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Integrating small home studio into big basement reno
Old 13th October 2013
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Integrating small home studio into big basement reno

We're expanding the basement of our house to use space under existing ground floor house additions (added by previous owner). The work will involve supporting the original house on steel beams and excavating under the current living space. The construction work is being done by professionals with full engineering plans, lots of insurance, and all required permits.

I'd used the grotty old space for around five years as a combination mixing and tracking room. It was not ideal acoustically or aesthetically, but did the job. In the new layout I'll have less space (down to 11'5" x 12'11") and am trying to achieve a basic level of sound attenuation and acoustic treatment without doing anything to the room that will prevent a future buyer of the house from considering it suitable as multi-purpose space (office, spare bedroom). Also have a budget of a few grand for isolation/treatment, but not limitless. It kind of sucks to be doing something so big and not be able to go nuts on the studio part, but I just can't justify it and think I can get something decent for my needs with these constraints (classic First World Problem).

The main foundation work is pretty much locked in, and will finalize the finish planning once that's done. I posted some questions under the main studio forum, and figured I'll post a bit of a photo diary here.

Attached is the basic plan, and pre- and post-demo pics of the existing basement. We'll be extending five feet beyond the windows seen in the photos, and also creating two new rooms beyond the right-hand wall in the pics. I will only really have access to the 'office' but am thinking about ways to use the 'guest bedroom' for tracking without antagonizing my wife

The view in the photos is basically down the long axis of the room labeled "play room" in the plans. The studio will be in the room labeled "office" (which does not exist yet).





Old 30th October 2013
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Getting dirty

Ok - now it's getting serious. The foundation guys have supported the house on steel beams, and half of the original foundation has been eliminated to make way for the buildout.

As a bonus we've got outdoor plumbing and a new car in the garage. The home studio will be in the excavated space visible under an addition put on by some previous owner.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 30th October 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Heavy Machinery

Ok, maybe I should call this post "midget machinery" or something instead. These things are driving around under our kitchen at 7am in the morning (firstworldproblem)... my kids love it.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 30th October 2013
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Taking shape

The rear foundation wall of the original house now has two big holes in it, which will give access to the two big rooms in the back, one of which will be the studio. Most of the openings will be framed in, and I'm researching how to achieve the best attenuation. Also have to look at the ceiling...

Can also see from the outside view the supports, almost ready to pour the footing in preparation for the new foundation wall.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 30th October 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 
monomono's Avatar
Please keep updating! I love home studio builds.
Old 27th November 2013
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monomono View Post
Please keep updating! I love home studio builds.
Will do! Got sucked into the maelstrom of balancing renovation/work/kids/music and have let this slide a bit, but have lots of pics will upload shortly. Thanks for caring!

pr
Old 27th November 2013
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

New foundation!

Below are pics showing:

1) the wooden forms just before pouring
2) the sealed walls after the pour
3) the new foundation after filling the hole

The home studio space will be at the corner, with the two windows.

pr
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 27th November 2013
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Interior work

After pouring the new foundation walls, there's still a lot of interior work. We realized that our cable/telephone guy did a really half-*ssed job on the phone wiring (done long before the renovation), which was just hanging together by a thread (and the handling during excavation was more than the threads could handle). After a couple of weeks of horrible line quality I finally went down and rewired it.

The attached pics show:

1) new supports for the upper floors - Heavy Metal!
2) the crappy phone wiring job by our cable guy (note twisted copper wire to hold plug in place).
3) nothing like 90-year old drain pipes...

Fortunately the phone now works perfectly, and we put in new drain$.

I'm getting a real electrician to do all the phones etc. He's offered to put in an independent ground for the studio space, and seems to understand the importance of having all outlets on the same phase, etc.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 27th November 2013
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

New slab

The big day came and it was time to pour the new concrete floor. Here are some shots of this historic event...

1) Ahhh... fresh concrete!
2) unceremoniously dumped
3) looking good!

You can imagine the panic to finish all the sub-floor plumbing etc. before this day...

The studio space will be in the far corner with the bright light in photo #3.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 27th November 2013
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

I've been framed!

The final jobs now remain - framing, electrical, HVAC, plumbing (there will be a bathroom with shower at the other side of the space).

Pics show:

1) start of framing in the interior space
2) the beginnings of the framing that will delineate my tiny combo control/tracking room (I wish I could use all the rooms in the new basement, but alas...)

We're trying to decide whether to have forced air going into the office-studio and adjacent bedroom. Will probably just go with electric heat, as AC is not really essential in a basement where we live (and I can do without the noise).

