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New commercial build in Denver
Old 7th April 2019
  #1
Lives for gear
New commercial build in Denver

Ok, time to start the official build thread. This is a consolidated thread, I'm going to update these posts over the next month or so until we get caught up with realtime, but the actual project started about a year and a half ago.

A little backstory, I've personally been doing music in one way or another full time for about 20 years now, the whole time building up my old studio from a booth in the corner of a studio type apartment into a busy full time room with multiple engineers working out of it.

Here are a couple shots of the old studio, getting ready to start tracking drums for a killer band named Eminence Ensemble-



Here is Jadakiss in the booth-



And a shot of the current (soon to be old) control room-



It's been a great spot to work and grow the business, but with a lot of things going on in the space it's been time to move for a while now. My wife also has a very small single chair hair salon and also has been looking to move her business into a bigger space, so we began to hunt 5-6 years ago for place for both.

Our first plan started to come into focus when we got this little house next to a brand new park. The house had commercial zoning, which we changed to mixed use, which would allow us to build on the rest of the 13,000sf lot for both the salon and studio. This wasn't something we were going to be able to afford right away, so we AirBnB'd the house and saved for a few years-



Meanwhile Denver really exploded and construction of projects here became nuts. After speaking to handful a builders, we started to realize that we were either going to have to save a lot more, take a lot of debt, or look at other options. We also realized that we would likely be creating a whole building that would fit our needs very specifically, and wouldn't likely have very good resale value. Right about that time this place across the street from the house came for sale-



After checking it out, it had a >11' clear height to the bottom of 2' tall I-joists, the space is a clear span, 3400 sf, 17 parking spaces and would be something that we could get both of our businesses into. We talked it over and while it was going to be a challenge, we realized that this was going to be the best option for us. So we closed on the loan, got the keys and dove in.
Old 7th April 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
The first step was demo-

This is what it looked like. Before we got it, it was a quilting shop. So they had a bunch of retail for quilting, and some rooms where they taught quilting lessons.



I got a demo permit and started knocking down walls. My initial plan was to keep the old bathrooms, but after getting more into it, I realized that we were going to have to cut up the slab and redo the plumbing for the salon anyway, I might as well move everything around. At that time I thought I would be doing a quick studio build (whatever that is). After getting further into it, I realized that with everything it takes- Architect and MEP+structural engineers, plus all the time you have to wait for them and then wait for the city, it made more sense to move things around and get the most from the space.

Walls coming down-


At this point I was trying to save some of the drop ceiling


Eventually it all came out-


Then the old ductwork


It was right around this time when I got one guy on the job more or less full time. Before then I was doing 40+ hrs a week in the studio and 40+ working on the new building...

Some things I didn't get pics of, we did a spray foam insulation inside the Mansard Roof, this was for both thermal and sound isolation. It's all steel framing with plywood decking and you could see daylight and feel wind blowing in. The building was put up in the early 80s, so there wasn't a lot of insulation. Ultimately the whole place was gutted.
Old 9th April 2019
  #3
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jmcecil's Avatar
super cool! Lived in Denver for about 15 years. Hope this all works out for you.
Old 12th April 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
Next up a whole bunch of paint. CMU really soaks up paint, also while we were at it I figured it would be a good idea to do killz on the ceiling and the joists for water/mold protection. I think all together it was around 70 gallons of paint with 4-5 coats on the CMU walls- first I used up all the old paints that came with the building and then killz.



We also rented this skid steer and built a fence in the backyard of the house as well as the backyard of the building. Around 240' feet of fence in total. We're going to live in the house there and being on the park we found that far too many people though our backyard was part of the park (or just a good place to let their dogs poop!).



Here is the backyard of the studio, this is going to be a little patio area with some corrugated polycarbonate and clear MLV gazebo/solarium along with some big grow-op sized carbon scrubbers to make the ahem *green* room. Also Cody painted the CMU walls on the outside a darker color. With this wall being south facing, and all the deciduous trees and plants to the south of that, the solarium will offer significant passive solar gain. I will use an evaporative cooler for it in the summer, and use the positive pressure from that to push through the can filters.



