PAUL's STUDIO BUILD DIARY
Folks from the old Acoustics Group will probably remember my slow progress with my Studio build/Design. particularly Eric, who has had to endure my long and insecure questions for a long time. ( I am indebted to Eric btw, without whome my studio design would probably be fucked!! )
So firstly. HUGE HUGE THANKS TO ERIC
( and to all the other regulars - I haven't forgotto you either :) )
Anyway I thought I'd start a Topic where I can tell the story of the build as I go along. ( now we have a forum that can't be closed down - thanks Dan!! )
It seems a good time to do this, as I'm starting to get into some more intersting stuff now. I've actually alrady done quite a lot of work ( A years worth in fact, and most of that was preperation work ), but anyway...
The Story so far....
Having a place where I can write and record music without disturbing anyone ( or indeed being disturbed myself ) has been a life long dream of mine. About 16months ago, the possibility became a reality when my Woman ( Diane ) and I moved into a new house with a double garage.
I'd already started designing the studio, as we were going to have an extension built on the old house to house it. So when we moved in the new place, I altered the dimensions of the original design to fit the new double garage, and I made a start on building. I hadn't finished the design at this point ( and still haven't :) ), but there was lots of preperations to, whatever the final design, so I got started.....
Being a member of the Nightbreed, I come alive at night. While Woman and neighbours generally are Daybreed. SO......
The main specification for the studio was SOUNDPROOFING. And LOT'S of it!!!!!!
The existing Garage had the space but was about as soundproof as a paper bag. It's built from single skin brick, with a pitched tiled roof on trusses about 500mm centres. A single back door to the garden and two single garage doors to let the cars in and out. Looking from the front the garage adjoins the house. Ok, not quite a paper bag, but still likely to have an STC rating of 1
I decided a 'Room within a Room' was the way to go, and in typical Paul W fashion I specified 5 layers of drywall ( plasterboard ) for the inner room when everyone else seemed to be using 2 or 3 at most.
I still had the problem of the STC 1 garage. I had 2 garage doors, a back door and a roof to soundproof. Hmm? The roof? The obvious plan was to build some mass on teh horizontal members of the roof trusses. This would leave a 'floor above' for storage and ventilation units, also importantly leave the roof space properly ventilated. I also needed the External Room to match the Inner Room in terms of wall and ceiling mass. So it was 5 layers of drywall on the roof trusses. Eeeek. That's heavy!!. I decided to reinforce the External ceiling by adding a set of 150x50 joists at 90 deg to the trusses to hold up the drywall. I downloaded a trial version of a beam calculator and made sure my design wouldn't leave me being crushed under the weight of falling drywall. Essentially the joists take the weight of the drywall, leaving the trusses to do their regular truss thing. I also doubled up some of these joists to hold the extra weight of the ventilation silencers - which are also pretty HEAVY.
Sealing off the Garage Roof space meant I had to make some acess to the roof. Luckily the there was enough wall space in the bedroom next to the garage roof to install a hatch.
I also needed a door between the house and the Studio itself. I didn't fancy walkng through the cold and nasty UK weather at 4am just to go for a pee. The room adjoining the Garage is a study. Handy, as it will become a vocal recording room.
So the first job was to get a builder friend called Teggs to install lintels in the bedroom and study. £180 cash in hand. Done in a day and Teggs is a lovely bloke. After that I borrowed a big 12" angle grinder and cut out the hatch and door holes in the brickwork, and built the frames. Woman moaned about the dust a few times, but a few sorries and cuddles sorted that out :) :)
I also needed a decent power supply to the garage. No problem here. I'm a qualified Electrician so this was the easy bit. I ran two 6mm 3 core Steel armoured cable from the House Consunmer unit into the garage. the best route was via outside and underground ( hence the armoured cable ), and into the garage.
2 feeds - One for Studio Equipment, and one for Dirty/ Electrically noisy appliances. i.e Ventilation, Air Con, Kettles,Lighting etc,etc I installed a sub-consumer unit in the garage, and srewed it to the wall, with excess slack on the cables. ( eventually the unit would be on the Inner Room wall, but that wasn't going to be built for wutie some time. )
I then set about installing the drywall in between the roof trusses. The garage ceiling was already boarded up ( no top of roof truss member ), so I cut the drywall into strips and screwed it up from underneath. Now because I needed joists UNDERNEATH the drywall to hold it all up, I could only install a couple of layers before I had to start installing the joists.
