My Theater Build

It took me 18 months to complete my basement build.  Not all of that time was spent on the theater.  My wife gave me the go ahead with the theater, but with some stipulations.  First, I had to finish the entire basement, not just the theater.  Second, I couldn’t spend over $12,000 including building materials, furniture, decor and electronics (man, that is a small budget!).  And finally, don’t burn the house down!

So there you go, I have to take an unfinished basement to a new finished living space for $12,000 or less.  Here are the steps I have taken to make this a reality and some things that I would have done differently.  Let’s start.


  1. Measure the empty basement –  27′ x 30′
  2. Determine how many areas are needed – Theater, Bar-Dining, Craft, Bathroom, Storage
  3. Rough design of space usage

    Floor Plan
  4. Do rough electrical, hvac, plumbing plans.  This is where you want to decide speaker placement and how much conduit you need.
  5. Buy tools and building materials


  1. Frame exterior walls
  2. Frame interior walls
  3. Run electrical, plumbing, HVAC
  4. Insulate and sound isolation
  5. Install drywall
  6. Mud, tape and paint – left this to the pros
  7. Install electrical fixtures
  8. Install flooring
  9. Install Cabinets and sinks


First, I started the rough design to see what I could fit in the space.  I decided on 5 areas seen in the design image above.  I started framing the exterior walls, then moved to the interior wall.  It took a lot of trips to the Home Depot/Lowes for lumber and Sears for the nails.  A nail gun is a must.

I also recommend using conduit for every low power cable run.  I used a conduit to run from my projector to my receiver and HTPC, but didn’t do that for my speakers and I wish I would have.  After running all the cables and conduit and doing all the plumbing, it was time to get the sheetrock.  So I bought a drywall lift and began hanging the sheets.  I will never hang 70+ sheets of 4×8 drywall by myself again!!

Things I would have done different

  1. First and most important, do not install the projector until everything is done!!!  I put up the projector and it slowed down construction, a lot.
  2. Install conduit for all low power cable runs.
  3. Create an equipment room.  The HTPC and my media server aren’t loud, but I can hear them when I am watching a movie.
  4. Come up with 3 different designs and list pros and cons of each and choose, instead of just coming up with a design and starting from that.
  5. Hire someone to install the drywall.  My painter said that he would have installed the drywall for an extra $3.00 per sheet.  The fact that installing the drywall was 70% of my total build time, I could have finished in weeks instead of months.

Budget Breakdown

Basement Budget

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *