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BUILD THREAD: My detached 2 car garage into work-at-home production room. Studio Monitors
Old 6th May 2018
  #1
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BUILD THREAD: My detached 2 car garage into work-at-home production room.

I meant to get this thread up a few weeks ago and document the progress day by day... but DIYing a studio build can be a real monster! Who knew?!

A bit of background first. At the end of February I decided not to renew the lease on my studio space. It was in a great location, and made for a "cool" spot to work, but it had it's limitations. After doing a little math, I realized that what I had spent on rent for the past 2 years, I could probably buildout my garage into a really functional spot. There was no way I could hire a contractor to do the work on my budget, so I knew I was going to have to do everything I could DIY.

A good friend is an architect and I had him over one day and we checked out the garage, to make sure it was structurally sound. It's old, built in the 50s, but he said it was extremely solid, no signs of structural weakness, and was a great candidate for a remodel. He drew up a construction set for me, and all the structural diagraming so that I could remove all the roof trusses and open the whole space up. He also walked me through the permitting process and has been involved here and there lending his eye and expertise in building.

I haven't done a ton of framing, but I was pretty sure I could handle most of it on my own. I got pretty luck though, in that one of the past artists I had done a record for heard through the grape vine that I was doing a build. He used to be a foreman on a framing crew and offered to help me with most of the carpentry and framing in exchange for a 5 song EP. Sounded like a great deal to me. He was only available Friday's and Saturdays, so we'd spend time getting things figured out, do as much as we could on those days, and then the rest of the week I'd take my time, working slowly, and execute the plan we'd made for my work during the week. It hasn't been the fastest process, but the amount of money I've saved doing everything myself has made it possible.

I haven't gotten to the "fun" parts yet, I'm still in the initial construction phase. But I thought I'd share my photos up to this date. Hope you enjoy!
Old 6th May 2018
  #2
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Okay, so here is the garage before construction started. It's pretty basic. 19' x 17' with vaulted ceilings. It had a ton of junk in it. It took me about a 3 days to sort through everything and figure out what I didn't need (about 95% of it!).





Thats a table I'd bought on craigslist about 8 months prior and had told my girlfriend I'd refinish for her. Welllllll, it took a little longer than planned. When I told her I was building out the garage her first response was, "does that mean you're going to have to finally finish my table?" Indeed it did.



Here it is mostly cleaned out. The calm before the storm.
Old 6th May 2018
  #3
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First order order of business was supporting the roof so that we could pull out the trusses that were running from top plate to top plate across the width of the garage. The gussets were fairly straightforward and designed by my architect. 2x10s were cut to match the 6-12 roof pitch. Those bolted in to the rafters from the bottom using very long (and surprisingly expensive) structural ties. Once those were fastened in place, 3/4" plywood was used to make a lumber sandwich (We alternated OSB and plywood because I had both left over from a prior project. I was hesitant to to OSB at first, but after reading that it has twice the shear strength of plywood, I was fine using it. Plywood does hold fasteners better than OSB, and it performs better when it's wet. But unless there is a lot of seismic activity or moisture, the OSB will out perform plywood in shear strength. My architect divides his time between Oklahoma (where I am) and LA, and in LA OSB is code to add rigidity for earthquake protection. If California thinks it's okay, it was okay for me.) The sandwich was fastened with 2 1/2" structural screws that ran every few inches around the perimeter, and came in from both sides. Eight more screws went in to the center area, tying the OSB/plywood to the 2x10s. Luckily I don't live in an area that gets a lot of snow, so there will never be too much load on the roof. When we started to remove the trusses we discovered none of them were actually under tension, so they weren't really adding any structural integrity. I think they had been put up solely to lay plywood across to the make some "attic" storage in the garage. One thing I did not figure for when working up my budget was the cost of screws. Good screws are expensive, structurally rated screws are even more expensive. I think the screw cost to make 11 of these gussets was over $100. The structural ties used to fasten in the 2x10s were about $1.50 apiece, and each gusset had 4 ties, that's around $70 right there.



Once the roof was supported and the trusses were, the next step was to remove the garage doors, remove both windows, and frame them in.