To hold up the joists I bolted some horizontal strips of 100 x 50 structural grade [ C24 ] timber about 5 mm below where the bottom of the joists should be. I then installed the extra layers of drywall in sections, putting up a joist when the section was finished. Lots of drywall cutting and screwing, and falling of stepladders. This took a few weeks.
I installed the joists on my own holding them up with bits of string, screwed them in to the bottom of the trusses, and then made some strips of wood about 7mm thick and bashed them into the 5mm gap between the joists and joists supports. This enabled any slack to be taken up. It's all still up 10 months later :)
During this time I thought I had done a decent studio design, but being a man of DETAIL, I wanted to make sure I had planned evrything correctly, and still had some issues. I also wanted to squeeze the BEST possible performance I could for a limited budget.
Let's talk about budget for a minute. I had an unfinished studio design, and only a rough idea of how much it would cost. My original GUESS at budget was about £5,000 ( $9,000 ). I set about conctructing a very complex spreadsheet in Excel that allowed me to change the design and watch the cost rise and fall automatically. [ I say 'rise and fall', 99% of the time it's RISE :( ]
At this point in time after getting lots of quotes, and doing untold searching on the Net, the cost were about £3,500 without acoustic treatment and furniture finishings. £5,000 was still a possibility. Since then, and added designs for ventilation and floating floor we're now upto about £9,500. Eek. Things ALWAYS cost twice as much as you think. :( :( Realistically, I can see the total being around £11,000 by the time I've finished. This is more than I want to pay. it's really on the LIMIT of what I can pay. However, what price can you put on a life long dream??
My search for the best performance and more knowledge led me quite by chance to the Yahoo Group, Acoustics. After lurking a while I plucked up courage to post, and was greeted by tehe most helpful and knowledgable bunch of guys you could meet.
I told the group my proposals for my studio, and on the whole it was greeted with a thumbs up. Eric was knd enough to run some calcs on my design, and sugeested that as my Studio ( or Bomb Shelter as Eric calls it ) was was SO soundproofed, the floor was a weak point in the system. And the solution would be a floating floor. WIOW! a floating floor!! This is wot big studios have. Wouldn't it be cool to have a floating floor. Everyone should have one!!!! :)
I hadn't actually worked out what to do with the floor when Eric stepped in.. The garage the floor was not level. It sloped towards the door for drainage purposes. Various solutions were being processed in my mind in the background, and now the possibility of a floating floor was added to the equation.
Hmmm?? If I floated the floor on the existing floor... A] I'd have to level it, and B] I'd lose some serious Room Height. I realised That I would have to dig down and build back up so the finshed floated floor level was at the same level as the existing floor. Some people suggested raising the roof, and while they meant well, that solution was extremely impractical and would have cost two arms, two legs and a nose !!!
So dig down it was!!!. Before that I had the original floor to get rid of. My original plan was to infact use the original floor as a support for the floating floor. I would cut the floor into 1m square sections, and using a Paul W homemade wooden hoist on wheels, would lift out each section, dig down, and replace slab. After mroe thought I realised that this was a MAD idea, wouldn't work properly, and wouldn't really save me much money. So the original floor would have to go!!! More on floor later..
As the building noise was annoying Woman, I then built the door. The door is essay in self but briefly......
Door frame = 300 x 50. Built myself, and fixed by over 30 heavy duty frame fixings, and also glued in place with Gripfill. To ensure the gripfill filled the whole gap between the frame and wall, I Drilled a series of 10mm holes in the frame, and squeezed the gripfill into the gap through them.
I then built the door. This as made from FIVE layers of 18mm MDF, with a layer of 15mm drywall in between. 105mm thick. FUCKING HEAVY. So I hung the door when it was only 3 layers of MDF thick, and fixed the drywall and 2 otrher drywall layers on after wards. ( removable if the door needs to be taken down in the future ).
The door also sports a double 'bank vault' type seal all the way around, with half round neoprene seal strips. Now although the neoprene seal is pretty soft [You can push a finger in it easily ], it takes some force to compress about 12 metres of the stuff. Yes 12 metres of seal for one door. I got the half round seal from Sideridse Ltd. I also bought enough seal to make the Ineer room door ( same spec - 5 layers, 2 seals etc ).
