John Sayers' Recording Studio Design Forum

To build or not to build...
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Author:  jasoncmuxlow [ Sat May 27, 2017 3:45 am ]
Post subject:  To build or not to build...


I'm 42 years old, have been playing guitar since I was 15, have a few releases under my belt, love home recording, love production, love music, love sound.

My spouse and I just bought a house with a large detached garage. "That's mine. I'm building a studio." (I have an amazing spouse)

I read, I researched, I planned, I put estimates together... and then I paused.

1) Let's say it costs $20k to build out a space: Large-ish tracking room, small control room / office, iso booth, treatment, etc.  I could easily record 4-5 albums at ACTUAL recording studios (ya know, properly built rooms with gear and people who know what they're doing) with that money.

2) If I do build it out and for some reason decide to sell the house, it drags down my property value to anyone that doesn't want a recording studio instead of a garage.

3) Because it would be on my personal property, I could never sell the studio turnkey (as opposed to buying a commercial building and putting a studio in there), or sell the building to be repurposed.

4) I have no notion of building a professional studio or "going pro" as a recording or mix engineer.

5) I'm terrified of being the guy with a vanity studio collecting dust.

So now I'm questioning the whole idea and wondering if there are any hidden advantages or joys that I'm not considering besides the fact that it would make my inner 17 year old very happy. Are you folks that built out your own spaces happy that you did? Do you feel that money was well-spent? Any regrets?

Hope this isn't redundant or off-topic.

Thanks so much!

~ J

Author:  Soundman2020 [ Sat May 27, 2017 5:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To build or not to build...

Hi J, and welcome to the forum! :)

Hope this isn't redundant or off-topic.

The question is DEFINITELY not off topic! It's a great question, and very valid.

Since I'm a studio designer, not so much a studio user, I can't really answer for me very much, but I'm hoping some of the members here will chip in with their 2c worth. The only trouble is, it seems that many forum members who come here to learn how to build their studios, go on to enjoy using their studios so much, that they stop participating on the forum! They are so engrossed in enjoying the fruits of what they build, that they don't have time to come back and say "Hi" ... :)

But I really do hope some of them will drop by and comment.

However, what I can do is maybe give you some reasons to help you take your decision:

1) Sure, you can pay 20k and get a lot of time in some pretty decent studios to record your stuff.... but on THEIR schedule, not yours, and with the "taxi meter" running, every second you are in there..... When your time is up, you have to go.. or pay more! With your own place, the only limit on how much time you can spend in there, is how many hours per day you can stay awake! In other words, you can use it whenever you want, whenever you feel inspired, for as long as you want, or as short as you want, with as many or as few people around you as you feel like, recording whatever instruments you feel like, with whatever mic you feel like, at 3 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon, even on public holidays, nights, weekends, whenever. Long story short: TOTAL FREEDOM! The studio is yours, 24/7/365.25. No limitations.

2) You can make back some/all of your 20k by renting out the studio to others, when you are not using it yourself. If you spend that 20k on renting other people's studios, it's gone: You'll never get it back. If you spend it in your own place, you always have a secondary source of income, any time you need an few extra bucks. Spending 20k on your own studio is an investment. Spending 20k on someone else's study is pure cost.

3) You could build the studio in a modular manner, so it can be taken apart and trucked out if you ever decide to move to another place. You could take it with you to your new location, or sell it to be rebuilt elsewhere. That would leave the garage usable as a garage once more, thus resolving two of your big objections (#2 and #3 on your list)

4) Most of the people who come to the forum with an idea of having their own studio are in your same position: They have no plans to become the next Phil Spector, Quincy Jones, or Brian Wilson. They just want a place of their own, with the freedom to do whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it. Many of the studios I have designed have been for professional musicians, producers, companies, bands, engineers, etc., but just as many have been for ordinary folks who happen to like music, in one way or another, with no pretensions of ever going pro. They just want their own space to do their own thing, sometimes on their own, or sometimes just jamming with friends. and nothing more. That said, if you DO have your own studio at home, there's a much better chance that you will be able to go pro easily in the future, if the fancy ever does take you!

But I think you already gave yourself the answer you are looking for, in your very first sentence:

I'm 42 years old, have been playing guitar since I was 15, have a few releases under my belt, love home recording, love production, love music, love sound.
That's it! Right there! That's the reason why you need your own studio: It's what you LOVE doing! If you have the opportunity of doing what you love, any time you feel like, for free, then what's NOT to like about that? Chances of it ever becoming a dusty old vanity studio are pretty low....

'Nuf said.

- Stuart -

Author:  DanCostello [ Sat May 27, 2017 8:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To build or not to build...

A few other things to consider:

$20k is probably on the optimistic side of things. I'm building a small 2-room facility in my basement and I'm looking at about $16k just in masonry, cement, asbestos, and hvac work. That's with existing outer walls and electrical service, and before I put up a stick of framing or buy any gear.

If you're in the US and make money from this studio, there are ways to write off both the expense of building the studio and a portion of the ongoing costs of maintaining the property.


Author:  jasoncmuxlow [ Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To build or not to build...

Thank you both! I've decided to go ahead with a scaled back version. One-room design, less money in studio-specific construction, more money in movable / sellable studio treatments.

Will start posting all my questions in the appropriate rooms now :)

Author:  kongponleu88 [ Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: To build or not to build...

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