Old 6th May 2018
  #4
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The existing walls were pretty thin: cedar shingle siding over 3/4" solid wood sheathing. It was recommended that I use an exterior rated drywall product between each stud to add some mass. Really the only product available is DensGlass. It's drywall but has fiberglass on either side. The yellow side has an extra coating making it essentially moisture proof. It can be exposed to the elements, but can't have water pooling on it. DensGlass isn't cheap, about $23 a sheet delivered. I keep a pretty close on eye on Craigslist, and got pretty lucky in that someone posted a whole bunch for sale. I was able to get it for $9 a sheet. When I called the guy selling it I asked what the thickness was and he said 1/2". I did some quick math and figured I'd be fine on weight in the back of the truck. It was close, but about 75lbs under the max rating for the truck. When I got down there it turned out to be 5/8", which is better for the walls, but not so good for the truck. 25 sheets of the 5/8 put me about 500lbs over the limit for the truck. Ooops! I had driven two hours to get it. That was a really long, very slow drive home. Didn't make it back until after midnight and had to unload it all on my own because there was rain forecast for the morning. Those sheets are 80lbs each. That was not a fun task at 12am.

Poor little truck! But he handled it like a trooper.



Fitting the DensGlass was pretty annoying. The garage is old enough that it has settled over time. None of the stud cavities are square any more, so it took a lot of cutting and recutting to get them to fit nicely.




I decided to use spray foam on the exterior walls to give me thermal insulation. I knew it wouldn't do much for isolation, but that's what my inner leaf was for. The spray foam also meant that I didn't have to vent the roof, per code. One less penetration seemed good to me and the air seal was superb.



Old 6th May 2018
  #5
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Thats all I've got time for right now, gotta get out and do some painting while it's nice. I'll try and get a bit more posted tonight.
Old 6th May 2018
  #6
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lookin good! Congratulations, man!
Old 6th May 2018
  #7
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Starlight's Avatar
Nice one! I will follow this with interest as I have come to the same conclusion regarding our rented studio space - the building got a new owner in November and, surprise surprise, the new owner wants to increase rents by 250%.

I am so pleased for you that you have an architect friend and the framing chap. Here's hoping it all goes as fast and as well as your first photos seem to suggest.
Old 8th May 2018
  #8
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I've got some time here and I'll make another update.

After spray foam went in, the next step was framing. The biggest issue we faced in framing was the garage floor. It was a new slab poured about 5 years ago, so fortunately it was in great condition. Unfortunately when they poured it I had no plans for the garage ever being anything but a garage, and had the slab poured with a slight grade, so that if heaven forbid water ever got in the garage, it would run back out the front. From the back of the garage to the front there is about a 1.5" fall. I looked in to having it leveled, but that was going to be too expensive. 1.5" of fall over 19ft isn't too noticeable, so I figured I could live with it. But I knew it was going to make framing frustrating.

We talked about several ways of approaching it so that we could have a perfectly level top plate. The method we landed on was kind of time intensive, and a little OCD on my part, but it worked out perfectly. There is less than 1/32 inch of deviation at the top plate all the way around the room. My buddy the framer said that was kind of unheard of in the framing world. It did take forever though, and wouldn't really be a viable method in real world application.

Essentially what we did was snap our chalk lines for the bottom plate and then laid them out without fastening them to the slab. I then went around and marked out the stud locations for 16 on center. We then marked the height on the double top plate on the wall. Then I took a big boom mic in the center of the room and screwed on my Bosch laser level. It was $129 at Home Depot and the one tool I never thought I'd need, but has saved the day in so many situations. We matched the laser level height with the mark on the wall. The level would throw it's laser across the entire wall. At that point I'd grab a stud, attach the post level, hold it level at the mark on the bottom plate, and transfer the laser line to the stud. Each stud location on the bottom plate was numbered, N1 was the first stud on the north wall, N2 the second, etc. That number was transferred to the stud after it was measured. This would allow for no confusion after the studs were cut down. And it was important to keep them in order because each stud was a fractions of an inch different.

After all the studs were cut down we assembled the walls on the floor, nailed them and stood them up. Once we fastened them down to the concrete I got the level back out and ran it across the walls. The top plate was DEAD level. Having extremely level top plates not only makes for a nice level walls, it would ensure easiest installation of the rafters.





Once the walls were up it was on to the gables and rafters. I messed up on gable measurements. Instead of taking measurements from the outside of the top plate, I took the inside measurement. I didn't notice this until after I'd made all the cuts. Instead of scrapping everything and starting over, we did some math and realized we could make it work. We figured that by moving the height of the nail board on the gable, we'd be just fine. This is where having an experience framer comes in handy. I would have scrapped it all and started over. You can see the mistake in the image of the gables laid out on the driveway. The top part of the gable that comes down from the peak should run all the way to the ends, which is the correct measurement from outside edge to outside edge of the top plate. Instead they come up 3.5 inches short on either end, or the inside dimensions of the room. Will be an easy fix though.