Siderise LTD also sell heavy duty compression latches, but in seemingly typical Siderise fashion they are very expensive. About £70 each. I needed three as well. 2 Doors, and a Fire escape ( more on that later ). After a google search I found a company called EMKA who make compression latches somewhere in deepest Europe. I contacted the UK distributer, and bought direct for about £15 each. Sorted!!! :)
Me and Woman hung the heavy door by ourselves!!! I was initially scared ( So was Woman ), but it was easy. I cut 4 wooden wedges and placed them on the floor beside the hinge side of the frame. We lifted the door onto the wedges. I tapped the wedges with a hammer until the hinges ( 4 x heavy duty ball bearing hinges ),matched the hinge rebates on the frame. Slid the door into place and screwed them in. Sorted!!! I was well happy with the door design. Even my best friend Jonathan who is indeed a master carpenter was impressed. I was pleased to something right!!! :) :)
Well about 5 months into the build I'd finished the Door and roof hatch, finished the External room joists and multi layer drywalling, done a HUGE amount of hours of Internet research, bothered Eric to the point of him vomiting at the sight of my mails and spent hours refining my designs. I was pleased. I felt I'd accomplished something.
Woman looked at Garage and said "It doesn't look like you've done very much?"
She was correct though. I'd done 5 months work, almost everyday in fact, and when you walked in there.... All you could see was a garage. "Well, it's all in the preperation", I replied. So we were both correct, It IS all in the preperation, and it can often take a long time before any real visible work starts.
now when you build a room within a room there's gonna be an innacessible void between the two shells, so the next step was to any jobs that would be in this void.
I ran up a list of every conceivable cable I could think off, and some more, that would need running between the studio and the house. Including:
16way multicore to the Study ( recording room ) - It's just big enough to house a drum kit and drummer.
Various headphone and audio feeds.
Smoke alarm feeds.
Door alarm vables
Cables that have absolutely no use whatsoever, but might do one day.
I've probably forgotton something, but as I haven't built the Inner Room yet, I shall review the cable situation before I do.
The other thing that crosses thje boundary of the two room shells is the <drum roll> VENTILATION.
This was a bit of a dilemma. I'ev designed this bomb shelter which sounds like it will block the noise of a jet engine, but then I've got to cut holes in it so I can breathe. A big HMMMMMMMMMM?? Thankfully Sir Eric came to my rescue, and suggested methods to retain the sound isolation while continuing to get fresh air.
For this I would need on each side of the walls two huge splitter silencers. For BOTH Inlet and Outlet. That's four silencers. They would also need to be big if I wanted good isolation of the bass. That's FOUR BIG HUGE Silencers. 1 x 1.5 x .5m roughly. They would obviously also have to be made with the same isolation as the walls.
That's FOUR BUG HUGE HEAVY Silencers. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!
Well it was only a small arrggh!!, as luckily the roof space would easily hold two of the silencers and the fan assembly. The studio is having soffit mounted speakers ( Genelec 1037B's btw ), so I could put another silencer behind the soffit wall. The remiaing one is at the back of the studio [ In one corner, so I can still get a sofa in there. I Got to have a sofa! :) ]
By chance I already had a decent centrifugal fan which I had aquired from an installation job I did a few years earlier [ I think years ahead! :) ]
The fan was housed in a small room within a room 18mm MDF enclosure. The inner box floating on foam. Rockwool stuffed in the gap. Flexible ducts made from a pair of Woman's discarded leather trousers [ about time she had a new pair!! ]
The Silencers were so big that they had to built around the Roof trusses. Resulting in the cutting of some very odd shapes of MDF. The silencer boxes were 1 layer of 18mm MDF and 4 layers of drywall ( plasterboard ).
I should mention at this point that all my multi-drywall layer constructions are actually alternating layers of varying thickness and density drywall.
I should also mention TIIME!!!! The Roof ventilation system took an awful long time. 5 months! The biggest problem was access. There was no room to cut wood up there, so I had to cut all the wood and plasterboard to size, and take it through the house, up the stairs, through a bedroom, and through the small hatch. ( the largest sheet of MDF for the silencers made it through the hatch in one piece by a bout 1mm - PHEW! )
Woman looked at Garage and said "It doesn't look like you've done very much?" [ we've been here before :) :) :) ]
It still, indeed, looked like a garage. I'd done an enormous amount of work, and was more than pleased with the results. However it still looked liek a garage, and that was quite disheartenign for a whil. It made me realise that I STILL had a HUGE amount of work to do. And to think my original estimate was 3 months ( Insane :rolleyes:)
I eventually realised I was in it for the long haul and got to work on the next item.
