Jul 142020
 

Note: This post will be updated as the project continues.
Updates should be every week or so

Two years ago I bought a new (old) house and have been using a small spare bedroom as my studio.

I’m now converting the carport into my new studio and building a store room on the side of the house. Twenty years ago I converted the carport in my old house into a studio and it served me well. This studio will be a very similar design, but modern software tools will allow me to tune the acoustics more precisely.

The plan and what the carport looked like. The door to the laundry (on the right) will be filled in. Click the thumbnails to see the full photos.

The first task after getting the plans drawn up and council approvals was to do some demolition and get a concrete slab put down for the store room. I had originally planned to do all the work myself, but my psoriatic arthritis restricts how much heavy work I can do, so I employed a contractor to lay the slab.

12mm galvanized bar bent at 90 degrees and epoxied into the existing walls to tie the new walls to them.

One issue is that the original corners were rounded so I had to use a diamond saw to carve out a channel that will take structural render to fill it in. I also epoxied some small threaded bars into the wall to help the render grip so hopefully there will be minimal cracking.

The carport roof is held up by wooden posts which will get in the way of the new walls, so I need to replace them with steel posts, which will eventually be embedded in the concrete wall.

I live in a cyclone prone area, so the construction has to be a lot stronger than would be needed in other places. Due to the risk of flood the studio floor has to be raised by 100mm to meet the level of the rest of the house. Also, the carport slab is not strong enough so a reinforced concrete filled bond beam 500mm high needs to be built at the bottom of the wall.

It’s been 20 years since I’ve done any block laying and with the arthritis it’s quite hard going.

I got the concrete contractor back in to lay the 100mm topping slab for the studio floor. This brings the studio floor level to the same height as the rest of the house.

Galvanised steel angle screwed to the existing steel beams to attach the reinforcing dropper bars. The cores will be concrete filled at all these places.

 

Cutting blocks to fit around the steel posts.

I was unable to find a block layer as the building trades are all very busy at the moment. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to handle the block laying by myself in a sensible time frame I found someone who’s currently out of work due to COVID-19 to help me. We spent a few days getting the bulk of the blocks laid ready for the core fill.

Next I had to cut a number of blocks for the top side of the store room walls. This will be filled with concrete to have a raking bond beam following the roof line.

Getting the cores and bond beams filled with concrete.

 

The top row of blocks in the studio walls had to be cut to fit around the steel roof beam and vertical reinforcing. I then filled the holes with concrete injected into the blocks with a mortar gun.

Using structural repair mortar to patch the areas where the old rounded corners meet the new walls.

A pole plate made from steel angle is required to attach 4 of the 6 store room roof beams to the studio wall.

 

Galvanised steel roof beams bolted on. Drilling some of the holes had to be done in situ, which was quite a challenge for me due to the arthritis.

 

Because this is a cyclone area, the roof battens and sheeting require a certificate from a licensed roofing contractor to prove it has been done properly.  I was having trouble finding an available contractor so I asked the building inspector if I could do it myself and get him to inspect it. He was happy to do it that way, so I asked one of the guys I work with to help me for one day and we got the roof battens and sheeting done. I then completed the rest of the roof over the next 2 days and sent the inspector an email asking to book the inspection. I included 6 detailed pictures of the roof.

The inspector replied that I had done a very good job and there is no need for him to come out and inspect it.

Installing insulation in the store room roof and fitting fibre cement sheeting on the ceiling. That was a challenge for me to do by myself. To hold the sheets up at ceiling level I created a helper by clamping bits of wood onto a ladder and then used another piece of wood wedged into the other end.

Gutter installed, and the eave sheeted and trimmed.

I employed a renderer to render the outside walls and got them to continue the render around most of the rest of the house. One side wall has so many  bits and pieces on it such as air conditioners etc. that it would have been very difficult for the renderer, so I’ll plaster that wall before painting the whole house.

The store room is getting close to finished. I’ve finished the plastering, hung the door, painted the ceiling and installed the lights and air vent.