First gable up!!

Old 8th May 2018
  #9
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From the pics, it looks like you will wind up with 8' ceilings. Is that your plan?
Old 8th May 2018
  #10
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One thing that has been super helpful during this entire process, was learning to use Sketchup. I started familiarizing myself with it a few months before my build started. Compared to other programs like Revit, it's not too deep. But for someone like me who has no experience with any kind of similar program, let alone using it to design structures, it took me a while to get the hang of it. It has been incredibly helpful though. My architect made the initial construction set, but as anyone who has done a build before knows, things seem to change on a daily basis. There is constant adjustment based on unforeseen problems, design idea changes, material choice, etc. So instead of needing to have the architect over to address these changes, and then update his construction set, I was able to model them in Sketchup, come up with a few different models for solutions, and then email the renderings to him for aproval. It was a huge time saver and made each step really easy. I've used it design everything from framing and structural components, to studio design and layout, acoustic panel design, lighting design, and HVAC solutions.

As I mentioned in the previous update, I took OCD level care to get the top plate perfectly level despite an uneven floor. I used that same OCD part of my brain when I laid out the bottom plates, which means all 4 walls are parallel within less than a 1/16th of an inch. For a framer who is doing this every day, that's completely unnecessary. For me, because I only had the framer helping me one or two days a week, it was a huge help. Because my dimensions were so exact, it meant that any model I created in Sketchup translated perfectly to real world application, with zero surprises. For example on the gables, normally you'd mark stud locations at both the top and bottom, take that measurement, then use the speed square to figure the angle of the cuts, then do all your cutting. What I did was design the gables in Sketchup the night before, print it off, and instead of having to mark stud locations, use the speed square, etc, I made all the cuts based on the model, laid out the top and bottom and placed each stud where it fit . Once it was laid out I measured the spacing on each stud, and no surprise they were precisely 24" on center.

This is the model I used for the gables.



I took the same approach with the rafters and gussets. I took the general design from the construction set, and recreated them in Sketchup using the exact dimensions of my room. I built one test rafter, and then had a buddy help me carry it in to the garage and stand it up. It fit like a glove, absolutely perfect with no need to cheat on either side. I used the speed square to make the angled cuts on the rafters where they rest on the top plate, and then adjusted my mitre saw to 26.5 degrees to make the cuts where the rafters join. I wasn't super confident using the speed square, and because the first one fit so perfectly, I ended up using a piece of scrap plywood to make a template for that cut. The only thing I wasn't happy about on the first rafter was how nicely they joined at the peak. It was super close, close enough for any framer, but because I tend to get so OCD, I wanted Japanese woodworking level joinery. I made a slight adjustment to my mitre saw for the next rafter and it fit perfectly.

One thing I learned on the first rafter was that laying them out can be deceiving if you simply match the angled cuts where they meet. That is how I did it the first time. But then when I measured from outside edge to outside edge where the rafter would rest on the top plate, I realized I was about 4" too wide. I double checked all my measurements and knew I hadn't cut anything wrong. At that point I snapped a long chalk line on the driveway where I was assembling them. I measured along the line and marked where the outside edge of the rafter should rest. I then found the center between those two marks, and made another chalk line at a 90 degree angle. I laid the two pieces out again, first joining them on the center line, and then I'd make small adjustments to either end until the span was perfect, and the joint at the peak was perfect and lined up on the center line. Once it was lined up perfectly, I'd drive a screw at that joint to temporarily hold them together, then I'd construct one side of the gusset. Once that side was done, I could flip it over and construct the opposite side of the gusset. The first few rafters took me a while to build, but once I figured out a good method, they came together really fast.

This is the Sketchup diagram I used for constructing the rafters and gussets.


This what the template looked like once it was transferred to the rafter. This is the end that will rest on the top plate.



Here is short video of my layout method. You can see the inside corner of the rafter lines up with the pencil mark on the chalk line at either end. The pencil marks indicate the inside edge of the top plate on either side of the room. The rafters join perfectly at the center line.



I wish I had more pictures of building the gussets, but I got pretty wrapped up in building and only snapped this one picture. It was actually a picture to send to my architect. The construction set had indicated 4" structural ties attaching the 2x10 to the rafter. But after laying them out I felt like those didn't tie in deep enough. After seeing the picture he felt like because I was using two 4" ties on either side, the 4" would be fine, but that the 6" wouldn't hurt anything. I opted for 6" because I tend to overdo everything. Also pictured, my trusty can of General Snus. I quit smoking about 2 years ago by switching over to snus. I know it's not perfectly healthy, but snus is so, so, so much less harmful than cigarettes and even normal "american" style chewing tobacco. I'm in the process now of weaning myself off the snus.