Can't afford to do much in the way of fancy sound attenuation - was planning on going with two layers of drywall, taping and caulking as thoroughly as possible, and filling spaces with Roxsul. The goals are: 1) to run a decent condenser mike without picking up too much outside noise (esp. HVAC); 2) be able to play electric guitar (with attenuator), bass without having my wife keep telling me to turn it down ;-o
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 27th November 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
BradLyons's Avatar
 

Congrats!!!
Old 27th November 2013
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
Congrats!!!
Thanks man, it's one of the most rewarding and also one of the scariest things I've ever done...
Old 28th November 2013
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

More framing

1) The Roxul insulation, which will be in the walls and ceiling of office/studio space

2) Framing around the thick concrete wall that will (mostly) separate family/TV room from office/studio. I'm hoping the thick concrete will help isolate the spaces, although I understand that there are many ways that sound can get coupled though with the framing we've done.

3) Unfinished ceiling of the office/studio space

4) The main wall separating office/studio from family/TV room. My wife wants to put a TV on that wall, with home theatre system. I doubt it will be possible to prevent interference between movie watching and music with this configuration...
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by PhaseRoll; 7th December 2013 at 02:14 PM.. Reason: Because I can't spell
Old 30th November 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
BradLyons's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseRoll View Post
Thanks man, it's one of the most rewarding and also one of the scariest things I've ever done...
You'll enjoy it! When I lived in Indiana I converted my garage to a very nice private studio. I had it so sound-proofed that I could be tracking drums at 3am and not disturb anyone either in the house or next door. Okay so when it rained and I couldn't pull into the drive with groceries----or especially the cold winter months I regretted not having a garage! LOL But it was worth it.
Old 30th November 2013
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
You'll enjoy it! When I lived in Indiana I converted my garage to a very nice private studio. I had it so sound-proofed that I could be tracking drums at 3am and not disturb anyone either in the house or next door. Okay so when it rained and I couldn't pull into the drive with groceries----or especially the cold winter months I regretted not having a garage! LOL But it was worth it.
Thanks man - this has been one of those "high-stress" periods where it really helps to hear some encouragement and a reminder that it's going to be a lot better than the grotty, noisy basement I started with. I'd love to include my garage in the studio space, but parking in our neighbourhood is nuts and the garage is tiny anyways. In the past, I've tracked vocals in the car parked in the garage! For obvious reasons, a car turns out to be incredibly well soundproofed and while the acoustics are not ideal it's actually pretty "dead" so works with some added reverb/ambiance.

Right now we're on a budget and I'm kind of nervous about missing any low-cost construction tricks (I realize that "low cost" and "construction" is an oxymoron) that would help with attenuation, only to realize them after the walls are all done up. Right now, with the ceilings open in the basement, I can hear the workers talking and their radio playing as if they were standing in my kitchen. The good thing is that this helped convince my wife to spring for a bit more acoustic insulation.
Old 30th November 2013
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Windows

The space will have two windows - normal sliding glass windows. They face the back of the house, which should help reduce the level of sound coming in and the impact of sound coming out.

There is a deck that half covers the space (this will be rearranged in the future). There was an old garden shed where the red steel beams are visible, but it was not to current code so I had to demolish it. In some distant future when I recover financially and psychologically from all this, Phase 2 will involve improving the exterior looks and doing some work above ground!
Attached Thumbnails
Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-img_4072.jpg  
Old 7th December 2013
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Ductwork!

After a long war of attrition with my spouse over whether there'd be ventilation into the basement spaces, I finally prevailed (f*ck I hope she doesn't read GS).

There will be feed and return vents into all basement rooms created, including the office/studio.

As of this afternoon the final runs are not yet in place, but the ductwork into the studio has been started.
Attached Thumbnails
Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-img_4236.jpg  
Old 7th December 2013
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Electrical

Turns out we'll need to move the service panel into the studio, since the new exterior wall of the home studio space is at the new service entry. I don't think this is going to be much of an issue in terms of acoustic buzz or EMI, and overall it makes sense to move all this "technical" stuff into the studio/man-cave.

The attached photos show:

1) the current service panel - we'll need to add a bigger box/more circuits and move it to the new service entry, which happens to be in the studio.

2) the new service entry which is in the studio. The foundation guys just poured the new walls around the conduit which previously ran outdoors.

