AV Education on RHT
Building Your Dream Theater:
Step 1 Assembling Your Team
Written by Brian Kahn
Creating a topnotch home theater is a major undertaking. Getting your media room to look like the ones that grace the pages of Revolution Home Theater take many resources beyond money. Turning your dream system into a dreamy reality can involve designers and experts of all sorts. As a practicing attorney in California, I want to show you some of the best ways to protect your interests as the client when building a custom home theater.
Hiring Top Professionals
Whether you are installing your top of the line components in a custom house, a partial remodel/addition or simply going to convert an unused room to a home theater, you need to hire the right professionals to get the job done. Who to hire and how you check on them is critically important. The old adage an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure is especially true with construction projects. Proper planning will avoid heaps of trouble during construction and after completion.
The scope of your project will determine who you will need to hire. In all cases when you are planning on building a theater room, whether it be dedicated or mixed use it would be good to retain a home theater design firm or top AV retailer. If the theater room represents the largest portion of the addition, remodel or new building, your home theater firm is going to be your main contact outside of your contractor. Look around the office of your local store or design firm to see how many sets of plans they have lying around. If there are none be worried. You will want them to be comfortable with both the designs you or your architect will be creating. Also you should ask them about their ability to draw CAD (computer-aided drawing) designs of what they want to implement.
You will most likely need an architect if you are building anything more than the simplest chair riser or shelving system. And if you need to submit plans to the local building department for approval, you should have an architect on board. It is wise to check with either the local building authorities or architects to see if what you are contemplating involves permits. Checking on permit requirements should be done early on, as it will help you determine who needs to be hired and will hopefully prevent you from coming home one night to find a big stop work notice on your front door. If you fail to get the necessary permit(s), there is a good chance that your local building authority will leave this lovely notice on your door, forcing you to stop what you have done and, most likely, rip it all out and start again, even after submitting plans and obtaining other permits. There is very little to be gained by not getting permits for your project.
Picking the right architect is extremely important to the whole project, not just the theater room. A good architect will have the experience to draft plans that best serve your wants and needs within the constraints provided (money, space). He or she will work with your theater designer to help ensure a seamless and efficient integration between the work of the theater designer and the rest of the project. Be sure to ask about other theaters and media rooms the designer has done. What dealers and AV designers has your designer worked with before? Who are your designers favorites and why are those his or her top choices? All of these questions help you qualify your architect for the all-important home theater portion of your project.
The practical skills that an experienced architect will bring to the picture are invaluable. These include the ability to draft clear, concise plans that your contractors will be able to follow and build efficiently. All too often, architects create masterpiece plans that absolutely do not work in the field, requiring many changes that end up costing you lots of money and will add stress and delays. Depending on the team you end up putting together, you may want your architect to do additional work besides just drafting plans, such as contract administration and construction observation.
As you can see, the architect does a lot more than just creating the plans to get you through plan check. Look at the architects portfolio, especially material on similar jobs with theaters. Ask for references, not just from homeowners, but also contractors and home theater professionals. With all of the information floating out there on the Internet, check the architect out on your favorite search engine; you never know what will pop up. If you already have a home theater company in mind, ask if the architect has worked with the firm. How does the architect communicate with you? You are likely to have lots of contact with your architect and will want to make sure that you can easily understand each other.