But that doesn't mean I shouldn't have some fun.
The original occupant of the house was a radio nut and he built himself a 6ft x 8ft recording studio. He soon realised it wasn't big enough so he expanded it out to 15ft x 10ft but left the original walls from the 6ft x 8ft building in place.
When we looked round it, my wife fancied it as a gym, but due to the low ceiling, it wasn't really suitable. So I got it :)
Originally I was going to use the smaller of the two rooms as a reading room and have a small 2 seat sofa and a 30" screen on the wall - but it was going to be cramped. My friend Ben came over and said "Nah, don't worry we can just take down the walls and open it right out!
What I ended up with was a 6ft by 4ft projected 1080p screen, surround sound, bar with beer pump and optics, corner sofa and beanbags.
Total cost? I wouldn't like to say...
This 'ible shows the steps we took into renovation and shaping it into a retreat for myself and friends.
Thanks go to my friends Ben, Allan, Steve, Gary, Becky, Leo, Michael and of course my lovely wife who let me get on with it so I could be kicked out of the house permanently.
Step 1: The Site
The ceiling at one point had collapsed through water leakage - but had been fixed with a long term roofing felt and been reboarded - but to save costs the owner hadn't removed the old insulation which was pretty disgusting.
The egg boxes were put on the walls to insulate against noise and we even got a few filing cabinets and a lethal storage heater thrown in. (The storage heater was so old that the insulation on the wires had actually dissolved to dust and when it turned on, the storage heater actually became live with the mains)
Step 2: Wholesale Destruction
Step 3: Structural Work
We were therefore left with an annoying floating wall (and door) which were supporting the roof. Rather than get rid of a perfectly good roof, we incorporated this wall into the design. It is now going to be a bar!
Below is the videos of us breaking down the wall - the first image shows the breeze-blocks which aren't structural being taken down. I apologise for the less than manly restraint exhibited in taking the first few bricks out...
Step 4: Cleaning Up the Walls
This is the first time I'd used an angle grinder and as usual, we took no safety precautions at all!
To do this safely, I'd recommend goggles, breathing masks and gloves. No eyes were lost and the contents of our noses later prompted much discussion.
I only lost a small amount of hair from the sparks of the angle grinder. We all had fun with it though...
Step 5: Tidying Up
Step 6: Reusing
I now have a number of OK quality bricks for building a BBQ in the garden. The firebricks will be used as a base for a pizza oven (instructable coming soon!)
The rubble will be used in the base of the patio as hardcore.
Step 7: Concreting
I used a premix bag - just add water, stir and put into hole. If I can do it, anyone can!
Step 8: Batoning
Beer was consumed in the battening process.
Step 9: Cabling
For this project I have complete control of where the electrics will now go - I've also run speaker wire for a 5.1 surround system and a fixed network point so that the Xbox I'll be using in there will have a good connection.
Don't do electrical cabling yourself - get in a professional - I was lucky, my friend Allan is one and he was happy to come over and help!
Step 10: Plasterboarding
The only additional bit of work was where the non structural part of the walls - the inner skin of block work didn't meet where we'd knocked down the adjoining wall. As it wasn't structural, you could still fill this with block work or brick but we decided to back fill with insulation. We used a solid block of foil backed insulation about 4" thick. this was cut to meet the jagged edges of the block work and glued in place with expanding foam. This was subsequently hidden from sight by plasterboard.
There's several different trains of thought on plaster boarding - do you do the walls or the ceiling first?
We opted for the ceiling as the boards for the walls would help support the roof space. It's also easier to fill holes in the walls than it is in the ceiling as filler tends to fall out when working overhead.
It took two long days to board out the room due to some of the awkward parts such as the additional wall. We had to adjust some of the wooden batons when we realised I'd forgotten to install an HDMI cable to the projector etc.
Step 11: Electrics
At this point my electrician also fitted a new fuse box and RCD element so I'd be less likely to kill myself. Additionally he put in a switch which was scavenged from the gear we pulled out of the old recording studio. This cuts out or turns on lights when a 9v switch is activated - in this case, the door bell. Obviously in a cinema room external to the building you won't hear a faint doorbell, so flashing the lights is the best solution!
Step 12: Plastering
Step 13: Decoration
As we'd only had a thin skim of plaster on the walls we waited only a few days before the plaster was dry. We used a 50:50 paint/water mix. Two coats of this thin mix gave a good base for the walls. All of the plastered walls bar one were painted with magnolia - the projector wall was painted bright white.
The brick wall was given a lick of 'hot brick' red which admittedly under strong sunlight looks a bit pinkish.
Step 14: Final Fix
The lights were wall lights from Ikea. Unfortunately they were wired to go into plug sockets, so with my help Allan stripped them down and rewired them directly into the mains and additionally earthed them to make them safer (oddly for metal lights, something Ikea hadn't done!)
All was ready except for the skirting and the carpet!
Step 15: Skirting & Carpets
I did the skirting entirely on my own. Using a mitre block I could make perfect 45' cuts in the board which I then gave two coats of gloss. Of course the gloss meant that the perfectly cut corners no longer attached to the walls and required me to do a lot of cleaning up. I fixed the board using a no more nails like product ready for the carpet fitters.
The carpets were supposed to be in place a few weeks before they were actually fitted, but due to a lack of supplies we had to change last minute so that carpet was fitted in time for our housewarming party.
Step 16: The Bar
All the decoration complete, it was time to build and fit a bar. My friend Steve came up trumps with a bit of reclaimed kitchen work top which we cut roughly to size. Searching eBay got us a wall mounted bottle top remover and 6 optics (though one complaint is we can't fit a giant bottle of vodka in it).
I cleaned out my beer engine (hand pump) and again used eBay to find the correct pump label for my beer I was brewing for the party...
A few angle brackets and screws later and we'd got a fixed and supported bar! All was left was the furniture and setting up the electric gear!
Step 17: The Gear
To finish off I got a corner sofa. This really maximises the use of space and allows as many people in as possible. Giant bean bags go in front of the sofa allowing people who want to get really close to the projector for gaming to do so.
The projector is a 1080p Acer projector, coupled with an Onkyo 5.1 surround sound system the effect is as if you're in your own private cinema. The projector sits on a glass shelf and the amp and xbox sit on a shelf above my desk.
I can effectively have a 6ftx4ft cinema screen in 4:3 resolution.
The small window has a thick metal sheeting installed to the frame and walls and the thin wooden door was replaced with a thick exterior grade firedoor with extra locking hinges and expensive 5 lever mortice locks and yale locks. To add to the security I fitted an alarm (not pictured) and I put externally mounted stickers on both door and window alike so hopefully no-one makes the effort to break in. The alarm is remotely monitored, so I get alerts if anything goes wrong. I also have an energy monitor plugged into the main electrics so I can tell if any lights or equipment are left on.
I've also taken steps to reduce access to the rear of my property as thieves often target outbuildings such as mine!