As well as building the ventilation I was also sorting the floor design. Again with ENORMOUS help from Sir Eric I have just about finalised a floating floor design as follows:
125mm Floating Reinforced Slab on
18mm PLywood formwork on
50mm Airgap - 50mm Sylomer Elastomer on
150mm Concrete Supporting Slab on
DPM ( damp proof membrane ) on
70mm Floor insulation on
10mm blinding sand on
150 hardcore on
Although I haden't actually finalised the Sylomer design, the dimensions were finalised, so it was time to get stuck into building the floor. The first job, was to remove the existing floor.
I hired a 14" disc cutter, and a concrete breaker. The original Floor extended outside the garage doors. So first I cut through the slab about 200mm behind the garage doors. This left enough room ( with suitable underpinned foundations ) to eventually brick up behind the garage doors to complete the External Room isolation.
RESPECT the Disc Cutter!! They are very powerful, noisy, unweildy and dangerous tools. They can be difficult to handle due to the gyroscopic forces, and one slip, they'll have your leg off in a millisecond! Very Scary! I repeat.. RESPECT the Disc Cutter!! This one didn't have a water feed, so working with goggles and enough dust to allow a visib;e distnce of about 6 inchesm ade it all the more dangerous..
The next step was to protect the house and garage from being shaken to bits by the concrete breaker. This onvloved making a cut around the edge of the floor as close to the walls as possible. It took hours. Disc cutting a 125mm concrete slab moes along at about 0.000001 miles per hour. Thankyou Oh Ear Defenders! Thankyou Oh Neighbours!!
Also respect the Breaker. They're real HEAVY and can smash your feet up in no time. Steel toecaps mandatory ( although I don't think they'd help much in reality ). Breaking the floor up also took hours, and was VERY NOISY.
I was glad that was over. I spent the next day loading over 9 tonnes of concrete chunks into a skip, and waved the floor goodbye as it departed on the skip lorry. That was in december 2003, and I've spent the last few weeks doing further designs to the floor, and looking for someone to dig out the 20 tons of soil ( and take it away )so I can start building the new floor. Which takes us up to last week ( Feb 2003 ).
My friend jonathan knows a landscape gardner who has a mini digger said he could do the job. So last week he came round and we agreed a price of £325. Lot of money, but I coudln't face spending many days digging out soil and filling 2 skips worth. And with the price of the skips, it wasn't that much dearer. He could also do the job the next day. Excellent.
Anyway next, and after doing half the work, the guy says he thought I meant 14" down from the original floor level, and not the soil level. I *DID* tell him it was from the soil level. But anyway, he said he'd either leave the job half-done but no payment, or wanted another £200 to finish the job.
Hmmmmmmmm? I wasnt happy, but they weren'y gonna do it for £325, did offer to leave for free. We settled on £500. it was a big ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!, but I was desperate to make some progress, and I'd forget about the money evetually. And anyway, it would done in two days.
The soil was removed to below the foundation level, so the next job, ( which I finished today ), was RESPECTING the Disc Cutter again, and trimming off the outcrops, lips, and bumps of the uneven foundations. The new floor sits INSIDE the original foundations, so the cleaner I make the foudnations, the bigger the room.
I Made a silly mistake yesterday.... I've been using the ventilation system I've half built to ventilate the garage. It gets very damp in there without the floor and DPM. Stupid me left it on when I started disc cutting. About a million tons of dust has been sucked through it. It hasn't clogged up at all but I bet the lining is filthy. Good job it's the outlet.
So that's the story so far. Admiration and thanks if you've got this far :)
It was longer post than I thought, but I'll make shorted abnd more frequent updates in the future.
There's loads of goodies to come. Building the Floating Floor, Building he Inner Room, Building the acoustic treatment, making the cabinets, COmputer soundproofing, installing the soffit monitors, Inner Ventilation, Installing the equipment, bla, bla, bla...
Feel free to comment or abuse of course :)
Stay Tuned :)
the thread that starts it all
and a thread on floating the floor