Finished rafter and gusset. I made 11 in total. You can see the rafter leaning up against the garage where the doors used to be. I just had OSB up at this point. I got them finished out this weekend to look like carriage doors. Photos to come.



Here are all the rafters installed. Only took about an hour to get them all in and up.



Old 8th May 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana_T. View Post
From the pics, it looks like you will wind up with 8' ceilings. Is that your plan?
Because I had to make room for the 2x6 rafters and then a 2" airgap to make room for R30 on the ceiling, I had to drop the wall height to 7' 2". The rafters are on a 6-12 pitch. So a little over 12" out from the wall the ceilings reach 8 feet. At the highest point, the flat part, the ceiling is 11' 3".

Hope that makes sense.
Old 8th May 2018
  #12
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Following!!!

Looking great so far
Old 8th May 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johndykstra View Post
Following!!!

Looking great so far
Thanks! It's been fun!!
Old 8th May 2018
  #14
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I guess it might be nice for anyone reading to have an idea of what the end result will look like. These are initial plans that I've drawn in Sketchup. This will be the general idea, and I'm sure it will change once the inner shell is constructed and I'm able to measure the frequency response.

Top View:
The rear wall trap is 15" deep. You can see there is a wood frame around the outside. This will hide aluminum channel that house RGBW LED strips. I'll be using Guilford of Maine Anchorage fabric for all the panels and traps. I'll probably go with shade of fabric a little lighter on the back wall so that it reflects the light from the LEDs a bit better.


This is the design inspiration for the back wall.


The panel on the ceiling will serve as a lighting element as well as acoustic absorber. The down lights are 3" trims. I'm going to use the Hue white ambience bulbs in these housings. This will give me full control over the white spectrum of light, from warm to daylight. I thought this would be nice considering I don't have windows. On the ceiling side of the panel, the same RGBW strips will be run in aluminum channel. The ceiling will be white. This will provide some nice ambient light and when I want, I can go crazy and light the ceiling any color I choose! The lights in the cloud over the listening position will also be the Hue lights.



Rear view with the back wall and bass trap missing



Depending on how the room sounds as I start to build treatment, I may use BAD diffusors under the fabric on the wear wall. I fear an overly absorptive room.
Old 8th May 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logjamparty View Post
Depending on how the room sounds as I start to build treatment, I may use BAD diffusors under the fabric on the wear wall. I fear an overly absorptive room.
Consider a scatter plate/ diffusion on the back 6 side panels as well.

I'd break symmetry on the last 4 to avoid those mirrored opposing wall gaps.

A nice QRD in the center of the back wall recessed into your fiber would really look and sound nice
Old 9th May 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logjamparty View Post
Because I had to make room for the 2x6 rafters and then a 2" airgap to make room for R30 on the ceiling, I had to drop the wall height to 7' 2". The rafters are on a 6-12 pitch. So a little over 12" out from the wall the ceilings reach 8 feet. At the highest point, the flat part, the ceiling is 11' 3".

Hope that makes sense.
It makes perfect sense. You are doing a great job!
Old 9th May 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johndykstra View Post
Consider a scatter plate/ diffusion on the back 6 side panels as well.

I'd break symmetry on the last 4 to avoid those mirrored opposing wall gaps.

A nice QRD in the center of the back wall recessed into your fiber would really look and sound nice
I agree on the diffusion on the side panels as well.
Old 11th May 2018
  #18
A little Sketchup tip I picked up recently: If you have all the walls in place you can't see in to the model from the outside. You can hide a wall to look in but there's an easier way

If you make the walls transparent from the outside, and opaque on the inside, you can look through walls from outside the model but still see the inside walls rendered appropriately

Nick Froome
Old 11th May 2018
  #19
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WOW!

I have a 19x19.5 detached garage and I am getting a ton of ideas from this thread. I didn't even know one could take out the trusses. Looks great! Couple of questions about cost. How much did it cost to spray the foam? AFAIK, it's the only way to treat the ceiling without sound leaking vents...that and a split AC system. How much is the entire project going to cost?
Old 14th May 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
WOW!

