR, 1/4" and ethernet jacks. I am using a furman headphone distribution system which utilizes ethernet cable. The back of this box will be fitted with conduit to run the cables into other rooms.



First layer of gypsum on the ceiling going up.



Backer rod to seal it all up. Surprisingly the guy at Lowe's had no idea what backer rod was. He offered to attempt to order it for me (9 dollars for 20 feet @3/8" diameter). I kinda laughed and told him I'd order it online. I then found the next day that they actually stocked backer rod in the door/window seal section of the store. It's only 2.75 for 20 feet. Weird.





I hate winter, but it's kinda pretty.



Heating up with a space heater in the "Dexter Kill Room"









Neil
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26th February 2010
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Here's the beginning of the window frame that will house the 1/2" laminated glass. It's just cheap pine.



The angles and tapers ripped on these pieces were difficult. I made a couple jigs and fixtures for my table saw and made them. This window is set at a 5 degree angle.





This little room is going to be called the "piano room". It's not big enough for one, but it's color scheme will be high gloss black lacquer and white. The flooring will remain a constant for the entire studio, using Williamsburg Cherry laminate flooring. It's going to be a very busy and detailed appearance. I don't like super bland rooms.



Glass set in with glazing tape and setting blocks as per the Rod Gervais window detail in his book.



The window set in.



It is tough to keep the glass clean with such cold weather. The windex just freezes.



At this point this is all the photos I have. It's been almost 9 months since the barn was standing. I will soon post some conceptual drawings and go back and edit my posts with a running total of costs.

Again, please feel free to ask me questions and make suggestions!

Neil
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26th February 2010
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wow!!
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26th February 2010
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Thumbs up

Man, that is awesome!!

The fact that's it's DIY from the ground up is REALLY impressive as well.

Nice work.
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26th February 2010
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Thanks a lot guys. The DIY aspect is really important to me. I play/live in a punk rock band that does everything itself as well. I used to do tool and die work in a cnc shop for a few years. It's where I cut my teeth in constructing things. Everything is just matter that can be manipulated. It takes skill to transform some objects, but it's not impossible. Everything just takes some time. I didn't just decide to lay 2000 concrete blocks and order them up. I spent a LOT of time thinking about the possible problems I'd encounter and how to combat them. I did research until I felt I couldn't come up with anymore problems. Then I begun...and I still hit problems sometimes, but I was much more armed to deal with them. I have 9 parts time, and one part money for this project.

Mind over money.

Neil
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26th February 2010
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great, great , great build guys .. thnx for sharing the pics ... more please ...
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