 

The store room is finished apart from the floor and painting the door, which i will do when I’m doing the same parts of the main studio. I moved the materials and tools from where they were being stored in the studio to the store room.

Time to block in the doorway to the laundry. I put a reinforced concrete beam in the middle of the infill for strength.

Walls plastered and undercoated and the trim installed around the ceiling. I’ll only be giving the ceiling a single coat of paint for protection since it will be hidden behind the suspended acoustic ceiling.

Painting the walls. Because this studio will be used for photo and video editing in addition to music production and mastering, I used 18% grey paint and all other colours will be monochrome so as not to cause a colour cast which may fool my eyes when doing colour correction.

Installing the sound control suspended ceiling. Because the room is so small I can’t afford to take up too much room with bass traps on the walls, but the ceiling is much higher than I need so it’s a good place to create a reasonably large trap. Down each side of the room is a strip of normal acoustic tiles with the down lights installed in them. The central area is made from 50mm thick polyester absorption panels and the whole ceiling is filled with mineral wool insulation. Before the ceiling was installed the room was an ugly sounding echo-box. After the ceiling was installed the room sounds quite pleasant. The only remaining obvious acoustic problem is some flutter echos, which will be tamed with some wall treatment.

Desk top installed.

It was a very difficult job for me to do by myself. I could barely lift half of it and had to balance the other half on the step ladder. I ended up dropping it twice and scratched some paint off the walls in the process. I’ll have to do some paint touch-ups.

Under the desk is the network sockets, cables from the ceiling and the main power. There will be a 300mm wide shelf under the desk to hold all the cabling and equipment power supplies.

Making the desk shelf and attaching the RGBW strip lighting to the front edge. There will be strip lighting along the front edge of the desk shelf, inside the controller alcove of the desk shelf, under the desk and along the side walls of the room. These will add a splash of colour when I’m not doing colour critical work. The desk shelf has two 2RU rack spaces. The right side will house the audio interface and 8×8 expansion and the left one will house a custom controller that will do power and lighting control and headphone distribution.

Paint touch-ups done and the sound treatment around the desk installed. The corner panels are different to the others in that they are filled with polyester insulation behind, which lowers the lowest frequency they can absorb and makes then reasonably effective bass traps.

Painting the doors and door frames. After the paint had dried I remounted the knobs and other hardware and fitted weather sealing strip around the door frames to help with blocking sound into and out of the room. The room now sounds very quiet when the doors are shut and the AC is switched off.

Wiring the cable box. This box extends 8 balanced microphone inputs to the computer, 4 balanced outputs and 4 sets of headphones to save running cables up over the desk getting in the way of the chairs. This box also includes a 4 port USB hub from the computer.

 

Installing the sound treatment panels for the walls.

I cut the panels into 600mm x 1600mm panels and covered them in black fabric. Then I glued them to the walls. I put construction adhesive around the perimeter and used spray glue in the middle. The spray glue is only there to hold the panel on the wall while stronger the construction glue dries.

The room now sounds wonderful. All flutter echoes are gone. There is a tiny amount of liveliness left, but nothing that sounds harsh.

Sound panels all mounted on the walls and doors and carpet cut ready to be glued down.

 

To be continued…

  13 Responses to “New Studio Build – 2020”

  1. Thanks for the comments and words of encouragement, both here and elsewhere.
    I’ve just added a number of extra photos to show more detail in the earlier stages of the project.

  2. 👀 great 👋👍

  3. I don’t know how you can do all of it. I hope it’s finished and can be used before too long

  4. 101 ways to self isolate.. build a studio 👍😆😁
    Looking forward to seeing and hearing what comes out of it.

    The spam filter said to do some math…. nine – six. So I type three and didn’t work… I’ll try 3

  5. So much work for one little room… 🙂 but it’s looking good and hopefully it will be finished by time I can get up there again.

  6. Looking great so far, and knowing you well, will mean it will be something spectacular once completed.

  7. Looking good!

  8. Looks GREAT, Mike. Best of Luck with your New Studio.

  9. Looks great! Nice to see you’re still into music.

  10. Looking great so far

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