I have a 19x19.5 detached garage and I am getting a ton of ideas from this thread. I didn't even know one could take out the trusses. Looks great! Couple of questions about cost. How much did it cost to spray the foam? AFAIK, it's the only way to treat the ceiling without sound leaking vents...that and a split AC system. How much is the entire project going to cost?
Yeah. We removed all the trusses. But definitely speak with a professional first. My architect works in Revit and some other engineering programs and was able to do all the structural calculations to make sure we were safe. The collar ties in the new rafters are pretty stout compared to what you see on a lot of buildings, but this was to hold the 1/2 osb and 2 layers of 5/8.

The spray foam cost $1100. I got a huge range of quotes and ended up going with an outfit that I found on Craigslist. They were about $500 cheaper. They did a decent job. There was some flaws here and there but nothing major. I’d give them a B-

All in all the build will cost about $24,000. That was my budget, and I thought I was going to have a lot left over at the end. But nope, there are so many expenses and unknowns. $5500 of that went to electric. We had to do a service upgrade at the house and then run 70ft of underground line. Wiring the studio was only $1500, which initially was all I thought I was going to need. Keep in mind you’ll need 220v in your garage for most mini splits.

My budget included new monitors, which I found used on CL for a steal. Barefoot MM35s in mint condition for $2450.

Besides electric and spray in insulation, I’ve done all the work myself, with the help of some friends. I’ll be building all my own sound treatment as well.

I can’t remember the exact number, but I calculated the cost of the build if I hired a general contractor and delivered plans. I think it was $60,000+ to go from garage to ready to work studio. So I saved a ton of money. But it’s been a long process and a lot more stressful than I could have anticipated.
Old 14th May 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logjamparty View Post
I can’t remember the exact number, but I calculated the cost of the build if I hired a general contractor and delivered plans. I think it was $60,000+ to go from garage to ready to work studio. So I saved a ton of money. But it’s been a long process and a lot more stressful than I could have anticipated.
When it comes to the stress, just keep saying, "I saved $36,000.00 dollars". I promise you, when it is all said and done, you will feel pride stating it was done under MY CONTROL as well as by my own hand!
Old 8th April 2019
  #22
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bowzin's Avatar
Any updates you can share @ logjamparty ? Hope everything is going well, appreciate this thread.
Old 8th April 2019
  #23
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Thanks for the prices. I'm not seeing any air conditioning in your design. Are you going with forced air or a split system?
Old 15th April 2019
  #24
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Originally Posted by bowzin View Post
Any updates you can share @ logjamparty ? Hope everything is going well, appreciate this thread.

Seeing as this thread is almost a year old, I should update. Unfortunately it's still not done. I had several things come up that I had to put money towards and the studio had to get put on hold. But it's so close I can almost taste it!

All I have left is finish carpentry and painting. I actually plan on wrapping it up in the next few weeks.

Never underestimate how long and how expensive these builds can be when you want to do it right. There were multiple points along the way I could have skipped several steps, saved a lot of money, and been done a long time ago. But I wanted it done right.

When it's finished I'll go through my photo albums and put together the rest of the updates.
Old 15th April 2019
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
Thanks for the prices. I'm not seeing any air conditioning in your design. Are you going with forced air or a split system?
Using a Mitsubishi mini split and a Panasonic Intelli-Balance ERV for fresh air ventilation.
Old 15th April 2019
  #26
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Originally Posted by logjamparty View Post
Never underestimate how long and how expensive these builds can be when you want to do it right. There were multiple points along the way I could have skipped several steps, saved a lot of money, and been done a long time ago. But I wanted it done right.
IV-I

Being in the midst of a build myself- this is so true.
Old 15th April 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logjamparty View Post
Never underestimate how long and how expensive these builds can be when you want to do it right. There were multiple points along the way I could have skipped several steps, saved a lot of money, and been done a long time ago. But I wanted it right.
+1,000,000 on this one

I figured $3-5k and 4 months for my build.. over 1.5 years later and quite a bit over budget I'm almost wrapped up, but it's easy to under estimate the ammount of work that goes into all of this. Especially if you're doing all the work yourself.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Awesome, thanks. Really appreciate the perspective threads like these provide on a very niche world.

I have a detached 16x20 garage I want to make into a one-room home/project studio, and have dramatically scaled back my ambitions, ha. Just did a whole-home roof replacement so I'm dead in the water for a while, but now have a new roof on the garage and took care of some minor rotted wood/structural issues. I took some pains with my roofer to make sure the work done now would be applicable later on.

My next goal will be to wall over a rickety garage door, and then work on reinforcing/sealing my outer leaf for some minimal isolation to start with.

My plan for the time being is simply "try to be quiet, and be on good terms with the neighbors" until I can really get things together and solicit some proper designs for a proper 2-leaf system with built-in treatment, etc.
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