3) new outlets for the studio (isolated ground) and adjacent guest bedroom (normal). As far as I can tell, all the outlets are on the same leg of the service.

pr
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 7th December 2013
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Framing and dust

Here's another pic of the framing between the studio and the guest bedroom. I don't have the budget to do anything more than standard 2x4 framing between the two rooms, although there will be Roxul between the two. We don't actually use the guest room that much, so shouldn't be an issue. I had dreams of using this adjacent room for tracking, but we are "running on fumes" wrt budget so probably can't do anything special (had thought of having an XLR passthrough).

The other pic is a table from upstairs, now stored in the future guest bedroom, showing how much dust got kicked up in the living spaces during this project. I keep telling myself it's "like a really long camping trip"...

pr
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 7th December 2013
  #20
Gear Maniac
We had to do our basement on a budget as well. It really left no money to do a Proper Studio build.

Alot of the treatment was DIY. Neighbors aren't a problem when it comes to jamming or recording...but I kinda wish it as a lil more quiet for the rest of he folk in the house.

Looking forward to seeing how yours turns out!
Old 7th December 2013
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiokaos View Post
We had to do our basement on a budget as well. It really left no money to do a Proper Studio build.

Alot of the treatment was DIY. Neighbors aren't a problem when it comes to jamming or recording...but I kinda wish it as a lil more quiet for the rest of he folk in the house.

Looking forward to seeing how yours turns out!
Glad to hear your experience worked out well with the neighbours! Most of my jamming is at night, and I have two little kids and a wife with super-sensitive ears so I'm really trying to do what I can. While the previous statement might make it seem I'm expecting miracles, keep in mind that I was playing for years in the totally standard grotty basement, shown at the top of this thread, with no sound isolation at all. Any improvement over that would be great. My biggest problem in that space was sound coming in (for recording), from street noise, the adjacent heat pump outside, being next to the furnace room, plumbing... the new room is already further from all these things, in the far corner of the basement, so I'm hoping there will be some improvement.

From what I've seen on other builds on these forums, my present project is somewhere intermediate between a basic DIY and a real pro studio build (ok it's a lot closer to basic DIY). I've been pretty impressed that my contractors actually seem aware of a lot of the concepts I've seen discussed on this board, and am hoping that with some basic low cost measures we can achieve some improvement over a totally standard room.

One concern is that investing massive sums to make a residential space into a specialized facility is really a really horrible investment, and the point comes rapidly where it would be better to just rent a jam space and rent time in a real studio. I'll have to figure out the sum of added costs associated with outfitting my space for studio usage, but it's not *that* much in the grand scheme of things (probably under $10k, which is less than 5% of the total budget). My hope is that, whenever we go on to sell the house, we can note that "one of the basement rooms has some sound insulation that makes it suitable for a music practice room or a quiet home office". This would be a very minor perk that I don't realistically think will in itself increase the value of the home much, but a heavily over-purposed studio build in the basement could actually be a real liability at re-sale (not an issue for some, but like most I have to watch my pennies).
Old 9th December 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseRoll View Post
Glad to hear your experience worked out well with the neighbours! Most of my jamming is at night, and I have two little kids and a wife with super-sensitive ears so I'm really trying to do what I can. While the previous statement might make it seem I'm expecting miracles, keep in mind that I was playing for years in the totally standard grotty basement, shown at the top of this thread, with no sound isolation at all. Any improvement over that would be great. My biggest problem in that space was sound coming in (for recording), from street noise, the adjacent heat pump outside, being next to the furnace room, plumbing... the new room is already further from all these things, in the far corner of the basement, so I'm hoping there will be some improvement.

From what I've seen on other builds on these forums, my present project is somewhere intermediate between a basic DIY and a real pro studio build (ok it's a lot closer to basic DIY). I've been pretty impressed that my contractors actually seem aware of a lot of the concepts I've seen discussed on this board, and am hoping that with some basic low cost measures we can achieve some improvement over a totally standard room.

One concern is that investing massive sums to make a residential space into a specialized facility is really a really horrible investment, and the point comes rapidly where it would be better to just rent a jam space and rent time in a real studio. I'll have to figure out the sum of added costs associated with outfitting my space for studio usage, but it's not *that* much in the grand scheme of things (probably under $10k, which is less than 5% of the total budget). My hope is that, whenever we go on to sell the house, we can note that "one of the basement rooms has some sound insulation that makes it suitable for a music practice room or a quiet home office". This would be a very minor perk that I don't realistically think will in itself increase the value of the home much, but a heavily over-purposed studio build in the basement could actually be a real liability at re-sale (not an issue for some, but like most I have to watch my pennies).
Yup. Good call. I still have a 20x29 detached garage that may end up being by permanent home, but for now, I'm out of the basement, and into a storage rental facility that's 20x25x15, 24/7 access and a ghost town past 5pm every day.