I got 2 more pairs of radian 951pb compression drivers with the truxtant 4" beryllium diaphragms. That's what I call a tweeter! About 10lbs for just the motor assembly. These bad boys can do the top 5 octaves as good as anything I've heard. The waveguides they will be used with are the ones in the back which are SEOS24's.



Meanwhile business is good at the current studio, Bubba Sparxxx came in for a session...super nice guy. I'm very thankful to have a place that works well while being able to build a better one.-

Old 15th April 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
The next step is building desks, gobos, big poly's for the ceilings, and other slatted panels. Doing this while architect and MEP phase is taking way longer than it should. If you ever hire an architect- make sure to get one who is also a drafter. Ours wasn't and he had one leave for greener pastures in the middle of the process and it added a lot of time to that phase.

Anyway, here we are cutting the acacia butcher block countertop for the desks, these are on a 3-leg motorized height adjustable frame. There is an 88 key controller on some heavy duty drawer slides that pulls out from underneath, and on top there will be a sliding tray for a control surface. This way the control surface can be pulled up front when needed, but can also be pushed back when desk space is needed.



While the desk is fairly large as a reflection source, at 18" deep it will only reflect about ~750hz and up. Because the speakers are controlled/constant directivity types they will be positioned so that 750hz will not reach the desk.

Here it is with the keyboard-



Some dual-opposed subs, I will use long all thread to mount the drivers so that they are mechanically coupled. The advantage to that is they are force cancelling, so there is no direct flanking energy. These will be using relatively inexpensive dayton reference drivers and will likely be upgrade later on.



Here are a bunch of panels and boxes being built. We reused the insulation that was in the building...all of it. Pretty amazing that an entire 1980's buildings worth of insulation goes into just these. This is about 1/3rd of them.



So much dacron...really just getting started with it too-



4 big polys for the ceilings of the recording rooms. They don't really look like it in the pic, but these are 8' x 8'. The frames here got painted black and the luan plywood stained cherry and then a couple coats of polyurethane.

Old 15th April 2019
  #6
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jmcecil's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
Here it is with the keyboard-

What keyboard drawer is that? I've been trying to find something for an 88 weighted, but can't seem to find that sort of thing.
Old 15th April 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcecil View Post
What keyboard drawer is that? I've been trying to find something for an 88 weighted, but can't seem to find that sort of thing.
I built them from aluminum 1.5" angle and extra heavy duty drawer slides. The aluminum can be cut with a regular carbide blade on a miter saw. Then I used bolts in the corners along with JB weld. Super sturdy because of the extra heavy duty drawer slides (the ones I have are rated for 400lbs I think, accuride. Pricey but worth it for this).
Old 16th April 2019
  #8
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Congrats on the new build Ryan! Are you doing some/most of the construction yourself? Can't wait to see what you do with that massive space!
Old 16th April 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Congrats on the new build Ryan! Are you doing some/most of the construction yourself? Can't wait to see what you do with that massive space!
Thanks man (it's Tuvial right?). Yeah, I've got help but doing everything I can. We should catch up at some point... Still really busy with this project but I should be done mid to late summer. I'd love to come see your place as well.
Old 17th April 2019
  #10
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Starlight's Avatar
 

Ryan, it is great to see the studio build behind one of the most helpful people on the forum! I do hope all goes well and according to plan, even if not always according to the timetable. We'd love to see how your wife's salon also turns out as you are sharing the building.
Old 17th April 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
Ryan, it is great to see the studio build behind one of the most helpful people on the forum! I do hope all goes well and according to plan, even if not always according to the timetable. We'd love to see how your wife's salon also turns out as you are sharing the building.
Thanks Starlight! I've learned so much from the community here so try to do as best as I can to return the favor. I followed your build quite a bit too and appreciate all the help you've brought to the forum.
Old 17th April 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
Here are some more shots of building various panels and absorber boxes-



Frame for some gobos-



Side panels with lights inside-



And with slats-



3 gobos, these are using these casters that can drop the whole gobo (with rubber sill mat on the bottom) to the floor-



And with some slats going on-

Old 17th April 2019
  #13
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Those gobos with the slats and the ones with the internal lights look sweet! Cool design!
Old 18th April 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Those gobos with the slats and the ones with the internal lights look sweet! Cool design!
Thanks man. One thing I've learned in this era is to have good lighting for video in the studio. People are always shooting for actual videos or social media etc. A lot of face level and even ground level uplighting prevents shadows on the face and is really important for people with darker skin. I've seen way too many IG videos in the old studio where you can't even see the artists face...

