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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:19 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:06 am
Posts: 8
Location: UK

I haven't frequented this forum since my last build 3 or 4 years ago. It was a crude single garage conversion into a mix room and was built with advice from the forum. The room has been great and the sound isolation far exceeded my expectations but it was only ever a make shift room as I have been renovating a new house and had always planned to build a bigger and better space there and that's where I'm at now!

First of all I'm looking for advice to see if you think my budget and goals are realistic, secondly I'm still questioning wether this should be a self build or wether I should just put the whole project in the hands of a professional.

I'm looking to build a 2 room studio that would be suitable for recording and mixing, it's in a residential area and I need to be able to record drums without being disturbed or disturbing anyone else. There is a challenge as a train track runs about 5m behind the property. It's an electric line that has short 2 carriage trains passing on it throughout the day (I'm yet to camp out in the garden and take measurements). Originally I’d been looking at a building a space around 8m x 6m, I could go up 10 x 12 but I think that is going to be way out of my budget. Ideally the control room needs to be big enough for myself, 5 other people and my gear (I have studio desk similar in size to the Argosy consoles). I'd like the live room to be big enough that I would be able to record a whole band in there live if required but I know again this is probably being optimistic so I'd at least like it to be big enough to capture a good drum sound.

My budget started off at £20,000 but it could potentially double that if required. I know 20k maybe a little low for the size of space I'm looking for.

So before I go down the rabbit hole my question is is 20-40k a realistic budget for a self build of this nature and would I ever be able to isolate the train from my rooms? If the answer is yes, what do you think a realistic price would be for getting a designer / company in to see the whole project through from start to finish?

I’ve attached a couple of pictures of the back garden so you can see where I plan on putting the studio and also a block plan of the property which shows where the studio would go (labelled outbuilding) and where the train track lies.

Garden Studio.jpg

Garden Studio 2.jpg

Block Plan.jpg


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:14 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:17 am
Posts: 12004
Location: Santiago, Chile
Welcome back! I do remember your previous build: Glad it worked out for you.

It's great that you now have a "bigger, better, badder" studio in the works! Excellent!

Ok, reality check: I have designed a few studios for clients in the UK, and the feedback I've had about building costs is that they run, very roughly, in the range £800 to £1500 per square meter, depending on where you live, and how ambitious the studio is. The low number is more for extensively renovating an existing building, the high number is for a ground-up build of a high-end studio. Yours seems to lie someplace in between the two, so I would start out considering something like £1000 - 1200 per m2.

So, with 20k you can't go very far for ground-up: you could maybe renovate a decent sized space for that. With 40k you could probably do a 40m2 building, if you are very careful with your budget and do most of the work yourself. If you are very lucky, you MIGHT be able to stretch that to 48m2, but it would be touch-and-go. £50k would probably get you a good 6x8 place.

Regarding "do it your self or hire someone", if you hire a contractor to build the entire place, then add a good 25% to the above. You will need to hire some crafts, yes: laying the slab yourself is not something you'd want to do, for example. You could do all the form work, steel, piping and conduit, yes, but digging the trenches is a big job, and pouring a 6x8 slab on your own is pretty much out of the question! So you'd need to hire a contractor to dig the foundations and pour the slab, and an electrician to do the wiring, and probably a few others, but most of it you CAN do yourself.

Take a look at The corner control room thread... that's mostly about tuning the control room, but the first few posts show the actual building. He built that himself, mostly, except for the slab and a few other parts. That's a little larger than yours (7x10m, aprox). So if he can do it, then you can!

He is in the USA, not the UK, but he had similar requirements to what you have. I designed that place to similar isolation levels as you need, and it is working out fine in that aspect. So far, no problems with the neighbors. The only thing different with you, is the train line... and that's a big issue. If that has trains running regularly, many times per day, and it is causing vibrations in the ground (very likely), then you might need to float the floor, at least in the live room. Maybe you could get away with not floating the CR, to save money, but it would be better to float both. Designing a floating floor system is probably not something you would want to do your self, unless you have engineering experience and can deal with dead loads, live loads, structural calculations, deflections, resonant frequencies, and suchlike. So you might need to hire someone to do that part of the design for you as well.

So the bad news, you either need more money, or a smaller studio. The good news is you CAN do most of it yourself and save money. And to be honest, that's the best way to do it: Building it yourself, you get to understand every aspect of the studio, right down to the last bolt, stud, nail, and batt.

So, to summarize answers for your specific questions:

So before I go down the rabbit hole my question is is 20-40k a realistic budget for a self build of this nature"
40k is marginal for 48m2, good for maybe 35 m2. That would give you a good size control room, and a small drum booth / isolation booth / vocal booth. (Allow about 20m2 final internal floor area for the control room, minimum, no matter what size you end up building the entire thing).

and would I ever be able to isolate the train from my rooms?
Yes you can, but it's not easy. First you would need to figure out how bad the problem is, then your designer can tell you how to isolate for that. If there is significant ground vibration, then a floated floor is the best option.

If the answer is yes, what do you think a realistic price would be for getting a designer / company in to see the whole project through from start to finish?
I doubt that a designer is going to publicly quote you for designing your place! Better to talk in private about that. First of all, contact John Sayers himself and see if he can take on your project. If he can't, then let me know.

That said, do be very careful here! You have indicated on a public forum that you are possibly looking for a studio designer: Watch out! Lately we have seem some unscrupulous folks on the forum reaching out to unsuspecting victims like you, to offer their "services" to design your place for you, so chances are, you'll get unsolicited offers from one or more of "those guys". Caveat emptor! If someone contacts you by PM to offer you design services or studio construction services, be very scared! Rest assured, the REAL designers here on the forum will not do that. You will contact them: they won't contact you. If you'd like a list of folks I trust that could do what you want, then contact me by PM. But before doing that, contact John Sayers himself.

I’ve attached a couple of pictures of the back garden so you can see where I plan on putting the studio and also a block plan of the property which shows where the studio would go (labelled outbuilding) and where the train track lies.
One question: are you planning to do this under "permitted development" rules? You can save some money like that, but there are restrictions on total height, area, and proximity to the property line, among other things. You will probably need to go through the hassle of getting permits and inspections for what you want: I'm not sure if "permitted development" rules would cover it, but it's worth looking into.

- Stuart -

I want this studio to amaze people. "That'll do" doesn't amaze people.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:03 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:34 am
Posts: 359
Location: California USA
Hey man, Frank here.....

I think I should jump in here to say "Beware of your budget!"

I remember the days of staring at open ground and trying to picture how big the studio would feel and how quiet it would be in my mind.....

I dramatically underestimated what my cost would be....I originally budgeted around $60,000 US. 4+ years later, I am at well over $150,000...I am in the San Francisco bay area. I did about 75-80% of the work myself. I hired one other person to help me build the main shell and roof..All of the interior including the HVAC, I built myself...It was a lot! Consider multiple layers of mass on double the number of walls of a normal building. It ads up.

I absolutely don't mean to be a buzz kill...If you think you need 40,000 then call it 80,000. Shocking, I know. I can't imagine that building materials, are going to be a lot cheaper in the UK than they were for me. The unexpected will most definitely happen, as it did with me repeatedly. If your too conservative on your goals and decide to change them later like I did, things get even more costly and painful. Redoing work or getting stuck with materials you don't end up needing...That sort of thing.

To be clear, I am very sympathetic here. I just can't help but sound the alarm at the sight of your query! :ahh: Its probably better to absorb the shock now and adjust your thinking accordingly. I definitely don't enjoy being so stark...I do wish you well.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:51 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:21 am
Posts: 1
Good luck in your work!

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