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What would I need to do to turn this into a studio?
Old 10th September 2019
  #1
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What would I need to do to turn this into a studio?

Hi,

Yet another thread from me, trying to figure out what property to purchase for home and studio. Understand that I do NOT own this. I want to see if I can make it work, and that ultimately comes down to $$$.

Background:

Nearest neighbors are about 200 feet away.

Garage that would house studio is two attached buildings. I'm guessing approx 20'x40'. Front half is cement block. Back half is all wood and not even close to insulated. In fact, there are cracks where daylight comes in. Big ones.

Front half has a lower ceiling than the back half.

I expect to barely have enough money to turn this into a one room studio. No separate control room. Most of the time, I'm playing while tracking, so this isn't a huge loss for me. I would like to possibly have an iso booth or two. In the best scenario, one would be big enough for a singer or an upright bass, and the other might be big enough for a drum kit or a piano.





Questions:

Reading the Gervais book, there's a lot of info on floors and walls, but it he seems to barely address exterior walls. It seems I might need to handle the two different sections of this building differently. Obviously, the wood section in particular would need to be made airtight. How thick would I make that exterior wall? Would I be filling in between the studs with anything other than temperature insulation? Would I be putting an additional layer of something (what?) on the OUTSIDE of those walls?

Do I need to put a haunch under the inside walls? Or does it also have to go under the outside walls?

And if I have to cut the concrete and put in a haunch, am I just better off building from scratch?


I'm including some pictures of the room. Two are general pics of the room. One shows where the two constructions meet. One shows the area by the garage doors where it appears there is a seam just inside. I'm wondering what's up with that.

As always, thanks to the helpful people here. If I'm forgetting any pertinent info, I apologize and will clarify.
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Old 10th September 2019
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Old 10th September 2019
  #3
dzb
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Assuming you have the skills, time, tools, and knowhow, at least $25K in materials for buildout, 8 to 12 months, patient family, and several friends... this is being conservative from having done this both ways - gutting a building and also having built one from the dirt up. Figure you'll need to print some more money for labor costs to expedite on areas you might not have expertise at. All that is before you even start to treat the place or fill it with gear once you build walls and rooms. Permits. The list goes on. Don't brag to the realtor or new neighbors what your intentions are. You'll find yourself spending effort that you did not think of keeping the noise out if this is in a rural area.

Looking at the photos for a couple minutes, the ceiling height does not look favorable, and the joist (lower part of the trusses) are going to be a lot of fun to work around. It would be a cozy place when done.

I am completing a ground-up build doing the interior work - aside from the cost of getting the shell and foundation the way I wanted it with scissors trusses for height, I've easily got twice to three times what I mention into my interior build portion. The process is not for the meek or shallow pockets.

Buy the house you + whoever will be living with you actually WANT and consider erecting a building - in my process, I found that looking at most retrofits became a lot of noise to shoehorn into a vision and you'll end up with a lot of sacrifice on the living part of the equation. Keep in mind, all $$ you sink into this are not improvements for investment purposes on the real estate part of the equation (although you'll get taxed on it if the assessor learns of what you're doing). You'll only see a fractional part of your overall "home value" rise doing something like this. If you are not considering staying there for the long-haul or have intentions to move in, say, 5 to 10 years.

Have a plan - sketch it out. If you are buying (the residence/home/building) first and then plan to retrofit /gut/build, give yourself 3 to 6 months just to figure out what you're going to do. This is going to be a labor of love and looking at the photos again, going to be a place that has a lot of "character" when complete if you try to skimp in multiple areas. Also, consider the condition of the roof and have money available for home and building maintenance, because it will come.

Look at the drainage around the area since you may be in snow area - garage doors will let water in. Ice will build up. Make sure you have a couple of really good doors, and consider enclosing on the inside the external door area when you walk in (i.e. a small walk in area to take your shoes off and then close the door before opening the door to the real conditioned studio space).

Looking at the condition of the space you show, my concerns would be focused on what does the home dwelling need first. And, please, have ample cash to put down on the place and don't be doing this with little savings or requiring mortgage insurance (if that even exists anymore) or starting out in the hole from an equity perspective.

Keep in mind you'll eat into height when you add a floor. (you may consider raising the floor with pink bats and floating the floor up with a couple layers of floorboard/plywood under your final floor).

Depending on the part of the world you are in, do not underestimate what it will take to heat the place and make it comfortable and conducive from a noise perspective for recording. Sorry for the random order of thoughts here - it really is quite an undertaking - doable, but going to be an effort.

Good luck.

P.S. Regarding exterior walls, I went with 2x6 exterior walls, fully insulated, and a space cushion before framing the interior "rooms" which are {for the most part} lidded rooms within the space - boxes within the box so-to-speak. My insulation is R21 + R13 on the walls, and R38 + R30 for the ceiling. I have only run the air conditioner twice a year to test. Heating is fantastic, and I've leveraged the heavy insulation approach (for sound and comfort) in all of my builds and benefited from quiet spaces (when listening from the exterior). A couple of my new rooms are odd shaped "boxes" that have lids (angled ceilings) because I planned for that with a taller interior available for the structure. I could keep writing & writing, but hope this gives some insight.

Last edited by dzb; 10th September 2019 at 07:33 PM.. Reason: Added the info about exterior insulating
Old 10th September 2019
  #4
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Thanks, but those are mostly answers to questions I did not ask, and they are mostly things that have already been considered. My biggest concern is whether it can be cost effective to convert this building. However, because you brought it up and it was on my mind, but not included in the original post, would it be a good idea to try to use the full height of the building or should the new ceiling be under the joists? Can I jack the whole ceiling up a few feet or is that also defeating the purpose of starting with a building?
Old 10th September 2019
  #5
dzb
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Whoa - raising the height - yikes, gut says start fresh. Although trusses are not all that expensive, then my brain goes toward roof condition and retrofitting to piece the wall higher (likely not - whew... that seems daunting. Not sure how thick that slab is, but if you "did" try to work with the build and raise the interior height, you might consider what starting over would be like - those walls look like a metal exterior(?), and that's going to be a lot to insulate and clean up (plus the gutting with the electric conduit I see). Trying to adapt anything is going to be more work than starting from clean (but starting from clean is not cheap and getting to a clean state will take effort, too). I can't imagine how jacking the ceiling up would work... or pass inspection.

The full height of the building may not be as usable since those trusses are structural. Candidly, I'd look into what having a modest sized garage built from scratch would be - perhaps on top of that slap there already. Then you could get nice height to work with, and not be burdened with the old stuff already there. Just thinking out loud. The slab - if good - is a pretty key component. I should mention, if that slab wasn't insulated underneath, you might have moisture issues (hence that fan shown in the picture)… if the place smelled musty or floor shows cracks or historical moisture spots, those will play a big factor.

I found height to be very beneficial - especially when you talk HVAC - it's a place you can put flexible duct to reduce metal work from a heater and a place to run electric, etc. (I'm thinking of affordable solutions that have dual benefit for function and the studio).
Old 10th September 2019
  #6
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Thanks again. I'm interested in height for sound as well as for ductwork, etc. I figure that regardless of the ceiling being open past the joists or not, the ductwork and electric would be above above the joists.

If I was going to tear it down and put a new building on a slab that needs to be beefed up, I'd probably be better off keeping it as is and using it as a ...garage...

The issue here is money. This house is wonderful, but it needs some money thrown at it and it's a bit above budget. The thing that would make it worthwhile would be if the garage was going to reduce my costs. To build a new structure that size would cost $30K just for the shell. However, you're suggesting that I'm likely to spend that $30K getting this shell up to speed anyway.
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