The studio mains that I've made also have much tighter directivity than really any product on the market, which is great for not having as many early reflections to treat, but has the nice side effect of making cell phone videos sound surprisingly decent.

It may seem like a small thing, but if IG videos from the studio have a relatively decent production quality- it represents the whole studio well and takes better advantage of the free advertising.

I'm using those side panels with the lights in them now in my sort of test space slash 2nd room and they work great- really light up everyone's faces.
Old 19th April 2019
  #15
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davet's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
Thanks man. One thing I've learned in this era is to have good lighting for video in the studio. People are always shooting for actual videos or social media etc. A lot of face level and even ground level uplighting prevents shadows on the face and is really important for people with darker skin. I've seen way too many IG videos in the old studio where you can't even see the artists face...

The studio mains that I've made also have much tighter directivity than really any product on the market, which is great for not having as many early reflections to treat, but has the nice side effect of making cell phone videos sound surprisingly decent.

It may seem like a small thing, but if IG videos from the studio have a relatively decent production quality- it represents the whole studio well and takes better advantage of the free advertising.

I'm using those side panels with the lights in them now in my sort of test space slash 2nd room and they work great- really light up everyone's faces.
Studio lighting - very thoughtful. I had to look up IG videos.
Old 21st April 2019
  #16
Lives for gear
Next step was sawing the slab. Most of the studio connections will be via Dante (more on that later), but we did have a couple spots for underground low voltage electrical, the bathroom and some floor clean outs for the studio side. For the salon, there is a ton of plumbing. Total cuts were more than 400 linear ft, so we rented the big 18" walk behind floor saw and got to cutting. Super lucky to know a plumber who's willing to work for time + materials and let us help with the labor. Here's me pushing the beast, did I mention that I hate cutting concrete? Just getting started here-



Here's my plumber Roger, you can see the size of the saw there, 18" blade.



While all the cutting went fine, we made one pretty big mistake in not renting a large, high CFM fan with a duct hose. We all got some mild carbon monoxide poisoning that day! Luckily nobody puked, which is the point where you're supposed to go the hospital, but Cody did come pretty close...If I ever need to do cuts with the big gas-powered saw again I'll definitely rent the fan. I guess that's why they have the fans right next to the floor saws in the rental area at home depot.

We did also cut the slab for sound/vibration isolation (with approval from structural engineer), but the big walk behind was too unwieldy to make sure the cuts would stay in the wall gaps...so more on that later.

Next after that was jackhammering out all the concrete. About 400sf in total. The (back)breaker-



Oooof-




Of course when you rent the tools you have to try to go as fast as possible, this was a long day! I usually am an insomniac, especially with a project like this going on, but I slept like a baby after this. That's Cody over there on the right...he's a machine, and a great singer and songwriter.




We also used the breaker to bust up the sub base. The, soil was really well tamped and it was impossible to break the surface with a shovel. The one good thing with that big 65lb hilti is the handles are sprung like shock absorbers, so it doesn't beat up your hands and wrists as much as a normal breaker. Next it's time to dig the trenches.
Old 24th April 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
Next we dig!

The existing sewer line is pretty far down-



Our daughter Gwen lending a hand-



Then the plumber comes in and gets all the drain lines run-





Then epoxy rebar dowels and backfill-



I debated between getting a concrete crew, calling a ready-mix truck, or getting bags and harbor freight mixer and doing it ourselves. Talked to 2 crews, construction is so busy here that they are setting really high prices. Also everyone was booked out for a few weeks, so I didn't want to go that route. Cody and I felt we could do it, but the 2 of us couldn't handle the pace of a ready mix truck- so the two of us mixed and poured 184 80lb bags of concrete. About 15,000 lbs of concrete in 2 and half days. My estimate was really on point with only 4 bags left over. We're going to need to do some more pouring outside, so I figured we might as well get the mixer- it works great.

