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Turning a basement in to a home theatre

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Movies at home

There is nothing like watching a movie at the theatre. The snacks, the plush seats and the ability to feel, as well as hear the sound brings a movie to life like nothing else. With a little effort, you can create that same movie experience in your own home, whether you’re on a budget or the sky’s the limit.

The system

Advance planning is the most crucial part of any home renovation and is especially true when considering a home theatre. While you don’t have to decide specifically which system to buy, you do need an idea. A five speaker system is different than a seven speaker system when it comes to where wires will be, for instance.

The size of screen you want and whether it is a projection model also has to be factored in because projectors need special mounting shelves.

Sketch it out

Once you have an idea of the all-important electrical components, plan the room’s layout.

If you’re working with a budget you may need to consider what furniture you have now and what you’ll acquire someday. If this is an all-out, we’ve got the money and we’re buying everything now scenario, decide what your optimal experience is. Do you want individual theatre style seats, plush loveseats, an L-shaped couch with room for a group?

Do you want the equipment in the room or in an adjacent room? Do you like the look of components exposed or do you want them hidden?

Check out permit requirements

Many municipalities have policies regarding permits and renovations. As part of your early planning check with the city to see what permits might be required for the work you’re doing, the costs associated, and how much time needs to be allotted, both for the initial permit and for any inspections after.

What do you know you can handle?

Every do-it-yourselfer knows there are some things anyone can do, some things that take a little skill and some things that should be left to the experts. Understanding what you can handle easily, what you definitely need help with, and what you can manage with a bit of effort is important, both for the budget and a project’s success.

If you’re working with a budget, decide what you absolutely need help with. Electrical for instance is one area that skill and experience become important. If money is tight, a friend with experience, or your own experience and help from a local supply store may be all you need. Many bookstores and home improvement stores carry a book called Electrical Code Simplified – House Wiring Guide. Most of what you need to get the job done right is well explained there.

If you have the money and aren’t sure what you’re doing, this is definitely something you want t put some money towards.

Other do-it-yourself experts hate carpet stretching or working with drywall. Knowing your limits, both emotional and skill wise saves time, money and stress.

A room within a room

The key to a good home theatre is soundproofing. That means eliminating sounds from outside the space, and keeping the sounds of the movie inside. This is done by creating a separate room – floor, walls and ceiling – within the space of your home.

Insulation should be added to the walls and ceilings, separating the home theatre from other solid surfaces that could pass vibrations or allow noise seepage. Floors don’t necessarily need insulation but should be raised above the concrete to avoid an impact to sound quality, and to keep the room warmer.

Insulation and drywall options come with different price tags and varying degrees of ease of use so compare both when making final decisions.

Finishing touches

How you finish the space will depend on budget, and personal taste. Wood accent walls are a great acoustic addition. Carpet and underpad make a space cozier and can also help acoustically.

If the money and appeal of these features are there, they can be added right away. If not, like new furniture, these are easy additions for the future.

Don’t forget the unexpected

Finally, the most costly hit to any home renovation happens when things have to be redone because something has been overlooked. What else needs to be considered?

A smoke detector within the space, wired to others in the home, will alert you of an emergency when you’re in your soundproof hideaway. Don’t forget to leave easy access to windows, water and gas shutoffs.

The home theatre of your dreams could be just a few months away, with a little planning.

By Heather Seftel-Kirk

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