For $400 a month (split 3 ways with my bandmates), keeps the marriage intact and I don't have to sink massive amounts of cash into a hobby studio I'll never recoup.
Old 12th December 2013
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Our new bathroom

Ok - so it's just temporary... if the budget keeps bloating this may be all we can afford

The silver box over the toilet used to be a massive duct from the furnace that projected all the way across the basement, necessitating a crazy labyrinth of bulkheads in the old ceiling. We were able to put most of it up between the floor joists, but were stuck with the hole in the concrete wall separating the furnace room...
Attached Thumbnails
Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-img_4245.jpg  
Old 12th December 2013
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Ventilation!

Those who've followed the tread on my questions about framing will know this was a bit of a contentious issue, but finally all the basement rooms have HVAC feeds and returns!

Below are a few photos - the feeds and returns for the studio have some insulating wrap. There are also a couple of ducts passing through the ceiling to other rooms - these are not wrapped, but the space will be filled with Roxul (which I can now finally spell properly). I'm a bit concerned that air flowing through pipes on the way to other rooms could be an issue, but we'll see (not sure why these are not wrapped). You can see where one of these pass-through vents angles up to feed the upstairs room. I'm guessing this will be a weak point for sound to come out, but hoping the Roxul around the vent pipes plus two layers of gyprock will help.

There will be some bulkheads to enclose the other ducts that pass through the room. I am hoping these ducts are large enough to reduce the flow velocity, and thus sound, to fairly low levels. I'd asked the HVAC guy to use a quiet diffuser but don't know which model it will be. As you can see, the diffusers will be mounted in the ceiling.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 12th December 2013
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

New electric panel

As discussed above, it turned out we have to move our service panel after building out the foundation. The studio is in what used to be an outdoor crawlspace beneath a first-floor addition supported on posts. The service head (we have overhead lines) is right above the corner of the new studio room, and the conduit that used to pass through the crawlspace is now embedded in the new foundation wall and has to be eliminated. As I've discussed elsewhere, this was a bit of an oversight because several other wires (an ethernet cable going outside up to the second floor of the house, cable TV, other) are stuck in that hole and no real thought went into what would have actually been the best routing.

I was a bit frustrated that the electrician didn't really think it was his job to worry about those wires - which to me were clearly temporary, and he just considered it a given that they would keep running through the location chosen arbitrarily by the foundation guys. He then put the service panel well below the old conduit, as if the old conduit was a permanent fixture (tail wagging dog?). I was kind of upset when I realized the panel was being placed in such an odd location for such a silly reason, but the electrician kindly agreed to move it up without too much fuss.

Here's a pic of the new panel - I would have rather not had it in the studio, and maybe not in the corner because of issues to install bass traps. However it was really the most logical location given the position of the service head, and we didn't have the budget to move that elsewhere.

There's a second pic of the panel showing all the wires fanning into it, behind the walls. I'm hoping this won't translate into a whole lot of EMI, although the receptacles in the studio are on a separate ground. There will be Roxul in all the wall spaces.

Also a pic of box for ethernet, next to what will be four outlet mains box on an isolated ground.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 12th December 2013
  #26
You definitely need to put a mic panel in the spare bedroom… A nice wooden floor in there would make it a cosy bedroom - and good for drums!

Nick Froome
Old 13th December 2013
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bolide View Post
You definitely need to put a mic panel in the spare bedroom… A nice wooden floor in there would make it a cosy bedroom - and good for drums!
Yeah seems like this would be pretty low cost to put in a little 4 XLR plate, and easy to do now that now with studs exposed...

Thanks for the suggestion.

pr
Old 13th December 2013
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Roxul going in

The guys started putting the insulation in the ceiling this morning - soon will be the gyprock. Am going with two layers (of gyprock) on walls and ceiling in the studio room, just Roxul in ceiling in other parts of the basement.

Hopefully the Roxul will help with sound leakage associated with the vent pipes.

pr
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 14th December 2013
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Final room dimensions

So in the end the room comes out being almost perfectly square, with a little alcove for the door due to the thickness of the old concrete walls.

Ceiling height is 7'4".
Attached Thumbnails
Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-room-dimensions.jpg  
Old 14th December 2013
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

More pics

Side wall with Roxul (didn't have time to get xlr wall plate Friday) and view of rear wall/ceiling corner with bulkhead for ventilation.
Attached Thumbnails
Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-studio_roxul_pano1.jpg   Integrating small home studio into big basement reno-studio_roxul_pano3.jpg  
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