Here's about 80 bags for this long run-

Old 24th April 2019
  #18
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Joao B.'s Avatar
 

Very cool, looking forward to this thread!
Old 25th April 2019
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao B. View Post
Very cool, looking forward to this thread!
It pales in comparison to yours! Holy smokes you guys are going big. If ever get the chance to travel to Portugal I'm going to have to come see that beast of a studio you're building!
Old 25th April 2019
  #20
Lives for gear
Next order of business was to put a door here. This will go out to the back patio slash green room where there will be a solarium type space. Here is where it goes-



The first step was to poke holes on both sides of where the lentol needs to go and fill with core fill grout to beef up the CMU cores on either side of the lentol (this was called out by structural engineer). You can see the grey spots on either side, which is where the cores are grouted up past the lentol. Second step was to set the lentol, I bought a electric concrete saw from amazon and it has been really great for the price. So we cut the mortar across horizontally and chiseled it out enough to fit the big angle iron in on both sides and then bolt it through. Still just Cody and I at this point-



Once the lentol could carry the weight (this is a load bearing wall), I cut the CMU for the rough opening. Did I mention how much I hate cutting concrete?



In that pic you can see that we already knocked out the blocks across the top except for one. That's because it turns out that one has 1" rebar and grout (this is what actually makes CMU walls strong). It was a serious pain in the ass to get that one out. But ultimately we ended up with this (you can see the grouted/rebared CMU in white on the ground outside)-



And then this-



The main electrical panel goes just to the right of the door there, so now the electrician can get the rough in to that going.
Old 25th April 2019
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Very impressive progress, especially without the help of a crew! I'm not a pro builder, but I've done enough masonry and concrete work to appreciate the sort of backbreaking effort it takes (and the mess the dust makes). Nice work.
Old 25th April 2019
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
Progger's Avatar
Geez, man, this is incredible! I've really enjoyed watching this whole process and I applaud your courage, not to mention your builder chops. I'm a terrible handyman so the thought of taking on a project like that would crush me! But it's always very inspiring to see someone really doing it.

I grew up in Albuquerque so I've always felt a lot of kinship for Denver. There are a lot of great musicians there and it looks very much like you're building an extremely cool asset to the music community. Plus, the photos of your house and neighborhood make me homesick! There's nothing like that starkly beautiful southwest vibe.
Old 25th April 2019
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Really great work. It's nice to see you use all the protection when working. The aluminum layer is some sort of fire protection for the electrical system I guess?

Keep on rocking :-)
Old 26th April 2019
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockstock View Post
Really great work. It's nice to see you use all the protection when working. The aluminum layer is some sort of fire protection for the electrical system I guess?

Keep on rocking :-)
Thanks- yeah I always wear earplugs and the respirator for sure when the concrete dust is everywhere.

The aluminum stuff is 1" polyiso insulation, the foil to the inside creates a radiant barrier. No real acoustic significance, but it will help keep the place comfy and bills low. It will be using a heat pump, so I want to make sure heating bills aren't too crazy.
Old 26th April 2019
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldPowerLabs View Post
Very impressive progress, especially without the help of a crew! I'm not a pro builder, but I've done enough masonry and concrete work to appreciate the sort of backbreaking effort it takes (and the mess the dust makes). Nice work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
Geez, man, this is incredible! I've really enjoyed watching this whole process and I applaud your courage, not to mention your builder chops. I'm a terrible handyman so the thought of taking on a project like that would crush me! But it's always very inspiring to see someone really doing it.

I grew up in Albuquerque so I've always felt a lot of kinship for Denver. There are a lot of great musicians there and it looks very much like you're building an extremely cool asset to the music community. Plus, the photos of your house and neighborhood make me homesick! There's nothing like that starkly beautiful southwest vibe.
Thanks guys! It's a labor of love really as long as it's for this!

@ Progger yeah it's another gorgeous spring out here now. Austin is a great place to be as well...
Old 27th April 2019
  #26
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Joao B.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
It pales in comparison to yours! Holy smokes you guys are going big. If ever get the chance to travel to Portugal I'm going to have to come see that beast of a studio you're building!
You should definitely come and visit, Porto is a great city and I’d love to show you around!

Keep up the good work, your build looks really good!
Old 4th May 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
Next we added a door opening in the front. Here the heavy gauge red steel studs are load bearing and this will be the entry door, these are like a 10 or even 8 gauge 3 5/8.

So first we built the shoring wall out of 2x6"s, because it's a low slope roof we could just pound it into place with a sledge until it lifted the joists up just a little bit. Then we cut out all steel studs and the floor track where the opening goes. The brick on the outside is just a single wythe veneer, but interestingly it actually is load bearing for the mansard roof. I didn't shore it here because I was able to cut the mortar across and set the lentol first. Then we cut all the brick out, cut the studs out, added the jack studs and the 2x12 header, pulled the bolts that were temporarily holding the lentol and lag screwed the lentol from the outside into the header. Then we cut the old steel studs for new cripple studs and put new track on top of the header and got them screwed in. After that we ripped down a couple treated 2x10's to make a strong RO for the door under the header. Then we hung the door. Just Cody and I still on this, I didn't get many pictures because we did everything we could on the first day (shoring, cut out steel studs, build header) and then on the 2nd once we cut the opening we had to finish in the same day to secure the building-

This is with the studs cut out (the shoring framing is out of the shot)-



Here you can see the shoring framing in front and the new header in the opening, that's Cody there with the concrete saw.



And here is the door installed from the outside. It's a 42" door. This one isn't high sound isolation, the big heavy doors will go to the individual rooms inside. You can see the angle iron lintel above with the lag screws, and on the sides there are the ripped down 2x10's. After inspection we will figure out a way to trim this out, but there is plenty of wood there to attach the trim to.



Around this time we also moved into the house, which left our old apartment, which is downstairs from the current studio empty. I set it up as a 2nd production suite and were able to use all the panels and absorber boxes to test it out. Here is the booth here (former bedroom)-



And here is me in the control 'area' (former living room)-



Really glad to have this space, it's been at least 20hrs a week where both the upstairs studio, and the new downstairs setup have been booked simultaneously- so it's great to be able to check everything out and make a list of a few tweaks I want to make while making good use of some of the work so far. One thing that has really come out of this is playing with the lighting and wall colors etc.

I can't find the REW file right now, but even without a ceiling cloud I'm measuring the lowest early reflection at -26dB, so off to a good start. Hoping to get to -30 in the new space.
Old 29th May 2019
  #28
Lives for gear
Next we got the big header put in for my wife's salon, it's a double 36 door, so it had to be the LVL header, 2 king and 2 jack studs. Same basic procedure as the studio front door, except on this one we will have to shore the framing for the mansard roof and put a 2x12 up there too. That will come later, for now we did the load bearing framing and left the brick veneer.



We also cut the floor slab (with approval from structural engineer), I have a electric concrete saw that we used first to go as deep as it could, then rented a 16" hand held. Something crazy happened- the blade got stuck in the concrete....REALLY stuck. We tried a bunch of things to pry it out, but ultimately what worked was to take a scrap of the LVL, put it against the blade and hit it with a sledge.



Here you can see cuts and some pipes for analog tie lines between rooms-



These use a big rubber segment to stop them from transmitting vibrations through the pipes-



With all the slab work done, it was time to order up some lumbar and drywall.







The next day was pretty much my worst nightmare. I was super excited to start framing, and went to check to see if our electrician had finished something. Coming back around the building I slipped on some muddy snow-ice and broke my ankle-



Turns out to be a trimalleolar break, meaning I broke all 3 bones in the ankle. It destabilizes the whole foot and requires 2 weeks in a splint, surgery, two more weeks in a splint, one month in a hard cast, one month in a walking boot and then limping a physical therapy. This happened back in Jan 28, I've only been able to really walk (limp) and get back to work in the building for about 3 weeks now.

Here is what the hardware looks like-



I asked my daughter what color cast I should get and she said "Unicorn" so I told them that and this is what he came up with-



Well, life goes on, plan b then.

Old 29th May 2019
  #29
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jmcecil's Avatar
ack, sorry to hear about the ankle. I guess it's full on supervisor mode LOL. Really looks like things are coming together.
Old 29th May 2019
  #30
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Wow. Sorry 'bout the ankle Ryan. Sucks when these "incidents" happen and put you behind in your planning. :0/

Wishing you a speedy recovery. You're a brave soul rocking the unicorn cast!
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